It?s always great to take a moment and appreciate all the things we love about Australia and about being Australians. Thredbo proved the perfect location to be over the Australia Day long weekend (24 - 26 January).
The vibe was friendly, a very mixed-ages crowd and extremely multicultural. As more Australians discover the perks of spending time in the cool village of Thredbo it just keeps getting better.
Here are our highlights of the Australia Day long weekend in Thredbo:
1. Poetry Reading at the top of Mt Kosciuszko
[caption id="attachment_7914" align="alignleft" width="300"] Heading up Mt Kosciusko[/caption]
A bit of a lost art, poetry reading. Very popular in days gone by, it is nice to have an opportunity to hear some being read.
At 12 noon on the peak of Australia?s highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko (2228 metres) it was a very cool place to be for the crowd who gathered there, we were in for a treat.
Nick Kirshner, dressed in classical rural Australian clothing complete with riding hat and boots treated us to a rendition of two famous Australian poems; ?I Love A Sunburnt Country? by Dorothea Mackellar and ?The Man From Snowy River? by Banjo Patterson. These were accompanied by a little prelude about Banjo?s local life and influences.
There was no finer place to be and for those of us there it went a long way to help understand the very Alpine environment which inspired Banjo Patterson, as he wrote those fabled words.
Children and adults all stood and sat around to listen. For the walk itself, it was a blissfully sunny day and many walkers from babies to seniors were out on the iron path as it weaved its way from from the top of Eagles Nest to the summit.
There were many cries of ?Happy Australia Day? on the 6.5km path to the summit, as well as on the return to the village. Thredbo Resort put on a BBQ 4km into the ascent, the red Thredbo tent a welcome sight for weary legs and hungry walkers. Australia?s highest toilet made for an interesting experience.
2. Alfresco beers and bands in the sun
[caption id="attachment_7909" align="alignleft" width="300"] Sitting out in the sun[/caption]
Summer sipping and sitting out in the sun go hand in hand. As many other parts of Australia drizzled and poured, we lucky folks enjoyed the sun on our backs in many locations around the village on Australia Day Eve.
A jovial crowd relaxed around the pool near the bridge at the base of the mountain, sipping beers on tap and listening to the live band as Australian flags fluttered cheerfully above.
The crowd was not only for ?youngies?, both older folks and younger people mixed well. Definitely a winner as a destination for taking grandma and grandkids alike. Children ran around nearby, climbing on statues and riding trikes and scooters. The lack of car traffic made it a safe place for them to frolick.
Upstairs at The Pub, visitors enjoyed the sun on the deck, while toddlers ran about safely enclosed as parents watched on with a Kosciuszko Ale or two.
The Denman Hotel also had live music, their deck was a sunny happy place to watch pedestrians pass by. It felt like an Austrian or French village, where people watching is the sport du jour. At night the evening sounds were tiny echoes of twinkled laughter and gentle beats. Happy sounds, not intrusive. There was more action well into the night for those who could stay up.
Eagles Nest was a great spot Australia Day or Australia Day-eve to enjoy a cold Mt Kosciuszko beer. The sky was an endless bright blue both days and the vista of mountain ranges from the top of an already high mountain was pretty special. Groups of seniors had the right idea, sitting right at the window enjoying the sun and watching people dismount from the chairlift...just taking time to enjoy life.
3. Indoor Skateboarding
A one of a kind experience, which will get us heading back next year with keen young skateboarders in tow. And a free activity as well. The Keller bar transformed its nightclub floor into a skateboard heaven of various sized ramps for tricks. The vibe was friendly and welcoming. Even though the age group favoured late teens to late twenty year old guys, it was an open inclusive space. Rarely do you find that undercover all ages supervised space. Pity we forgot the skate boards.
4. Mountain Bike Mecca
[caption id="attachment_7905" align="alignleft" width="300"] Thredbo mountain bikers[/caption]
Look out it?s Man-Town...almost. The place was ablaze with Thredbo mountain biking enthusiasts. There were women there, of course. Just very hard to determine gender with all that mountain bike armour. Mountain bikers rode around the village streets, took bikes up the chairlifts, packed bikes on top of cars and were all over the hill like ants at a picnic.
A third of the alfresco beer sippers wore lycra and had padding on elbows and chest. Riding mountain bikes was thirsty work. Out on the Pump Track it was kid heaven with up to 6 bike riders concentrating hard as they completed circuits consisting of up and down dirt jumps and bends. The youngest on training wheels when the track become quiet. Definitely a note to self for next time we are in Thredbo to pack the kids? bikes. It is bike heaven from age 1-90.
5. Village Green Fun
A not so little known secret of Thredbo, it seems. The village green on the west side of Thredbo (near the duck pond and playground) was in full use over the weekend. At any one time visitors threw footballs to each other, played soccer, cricket or just used it to ride bikes all over the green or around on the foot path. People relaxed in the sun on picnic chairs with coffees, waters and snacks while small children played on the swings and slide. It was very multicultural and a great space to be. Just outside enjoying nature, no place else to be.
6. Friendly Faces
I don?t work for Thredbo Resort, and so I don?t say this glibly. I have never met such friendly people as the guides and staff who work there. Supposing this is, after all and a free country, if you didn?t enjoy what you did, there?s plenty of other places staff could go and work, it seems that friendliness is a requirement of the job (maybe there?s a policy somewhere?).
