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A season in Australia

Belgiangirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#1
So... There's still a lot of if's and but's and maybe's, but (:smile:) if all goes well we'll be spending the summer months in Australia on a working holiday visa. I'm super excited to finally take some steps towards a more outdoors life! I've been googling around and so far, Thredbo sounds like the most interesting option - most vertical and close to Perisher to change things up. I like tree runs and there seems to be a fair amount of those either on or off piste. Mount Hotham piqued my interest too, but I'm worried the elevation difference between the base and the top is too little. They do have more lifts and maybe less crowds? Anyone who's skied one or both resorts and would like to comment on them? My BF and I are both (low) advanced skiers who prefer ungroomed terrain. We'll be taking a tour setup along, so bonus points for resorts with good sidecountry.

I know not to expect the equivalent of a major ski resort in the Alps (and it's not like I ski at those all the time over here anyway), so I think my expectations are fairly realistic. I would also much appreciate any information on housing, typical wages for seasonal jobs in ski resorts, car prices, road conditions, housing availability and prices etc. Thank you ladies!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#2
There's still a lot of if's and but's and maybe's, but (:smile:) if all goes well we'll be spending the summer months in Australia on a working holiday visa. I'm super excited to finally take some steps towards a more outdoors life! I've been googling around and so far, Thredbo sounds like the most interesting option - most vertical and close to Perisher to change things up. . . .
Sounds like a great adventure!

For skiing in Australia, check out ski.com.au . Very friendly ski forum that's been around since the 1990s. I've learned a lot about skiing in Europe, Japan, and even N. America from the Aussies who travel during their school vacation months (Jan-Feb). Needless to say, they also ski in Australia and New Zealand too.

The recent announcement of the purchase of Falls Creek and Hotham by Vail Resorts is making news. Perisher was bought by VR a few years ago.
 

Belgiangirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#3
Sounds like a great adventure!

For skiing in Australia, check out ski.com.au . Very friendly ski forum that's been around since the 1990s. I've learned a lot about skiing in Europe, Japan, and even N. America from the Aussies who travel during their school vacation months (Jan-Feb). Needless to say, they also ski in Australia and New Zealand too.

The recent announcement of the purchase of Falls Creek and Hotham by Vail Resorts is making news. Perisher was bought by VR a few years ago.
Thank you @marzNC ! Lots and lots of information over there. It's not easy to figure out which resort would suit us best :smile: Do you think the ownership by Vail resorts has an impact on seasonal work? More (international) visitors would be a plus at first sight, because I guess they'd need more staff on the whole and being multilingual would be a plus. But then again I've read that they're marketing to the Asian market so that might mean the languages I know are irrelevant.

Bit off topic but I wonder if down the road, they'll be looking for year-round staff to move from resort to resort? Now that would be living the dream :smile:
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#4
Bit off topic but I wonder if down the road, they'll be looking for year-round staff to move from resort to resort? Now that would be living the dream :smile:
Based on what I've read about folks working at Vail Resorts in the U.S., I think that's highly unlikely. The number of full-time 12-month employees at ski resorts in general is a very small percentage of the total work force. For example, the ski season in New England is Dec-Mar while the summer season is Jun-Aug. Once school starts in early Sep, there is a very slow period in the fall except for a oouple weeks during fall colors. Working at a 4-season resort that includes snowsports is considered seasonal work.

More (international) visitors would be a plus at first sight, because I guess they'd need more staff on the whole and being multilingual would be a plus. But then again I've read that they're marketing to the Asian market so that might mean the languages I know are irrelevant.
From my reading about the ski industry, the business reason for Vail Resorts to buy ski resorts in Australia is similar to the reasons they bought three small ski areas in the American midwest. It's not to attract travelers to those places for skiing. It's to tap into a market for the Epic Pass. Who would travel more than a few hours to ski at a small hill in the midwest? No one. Would people who live in a big city like Chicago who live an hour from Wilmot want to take a 1-week ski vacation in the Rockies? YES! Who would fly to Australia from N. America or Europe to ski the relatively small resorts in Australia? Very few people. However, there are some wealthy folks in China who might consider an trip to Australia during Jun-Jul that includes skiing as well as a trip to N. America some time during Dec-Mar.

