Travel to Perisher NSW

http://www.powderhounds.com/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/images/Australia/Perisher/GettingThere/01.jpg

Travel to Perisher NSW

Avalanche Safety Courses Australia
World Nomads Travel Insurance

Where is Perisher NSW?

Perisher Australia is located in New South Wales in the Snowy Mountains in the Kosciuszko National Park.

Perisher (formerly Perisher Blue) is made up of four ski areas and three villages, of which Perisher Valley is the largest. Smiggin Holes is 2km to the northeast of Perisher Valley, whilst Guthega is to the northwest, and by road the drive is about 29km from PV. The Blue Cow ski area is only accessible via SkiTube (train).

Driving distances - Perisher Valley is: 
  • 489km southwest of Sydney (a drive that takes about 5.5 to 6 hours depending on how horrendous the weekend traffic is)
  • 607km northeast of Melbourne (6-7 hours)
  • 210km SW of Canberra
  • 78km from the Cooma Airport (Snowy Mountains Airport)
  • 95km from the town of Cooma
  • 31km west of the cute little town of Jindabyne, a drive that takes about 30 minutes.

Driving to Perisher Australia

The drive to Perisher from Sydney or Canberra is relatively easy. Just past Jindabyne, continue on Kosciuszko Road rather than turning left onto Alpine Way (which heads to Thredbo and the SkiTube). The road up to Perisher Valley (and Smiggin Holes) is like a highway compared to the Victoria ski fields, and there are even various overtaking lanes. It’s usually a pretty easy drive because in addition to being a wide road, it’s not very windy or steep, it’s below the tree line, and there are plenty of safety barriers. That being said, it can become quite unsafe when there’s lots of snow and/or ice on the road, there are too many drivers that are inexperienced with snow/mountain driving, and others that get impatient with the wally drivers and overtake in an unsafe manner. Wildlife on the road adds to the challenge of driving to Perisher NSW.

If driving to Guthega, you turn off Kosciuszko Road just before the old Sponars Chalet. The drive to Guthega compared to Perisher Valley is more challenging and includes a 6.5km unsealed section. It is advised for those with mountain driving experience only. The hard-core locals like this road because it avoids the oft congested road up to Perisher Valley and is great for powder day freshies.

If you’re driving from Melbourne, there are three main routes to drive to Perisher. Option one is to drive up via the Hume Highway to Wodonga and then drive to Khancoban to meet up with the Alpine Way, which goes past Thredbo. The road between Khancoban is very picturesque but somewhat narrow and very windy, and it can be particularly challenging at night. Option two is to go via the Princes Highway and turn off to Buchan and come in via Barry Way. It takes a fraction longer than option 2 and is also winding and has large sections of unpaved road. The third option is longer but easier which is to continue up to Cann River and onto Bombala then Jindabyne.

Are Chains Required to Drive to Perisher?

Often there is no snow on the road up to Perisher NSW, but it required that any 2WD vehicles entering Kosciuszko National Park have chains in the car just in case. You need to know how to apply the tyre chains when directed to do so via signage, park rangers or police. 4WD and AWD vehicles are not legally required to carry chains but they’re certainly a good idea if the forecast looks like a big snowstorm is on its way. If you’re driving to Guthega, carrying tyre chains is recommended for all vehicles. Note that the police will fine 2WD cars without chains.

Tyre chains can be hired in nearby towns such as Jindabyne, Cooma and Khancoban.

See the driving to the Australian ski resorts page for tips on chains, driving in the snow, and diesel vehicles. 

National Park Fees

National park fees need to be paid when you enter the Kosciuszko National Park. The park entry fees are pricy but not exorbitant when you compare them to the resort entry fees at the Victorian ski resorts. Day and multiday park entry passes can be purchased at the NPWS vehicle entry station on the entrance to the park, or you can purchase online. Note that if you’re taking the SkiTube (see below) the national park fees are included in the cost of the train. Ditto if you catch a bus between Jindabyne and Perisher.