Young Mackenzie Diver greeted us enthusiastically handing out Aussie flags at the bottom of the chairlift on Australia Day morning. During the walk up to the summit we met a group of walkers sitting on rocks at a rest stop 2km into the walk. Thredbo guide Geoff Greentree was surrounded by his group of predominantly older walkers and was a friendly chirpy model of Aussie happiness. Something in the water down there, our group remarked to ourselves, on our reluctant trip home to chilly wet Sydney after a weekend in Thredbo.
7. Riding the Chairlift
[caption id="attachment_738" align="alignleft" width="300"] Riding the chairlift[/caption]
It was our first experience getting on a chairlift in the summer time (minus skis on our feet like we do in the winter) and it?s amazing how quickly everything you know goes out the window about how to properly get on and off. It was funny how we automatically raised our feet at the top of the chairlift (as we do if we have skis on).
I really noticed how professional the lifties were, for safety?s sake never assuming we know what to do, telling us exactly where to stand and where to exit without being patronising. Always with a bright and friendly smile, it really was appreciated. Especially when travelling with kids who had to travel on the chairlift separate to adults.
8. Thredbo Restaurant Recommendation
A top way to enjoy an Australia Day-eve dinner was at the Knickerbocker Restaurant. Jean - Michel?s French inspiration on an established Thredbo restaurant such as the Knickerbocker was a very relaxed place to enjoy the sun setting over the mountains and the green mountainous vista filling every window.
Not your fish and chips style family venue, the restaurant still managed to enjoy a mixed age crowd for diners. Calfskin booth style seats, artwork filling an entire wall, fishing and skiing lifestyle decor vying for position with dried wildflowers, it was cosy on a grand scale. ?A shared entree of goats cheese mousse, beetroot carpaccio, apple and raspberries sent taste buds wild.
Mains of duck leg and fish of the day were equally delicious. Staff were friendly and flexible, particularly when the toddler was unsettled with the babysitter back at our accommodation. We changed our booking to a later time but turned up early and had to duck back to the apartment to grab her and bring her down to the restaurant.
Staff were totally fine with her sleeping in our arms as we finished our meal. That?s the beauty of having a restaurant just a minute?s stroll down the road instead of driving from the city.
9. Thredbo Accommodation
[caption id="attachment_127" align="alignleft" width="300"] Snow Stream Apartments overlooking Thredbo River[/caption]
A great place to base yourself and your family over next year?s Australia Day holiday weekend is at any of the Lantern Thredbo Apartments.
There are a range of one to four star self-contained apartments available, located in various places around the village, depending on whether you prefer to be close to the base of the mountain (Snow Stream or Akuna Chalet), higher up on the hillside to enjoy the views (Lantern or Banjo), closer to the golf, Knickerbocker restaurant or the Village Green (Lhotsky), close to the Black Bear restaurant (Elevation) or any other particular wish you have.
Just call Ian or Jill and they can help you find the right apartment for you, depending on whether you don?t mind a stroll around the village, need a car space or would like a view. ?Some apartments are simple therefore slightly cheaper. If you know you?re just crashing into bed after full days hiking, enjoying live music and dining out, it may be the type for you. Other apartments are more aesthetically pleasing if you?re happy to be in the apartment for longer periods in between activities.
Many of the apartments have been renovated, or have a bath or spa bath. All have washing machines and either kitchens or kitchenettes. Lots of apartments have lovely alpine inspired wall decor and great views of green mountain covered in wildflowers - bang- straight outside your eyeballs, it seems on these glorious sunshine filled days as these.Accommodation highlight - One of the Lhotsky apartments at Lantern Thredbo Apartments was a great place for our family to base ourselves over the weekend. The dining room area had a great view from the lounge/ dining room and balcony and there was ample space for children to play and spread toys out. The kitchen had everything we needed to fuel everyone up for breakfast prior to our walk.
[caption id="attachment_311" align="alignleft" width="300"] Lhotsky Apartments close to the Village Green[/caption]
Bedrooms were generous space-wise with lots of cupboard space and located downstairs away from the rabble of anyone talking in the lounge room or if the TV was on.
The bath got the kids gleaming again after running around on the Pump track, as did the laundry for all their grass and fire engine drink stains.
It was a pretty walk along a path straight down to the duck pond and playground and the apartment had a car space. Handy for families who need to duck back to the stairs 3000 times for forgotten toys, hats or shoes.
A car space is not so necessary for child-free couples, pairs of friends or groups of mates who prefer to travel lightly with one or two pieces of luggage each and are fit and healthy to enjoy walking up to their apartment located higher up the village. Plenty of fit looking seniors appeared to be taking a leaf from European villagers? book by utilising Thredbo?s plethora of trails and tracks to access accommodation higher up for this purpose. Looks like they nailed the ?drink on the way home? side of life too.
Lantern has quite a few reasonably priced one bedroom apartments with pretty balconies but without car spaces, that would be perfect for child-free Australia Day weekend revellers. To sit out in the sunshine in the afternoon enjoying a glass of wine and a cheese platter without the cacophany of shrill child screams and demands would be divine.
Meanwhile there are some great summer accommodation specials at Lantern Thredbo that are definitely worth taking advantage of including, a walking package (6 nights for price of 4) , a mountain bike package (3 nights & free equipment hire) and a summer action package (3 nights for price of 2 + free activity passes).