Last updated 10 June 2020
Jen’s (single parent) travel tips for Perisher:
Thinking of a Perisher as a destination for a ski holiday? With your family?
Sharing my tips (and lessons learnt) from our 2014 Perisher skiing experience may help with your planning.
- What: Family Ski Trip To Perisher
- Who: Single Mum and three kids aged 13, 9,9.
- When: Mid August, 2014
- Where: Accommodation: Ski Rider, Perisher
Travel to Canberra
As a single mum with three kids under 14, I decided driving to the snow was not an option. Approximately a 14 hour drive from Brisbane to Canberra – on my own, then a two hour drive from Canberra into Perisher? No thanks!
Flying into Canberra seemed the best stress-free option. Maybe not the most economical, but with my sanity (and safety) at the top of my priority list, flying was my preferred choice.
There are few direct flights from Brisbane to Canberra, most go via Sydney or Melbourne. But I wanted a direct flight and booked with QANTAS.
Our friends, who were also skiing in Perisher decided to drive rather than pay for five airfares. So for the lovers of road trips – it can be done. Alas I am not a road-tripper.
Travel to Perisher
To travel from Canberra to the snow fields, the options are: hire a car or go by coach. Again not wishing to drive on my own, I chose the coach option. I booked through Snowscene (Brisbane) and they use a coach company called Grand Touring Charter Company (based in Queanbeyan). There are other coach options available via Sno express directly to Ski Rider on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and Greyhound to Jindabyne. Sno express worked out to be $40 cheaper for the family but they only pick up from the Hotel Mantra on Northbourne. (Something to consider, I noticed on their schedule they pick up at 12pm on Sundays at the airport. So you could fly directly to Canberra and catch a coach to Perisher all on the same day, rather than overnighting in Canberra as we did!)
Snowscene choose Grand Touring Charter Company, because they drop off at Ski Rider. But there is inflexibility with this coach option: they only pick up from Canberra on a Sunday at either 8am or 10am. I was unable to find flights from Brisbane to Canberra on a Sunday morning to arrive in time for those bus departure times, which meant having to fly into Canberra the day before and overnight in Canberra, (added expense.) So with that in mind, I booked an early direct flight from Brisbane, allowing a half day to check out Canberra’s tourist sights. This was a opportunity to show the kids our Nation’s Capital!
Tip for travelling from Canberra airport to your hotel: do NOT take the airport shuttle. The shuttle departs at designated times from the airport (we just missed one and waited nearly 45 minutes for the next one). The shuttle does not travel to all hotels and they charge $10 per person (for us a $40 trip).
I am from Brisbane, where a cab ride to/from the airport can set you back a substantial sum. Because it had been 30+ years since my last visit to Canberra, I did not realise the city is so small and therefore easy to get around. Cab fare from the airport is very reasonable $$ wise, is direct and does not require waiting, (as we did for the shuttle.)
A taxi from the airport to the Capital Executive (a 15-minute drive) was $20 (2014 prices.) We paid $40 in the airport shuttle and were dropped on Northbourne Street (the driver was not meant to stop there) and were hastily bundled out. The driver took off before we were able to retrieve one of the kid’s beanies absent-mindedly left on the bus. At least with a taxi you are dropped at your destination which is easier with kids. Especially when you have no idea where exactly your hotel is on Northbourne Street!
The Capital Executive Apartment Hotel on 108 Northbourne, in my opinion, is borderline 4 stars. It is as the web site describes, a short stroll to the heart of the city, (a good 8 minutes.) The rooms are clean, conveniently laid out, the bathroom was spacious with a spa and decent shower. Our two-roomed apartment had a kitchenette with a fridge. Handy if you were staying for a few days and cooking in occasionally. There was a TV in each room, great for keeping fights to a minimum about what to watch with the kids.
We arrived at the hotel too early for check in to our rooms (which was 2 pm) and had to leave our bags in a back office. The staff were cordial, but lacking professionalism, (felt a hint of “if I have to.”)
It was the opposite experience on our last night’s stay in the Crowne Plaza. Admittedly we arrived at 7 pm so there was no waiting to check in – but it was lovely to receive the greeting by the hotel’s concierge “can I help you with your bags?” The reception area was modern and stylish. Booking.com rate both the Capital Executive and the Crowne Plaza as 4 stars. I rate the Crowne Plaza closer to 4.5 stars.
