Local Escapes

5 Fairytale Winter Getaways You Need To Book ASAP

By Ellen Seah
4th Jun 2018

Melbourne goes into temporary hibernation over winter. But just a few hours out of the city, snow-coated fields and silvery landscapes turn our alpine region into a fairytale getaway (think: Disney Frozen levels of jaw-dropping gorgeous).

So throw aside your triple-layered doona and put away the panda onesie. From steaming outdoor onsen retreats (no eight-hour flight required) and buttery winter-warming dinners to husky puppy cuddles and metres of fresh snow, there’s no shortage of adventure. We teamed up with Visit Victoria to give you every escape you need to book in the alpine region ASAP.

Grab your diary, pen and strap in. No matter what kind of weekend tripper you are—we’ve got the plan for you.

Things to do

Onsen Retreat & Spa

There’s no need to hop on an eight-hour flight to Japan when there’s an outdoor onsen tucked into the snowy mountains of Dinner Plain. Heated to 40 degrees, the space includes an indoor pool, gym and offers massage, skin care and body treatments for a complete experience.

Howling Husky Sled Dog Tours

Four separate doggo tours run throughout the white season at Dinner Plain. There’s something to get everyone’s tail wagging from dog sledding history to trails exploring every corner of the mountain—think trails at dusk or sledding home at twilight. All tours include patting time because everyone knows that’s what you’re really there for.

Scenic Helicopter Flights

Flying over Mount Stirling and Dinner Plain, scenic tours take you through one of the most breathtaking regions in Victoria. A helicopter flight is on everyone’s bucket list, right?

Where to eat & drink

The highest brewery in Australia, the Blizzard Brewery sits at 1550 metres above sea level, 50 metres from the Cobungra ski lift. Warm your hearts and soul with freshly brewed beers and local cheese platters. 

The cosy Mt Stirling Cafe is warm, rustic winter perfection. Nothing beats home-baked treats and a roaring fire as it snows outside.

Where to stay

Ultra-affordable with rooms ranging from two-person to 22-person lodges, Dinner Plain Accommodation has everything for everyone in your ski gang.

Things to do

Twilight Sessions

Every weekend from 7 July to 26 August, join Mount Buller for a night of twilight skiing. Entertainment, crackling fires and toasted marshmallows will also be offered in the Village Square to keep you warm.

Guaranteed Snow

Along with one of the closest ski and snowboarding schools to Melbourne, Bourke Street (the most popular beginner run at Mount Buller), has guaranteed snow all season, from the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June to the AFL Grand Final long weekend (thanks, engineering)..

Yeti Snowshoe Tour

Explore the best of Mt Buller magic on foot. Donning snowshoes, you can tailor tours according to fitness levels. Stroll among the snowgums around the Village, or challenge yourself to hike up to the Summit.

Banff Mountain Film Festival

Presenting a world-class, jaw-dropping selection of short films and docos showcasing mountain and sporting culture, you can expect stunning cinematography and adrenaline-pumping action from this two-hour showcase, right in the heart of Victoria’s adventurous alpine region

Where to eat & drink

Serving winter warming dishes including Sunday evening, gravy-coated roasts, Moosehead Bistro & Bar will cure any carnivore’s appetite.

If you’re sniffing around for something sweet, Snow Pony tucked towards the end of Bourke Street run serves their signature Pavarotti. It’s a vanilla ice-cream bombe glacée with a hot chocolate centre coated in Italian meringue. It serves two but we won’t judge you for keeping it to yourself.

Where to stay

Just a 15-minute drive from the base of Mount Buller lies 187 Merrijig, a boutique, renovated two-suite space. Each suite contains ample sitting space, a lounge, dining area, king-sized bedrooms and private outdoor terrace.

AMO Lodge is located on Shakey Knees run, boasting completely ski-in ski-out capacity. Featuring six bedrooms, fully stocked kitchen and huge open fireplace, it’s ideal for a group of travellers.

Things to do

Traditionally known as the beginner mountains with excellent snow play options and tobogganing, Lake Mountain also boasts some of the best cross-country ski tracks in Victoria. Mount Baw Baw is known for beginner downhill skiing.

We recommend exploring the rest of the region on four wheels (since you’re heading up for the whole weekend!). Check out stretches of snow-dusted scenery along Mount Baw Baw Tourist Road, with detours including the historic town of Walhalla and Noojee Trestle Bridge. If you’re heading to Lake Mountain, Black Spur is a jaw-droopingly scenic route and takes you right through Marysville.

Where to eat & drink

A nod to the restaurant’s dedication to choosing locally grown produce, Radius is a three-in-one venue featuring a bar, grill and café (aka the ideal stop in Marysville on the way to Lake Mountain). During the day you’ll find creamy coffee, brunch and fresh sandwiches, while by night local meats are grilled over wood-fired grills.