Parking at Perisher

Perisher Valley has extensive day parking that seems to be spread a mighty long way along Kosciuszko Road, so it can be a lengthy walk from your car park to the day centre and slopes. Occasionally there are so many crowds at Perisher that the car park reaches capacity and they close the road. The day parking is free, although of course you need to pay the national park fees. Overnight parking at Perisher Valley is close to negligible. A few of the lodgings provide very limited parking, and you usually have to pay a lot for the privilege. Most people visiting Perisher Valley for overnight stays need to park down at Bullocks Flat (just outside the National Park) and catch the SkiTube to Perisher.

Smiggin Holes has free day car parking which is conveniently located right next to the slopes and lifts. There is very limited overnight parking for some of the lodges.

Guthega has 60 day parking spaces and 50 overnight spaces. Whilst there isn’t a lot of parking at Guthega, it tends to mostly just attract hard-core locals with 4WDs, especially on powder days when the road conditions and likely car park conditions tend to put others off.

Perisher Ski Tube

The Skitube is a train that travels from Bullocks Flat on the Alpine Way adjacent to Lake Crackenback through a tunnel up to Perisher Valley and then via another tunnel to drop skiers and snowboarders off at Blue Cow (not tobogganers). There is free day and overnight parking at Bullocks Flat, which is outside the national park and below the snowline, so you usually don’t need chains.

There is a substantial cost involved with catching the Skitube between Bullocks Flat and Perisher Valley, whilst the train between Perisher Valley and Blue Cow is free if you have a valid lift pass. The costs are substantially reduced if you have an Epic Pass, and a season pass for the Skitube is rather inexpensive. The trains travel very regularly. They start early in the morning at 5:30am and on weekends they travel well into the evening. There are restrictions on taking luggage on the train at certain times of the day e.g. 7am to 11am uphill and 3pm to 6pm downhill.

SkiTube Versus Driving

The SkiTube is charged per person whereas the national park fees are per car, so comparing the cost of the SkiTube versus driving and the associated national park fees depends on how many people are travelling, how many nights you’ll be staying on-mountain at Perisher Valley (or Smiggin Holes), and whether you have an Epic Pass. Whether you own tyre chains for your 2WD car will also be a cost consideration. For a day trip, if you have multiple people in the car, it will be cheaper to pay for the national park fees and drive to Perisher. Considering the costs associated with either option, it’s no great surprise that some families that visit Perisher for a multi-day stay undertake the time consuming process of driving to Perisher to drop off luggage and the family, and then one person drives down to Bullocks Flat to catch the train up.

Pros of the SkiTube
  • Almost essential if you’re staying overnight at Perisher Valley, because the majority of lodgings there do not provide overnight parking.
  • You can avoid hiring chains for your 2WD vehicle and if the road is snowy, you don’t have to put tyre chains on and get your nice outfit muddy.
  • Good if you’re not confident driving on icy or snowy mountainous roads.
  • Ideal for day trips if you want to get off at Blue Cow and avoid the masses on Front Valley at Perisher Valley (there is no road access to Blue Cow in winter).
  • Ideal if you’re arriving late morning, by which time the closest car parks are a long way from the slopes.
  • It’s a fun experience for kids.
  • Hopefully it’s better for the environment.
  • The Perisher Valley Skitube Terminal has a doughnut shop and the aroma is very alluring at the end of a hard day on the slopes.
Cons of the SkiTube
  • Expensive for a day trip unless you have an Epic Pass and a season pass for the train.
  • There are certain times of the day that you can’t take luggage on the train.
  • You have to breathe the same air as hundreds of others.
  • It probably takes longer (unless the roads are really snowy and it’s a busy peak weekend on the road) than driving by the time you park your car at Bullocks Flat, lug your gear, wait for a train, and then ride the train.
  • Extra lugging around of gear if you’ve got kids.
  • Day trippers will need to hire a locker if you want somewhere to store spare clothes, snacks etc.

