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Head to the Snowies this summer

AAP logoAAP 19/12/2016 Alison Godfrey

It's 20 minutes to 3pm on a Friday afternoon and instead of packing their bags and waiting for the bell to ring, my children are running, squealing towards a patch of snow.

They shove their hands into the slush, quickly forming balls to throw at each other. As they slip and skid and fall their jeans become increasingly wet. There's snow in their hair and down their backs. But who cares when you are having so much fun.

It's the first time my children have seen snow and it's an unexpected delight since we have ditched school and driven to the Snowy Mountains in summer.

Most people know Thredbo as a winter sports destination. But it has even more to offer families during the warmer months.

At this time of year the wildflowers are just starting to bloom. Tiny specs of yellow are dotted through the rocky landscape. The region last saw snow in November, delaying the start of the warm weather. It's good news for families as the flowers are likely to be in full bloom during the school holidays.

On our second day here, we decide to tackle the 13km round trip walk to the top of Mount Kosciuszko with our two children aged six and eight. It's a great way to teach the kids about persistence and get some much needed perspective.

The hike takes just over five hours over gentle, grated tracks. There are still some patches of snow around that you will need to navigate, but for kids, that just means more snowball fun. You can do the walk yourself, but an experienced guide will be able to show you where to find some of the alpine region's unique animals such as the Mountain Galaxia (native trout). Searching for animals builds in loads of breaks for the kids and keeps their attention focused.

Apart from hiking, the mountain's other big summer drawcard has to be mountain bike riding. The Thredbo region is home to some of the country's best and longest tracks. As we ride the chairlift, dozens of bike riders criss-cross the mountains, conquering jumps and sharp turns. The heart pumping Cannonball Downhill, Flow Trail and All-Mountain tracks are easily accessed using the Kosciuszko Express chairlift - simply pop your bike on the back of the lift and you're off.

But you don't have to be experienced to enjoy bike riding here. For absolute beginners there's a village skills park with simple jumps to concentrate on the fundamentals of bike riding. The valley floor trails are an easy ride for families with children who stop riding at the sight of a hill.

Tourists can also book into mountain bike clinics from $50 per person. The two-hour lessons, grouped by beginner, intermediate and advanced, are run by a professional mountain bike instructor. On January 15, Thredbo will host Gravity Girls, a women's specific mountain biking clinic designed to offer girls a non-intimidating instruction to downhill riding.

You can't leave Thredbo without trying the bobsled. The 700m, luge-style track twists and turns its way through the lower mountain. One ride costs $7 or you can buy 10 for $50.

Keen fishermen will love the lure of fly fishing in the Snowy River. The crisp clean waters are stocked with brook, brown and rainbow trout as well as Atlantic salmon. Even if you don't manage to hook a catch, the view and the tranquillity are worth it.

After a full day of hiking, riding, fishing or bobsledding, cool down with a splash in pool at the leisure centre. Even after a 13km walk, the lure of the giant waterslide is unstoppable. Parents can kick back in the pool, resting their tired muscles as the kids go up and down and back again. There's also an inflatable obstacle course where you can test your balancing skills against the clock.

The leisure centre is open from 7am to 7pm and also includes a fully equipped gym, ACE trampoline centre, bouldering wall and squash courts. So you could quite easily spend the entire day there.

With so much to see and do, it's worth considering a visit to Thredbo these summer holidays.


PLAYING THERE: Guided tours of Mount Kosciuszko depart from Valley Terminal at 10am every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Adults $50, Children $35, Family $100 (including 2 adults and up to 3 children). The 13km round trip takes five hours to complete.

STAYING THERE: Boali Lodge in Thredbo village provides family accommodation in loft-style rooms with views over the Crackenback range. The lodge is fully catered and will even provide sandwiches for you to take up the mountain.

* The writer travelled as a guest of Thredbo resort and Boali Lodge.

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