Lake Mountain is a Victorian ski resort that’s only 2 hours from Melbourne. It offers cross-country skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing and general snow play fun!
If you’re only wanting to toboggan and snow play then Lake Mountain is a doable day trip with kids. Here are my tips for making the most of your visit.
When is 2022 Ski Season in Melbourne & Victoria?
The ski season usually starts on the Queens Birthday long weekend, which will be Saturday 11 June 2022. It usually ends around September.
1. where to stay at lake mountain
There is actually no on-mountain accommodation at Lake Mountain. The nearest towns with accommodation are Marysville which is 25 minutes away, Narbethong (35 minutes away) and Healesville (60 minutes away).
Marysville is a small town and accommodation is limited, especially during peak periods such as weekends and school holidays. As such, even the most basic accommodation can be relatively expensive.
Find Accommodation near Lake Mountain Alpine Resort
Given that there is no downhill skiing at Lake Mountain my view is that you can do it in a day from Melbourne, or even just half a day if you don’t want to do any cross-country skiing either. The resort also offers adventure activities such as laser skirmish and orienteering but at an additional cost. (Note that some of the adventure activities such as the flying fox are currently unavailable. Keep an eye out on their Facebook and Instagram pages to be notified of when it opens up again.)
2. Hire your gear in advance
There is only one rental shop on mountain so I recommend hiring your ski gear in Marysville or elsewhere in advance to save money and time. Even Click and Collect at Lake Mountain requires lining up. (please note that Click and Collect is currently closed as of the August 2021 Update.)
For those who live in Melbourne's inner west I use Melly’s Inner West Melbourne Snow Hire based in Williamstown. The prices are cheap and the range is large. For instance, I hire 2 toboggans at $10 each vs $18 each on-mountain and 3 pairs of snow boots at $8 each vs $20 each on-mountain. Check out the price list.
On a separate note – wear snow boots. When I’m downhill skiing I usually find gumboots are ok because I’m just walking around the village when I’m not in ski boots. But for tobogganing and snow play you really need purpose-made snow boots that are insulated and won’t trap snow and ice as easily inside.
The only thing I don’t hire in advance are snow chains, because I am not certain that I need them. Turns out I do need to carry them on the day but fortunately don’t need to actually fit them!
3. Drive rather than take public transport or a tour
The best way to get to Lake Mountain is by car. However, if you're not confident in driving up there yourself, Lake Mountain has got you covered with a shuttle bus from Lake Mountain Visitor Centre to the resort. The shuttle bus runs on weekends and throughout the school holidays. The following times are available for the shuttle bus: 9 am departure from Marysville with a 1:30 pm departure from the resort, or a 10:30 am departure from Marysville with a 3 pm departure from the resort.
Tours often try to squeeze in Marysville, Steavenson Falls, Healesville, Yarra Valley. Don't do this! In my view, that itinerary is too much for little kids. We are at Lake Mountain 10-1pm and are pooped by the end. The other advantage of self-driving is that you can pack in food, drinks, spare clothes (see below).
4. Get there early
The resort opens at 8:30 am and the earlier you arrive, the shorter the line to get in, the better the carpark availability and the better the snow conditions.
If you arrive too late and it’s busy you’ll be directed to the lower carpark and then have to wait for a shuttle bus to take you up the mountain. This wastes time and energy better spent on the slopes!
The upper carpark is on the doorstep of the first toboggan run (Village Toboggan Run), the cafe and ski shop. If you get a car park close enough that means you can leave a lot of your gear and food inside the car and you don’t have to carry it all with you (you can see how close the carpark is to the snow in the photo above). There are no lockers on the mountain.
We arrive at 10 am (I was aiming for 9 am but the road was blocked due to an accident) and our car is 2 rows away from the edge of the snow. By the time we leave at 1 pm, the cars are parked all the way down the entry road.
5. Remember to budget for resort entry
As of 2022 car resort entry is $60. The price includes everyone in the vehicle, so long as there are no more than 9 seats.
They take cash or card though note that there is no mobile coverage at the payment gate, so you won’t be able to use internet banking to transfer money at the last minute!
You can also buy an early bird season pass during autumn every year. By the time the snow season opens you won’t be able to buy a pass. (Please note that as of this update, resort entry tickets need to be pre-purchased prior to your arrival. If you do not have a ticket, you will not be permitted to enter.)
6. Just pay for the magic carpet
There is a magic carpet for the Village toboggan run and it’s especially worth the price if you have young kids.
Trekking up the hill can be hard work for little legs and will exhaust them before they even get to slide down. Children up to the age of 4 years need to be supervised by an adult.
7. BYO food and drinks, maybe play tools
There is only the Lake Mountain Bistro on the mountain and I had been warned that the range was limited and expensive. As such, I pack four thermoses of hot food, a fifth thermos of miso soup, fruit and a whole lot of chocolate.
I carry some of this in a backpack and leave the rest in the car. This approach saves us time and money.
Oh and don’t forget to BYO carrot for your snowman! I bring some plastic tools and buckets for snow play too.
8. Take spare socks and gloves
If you have spare socks and gloves, take them with you and leave them in the car. Eventually, someone will whine about having wet feet or wet hands, and being able to alleviate the discomfort immediately means that you’ll be able to stay out in the snow for longer.
If you need, take spare pants as well, though my kids just strip out of their ski pants into their merino tights for the ride home. Finally – The key to all successful snow trips is to be prepared, be patient and remember to smile!
Click here for my 10 tips for a family ski trip or snow holiday
Click here for my tips on visiting Mt Buller with kids and Mt Baw Baw with kids
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