Learning to ‘boggan

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Lake Mountain 5A couple of months ago, Tash started hounding us to take her to the snow. I blame the Disney princesses for putting such notions into her head (the Disney princesses have a lot to answer for in my opinion). It certainly wasn’t my idea. I’m the type who likes to holiday somewhere warmer than home, which explains why I’ve never visited New Zealand. The idea of snow play left me, well, cold.

I conferred with the parents of one of Tash’s closest friends, who it turns out was also lobbying hard for a snow trip. Perhaps they hatched the idea at the kindergarten they both attend. Whatever the case, we decided collectively to take the kids to the snow.

Lake Mountain 22Next we had to figure out where, when, and for how long. Friends recommended staying at an alpine resort so warm baths and a change of clothes were close at hand for the kids. But the costs were prohibitive. An alternative was to stay in a nearby town and make trips to and from the snowfields. But the most affordable options required hours of driving. And what if the kids liked the idea of snow better than the reality? There was a strong possibility they’d be into it for half an hour, then complain they were cold and wet and wanted to go home.

After much research we settled on the modest objective of a day trip to Lake Mountain near Marysville. Of all of Victoria’s snowfields, Lake Mountain is closest to Melbourne at 120 km northeast of the CBD or a little over two hours’ drive for us. We figured August was a good bet in terms of snowfall, though there’s a snowmaking machine to get it through the lean seasons.

Lake Mountain 13The area was badly damaged by the February 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. Given the cold, it should have been impossible to imagine the hillsides on fire. But whiteness of the snow served to intensify the charred and blackened bush. Eighteen months on, the impact of the devastation still takes my breath away.

Marysville was where we chose to stop and hire snow gear. There are at least three hire places on the main road and it’s worth shopping around for deals. We got a ‘Snowman Package’ at Marysville Ski Centre, which provided walking boots, waterproof overpants and a toboggan for $21 per person (adults & children); another place had the same deal for kids at $16. I’d found Tash a perfect parka for $6 and overpants for $3 at Savers in Brunswick, but we forked out for mittens ($12 to buy) and boots ($10 to hire) for her — and thank goodness we did. Entry to the mountain itself is $35 per car (weekend rate, $25 weekdays), best paid by cash using the correct change.

Lake Mountain 21It was sheer luck that the weather was perfect, the sky clear and blue, the mountainsides soft with freshly fallen snow. It also meant Lake Mountain was crowded, the upper carpark already full by the time we arrived at 11 am. A shuttle-bus was ferrying people to the resort, but on the suggestion of a park volunteer, we headed through the gate near the entrance to the lower carpark, turned right and walked a short distance to a small toboggan run.

This turned out to be a good move. The gentle slope was perfect for our four-and-a-half-year-olds and it was possible to walk into the bush only metres from the toboggan run and feel as if we had the place to ourselves. There were a few other families around but not enough to make it feel crowded.

Lake Mountain 26Tash’s friend got cold feet (literally) after an hour, but Tash loved it. To begin with, Andrew and I took turns on the toboggan with her, but after a couple of hours and a few practice sessions on a smaller slope, she was tobogganing on her own. She could get enough of the ‘boggan’. She also made a snow angel, helped build a snowman, had a snowball fight — all the things she’d planned for weeks. The photos capture her pure joy at the experience.

A day at the snow is not cheap. Happily in our case, it was well worth it.

The Lake Mountain Alpine Resort website provides detailed information including daily snow reports and maps. Click here for tourist information on Marysville.
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One Response to “Learning to ‘boggan”

  1. khim Says:

    Angela,

    Send Tash over to Belfort in Jan/Feb and she can have all the snow her heart desires – for free !

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