When you think Australia you think of beautiful beaches, barbecues, local flora and fauna and the never-ending outback. Now add great Australian ski resorts to the equation – yes ski resorts. The mountains may be small compared to overseas and the season only a few months long but they offer the snow enthusiast a fantastic time. If you’d like to experience time in the snow in Australia and in particular working an Australia ski season, read on.
The length of the ski season in Australia
The season officially begins the long weekend in June (the second weekend) and ends the long weekend in October (the second weekend). However, this can depend on the white stuff as the ski season in Australia can be extended or reduced if the white stuff appears early or late or disappears.
Qualifications required to work in the snow
It will depend on the type of job you get as to whether you are required to have a qualification. If you want to be a ski or snowboard instructor then you will definitely need a qualification. Contact the governing body, Australian Professional Snowsports Instructors (APSI) www.apsi.net.au. The website is very informative and clearly advises they do not employ instructors but can provide a list of current instructor job openings.
There are many other positions available in the snow resorts. Accommodation places need many staff including at the front of house to take bookings. Also cleaning and housekeeping staff to clean rooms and change bed sheets with the outgoing and incoming of new clients. The bars, coffee shops and restaurants also require staff as bartenders, baristas and wait staff. Plus chefs of varying levels. Staff are also needed to work in the ski equipment hire shops, in maintenance of the ski equipment, selling ski lift passes, child care and medical assistants.
How to find a position in an Australian ski resort
Positions are advertised around February in the local press and on websites. However, many contact the resorts directly. I suggest you start by visiting the websites mentioned. Most of the websites list the accommodation available so you could contact them directly. Even after the season has started you can visit the area and ask around as sometimes people leave because working in the snow wasn’t what they expected.
Major Australian snow areas
Australia has two major areas for skiing, snowboarding and other activities – one in Victoria and one in New South Wales. It does snow in lots of other lower lying places but these are the two main areas. Most recruiting for the upcoming season starts between January and April as employers try to ensure they have staff for the beginning of the season. However, positions can become available at any time due to a dumping of snow or people leaving because the job wasn’t what they thought it would be.
Ski resorts in Victoria
The Victorian ski resorts are spread in a relatively wide area North-east of Melbourne. They are between 160 to 400km away from Melbourne in the Alpine and Mt Buffalo National Parks. Resorts are mostly at the top of mountains with windy roads the only way to reach them so be prepared to rarely leave the village. Some employers give employees a week off during the season to combat ‘cabin fever’. The Victorian resorts include Mount Buller, Mount Hotham, Falls Creek, Mount Baw Baw and Lake Mountain.
Mount Hotham www.mthotham.com.au is around a five and a half hour drive away from Melbourne. It’s a short flight for those who wish to fly and is in the heart of the Great Alpine Road region. Along with Hotham’s range of snow sports, Hotham Village has a massive array of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and accommodation options to suit a huge range of budgets. Employment information can be found on the website.
Falls Creek www.fallscreek.net.au is about a 4.5 hour drive way from Melbourne. As it is Victoria’s highest ski resort and is located entirely above the snowline cars are not permitted in the village during winter. Visitors either stay on the mountain or at nearby Bogong Village or Mt Beauty and travel 15 or 30 kilometres respectively to the resort each day. Employees live and work on the mountain mostly in staff quarters. Employment is listed on the website.
Mount Buller www.mtbuller.com.au is only a 3 hour drive from Melbourne making it a very popular weekend getaway. It rises to an altitude of 1805 metres above sea level and is a great all season alpine resort. There are 25 ski lifts capable of moving 40,000 people every hour. There are around 7,000 beds available in the resort’s accommodation and a further 2,300 beds in nearby towns such as Mansfield, about a 45 minute drive away. So if you are unlucky to find work in the resort, Mansfield might be an option. Check out the website for employment opportunities.
Mount Baw Baw
Mount Baw Baw www.mountbawbaw.com.au is 173km east of Melbourne and is only a 2.5 hour drive – making it a very popular day-trip and weekend destination. As with other ski resorts there is on-mountain accommodation and all the associated facilities a visitor requires including cafes, restaurants, ski hire, etc. Check out employment on the website.
Lake Mountain www.lakemountainresort.com.au is about a 2 hour drive east of Melbourne. It is a premier cross country ski and snow play area and very popular with families. There is no on-mountain accommodation making employment limited. However, employment might be found in the nearest town of Marysville which has ski hire, cafes, restaurants and a variety of accommodation.
Ski resorts in New South Wales
In New South Wales the ski resorts are about 500km away from Sydney (about 4-5 hour drive). Many of them are connected to Jindabyne, the village at the base. They include:
Thredbo www.thredbo.com.au is a popular Australian ski resort and employs many staff when the snow falls. It offers on-mountain accommodation plus has restaurants, cafes, bars and ski hire where you might find work. Check out the website for employment opportunities.
Perisher www.perisher.com.au incorporates a number of mountain resorts and employs a lot of people during the ski season. Check out the website for employment details.
Charlotte Pass www.charlottepass.com.au is at 1760 metres and is snowbound for most of the snow season. There are no cars or buses allowed but there are ski lifts right on your doorstep. Check out the website for employment positions.
If you miss out on a position at either Perisher or Thredbo then you might be lucky in the town of Jindabyne. This thriving town has a number of places where you can begin your job search including cafes, accommodation and ski hire.
Another option for finding work in an Australian ski resort is through a recruitment agency. Try www.snowystaff.com.au.
Pay Rates when you work in an Australian ski resort
Pay rates are governed by the Alpine Resorts Award 2010 which dictates minimum pay rates for those in the snow industry. Entry level seasonal rates are from $AUD18.82 an hour. But hourly rates will depend on the type of job you get and many employers will and do negotiate rates with you. You can check out the award at www.fwc.gov.au/documents/modern_awards/award/ma000092/default.htm
So if you would like to work a season in an Australian ski resort you have a number of resort areas to choose from. No matter which snow field you decide on enjoy your time in an Australian ski resort.