See my YouTube of our Christmas day ride here
I’d been planning my and my daughter Sam’s Christmas holiday for months, with accommodation booked way back in September, we set off for the first leg on the 19th of December for a week in the Thredbo ski resort, over Christmas. Christmas is mid-summer in Australia, and is when a lot of Aussies take their annual holidays. As there's no snow the resort is open for mountain biking and hiking.
For our holiday I had wanted to ride some mountain trails on our summer break, Sam had wanted some relaxing beach-side time. As a compromise, we agreed a week in the mountains and just over a week at the beach!
Lavington, where Sam lives, is in the foothills of the Australian Alpine region, our drive to Thredbo was South East, the further we went, the more mountainous it became. A fab four hour drive on scenic twisty mountain roads.
On entry to the Kosciuzko State Park, you need to stop and buy a permit, around $12 for each day you’re there, and display the pass in your car window. The regulations are pretty tight in Aussie parks, with no dogs allowed in most of them.
I was hoping that the accommodation I’d booked, through the Australian Stayz website, was going to prove to be a good choice. I had been extra cautious when booking, it took me weeks!
Anyway on arrival we wasn’t disappointed, the ski lodge was spacious……we had eight beds for the two of us! It was tastefully and recently decorated, with equally tasteful fixtures, fittings and furniture. And very well positioned, a five minute bike ride from the Ski-lift, that takes you to the top of the trails.
Thredbo was rather quiet over Christmas, apparently most people start their summer holiday after the big birthday. A lot of the shops and restaurants weren’t open, not that we needed them, we bought our food at the supermarket which was open and cooked at the lodge.
We arrived Tuesday evening, and just took a stroll around Thredbo in the evening sun.
Wednesday we took a drive out to the Crackenback resort, where we stopped for a mid-morning coffee, then went on to Jindabyn where we stopped at a fab cafe called Birchwood, for some fine Vege lunch. There didn't appear to be much in Jindabyn, apart from a lake, perhaps we didn’t look hard enough! I think that perhaps it’s a winter resort also.
We had a visitor due on Thursday, Sam’s mate Ashley was coming for a couple of nights. We decided rather than ride the trails while she was with us, that we should hike to the top of Mount Kosciuzko. It’s kind of one of the things you have to do if you’re there, it is the highest peak in Australia after all, and is in fact one of the 'Seven Peaks', which is quest to climb the highest peak on all continents on this marvellous planet!
We took the easy way up, which is by the Ski-lift, to around three quarters of the way up, after that there’s a 14km round trip hike to the summit and back to the Ski-lift. I didn’t enjoy it all that much as the walk up is mostly on a man-made walkway, which doesn’t make it very interesting or challenging. I think there is a ‘proper’ hike up, but I didn’t really fancy that either, as I just wanted it over and done with as I wanted to be on my bike! But I’m sure the long way up is more interesting.
Bikes aren’t allowed on the walk-way btw, I think you can take a different route to somewhere near the top on a bike though. Be a fab ride down, but a punishing uphill ride!
Don't get me wrong it's definitely worth doing, just not my bag. The hike up the walk-way takes you by some beautiful scenery, and some rocky out-crops to climb on. There was still some snow here and there, melting into mountain streams and lakes. Be careful though, the sun and strong winds up there really can catch you out, as it’s cool but very sunny, with no shade, you need sun protection.
We had a picnic at the top, took photos and sat for a while then made our way down, it would have been so much better on a bike!
Facility-wise there’s toilets around half an hour down from the summit, and at the ski-lift there’s a restaurant and toilets. With cafes and shops at the bottom.
Ashley left on the Friday, and we got the bikes out and rode some short trails around the bottom of the mountain.
On Saturday we we bought a day Ski-lift pass and took it to the top and rode the Flow Trail down. Stopping for lunch, then rode it again afterwards. The All Mountain Trail and the Flow Trail start at the same point and don’t split for around 2 kilometers. And it is by no means what I would consider a flow trail during that time! I just had it in my head it would be an smooth mountain trail, but it’s quite rocky and rowdy for quite some way. Once you are around half way down it becomes what I would call a flow trail. Perhaps it seemed worse because I hadn’t ridden for so long, but I found it quite intimidating. The second run was easier, although I did have a fall on one of the big berms at the bottom. But it is a pretty good trail, definitely one to try.
Sunday, Christmas eve, we did some food shopping and short hikes in the day, then in the evening we went to, what we thought, was a Carol Service. Which actually turned out to be an evening of Carols and Christmas songs sung by a group of ladies dressed as Santa, who were rather good, in one of the hotel gardens. It was all quite festive in a daylight and sunny sort of way, with around 50 little kids getting very excited, especially when Santa turned up!
On Monday, Christmas day, we got the bikes out again and rode the All Mountain Trail. It's a pretty rad way to spend Christmas Day, the best ever I'd say! The trail really is pretty awesome, with varying terrain as the name suggests and is 10km long. We got on the wrong trail at the bottom and missed some of the flow line, there’s two different exits, one of which need some pedalling (swearing).
I really want to ride the All Mountain Trail again, what you really need to do to enjoy the ride is to carry your downhill speed through to make the uphill parts easier, which is something I wasn’t doing. Hopefully I’ll get back there one of these days, and ride it better. After the riding, we cooked ourselves a ‘Christmas Dinner’, and took an evening stroll on one of the short hikes.
Leaving around 10am on the Tuesday, I was really sorry to go, and regretting that I’d only ridden the trails twice. An opportunity missed, alas I just didn’t have the energy!
And so on to our second stop of our trip, the coast.
You can find a link to the Three Bears No. 1 chalet here
You can check-out Thredbo facilities here