Travel News

Snow or No Snow, Australia’s Winter Resorts Are Open

Snow or No Snow, Australia’s Winter Resorts Are Open

The Australia Letter is a weekly newsletter from our Australia bureau. Sign up to get it by email. This week’s issue is written by Julia Bergin, a reporter based in Melbourne.

A sole ski lift operator stood, hands clasped, looking up the mountain at four children running circles on a 50-meter-long makeshift sledding slope.

Underfoot, there was no snow. To his right were a pair of trash bins and a sign that read “Lift Open 10 a.m.-3 p.m.” To his left, empty chairlifts whirred up and down the mountain. Behind him, cones, rope and metal barricades mapped out the lift line, but there was barely a human in sight.

This was the scene in Victoria at Falls Creek, one of Australia’s biggest ski resorts, last Friday, which kicked off the official opening weekend of the national snow season. Similar conditions were reported across ski resorts in Victoria and New South Wales, which are home to the majority of winter sports in the country.

The overall picture — dirt mounds with thin strips of man-made snow — was bleak. But this week, the sun, wind, heavy mist and torrential rain from the long weekend turned to snow as temperatures dipped across the alpine regions.

Dramatic fluctuations in weather conditions are not unusual for Australian winters, but things have become more volatile with a warming planet.

For Carol Binder, a local business owner who reported on snow conditions for ski resorts for two decades, this year has been “noticeably dry and warm” — river levels are low, notoriously muddy driveways are dusty and snow forecasts have gone from unpredictable to extremely unpredictable.

“It’s Australia, and that means potluck — you can expect snow, patchy snow or a dump, you just don’t know,” Ms. Binder said, as rain pelted down outside the lodge she manages in Mount Beauty, a small town that lies about 40 minutes northwest of Falls Creek.

Gripped by the ever-present fear that a spike in temperature coupled with rain would wash away weeks of snow in a flash, people typically take Australian ski trips last minute and at the whim of the weather.

From a business perspective, Ms. Binder said it’s difficult to keep pace with sporadic Australian snow conditions and spontaneous customers. Whether it’s in the market of accommodation, mountain services or hospitality venues, she said it’s a big, casual work force and a constant battle to ensure workplaces are appropriately staffed.

For instance, the Victoria Police last week were primed for crowds…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at NYT > Travel…