10 Weeks At The Snow

One of the great things about indefinite travel is being able to follow the weather, or the events, that really appeal. Having grown up in suburbia, the idea of the kids spending a winter at the snow held immense appeal. So we decided become snow bunnies at Mount Hotham.

This is a lot cheaper than it sounds. Purchasing a season pass before late May makes the pass cost roughly the same as a week at the snow during peak season.  When we realized that, we decided that rather than spending just one week at the snow we would spend a whole season.  We couldn’t choose Falls Creek as there were no free camp sites in winter close enough to stay at, so we chose to go to Mt Hotham.  It is four and a half hours east of Melbourne in Gippsland’s Apine region

The trip from Kosciosko National Park to Mt Hotham is still one of the most terrible experiences we’ve had on our trip.  I panicked, I tried to calm myself down and I couldn’t — all I could do was to try and stay as quiet as possible and keep my fears to myself so that Jarrad could concentrate on driving.  (It’s worth reading about it for a bit of amusement at our expense).

It sometimes snowed on the ground around the campervan, but most of the time we had lush green grass to walk on. That is, until it turned to brown slush under where we drove.  It was a great campsite, despite Jarrad having to collect water almost daily in 20L water containers which he had to carry back to the campervan, and then syphen into the tanks.  We all loved seeing kangaroos grazing on the grass around the campervan in the mornings and evenings.

 

We had one of those moments when we realized that home-schooling is working.  There had been sleet all morning at the campervan, and Peter turned to me and said excitedly, “I’m sure if there was precipitation at Hotham today it would have been snow!”

 

Lucy, Daddy, Peter and Susan went skiing together most days. All the kids loved it and improved rapidly.  The kids did “ski school” for a few days to improve.  They loved it!  It would have been great to let them do more days, but it was just too expensive.

 

 

Peter was a complete dare devil, whereas his sisters just wanted to go fast. They improved rapidly and were soon able to parallel ski on the green runs, then the blue, and several kids progressed to skiing parallel some or most of the time on the black runs, too.

 

Susan loved making snowmen.  She got really good at them, though we noticed that other kids kept knocking them down.  She even made some on the front of the car that would sit there the whole way from the campervan to Hotham. All the kids loved making snowballs to throw.

 

 

 

Lucy loved a character called “Harry the Snowdragon” who sang and danced for the kids each Wednesday and Saturday.  She learnt all of the songs and dances, and all of the kids loved the showbags that were given out for free after each show.  They always had milo sachets, and a container of pencils.  We got so many milo sachets for free that the kids had a hot chocolate most nights to warm them up.

A highlight for Lucy was that once a week they put on a fireworks display.  She was so excited that they did fireworks on her birthday — and talks about it as having been done specially for her birthday!

 

I stayed with Edmund more than I skiied, but maybe that was because I was just so good at skiing, and Edmund loved the snow so much.  See …

 

One of the last times I skiied during our stay was alone with Peter.  He nagged and teased me to go on different runs.  Finally, he convinced me to go on a harder blue (intermediate) run.  We got off the chairlift at the topand he called out over his shoulder, “Follow me, Mum,” and I had no choice but to follow him or I’d have lost him.  It was OK to start off with, until we got to a junction.  “We can go down that run, Mum,” he offered, pointing down what looked like a straight drop to me, “Or we can go down that run,” and put that in a second one that looked almost as steep.

I had a panic attack.  I mellted down.  I stood there and stared stupidly at this little 8 year old kid, waiting for me to choose.  “No way.  Absolutely not.  You’ll kill me.  I just can’t do it.”  I told him.  I sat down on the snow.  Finally I realised I had no choice .. I’d already committed to going down.  I started down the run with Peter, but fell over and lost a ski.  I crawled back up a few meters to get the ski, and then slid down the rest of that part of the hill on my bum.  So much snow went in the back of my pants … I glared at Peter, before standing up, putting my ski back on, and doing really wide zig-zags down the rest of the slope, trying to avoid the huge bumps on the run.  We got straight on the chairlift at the bottom, and I insisted on driving back to the campervan instead of skiing any more that day.

 

Not long after that, Peter was taunting me about being a scaredy cat when I launched into one of myn over-detailed explanations on why adults get so much more scared than kids sometimes.

“Peter,” I exclaimed, really annoyed.  “It’s not until you are about twenty-five that the frontal lobe of your brain is fully developed. While it’s still developing, you find it difficult to perceive danger”

Peter thought about this, and then asked, “Mum, do you regret that your frontal lobe is fully developed? If you did, you wouldn’t be scared to go on the black runs with me.”  How do you respond to that sort of comment?

 

Lucy never needed the ski patrol while we were there. Susan only had one decent fall early on when she managed to hurt her knee. Peter usually only fell over when he was trying to jump as he loved the sensation of being in the air. He got a corked thigh once when his ski jammed in as he jumped.

 

 

Travelling Australia in a campervan since 2009 with our four children aged 4, 7, 10, and 11. We are a family living on the road. Stopping to work in rural and remote towns as we need more money, we love this lifestyle. The four kids are homeschooled as we work our way slowly around Australia.

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About Amy and Jarrad

Travelling Australia in a campervan since 2009 with our four children aged 4, 7, 10, and 11. We are a family living on the road.
Stopping to work in rural and remote towns as we need more money, we love this lifestyle. The four kids are homeschooled as we work our way slowly around Australia.

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