We shared one room with two queen beds, so we had less space compared to the Capital Executive. But the overall feel and quality of the hotel and room, had the kids commenting, “wow this is really nice.”
Crowne’s in-house restaurant Redsalt provided a gourmet dining experience for mum and the boys. Nice that on such a cold night, there was no need to coat up to go out to eat. A lift ride to the lower floor was all that was required for a fine dining experience. Redsalt are family friendly, offering an extensive kids menu for $15 per head, which included main, dessert and soft drink. The wine list included a range of reasonably priced wines by the glass = happy all round!
Booking the hotel, I snared a good deal on Expedia.com which included a hot buffet breakfast (including a pancake making machine which impressed my kids.) The Crowne Plaza’s Buffet Breakfast was the best breakfast experience of our seven day snow holiday. The numerous track-suited adorned guests (athletic meet on?) were happily filling their breakfast plates. Apparently they felt the same.
Canberra Tourist Attractions:
Australian War Memorial -Treloar Crescent
A must see – incredible displays and interactive activities for the kids. Easy to spend a half day there. Free entry.
Fabulous experience for the kids – easily occupies an entire day. Entry fee. Family pass can be purchased. Option to leave and return on same day with pass out.
Ski Rider – budget accommodation only 11kms from Perisher ski fields – 2.5 hours by coach from Canberra.
Ski Rider is 22km from Jindabyne. Offers free overnight parking and complimentary shuttle bus to and from Perisher and Smiggins. Popular with school groups (we had three high schools from Brisbane staying at the same time. Long breakfast queues!)
The brochure describes Ski Rider as “comfortable accommodation.” That is a fair description. My rating: 3 stars out of five. The rooms are basic, the bathroom tiny, but there are hot water and a generous warm heater to dry out the ski clothes at the end of the day. Our family of four all slept in the one room, configured: one double bed, one single bed and a bunk bed. My complaint (probably showing my age and my desire for the “nicer” things in life) the mattress was too firm. An inexpensive slab of solid foam, with absolutely no give. By the fourth night despite falling into an exhausted sleep I would wake early in the wee hours and toss and turn in the vein attempt of seeking a soft spot! It wasn’t just my experience to whinge about the lack of luxe, my friends, staying a few apartments up from us, felt the same. But kids as they do – slept soundly – no complaints.
Invest in better mattresses my number one feedback for Ski Rider.
The tip about the free shuttle bus – there are a few runs in the morning and a few in the afternoon – NOT many in the middle of the day. You MUST be super-organised in the morning to get through breakfast and to the bus stop in time. (Ski Rider is popular with school groups. We had two schools during our stay – resulting in long breakfast queues!) Big Tip to get to the bus on time, line up for breakfast earlier than the school groups.
The brochure says rooms are serviced daily, we did not notice any beds made, but if you wanted your towels changed, I am sure staff would have done this.
The lodge was fully booked and we never heard the school groups at night. Once inside, the rooms were quiet.
Dining at Ski Rider
The Grill or the Dining Room.
My kids were happy to eat, in the dining room, where you line up at the counter with trays and the staff serve out small portions of food.
I have moved on from student days, so was happy to eat Grill style – in the large room next door. Complete with fire-place and bar at the end of the room – this was a more pleasant dining experience.
You hand your meal vouchers to the team behind the counter and select your meat. Depending on the night, it can be a choice of chicken, steak, kebabs, fish or sausages. You cook this (yourself) on the large grill at one corner of the room. The atmosphere just like an Aussie bar-b-q but indoors. Perfect place to get to know the other SKi Rider guests as you congregate around the barbie while turning your meat. A selection of salads makes this a hearty meal.
TIP: You must book the grill option the night before at reception as numbers are limited. And arrive early so you can feed your “starving” kids before the crowd starts to build – after a day’s skiing they are hungry little vegemites.
Nice part for the adults, you can relax in this room with a beverage from the bar before dinner – set yourself up at a table and you won’t need to move anywhere for the night!
If you choose to ski Perisher – please let me know your thoughts or anything you found useful.