In Part 1 of the Beginner’s Guide: Wine and dine to the NSW Snowy Mountains, we wined and dined our way through the Murrumbateman wine region and Yass. Be sure to read that post if you haven’t already!
In Part 2 of the guide, we visit the first of two stops in the NSW Snowy Mountains – Thredbo.
The drive from Yass to Thredbo was just over 3 hours. Time flew by as we took in the scenery of cattle grazing, sheep roaming around the paddock and the picturesque landscape of South-Western New South Wales. We passed Cooma (an idyllic town with small country town charms) and Jindabyne (located at the base of Mt Kosciuszko and used by many as the service town to the ski fields of Thredbo, Perisher Valley and Charlotte Pass).
Our eyes lit up on approach to Jindabyne when we saw the first glimpse of the Snowy Mountains. Jen couldn’t contain her excitement and screamed of joy, knowing that in a short while, we’ll be at Thredbo playing with the snow and having snowballs fights.
Wildbrumby Schnapps Distillery
We stopped by the Wildbrumby Schnapps Distillery for lunch, before embarking on the final leg of the drive to Thredbo. Located only a short 20 minute drive away from Thredbo, Wildbrumby Schnapps Distillery boasts award winning schnapps, Austrian inspired food and contemporary art. As we walked into the restaurant the atmosphere was inviting, warm and fun.
Jen and I ordered the Farmer’s Prandl ($35) with German sausage, kassler, kipfler potatoes, and sauerkraut and the homemade pate ($12) to share.
The kassler was the hero of the Farmer’s Prandl, it was hearty, meaty and delicious. Jen was all “meated out” from the cassoulet that she had the previous night at Clementine in Yass, and opted to have more of the sauerkraut and baked potatoes. I was not complaining!
The duck liver pate velvety and rich; paired with the orange marmalade and gherkin, it was a wonderful combination of sweet, sour and savoury.
The Wildbrumby Schcapps Distillery produce all their schnapps in-house. For those who are not familiar with schnapps, it an alcoholic beverage produced by mixing neutral grain spirit with fruit or other flavors. The schnapps flavours produced at the Wildbrumby ranges from mango to apple, lemon, pear, peach and butterscotch. For the brave or one in need of a warm drink, especially during winter, you’ll need to try the devil’s tongue. Secret ingredient? Habanero. It goes down chilli and hot and drinks like a whisky!
As luck would have it, snow started to fall as we were leaving for Thredbo. Jen and I looked at each other and we knew we were in for a great weekend on the snow fields.
Wildbrumby Schnapps Distillery
Corner of Wollondibby Rd and the Alpine Way, Jindabyne NSW
Phone: (02) 6457 1447
Monday – Sunday 10am-6pm
Driving up to Thredbo, Mt Kosciuszko
Driving up Mt Kosciuszko can be a challenge and care should be taken as the presence of snow or ice on the road can produce slippery conditions. If your car is not a 4WD, your tyres will need to be fitted with snow chains. Like me, if you haven’t been to the snows before, you do not need to worry as designated areas patrolled by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) staff prior to Thredbo can help you fit them on. Luckily for us, we hired a 4WD and didn’t need to stop for snow chains.
Thredbo is a popular destination for skiers of all levels. It is a vibrant town with lodges, shopping and nightlife. It has the longest ski runs in Australia and is also home to the highest cafe in Australia (more on that later).
Established in the mid 1950s by a Czechoslovakian gentleman named Tony Sponar. Tony was working as a photographer for the Snowy Mountains Authority when he saw the vision on what the modern day Thredbo could become and established the Kosciuszko Chairlift and Thredbo Hotel Syndicate. The Syndicate attained a lease in January 1957 to commence work on building the first chairlift and basic accommodation. The challenge for Tony and his team in obtaining a 99 year lease was the need to build a ski lift and a 100 bed hotel within five years. Needing additional finance and construction expertise the syndicate was acquired by Lend Lease in 1961 and owned until 1987.
In January 1987 the Greater Union Organisation, purchased the lease and invested over $30 million in the summer of 1987/88 to install the largest snow making facility in the southern hemisphere along with two state of the art detachable quad chairs.
Where to stay?
The Thredbo Alpine Hotel is centrally located and close to all the amenities. It is next door to the Thredbo Alpine Village – a hot spot for shopping, food and drinks. There are two bars and a restaurant, a cosy fireplace to stay warm and ski locks for those using their own ski/snowboard equipment.
Our room was fitted with an electric column heater and with temperatures dropping to -5° at night, we could almost do with two! Overlooking the Kosciuszko Express lift and the hotel’s pool (frozen) we had an expansive view of Mt Kosciuszko and the beautiful natural scenery.
A quick wonder around Thredbo…
Apart from skiing, there were many things to do in Thredbo. Being our first time at the snows together, we wanted to take in as much of the scenery as possible. Not long after checking in we were on foot wandering around town.
At the Thredbo Alpine Village, there were many shops, ranging from ski shops to grocery and real estate (why not buy a lodge?). There were also pubs, casual eateries or for those wanting to sit back and relax, you can grab a drink at Central Road 2625 and enjoy the view of the snow.
A quick tip for beginners – if you do not have your ski clothing on, a beanie and snow gloves is a must!
I would recommend a quick visit to the Thredbo Ski Museum, also located at Thredbo Alpine Village. The entry is free and there are lots of historical articles and artefacts depicting the evolution of skiing over the years. It was fascinating to flick through the historical photos of Thredbo and see how much it had evolved over the past 60 years.
After the musuem, we were ready to roll up our sleeves and get right into the… snow! We ran around, we stomped on snow, we chucked snow in the air. What else does one do when they see so much snow in one place?
