Let's face it: while Victoria has some spectacular ski resorts and snowfields, taking a trip to the snow isn't the cheapest of holidays. Mostly, that's because we have a much shorter snow season than our colder cousins. However, that doesn't mean you need to be rolling in dough to hit the slopes; many alpine destinations offer sweet deals during the winter months.
First, one thing to note: if there's one thing you shouldn't skimp on, it's proper equipment. You can hire all your gear at any of these spots, and it's also a good idea to bring proper thermals, waterproof gear, thick socks and sunscreen.
RECOMMENDED: A comprehensive guide to Victoria's snow season.
How to do the snow on the cheap
Mt Buller is one of the easiest skiing or snowboarding spots to access from Melbourne. It's about a three-hour drive, and it offers tons of budget options. Booking early is key, and if you stay mid-week, you can take advantage of discounts on on-mountain accommodation and lift passes. If you're taking the family, you'll be pleased to hear that Buller also offers some 'kids stay free' deals, as well as free two-hour lessons for first-time skiers of all ages. Concerned there's going to be no snow on the weekend you've planned? No problem – Buller has a 'snow guarantee', which means you'll get your money back if the runs aren't open. Check out all the deals on the Buller bargains page.
This picturesque alpine village is located just two-and-a-half hours away from Melbourne. It's smaller than Mt Buller (with seven lifts), but it still offers great downhill skiing, plus snow play areas for families. Like Buller, going in the middle of the week will save you dollars, and there are deals for families as well as couples. If you're happy to get pretty basic with accommodation, the 'Bed and Shred' package is particularly helpful – from $166 per person off peak ($173 peak season) you can get two nights' stay, plus a mid-week lift ticket.
Keen to spend a day at the snow, but not as fussed about downhill skiing? Take the two-hour drive to Lake Mountain, where you'll pay $57 per vehicle to enter the resort. From there, you can choose to go tobogganing on one of the dedicated toboggan slopes, hang out with the family at the Snowman's Village, or try out cross-country skiing. Secure your equipment and clothing hire – without a deposit – with the 'click and collect' online option.
One of Australia's highest ski resorts, Mt Hotham has 13 lifts and over 80 runs suited best to intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders. Hotham has 320 hectares of ski terrain, its own airport, 18 restaurants and bars, and even a luxe day spa, but it is furthest away from Melbourne (about 4.5 hours). For a trip that won't break the bank, opt for off-peak dates (June and September) and if you can score time off, head up mid-week to catch a three-day lift pass for the cost of two.
Closest to the border of NSW, Falls Creek is nestled in the centre of the Victorian Alps, halfway between Melbourne and Canberra. Unlike other ski resorts, Falls Creek closes its on-mountain roads to vehicles for the majority of the ski season allowing for an authentic, ski-in, ski-out experience from lifts to the village. Falls Creek caters for all with downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, night skiing and some epic terrain parks for the thrill-seekers. Family-friendly activities include Thursday night fireworks and a visit from the resort’s very own snow dragon. Book online for resort entry starting at $51.50 and during off-peak periods (June and mid-late September) for discounted lift passes. Full-time uni students can get half-price lift passes on Mondays and Fridays for an extended weekend. Plus, night skiing is just $20 for adults and $10 per child.