It's no skis, please

Rachael Oakes Ashe explains how to have a snow holiday without skiing.

I have a friend who simply hates to ski. Trouble is, her husband and 16-year-old son are addicted.

Lucky for her they like to ski in Europe on the slopes of Courchevel, where day spas, Michelin dining and five-star shopping provide plenty for her to fill the time between first and last lifts.

We may not have Prada and Ramsay by the sides of our slopes, but there are lots of activities designed for those looking for a snow holiday without the need to strap into skis or snowboard, or for families where some ski and others don't.

Warm up

Think snowy winters and roaring fires, with mulled wine or hot chocolate. Grab some marshmallows and a good book and settle in to while away some "me time" hours while everyone else is out freezing their tushes off on the slopes.

The Grand Mercure Chalet ( at Mount Buller, the Astra Lodge ( at Falls Creek, Peppers Rundells Lodge ( at Dinner Plain near Hotham, Adams Cocktail Bar at the Kosciusko Chalet ( at Charlotte's Pass and Chalet Sonnenhof ( at Perisher are all known for their big, warming open fires made from stone with big logs of chopped wood.

Spa up

Lose yourself at the Onsen Retreat and Spa at Dinner Plain ( Start soaking in the purpose-built, hot spring-style rock pool then head to the day spa for some serious massage and beauty pampering.

You can follow up with more soaking and steaming in the gender-segregated steam and sauna retreat rooms.

Try the ski-in, spa-out White Spa Mountain Retreat at Hotham (, the QT Spa Q ( at Falls Creek and Breathtaker ( at Mount Buller for similar spa days.


Eat up

The boys from one-hat Three Blue Ducks ( have settled in at Huski Lodge in Falls Creek.

Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa ( near Thredbo, welcomes highly regarded chef Steve Snow from Fins restaurant, which has been hatted every year for 16 years, for a one-off degustation dinner on August 10. Book ahead.

Brad Spalding is an icon in the Snowy Mountains of NSW. The ski instructor-turned-artist-turned-entrepreneur is the name behind Wildbrumby Schnapps (, a uniquely Australian version of Germany's favourite brew.

Head to the distillery on the Alpine Way for a tasting of Devil's Tongue, Peach Nectar, Sour Apple and Raspberry, the Wildbrumby range of schnapps, some hearty Austrian fare in the cafe and a wild sculpture park.

Play up

Who says you need skis or a snowboard to enjoy the snow? Hire a toboggan, climb a hill and slide back down on dedicated tobogganing areas at all of Australia's ski fields.

Perisher's Tube Town offers purpose-built and groomed "tube lanes" so you can hitch a ride on an inflatable tube and ride it to the bottom of the hill before catching a rope tow lift back to do it again. Falls Creek and Mount Buller have their own versions of this fun snow play.

Hotham's Snow-Stuff Fun Park goes one step further with new snow-play technology to try. The Zipfy is a mini luge toboggan of moulded plastic for first-time lugers. Test the Trikke or SkiRider "snow bikes" or the kids' snow mobiles.

Night-time groomer tours are also offered at Perisher, Falls Creek, Hotham and Mount Buller. Climb aboard the resorts' giant grooming machines and get a firsthand view of how the slopes are prepared each night. Or if you'd rather be a driver than a passenger, you can take a snow mobile tour through the vast Falls Creek back country and the slopes of Mount McKay.

Lace up

Snowshoeing is a fun way to get out among the mountain air and in the snow. Simply strap your boots into specially-made snowshoes and start walking uphill in the snow. The shoes ensure you don't sink into the snow and keep you on top.

Guided snowshoeing is offered at all the major resorts through the snow sports centres.

Chopper up

Australia's ski fields are unique, with snow gums found nowhere else in the world and wild brumbies that gallop through the snow. Check them both out from above while you take a scenic helicopter flight over the Australian Alps. Alpine Helicopter Charter ( has scenic flights for $95 on Saturdays at Mount Buller in July and August. Scenic joy flights from Hotham or between Hotham and Falls Creek are also available, weather permitting, for $99 with Hotham's Heli Link (

Mush up

Play with the puppies at Australian Sled Dog Tours ( in Dinner Plain. Brett and Neisha Hadden's team of rescue husky dogs take guests on sled tours of the surrounding bushland.

Visit on the weekend of August 10-11 for the Dinner Plain Sled Dog Challenge (, when husky teams from around the country descend on Mount Hotham to test their canine mettle.

Culture up

Mount Buller is home to Australia's only alpine cinema, with latest release movies shown daily throughout winter. Visit on June 29 for a selection of adventure films and documentaries from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour.

Both Mount Buller and Thredbo also have ski museums documenting the history of skiing in Australia. The National Alpine Museum of Australia ( at Mount Buller features ski memorabilia, artefacts, photographs, publications and maps from years gone by in Mount Buller, Victoria and Australia.

The Thredbo Ski Museum ( is run by the Thredbo Historical Society and documents Australian snow sport history with memorabilia, equipment, photos and documents. Admission is free with gold coin donations accepted.

The resorts

Thredbo Alpine Village


Falls Creek

Hotham Alpine Resort

Mount Buller