At ski resorts in Japan, knowing Chinese is becoming of more use to people in the tourist industry than English. Certainly of more interest than French or German. When I've taken vacations in Florida (Disney World), the languages heard most often besides English is Spanish (S. America). Fair to say the Europeans who travel to Florida speak English well enough to not need translators.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#5
I don't think Chinese is going to help you in Japan. They are different languages.

When Tremblant and Whistler were part of Intrawest they allowed staff to move between the 2 resorts. In fact they encourged it. But I can't see if happening with either Alterra or Vail Resorts.

With it being summer down under, I suspect our Down Under Diva's are at the beach.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#6
I don't think Chinese is going to help you in Japan. They are different languages.
The reason knowing spoken Chinese (Mandarin, putonghua) can be helpful to people working in the tourist industry in Japan is because of how many mainland Chinese and Chinese from Singapore are taking vacations in Japan. They go for fall colors, to go shopping, and more recently for skiing/boarding. It will be a long time before the budding ski resorts in China can compare to the long-time ski resorts that are famous for powder in Japan. Plenty of groomers too from the pictures I've seen in trip reports.

For someone who knows Chinese characters, those can actually be helpful to communicate with Japanese people because the characters were borrowed to be used for Japanese words centuries ago. But learning to read/write Chinese characters requires a lot of dedication.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#7
But we're not talking Japan, but Australia. Australia was a British colony, so English is the main language. Anyone travelling there would need to know some English. Just like if I were to travel to France or Belgium, french would be good to know.

Australia is so different from skiing the American west or the Alps. We really need to get some of the Down Under Diva's in on this for Belgiangirl.
 

Belgiangirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#8
It will be a long time before the budding ski resorts in China can compare to the long-time ski resorts that are famous for powder in Japan. Plenty of groomers too from the pictures I've seen in trip reports.

For someone who knows Chinese characters, those can actually be helpful to communicate with Japanese people because the characters were borrowed to be used for Japanese words centuries ago. But learning to read/write Chinese characters requires a lot of dedication.
Way off topic but I've travelled a bit in China and encountered quite a few people who said spoken Mandarin isn't that hard to learn the basic concepts vs written Mandarin, which is supposed to be very, very difficult. I wonder if being able to speak but not read Mandarin would be enough?

But we're not talking Japan, but Australia. Australia was a British colony, so English is the main language. Anyone travelling there would need to know some English. Just like if I were to travel to France or Belgium, french would be good to know.

Australia is so different from skiing the American west or the Alps. We really need to get some of the Down Under Diva's in on this for Belgiangirl.
Ahh yes, in an ideal world I'd find someone who skied both in Europe and down under. Maybe a non-Alps resort if I'm really dreaming out loud :becky:

When Tremblant and Whistler were part of Intrawest they allowed staff to move between the 2 resorts. In fact they encourged it. But I can't see if happening with either Alterra or Vail Resorts.

With it being summer down under, I suspect our Down Under Diva's are at the beach.
Very interesting, but their ski seasons mostly overlap, don't they? I was thinking more of something along the lines of summer in NZ, OZ or South-America (isn't Valle Nevado in Chile at least affiliated with Vail? Or was it another group?), then the regular ski season either in North-America, Europe or Japan. Sure you'd have some time off in between those seasons, but I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing for people drawn to seasonal work - I wouldn't mind at least a couple weeks off in between seasons. Dreaming out loud again :tongue: It's neither winter nor summer in Belgium so at least it keeps me busy!

Our initial plan was a year in Canada, but it's been a total crapshoot trying to get an IEC invitation (their version of a working holiday visa). We'll try again next year but I think the only viable option at this point to do seasonal work there as a non-married couple is through a temp working permit with a sponsor. Sounds like something that might be worth a try in a few years when we've hopefully racked up some experience in the industry, but not right now.

On another note... I'll be staying in Arizona for about a month on my way to Oz. I'll have my skis with me... I don't want to get too excited just yet, but I would LOVE to ski and maybe meet some Diva's over there! So recommendations for skiing in Arizona, California, Utah and New Mexico are very welcome too while the Down Under Diva's enjoy the beach :becky:
 

MrsPlow

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
Based on limited skiing at Thredbo and Perisher probably about 12 or 13 years ago - I preferred Thredbo. Perisher seemed a bit flat, and very spread out. Thredbo's a bit more alpine-y and quite nicely laid out - bit of a European feel with restaurants on the slopes. I think you can head up Mt Kosciuszko from the top of the lifts at Thredbo.

