At a time of year when the majority of families are heading to the beach, we opted this festive season to spend a few days in Thredbo to experience all that is on offer for summer mountain fun. I had previously spent a couple of days this year having some one on one time with my oldest in Thredbo, and was so impressed with the huge amount of activities on offer and things to do that we planned some recuperation post Christmas for the whole family.
After a weekend of festive over-eating, a four day stint of fresh mountain air and non stop activity was the perfect antidote. I really can't recommend Thredbo highly enough if you love being in the outdoors and staying active. We could easily have doubled our time there and still have had a list of things we wanted to do whilst there. It's just that kind of place if you love keeping on the go!
So what is there for families to do in the school holidays? The list of options is huge but to give you a feel for what is possible, here we go.......(please note that activities will depend on the age of your kids with more adventurous options possible the older your kids are)
Thredbo tourism really has nailed the family travel market before you even venture into the mountains themselves. They have a full schedule of family entertainment and activities including bob sledding, face painting, trampolines, leisure centre with water slide and a fantastic indoor sports set up including basketball, netball, table tennis, rock climbing and more. We ran into a day of very rainy weather so it was great to still have so much on offer to keep the kids active instead of sitting in front of the telly.
The village green is where you will find a great kids park, younger kids bmx track, skate ramp, tennis courts and green space where each evening there were large groups of families playing soccer and touch footy. This green space is perfect for kids to play the day away while parents can either relax under a tree or get involved.
Our girls also loved and spent endless hours riding their bikes and scooters over the ramps course near the main chairlift and completed the Thredbo Treasure Hunt which involved unlocking clues and visiting many landmarks in the village to receive the necessary stamps to complete the hunt.
The village itself is very pedestrian friendly so once you arrive you can really park the car away and spend your time walking and riding everywhere which is nice.
Thredbo Hiking and Biking (Mountains and River)
So the real reason you want to visit the Snowy Mountains is the beautiful natural setting and the non stop options for outdoor adventure and relaxation. The walk to Australia's highest peak is a must do in the region and is possible with kids - read my Kosciusko article for full details, hints and advice for making it to to the top with kids.
We have also hiked the Merrits Traverse hike from the top of the Kosi chairlift which saw us follow a steep descent through some stunning high altitude mountain scapes all the way down to the village. There were some pretty waterfalls and forested areas along the way on this 5km hike which took us a bit over two and a half hours. This was at a very relaxed pace which was set by our four year old but with older kids or just adults you could do it in half the time. Both our kids managed it pretty well (with the odd whinge along the way) and were pretty happy with themselves once they got to the base and looked back to the top station and saw how far they had come. Note this walk is very steep in sections so sturdy footwear is recommended.
A very easy, serene and pretty walk straight from the the village green is the river trail. A great first hike option for those of you with smaller kids. I recommend doing this one early in the morning to really enjoy the sounds of the river with the quietness of nobody about.
There are literally dozens of trails for both hiking and mountain biking straight from the village and nearby along the main road. Check out the Thredbo website for full details.
On our most recent visit to Thredbo I was excited to complete the Thredbo River Track which links Thredbo village to Lake Crackenback. Predominantly downhill but with some inclines along the way as well, the walk is 16.7 kilometres so a good workout and took me just over three hours to complete (this one I did on my own without the kids).
The scenery is the most impressive in the firsst 6 kilometre section so a shorter option with kids is to head out from Thredbo and reach a couple of the impressive river suspension bridges and then make your way back along the same path. Alternately if someone can pick you up making it to Ngarigo campground is another good option and will cover the best scenery showcasing the prettiness of the river and surrounding forest. Its the kind of trail that is just fun, scenic and rewarding particularly to complete solo!
Surprisingly I didn't pass a single hiker on this trail but there were quite a few mountain bikers with many kids along for the ride. It's a fun ride with plenty of challenges to keep you concentrating. If you hike this one alone as a female you will feel safe during the busy periods with enough cyclists and families passing by to know you are not alone.
So what else can you experience?
The beauty of this holiday was that it wasn't just about keeping the kids happy. There are so many options for adults to chase their own little bit of adventure and we found the close proximity to everything meant we could easily duck out to do things, taking it in turn to be with the kids.
Hubby enjoyed some good hours fishing and is already planning a return trip in the next few weeks. Maybe that had something to do with the number of hours he put in without catching a fish :-)
I enjoyed the bike trails and loved the horse ride I had with Thredbo Valley Horse Riding. This was a fantastic morning and as someone who has grown up riding horses I found the horses to be exceptionally well cared for and beautifully trained so they were very responsive to ride. As a little bonus at the end of my ride the girls had a short ride each for a small extra cost that they found super exciting.
Venturing a short way from Thredbo (approximately 17 kms) the area of Lake Crackenback, encompassed by the Novotel Lake Crackenback resort is another great spot to spend some time with the family. With bike and walk trails around the lake, a swimming shore with sandy beach, grassy picnic areas and a convenience store and cafe for lunch or snacks this is a great little place to stop and explore. We will be looking to trial the accommodation here in the coming year so watch this space! If you are keen to stay at the Novotel Lake Crackenback you can look at available dates and prices here.
To stay in the village you have a few options. There are your usual hotels which can be booked through all the regular online travel sites, or for a little more convenience and some homely comforts we stayed in a private villa. By doing this we were able to stay in a three bedroom chalet with a full kitchen and garage which made storing our bikes and gear convenient.
Prices can vary dramatically depending on dates and availability so it pays to spend some time shopping around on various booking sites. Booking.com as always is a good starting point with a mix of private style apartments and hotels available for reservation. Search for your dates in the box to the left to see the options for your travel dates...
If the cost in town is a little outside your budget (it can be quite pricey), it is worthwhile considering either staying in Jindabyne as a base and opting for day trips or there are several national park campgrounds within 15 minutes of the village.
If you can stay in town I recommend this option cause once the day trippers disappear a nice peaceful ambience settles over the place so early in the morning and at dusk it is a very peaceful and pretty experience.
Where to eat - Thredbo
With regards to food there are a number of restaurants and cafes in town but with any small touristy spots you will find the prices higher than you are used to. We had a decent meal at the Thredbo hotel and it was a nice casual and easy spot to eat with the kids. The other nights we self catered after shopping at the Woolworths in Jindabyne on our way through.
I should note that there are also many gorgeous spots for picnics and bbqs with heaps of gas bbqs provided.
Make sure you stock up on snacks, fruit, groceries etc at Jindabyne to get you through your stay as the small supermarket in Thredbo is better saved for forgotten supplies only. There is a nice bakery and cafe in the village but both can be very busy so in the end we found it easier to be self sufficient.
All in all, Thredbo is a delightful mix of activity, fun and easy family time and I love the fact that the kids were so excited to be out and about being active and outdoors. It will be a regular spot for a family break for us - the mix of activities, scenery and accessibility at Thredbo means you really cant go wrong. The whole family will be exhausted but very content.
After days of non stop action the kids tucked themselves into bed tonight and were in a dreamy state of contentment very quickly.
I must say that I also feel very refreshed and relaxed after a wonderful few days away.