There was a thrumming energy spreading across the crowd of eager faces as we bustled towards the Doyle Centre, wheeling large suitcases, squashed with layers of thermals, gloves and puffer jackets. Not a typical Saturday night. Our fearless captain, Ms Ilic, and her team of trusty teachers checked us onto the waiting coaches, where we clambered for the best seats, preparing ourselves for a mighty long haul night journey south. Filled with anticipation for what lay ahead the bus filled with chatty conversations and screens softly streaming shows. Bodies were strewn across aisles and seats, as slowly most of us succumbed to a few hours of restless sleep. Embarking for breakfast at Goulburn, the last few stalwarts in shorts clearly struggled with the sub-zero temperatures, frost-cloaked ground and icy wind. We were starting to comprehend the real cold we were about to face. During the last stages of the journey, tired eyes eagerly scanned the horizon, seeking, what was for many, their first ever glimpse of snow.
Not long after arriving at Ski Rider, our home for the next 5 days, we were knee deep in the flurry of equipment hire- a blur of ski boots, jackets, pants, helmets, wrist guards, snowboards, skis and poles. We were a sight stumbling back to our rooms that first night, struggling to manage the arm loads of foreign gear we had acquired. All this was then organised into set stacks by our doors, along with our thermal layers, and checked off by teachers so we could cope with the fast paced morning drill to get up the mountain with all the essentials.
We rose early to see the first blessing of the day- soft falling snow and a powdery dusting sprinkled all around. Whilst this first morning was a bit overwhelming, we soon became adept at handling our gear. We could easily recite and produce our check-in list:- helmet, goggles, lift pass, arm band, gloves, wrist bands, lip balm, phone, skis/ boards as we shuffled on and off buses and the ski tube each day. As the bus slowly chugged up the mountain, we marvelled at the magic and beauty the snow created around us, staring in awe at the white landscape we were transported into.
Splitting into groups- skiers or snowboarders, experienced or first timers, we took on the challenges set by our respective instructors. Initially with a little trepidation, as we tried to manoeuvre our way through the basics, but with growing confidence and skill as the lessons continued. Many faces planted and numerous backsides were plonked unceremoniously in the snow as we slid and wobbled down the gentle slopes, unsteady on our feet. As the days progressed, we stepped up from hesitant snow ploughs or pizza slices, to making smooth turns, to bombing and carving and shredding our runs. Some snowboarders realised their limitations when it came to trying to get air whilst jumping fences. We all shared tales as we commuted back each day, proud of our improvements on the slopes.
True to form, the mountains produced ever changing weather conditions, so we got to witness all their majestic glory. Fresh powder and falling snow on the first day, a glorious bluebird day the second, drenching rain and hail spitting in our faces on the third, turning into a white out by the afternoon with limited visibility, and to finish, a day of dramatic thunderstorms with lightning and sadly closed snowfields.
Off the slopes we had an equally good time with an assortment of entertaining moments. A group of promising boy band members encouraged by Mr Field, practised their impressive moves and serenaded several of the teachers. Two limber young men challenged each other to a dance-off, with many questionable yet amusing moves, and later also featured in a karaoke duel. A magician performed at our accommodation and dragged a reluctant teacher to the stage to assist the show. On the last day with the mountain closed, we took to competitive raucous card and board games to pass time before the long trip home. Through all of this many new friendships were forged.
Overall, we totally immersed ourselves in this adventure, taking on the physical challenges, whilst discovering new skills and friendships. We are so grateful to Ms Ilic for all her organisation, her energy and drive and for an experience we will never forget. If you get the chance to go on the snow trip in coming years, we highly recommend it.
By a first timer snow bunny