Skiing in Oz is expensive, but that wouldn't be an issue if your job includes a lift pass.

Other thing to note that sometimes surprises people from Europe - the country is enormous and distances between places are huge.
 

alison wong

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
I wonder if being able to speak but not read Mandarin would be enough?
Yes, it would be enough as a tourist for sightseeing, utilizing public transport (e.g. taking taxi), ordering food, etc.
Added bonus if you know some PinYin, you can write your questions in PinYin.

I used to work with Europeans (expatriates from France, Belgium) in China, some speak fluent Mandarin, can read PinYin, can't read Chinese characters. These expats managed to work and live in China for years.

But then again I've read that they're marketing to the Asian market so that might mean the languages I know are irrelevant.
Don't sell yourself short. You are trilingual (french, english and some chinese), correct? You should have no trouble finding work.
In my experience, speaking (a foreign language) is more difficult than listening. Usually people can understand what you say (in a foreign language) but don't know how to answer back (in a foreign language). If you can understand the questions, but answer back in different language, you are already ahead of the game....

they'll be looking for year-round staff to move from resort to resort? Now that would be living the dream
Totally possible: summer months in Australia, New Zealand. winter months in Japan, Canada, U.S. The possibilities are endless.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#11
Way off topic but I've travelled a bit in China and encountered quite a few people who said spoken Mandarin isn't that hard to learn the basic concepts vs written Mandarin, which is supposed to be very, very difficult. I wonder if being able to speak but not read Mandarin would be enough?
Since you asked . . .
I'm American-born Chinese. Was fluent at age six because my father was a visiting professor in Taiwan for a year so I went to kindergarten there. Have never studied formally. But what I remember plus a little work before trips every few years to China (after 1988) is quite enough to be useful as a traveler and to have basic conversations with relatives who don't know English. Does help that I know the principles behind writing characters so I can easily look them up using an app on a smartphone or tablet. Learning to pronounce the pinyin romanization is pretty straightforward. Mainly need to realize that "q", "c", and "x" represent sounds that have nothing to do with how they are pronounced in English or other western European languages.

One aspect of the Chinese language that is much easier than western European languages is dealing with verbs. No need to learn any conjugations. Time indication is done differently. No difference based on the subject. Meaning the same word after I or You or He or We.

Written Chinese is mainly hard for people used to an alphabetic language because the concepts are so different. However, there is an embedded logic to what makes up most characters. I had a discussion once in China with a couple Chinese high school boys who assured me that learning English was very hard, but learning Chinese was easy. ;-)

My daughter is finishing up her third year of Chinese language. She's studying at a private high school so the courses are more equivalent to American college language courses. Started with learning vocabulary in all forms: speaking, reading, and writing. Certainly has taken a lot of work but I've been quite impressed in how much easier it is to learn with all the multi-media and computer-based learning aids available these days.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#12
Don't sell yourself short. You are trilingual (french, english and some chinese), correct? You should have no trouble finding work.
In my experience, speaking (a foreign language) is more difficult than listening. Usually people can understand what you say (in a foreign language) but don't know how to answer back (in a foreign language). If you can understand the questions, but answer back in different language, you are already ahead of the game....
Agree that being fully bi-lingual or tri-lingual with a basic knowledge of other languages as well is a valuable skill. My cousins who were born and raised in France were fluent in French, English, and knew German and Chinese at a functional level. Definitely made it easier for them to work outside France in their chosen technical fields.

Based on my education, my French was far more sophisticated than my Chinese. Came in handy I had the opportunity to work with a major client of my company that was based in France.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#13
On another note... I'll be staying in Arizona for about a month on my way to Oz. I'll have my skis with me... I don't want to get too excited just yet, but I would LOVE to ski and maybe meet some Diva's over there! So recommendations for skiing in Arizona, California, Utah and New Mexico are very welcome too while the Down Under Diva's enjoy the beach :becky:
Which month? Have you noticed that quite a few Divas ski at Taos?
 

