There are two types of skiers: dead cats and mountain rats. This is according to a friend who joined us on a family ski trip last week. He’s one of those annoying people who – after a handful of lessons – parallels down runs as gracefully as a gazelle.
I, on the other hand, windmill wildly until splatting on the slope like a dead cat. Children are usually like rats, scurrying over the mountain without a care in the world. In contrast, this is my internal dialogue from the moment I slip on skis, to the final release – oh dear, that sounds like death.
“OK, better go slowly. Don’t want to break a leg. Or a wrist. That would be worse. Couldn’t type, write, or do up buttons. Would be confined to tracksuit pants. Never a good look.”
Still, I love it: the cool calm of the alpine air, the chocolate-box beauty of the villages, and the indescribable feeling of freedom – before the big splat. We decide to go to Perisher, not because it would be a quirky joke on my tombstone. It has loads of kiddy runs, especially at Smiggin Holes.
This is the best season in more than a decade. We’re greeted by blue skies, fresh powder – and whingeing.
Anyone who’s skied with kids knows you have to send them to Uncle Chopper’s school to harden up. Me: “Put your clothes and boots on, by yourselves, or we’re locking you in the room with no food and TV. Right?”
Kids: “Isn’t that illegal?”
Me: “What can I say? I’m a rule-breaker.”
Soon we’re having the time of our lives, rambling down Wombat’s after catching the new Freedom quad chair to Guthega. This area is picture-perfect, even with two tiny terrors.
It’s on Side Saddle that our friend performs his perfect parallels, as my scream echoes through the mountains, “You bas*#rd!” (Sorry, kids.)
Also joining us is his wife, who’s zipping around on a Ski-Doo, and their two girls, ensconced in ski school. Perisher Valley Hotel is ideal for families, and has separate sleeping quarters for parents and kids, and balconies overlooking Front Valley.
The food in Snow Gums Restaurant is superb: scampi tart with fennel, followed by braised beef cheek and kale. Kids’ faves include lasagne, fish ‘n’ chips, and schnitzel. And the service? Everyone greets you like a long-lost friend. (Be sure to book a massage with Carol: She knows every muscle damaged by doing the dead cat.)
On our last day we meet a family full of former skiing champions. I end up eating a seven-course degustation consisting entirely of snow. (No yellow course, fortunately). John and Sally kindly decline to mention it. Here are their tips for an affordable family holiday on the snow:
■ If you’re staying on the mountain, drop the family at the resort, then drive down to Bullocks Flats and hop on the Skitube for the trip up. Family fares on the alpine railway are too expensive.
■ Bring up as much food as you can. Eating out costs a bomb – in “snow dollars”, as John says. Or, stay and self-cater at Jindabyne.
■ Try end-of-season deals. You can buy Perisher’s 2015 Freedom Pass now for a 55 per cent discount off the regular season pass.
Perisher Valley Hotel has a spring special of bed and breakfast for $149 a night, with kids $99 each. At the Station, kids stay for free.
Dead cat, mountain rat: Whatever you are, it’s a cracking season. And I’m not talking about bones …
Mama Holiday and family travelled courtesy of perisher.com.au