Lake Mountain is a Victorian ski resort that’s only 2 hours from Melbourne. It offers cross-country skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing but not downhill skiing (for that you’ll need to go to Mt Baw Baw, the next closest ski resort, or further afield).
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.
1. You don’t need to stay overnight
There is no on-mountain accommodation at Lake Mountain. The nearest town with accommodation is Marysville which is 25 minutes away, and further afield is 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.
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 a flying fox and tube slide at an additional cost.
2. Hire your gear in advance
For those who live near Yarraville I use Melly’s Inner West Snow Hire. The prices are cheap and the range is large. For instance, I hired 2 toboggans at $10 each vs $18 each on-mountain and 3 pairs of snow boots at $8 each vs $20 each on mountain.
The only thing I don’t hire in advance was 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! Snow chain hire at Marysville is $30 (note Melly’s Inner West Snow Hire hires them for $20).
3. Drive rather than take public transport or a tour
The best way to get to Lake Mountain is by car.
There is only one bus option Lake Mountain Snow Bus which departs Marysville 10.30am and returns from Lake Mountain 3pm. On weekends and school holidays there is an additional service that departs Marysville 9am and return from Lake Mountain 1.30pm.
Tours often try to squeeze in Marysville, Steavenson Falls, Healesville, Yarra Valley and 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 8am and the earlier you arrive, the shorter the line to get in, the better the carpark 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.
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 10am (I was aiming for 9am 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 1pm the cars are parked all the way down the entry road.
5. Remember to budget for resort entry
In 2018 car resort entry is $56. Price includes everyone in the vehicle, so long as there are no more than 10 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.
6. Pay for the magic carpet
There is a magic carpet for the Village toboggan run and it’s worth the $10 wristband per person (payable at the shop) 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 mountain and I had been warned that the range was limited and expensive. As such, I pack 4 thermoses of hot food, a 5th 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.
A final 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 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
What are your tips for making the most of a visit to Lake Mountain?