RuthB

Angel Diva
#15
Okay, I can' comment on Australian ski fields having never skied there. But I can offer a New Zealand perspective that might be relevant and some things to consider

Ski seasons are short in Australia and New Zealand (July, August, September) June is like November in the Northern Hemisphere and October it is too warm.

Australian ski seasons are notoriously unreliable, think California - but without the great. It could be okay or it could be dreadful. Thousands of Australians come to New Zealand to ski each season because the snow is more reliable, it is cheaper and accessible.

Australia, like New Zealand has a minimum wage - I think the Australian minimum wage is AUD18.93 per hour.

If you don't work on New Zealand ski fields (because of closures etc, which we do get) then you don't get paid. Your landlord doesn't care if you don't get paid

Accommodation can be hard to find and expensive in NZ, and can be pretty rubbish quality - I think it is the same in Aus

Any staff accommodation usually goes to returning staff first

I suspect that the job situation is much more competitive than in North America. Our season is the opposite from North America and Europe. Between them South America, Australia and New Zealand have a minuscule number of ski fields compared to North America and Europe. We get people chasing back to back winters and many are highly qualified, experienced and skilled. We don't tend to have staff shortages at ski areas - except for licensed childcare workers.

Australia and New Zealand have lots of tourists, but they don't come to ski, so additional languages are not particularly sought after at ski fields.

New Zealand commercial ski areas have very few permanent employees, most are casual. I would think Australia is similar.

Australia is the only place in the world you might encounter a wombat in the middle of the ski trail
 

snowbeach

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#16
Down Under Diva here.......I have been at the beach but did just get back from a wonderful month skiing Japan.
I've never worked in a ski resort in Australia (or anywhere) so I can't answer too many questions about work.
Thredbo is definitely a more vibrant village resort than Perisher but Perisher is a lot bigger so I think there would be more work opportunities. Perisher just posted this link to jobs for this season: https://www.perisher.com.au/perisher-jobs
One big issue is staff accomodation at either resort, most staff live in the local town Jindabyne and commute to the resorts everyday. Problem is Jindabyne accomodation is limited and getting more expensive every season.
As for skiing I think Thredbo wins but I am biased as I stay in the resort and have a season pass.
Australian backcountry is pretty spectacular, it might not have the steeps or the powder but on a good day out back it is truely wonderful.
 

Belgiangirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#17
@MrsPlow Thanks for the comparison, that's what I figured from looking at the trail maps and reading online but it's always nice to have that confirmed by someone who's actually been there.

@alison wong Dutch is my mother tongue! I'm fluent in English and French, my German is at a conversational level but there's a lot of room for improvement. I studied Latin for 4 years in high school and did a semester of Spanish in college, so I can read simple texts and follow basic conversations, but I cannot form my own sentences. I don't speak any Mandarin unfortunately, but I read up about intensive multi-week language programs in China before traveling there. Didn't do it at the time for a number of reasons, but I wouldn't be opposed to the idea of following one in the next few years.

@marzNC I always enjoy reading your (long) posts as you are knowledgeable about so many things! The Chinese boys made me chuckle and reminded me of how Dutch is supposed to be notoriously difficult to learn - well, not to someone who learned as a child :smile: The latin courses came with a compulsory semester of ancient Greek and I learned the Cyrillic alphabet on my own, but nothing similar to the Chinese system so that won't be of much use.

Which month? Have you noticed that quite a few Divas ski at Taos?
Probably the end of April, possibly early May. I see it mentioned every so often on the forum but up until last weekend I didn't know it was within reasonable distance of Tucson. I've only seriously looked at Mammoth at this point, as they seem to have a really long season but I'd much rather get suggestions from people who've been to these places. The friend I'm visiting doesn't ski and apart from 'Flagstaff is a winter town' couldn't help much :becky:
 

Belgiangirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#18
Okay, I can' comment on Australian ski fields having never skied there. But I can offer a New Zealand perspective that might be relevant and some things to consider

Ski seasons are short in Australia and New Zealand (July, August, September) June is like November in the Northern Hemisphere and October it is too warm.

Australian ski seasons are notoriously unreliable, think California - but without the great. It could be okay or it could be dreadful. Thousands of Australians come to New Zealand to ski each season because the snow is more reliable, it is cheaper and accessible.

