We got back to the flat, packed the van and were having a cup of tea with Gail when Bron called to say we could collect her and be on our way. The drive was quite interesting, with a toll road bridge ($14) crossing the Yarra river and leading into a set of impressive highways leading out of Melbourne. Once out of the suburbs we had a double carriage road, the road link to Sydney, for most of the way, and the speed limit increased to 110kph. We turned off the national road and headed through Bright, a lovely holiday town on the banks of a river, with lots of motels and camp sights, and then over a pretty mountain pass to Mt Beauty
. Here we filled up and hired snow chains, which have to be carried in all vehicles entering the alpine area, although we were now 30km from where we were due to ski and had only seen snow on a distant peak. $35 and a $100 deposit got us our wheel chains, which we deposited in the boot, and headed for the alpine resort of Falls Creek. The road to the resort was a fairly steep narrow mountain pass and it started to get a lot cooler. 5km from the resort we got to the entry gate where we were charged $200 to get into the resort and given directions to our lodge and a handful of Lindt chocolate balls. Soon after we left the gate the road headed around to the south side of the mountain and above the snow line. We arrived at the resort and after a couple wrong turns, found our ski lodge, the Alpine View. It is at the top of the ski lift heading up from the village overlooking the Bowl, where two other ski lifts start. Another perfect position.
After unpacking, Al had to take the van down to the village where a parking attendant met him and led him to the overnight parking area at the other end of the village, and then brought him back to the lodge. Our apartment is delightful, clean and well equipped and a big gas braai on the veranda, so it was red wine and braaied chicken sosaties from Woollies for dinner.
Sunday morning as the slopes opened, we walked down a dozen or so steps from Alpine View and into the ski hire shop in the building in front of the lodge, about 30 paces away, and got fitted for our boots & skis and were issued with our ski passes
. A short ski from in front of the ski shop got us to the base of the Eagle ski lift and up to the southern slopes where we spent most of our day. We had lunch on Ruined Castle slope. The village is at an altitude of 1600m, with the highest mountain point at 1849m and the highest altitude accessible by lift 1780m. Their skiing season is around 130 days with this year's season ending on Sunday, so we just squeeked in. They have 15 lifts and 92 runs (including cross country and Nordic trails), the longest downhill run being a black run 3km long. We counted 52 downhill runs on the trail map & did at least 23 of the runs, some of them two, three and four times mostly in Drovers and Castle terrain parks, and a couple of runs into the Bowl, the last one being our ski back to our apartment at about 16h00 - a serious day's skiing. Bronnie was leading the way on the way home, and took a wrong turning towards the rest of the village. We skied into the Bowl and within 30m of our ski room, but 'lost' Bronwyn was saved by a knight on a shining skimobile and dropped at a short slope 30m above the apartment & skied straight to the door of the ski room. What it is to be a young & gorgeous.
Al had taken a tumble on one of the last slopes going really fast and seems to have pulled a calf muscle, so the girls gave him a Myprodol and went shopping for some Voltaren. We were all exhausted so just heated up a frozen lasagna for dinner and then an early night
On Monday we had a later start with sore bodies and Al's leg was really swollen. We skied from the apartment to the Summit lift, about 300m away & skied the blue slopes into the Bowl, where home is, a few times to see how Al's leg would handle it. Seemingly not too bad as after a couple of blue slopes he & Bron hit a couple of blacks. Al had an impressive tumble on one of the black slopes, sliding down about 70m on his back, but got up and going again and we went across the mountain to ski around Cloud 9. It was -1 degrees and fairly windy at the top, so we had hot chocolate and gluwein for a late morning tea to warm us up. We skied around Drommers for the morning and then headed home at about 14h00 for soup and toast for lunch. Al's leg had swollen up a bit, so he kept his leg up & we all had a good doss. As it was Braai Day in SA, we braaied good Aussie lamb chops and spuds for dinner and had watched TV until late. The local TV is pretty arb and the ads really basic, but they show good movies and have Big Brother on for an hour a day, which is very different to what we had and is pretty entertaining.
This morning we woke up to a magnificent day, and were on the slopes by 8am. We headed across to the Ruined Castle slopes & terrain and skied for a few hours on perfectly groomed slopes virtually by ourselves
. It was magnificent and we played for ages and filmed each other skiing down the slopes. We then caught the lift to Cloud 9 and had our morning gluwein & skied the slopes around there. This is where all the lessons take place and it was pretty busy, so we headed back to Ruined Castle. The temperature was up to 6 deg and the midday sun not helping the snow. It had got quite slushy so after a few runs and Bron & Al skiing over a couple of the jumps in the board park, but without actually jumping and doing more damage, we stopped for a lunch of hot dogs with 'the lot' and, of course, more gluwein. After lunch we caught the Scott lift and skied back to the Bowl. Instead of heading straight home, we caught the lift to the summit and did a couple of runs before heading home for our afternoon snooze. Al & Deb went for a good long exploring walk around the village in the late afternoon to exercise Al's leg, stock up on local wine, and look for a restaurant. With the season coming to an end the locals tell us that even though snow is forecast for the weekend, everything closes and even the restaurants are pretty slow. We will probably just cook for ourselves.
Tomorrow is our last day of skiing and the forecast is for 8 deg, so we wanna get up there before the snow spoils, so hopefully an early night is on the cards.
Saturday morning, so Col & Bron went off to work at 9 and not 8 as during the week. As soon as they had left we got moving and took Gail to Docklands for breakfast. Bron had brought a 4WD Jucy van home the night before for our trip to the ski slopes, so we drove into the city. It was the best weather we had had since getting to Melbourne, with not a cloud in the sky and temperature of 23deg.