Our first impressions of the snow? It was soft, fluffy and surprisingly not as cold as first imagined. We had a lot of fun playing, chucking and building the snowman. What do you think of our snowman?
We ventured around the outskirts of the village and the sight the lodges, trees, cars, river all covered in snow was a surreal experience. Everything was white and beautiful.
The best way to ski is to get ski lessons. Jen and I had never skied before and we were keen to get some time under our belt (or shall I say skis). We made our way to Friday Flat (a short free shuttle bus ride away from Thredbo Alpine Hotel) to pick up our ski hire rentals (we hired the ski jacket, pants, boots, ski blades and poles).
After putting on our ski equipment with the help of the staff at Thredbo Sports Retail, we were ready to take our first ski lesson. We clumsily stomped (ski boots are heavy and can be difficult to walk in!) our way to the ski lesson meeting area.
Note: for those looking for a bit less adventure, there are also the snow tubing and tobogganing at Friday Flats.
As they say, you should crawl before you walk and walk before you run and that’s exactly what we did during our first ski group lesson.
After a quick demonstration from our ski instructor, the first thing we learned was how to clip on the ski blades. A few times of clipping and un-clipping and we began to walk with our ski blades on to get a feel on gliding through the snow.
Not long after this, we were ready to tackle our first ski slope – a mini hill for beginners! We stomped onto the conveyor belt with our skis on and learned how to brake on the snow using a technique called the snow plough or V-stop (skis pointed in a V shape).
Surprisingly, it required a fair bit of thigh power.
After practising a few more times and gaining more confidence, we moved onto a new challenge – a bigger hill! Again, practising the V-stop, but this time at a faster speed.
We finished our first ski lesson by learning to turn (leaning weight on the leg opposite to the direction of the turn). It felt unnatural at first, however after a few practice runs, things flowed and we were more at ease. I learnt that the less tense I was less, the better I skied. Isn’t it so true with most things in life?
Thredbo’s ski school is extremely well equipped to cater for private or group lessons and it felt like there were literally hundreds of instructors on the fields. It was definitely time well spent and I would highly recommend anyone new to skiing to take ski lessons before venturing up the snowfields. It’s a sport where getting the basics right is important followed by lots of practice, practice, and more practice.
As we were walking back to return our ski hire, we saw people from all ages learning to ski. Skiing is a sport for everyone and if you’ve never done it before, why not add it to your bucket list?
Eagles Nest Restaurant
The Eagles Nest Restaurant is a must do at Thredbo. Located at 1,937 metres above sea level, Eagles Nest Restaurant is Australia’s highest restaurant.
There was only one way to the restaurant, catching the Kosciuszko Express lift. Bracing the shivering cold temperatures in the frozen seats was well worth gaining the spectacular panoramic view of Thredbo.
We ordered some homemade scones ($9.90) to start. They were hot and fluffy and secretly, scones are definitely our go-to food whenever we want something comforting.
I had the deluxe eagle burger ($26), a grilled Angus beef patty with caramelised onions, Swiss cheese, bacon, salad greens, tomato and a special homemade sauce served with a side of fries. The burger had all the trimmings, which considering how high the restaurant was and the effort required to get the ingredients up, was quite impressive.
Jen ordered the seafood basket ($26.90) which had a generous selection of crumbed seafood including calamari, prawns, scallop and fish fillets and a small garden salad.
Eagles Nest Restaurant
Top Of Kosciuszko Chairlift Kosciuszko Express Quad Chair, Thredbo NSW
Phone: +61 2 6457 6019
Winter – 9am till 3.30pm
Summer – 9.30am till 3.30pm
Summer School Holidays – 9am till 4pm
The Terrace Restaurant
Located near the Thredbo Alphine Hotel, The Terrace Restaurant was a short walk away and a great place to dine.
As the name suggests The Terrace Restaurant is situated on the Terrace of The Denham Hotel. Minutes after we sat down by the window, we saw whirling masses of snow and wind circulating the air, we couldn’t have picked a better time to be indoors.
For entree we shared the The Deli Man ($16.50 per person), a charcuterie plate of prosciutto, wagyu bresaola, farmhouse cheeses, smoked trout pate, house pickled vegetables and bread. The pickled carrots and watercress offered a refreshing balance to the hearty selection of cured meats and cheeses.
For Jen’s main, she had the crab linguini ($36) which consisted of house made linguini, cherry tomato, basil, chilli and garlic. The linguini was slightly clumped together, although it was easily forgiven with the satisfying ratio of crab meat tossed throughout the dish.
For my main I ordered the 300g wagyu porterhouse, marble 7+ ($55), served with potato dauphinoise and creamed spinach. The meat was cooked perfectly medium-rare and was very tender. Paired with the classic flavours of potato and spinach it went down very well with the Kosciuszko Pale Ale.
For dessert we shared the Turkish Delight Eton Mess ($14.50) with pomegranate molasses and Persian fairy floss. With actual chunks of rose flavoured Turkish delight intertwined with crispy meringue kisses and the richness of cream, the eton mess was indulgently sweet but we polished it all anyway, knowing that we’d need excessive calories to keep warm.
The Terrace Restaurant
21 Diggings Terrace, Thredbo Village, NSW
Phone: +61 2 6457 6039
Website: Terrace Restaurant
Winter – 6pm till late. Seven days a week
Summer – 6pm till late. Open Friday, Saturday & Sunday.
In the final and part 3 of the beginner’s guide to the Snowy Mountains, we will take you to our second stop of the Snowy Mountains at Charlotte Pass.
Photography by Jennifer Lam
I Ate My Way Through travelled to the NSW Snowy Mountains as guests of Destination NSW