Australia, like New Zealand has a minimum wage - I think the Australian minimum wage is AUD18.93 per hour.

If you don't work on New Zealand ski fields (because of closures etc, which we do get) then you don't get paid. Your landlord doesn't care if you don't get paid

Accommodation can be hard to find and expensive in NZ, and can be pretty rubbish quality - I think it is the same in Aus

Any staff accommodation usually goes to returning staff first

I suspect that the job situation is much more competitive than in North America. Our season is the opposite from North America and Europe. Between them South America, Australia and New Zealand have a minuscule number of ski fields compared to North America and Europe. We get people chasing back to back winters and many are highly qualified, experienced and skilled. We don't tend to have staff shortages at ski areas - except for licensed childcare workers.

Australia and New Zealand have lots of tourists, but they don't come to ski, so additional languages are not particularly sought after at ski fields.

New Zealand commercial ski areas have very few permanent employees, most are casual. I would think Australia is similar.

Australia is the only place in the world you might encounter a wombat in the middle of the ski trail
Thank you for that detailed post! It confirms most of the things I've been looking up. New Zealand has been way at the top of my must-visit list for years - I would love love love to hike Te Araroa one day but it's not in feasible this year financially.

We'd leave for Australia at the end of May - beginning of June and leave around Sept-Oct to come back to Europe, where we'd like to find a job in France. Might look into NZ for next season but gotta tackle one adventure at a time at this point!

I've heard and read a lot about the accommodation shortage in NZ. I guess your right the situation probably won't be that much better in Australia, but I think we have our expectations in check, meaning we know there's a real possibility we'll have to commute vs staying in the resort and we'll probably be bundled up in a shabby studio for a couple months.

I'm worried the most about both securing jobs in the same resort, but we're both open to just about anything (I'll scrub dirty toilets if it means I can stay near a ski resort, no problem). We'll be sending out applications this week, so fingers crossed! That's a fairly decent minimum wage, it's around 2500 AUD per month in Belgium. Having two incomes and a financial buffer will hopefully suffice to cover the slow periods.

Also, YES to encountering wombats!!!!! :jumphappy:
 

Belgiangirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#19
Down Under Diva here.......I have been at the beach but did just get back from a wonderful month skiing Japan.
I've never worked in a ski resort in Australia (or anywhere) so I can't answer too many questions about work.
Thredbo is definitely a more vibrant village resort than Perisher but Perisher is a lot bigger so I think there would be more work opportunities. Perisher just posted this link to jobs for this season: https://www.perisher.com.au/perisher-jobs
One big issue is staff accomodation at either resort, most staff live in the local town Jindabyne and commute to the resorts everyday. Problem is Jindabyne accomodation is limited and getting more expensive every season.
As for skiing I think Thredbo wins but I am biased as I stay in the resort and have a season pass.
Australian backcountry is pretty spectacular, it might not have the steeps or the powder but on a good day out back it is truely wonderful.
Skiing and going to the beach, not jealous at all... :tongue: I've read that most of the staff working at either Perisher or Thredbo stay in Jindabyne. Is the commute truly half an hour to the resorts, as Google says?

Tree skiing in Australia is what I'm most excited about, they look so pretty and different from what I'm used to! Have you been to Mt. Hotham by any chance?
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#20
Dutch is my mother tongue! I'm fluent in English and French, my German is at a conversational level but there's a lot of room for improvement. I studied Latin for 4 years in high school and did a semester of Spanish in college, so I can read simple texts and follow basic conversations, but I cannot form my own sentences.
@marzNC I always enjoy reading your (long) posts as you are knowledgeable about so many things! The Chinese boys made me chuckle and reminded me of how Dutch is supposed to be notoriously difficult to learn - well, not to someone who learned as a child :smile: The latin courses came with a compulsory semester of ancient Greek and I learned the Cyrillic alphabet on my own, but nothing similar to the Chinese system so that won't be of much use.
Thanks!

You remind me of a good friend. She's usual for an American. Learned German in college, and ended up working in Switzerland so is pretty fluent is Swiss German. She studied Greek, Chinese, and Japanese at various times. She got to work in Japan for special assignment from the Swiss company, so that was one reason for Japanese. Although I think she's used it more for as a tourist that she did professionally.
 

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