Oversnow Transport

Overnight guests at Perisher Valley then need to get from the Perisher Valley Skitube station to their accommodation. Oversnow transport is required to access most of the on-mountain lodging. Some hotels and lodges provide their own oversnow transport, whilst for most of the lodges you have to get Hans Oversnow (kiosk located in the SkiTube building) to transport you and your luggage. The fees are charged per person and they charge for excess baggage, and the fees are dependent on how far away the lodge is. For a family, the cost of just getting to Perisher Valley can be the equivalent of a small fortune. And if you need oversnow transport for Smiggins, then they charge a bomb for a 4WD transfer plus oversnow.

For guests at the Guthega Inn, oversnow transport is provided from the Guthega car park.

Flying

The Snowy Mountains Airport is located 16km southwest of Cooma on the Kosciuszko Road, and 78km east of Perisher Valley, a drive that takes about an hour. There are flights between Brisbane and the Snowy Mountains Airport a few times a week, whilst flights from Sydney seem to just be for chartered flights these days. There are various shuttle operators that provide transfers between Cooma Airport and Perisher that need to be pre-booked. Some of these only go to the SkiTube, which adds another step and more dollars to travelling to Perisher, so check this when you book. It’s also possible to get a helicopter from the airport to Perisher.

Canberra Airport is another option which is 208km northeast of Perisher Valley (2.5 hours), and you can rent a car or get a shuttle from the Canberra Airport to Perisher.

Bus to Perisher

There are a few bus companies that offer buses to Perisher from Sydney, Canberra and Canberra Airport, with schedules that mostly line up with weekend trips. There are also buses to Perisher on the weekend with Port Stephens Coaches from Port Stephens, Newcastle, and Central Coast.

Getting between Jindabyne and the Ski Resort

You can drive from Jindabyne to Perisher or do the drive and skitube combo, or there are private door-to-door shuttle services between Jindabyne and the Ski Tube or to Perisher, Smiggin Holes & Guthega. There are also inexpensive buses from Jindabyne to Perisher with companies such as Cooma Coaches.

Getting Around Perisher

There are frequent free buses that operate between the turning circle at the Perisher Valley Skitube Terminal and the Smiggins Hotel at Smiggin Holes.

To get between Perisher Valley and Blue Cow, you can either ski or catch the skitube.

Travelling between Perisher Valley and Guthega is trickier (unless skiing/snowboarding) as it requires a long drive (unless you have a snowmobile!).

Whilst it’s nice that Perisher Valley is snow-bound, getting around the “village” can pose some challenges as the roads are not cleared. Perisher Valley village is a large collection of mostly ski lodges that are geographically very dispersed (the history of this is related to getting national park permits and needing to keep lodges apart to deal with septic waste), and the lodges can sit as far as 1.5km away from the main buildings and lifts of Perisher Resort. Most of the lodges are separated from the ski slopes by the Perisher Creek, and there are surprisingly very few bridges, other than snow bridges that connect the two sides. Lots of locals seem to have a snowmobile and some of the lodges have their own snowcat to transport supplies and guests around. If you venture out in the evenings to the limited number of restaurants and bars, and you find walking in snow too taxing, it is possible to organise a commercial oversnow transport operator. Unfortunately it’s not like Falls Creek where free snowcat shuttles do loops around the snowy streets.

Other Ski Resorts Nearby

Charlotte Pass Snow Resort is only 10km southwest of Perisher Valley. Despite the base of Charlotte only being at 1,755 metres (the same elevation as the Mt Hotham road), the road is closed during winter. To get there, you catch an oversnow from the Perisher SkiTube to Charlotte Pass, which takes 45 minutes and is frightfully expensive, just to add to the time and exorbitant costs of getting on the SkiTube. The ski resort itself is small and only has one chairlift.

Thredbo is close by and just to the southwest of Perisher, although it’s 62km by road to get there. Thredbo is located on the Alpine Way which is also the road where Bullocks Flat is located, where the SkiTube trains depart to travel to Perisher.

Selwyn Snowfields is located to the north, 162km by road and a drive that takes about 2.5 hours.

If you want to use your Epic Pass at Falls Creek or Hotham, both resorts are a long way by road being about 350km away. Or it’s possible to get a helicopter flight between Perisher and Falls Creek or Hotham.
150