Over by Mount Baw Baw, the Mt Baw Baw Village Restaurant redefines “dinner with a view”. Sitting pretty at a humble 1460 metres above sea level, enjoy local Gippsland produce including crispy croquettes, tender lamb and sugary sweet desserts.

Where to stay

Gather your whole gang to book the eight-person villa at Coora Valley Lodge, complete with Foxtel, a Playstation 3, Xbox, pool table and foosball table. With accommodation this cosy, you won’t want to go out.side.

For a quieter stay just out of Mount Baw Baw, Stringer’s Cottage is a fully self-contained space featuring wood fires and plush queen-sized bedding on the outskirts of Walhalla.  

Things to do

If you’re not a fan of the icy season, you’re not alone. There are still a thousand and one ways to appreciate the beauty of Victoria’s national parks and Bright happens to be the perfect wintery basecamp.

Bogong Alpine Way (High Plains Road)

One of Australia’s most unique scenic routes, the Bogong Alpine Way cuts through rolling green valleys, kilometres of wineries and tree-lined roadways. The route tracks through Mount Beauty and skirts the edge of Rocky Valley Dam. If you’re looking for a longer road trip, try the Great Alpine Road.

Mount Buffalo National Park

During winter, snow blankets Mount Buffalo National Park, turning it into a fairytale winter wonderland. The park offers safe and accessible tobogganing and snow play areas set amidst the spectacular granite landscape of Mount Buffalo plateau. Toboggan runs are available over winter at both Dingo Dell and Cresta Valley depending on the altitude of snowfalls.

Where to eat & drink

Beer-lovers: sit up and pay attention. The Bright Brewery is home to more than 24 taps, all brewed on-site, alongside a moreish menu that’s perfectly paired with your frothie. Think: southern-style smoked pork ribs or harissa paste-based pizza.

If you prefer your drink out of a wine glass, make a beeline for Walker Bros Wine Bar (previously Thirteen Steps). Alternatively, Ginger Baker is a wine bar and cafe boasting a share-style menu with everything from pork and fennel meatballs to indo-style chicken wings. Reed & Co is the latest distillery to join the family, pumping out cocktails using local botanicals.

Where to stay

Each a part of the working cattle farm, the three modern self-contained spaces at Kiln Houses embody country tranquility at its best. For families and larger groups, two kitsch cottages (Abby's and Bonnie's Cottages) are excellent options with cosy wood fires and open-plan dining.

Things to do

Cross-Country Skiing

If you haven’t tried cross-country skiing once in your life, are you even a real skier? The exact opposite of down-hilling, you may have to (somehow) get up the slopes on skis, but every second is worth it. Not only is it one of the most efficient workouts around, you’ll be rewarded with views of the High Country rarely seen by other visitors. Falls Creek is home to more than 65kms of groomed cross-country trails, from soft beginner slopes to advance trails.

Back Country Tour

Expect unmarked powder and untracked terrain every day during daily backcountry tours at Falls Creek and Mount Hotham. Suitable for intermediate or advanced skiers and boarders, rip through black trails, sloping gullies and open bowls.  

Snowmobiling & Scenic Flights

If you’re not a skier but love the slopes (really who doesn’t?!), book a tour to experience the High Country by snowmobile. Alternatively, check out the slopes from the sky with helicopters and the Hotham Heli-Link that runs daily.

Night Skiing & Boarding

Australia’s longest beginner run is open every Wednesday and Saturday night during ski season at Falls Creek. Enjoy Wombats Ramble under twilight, featuring runs from 6pm to 9pm.

White Spa

Adventurers have got to know where (and when!) to treat yourself to a head-to-toe pamper. Hint: The answer is White Spa. Offering skin care, massage, aqua therapy and aromatherapy, it’s the perfect place to unwind.

Where to eat & drink

If you’re taking a time-out from Hotham’s powder, The General is our top pick. Sit outside and chow down on towering burgs, chicken parmigianas and steaming soups. The international menu at Last Run Bar will tickle everyone’s fancy from creamy laksas to house-made sage gnocchi.

On the other side of the mountain, Falls Creek’s Huski hosts an all-day menu that offers everything from local fruit toast slathered in Beechworth honey ricotta to sunshine yellow vegetable curry. The newest addition to the dining scene, SomePlace Else is something else to add to your list. Expect pulled roast duck burgers, tempura soft shell crab and espresso martinis all day.

Where to stay

If you’re looking for a unique overnight experience, make a beeline for the Alpine Nature Experience: Igloo to Skidoo. Stay in a sustainably-built snow-dome including comfortable bedding and warm wood heaters.

For modern, luxury accommodation, we can’t go past QT Falls Creek or Astra Lodge.Treat yourself, right?

Image credit: Provided.

Editor's note: This article is proudly sponsored by Visit Victoria and endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy. 

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