After six hours of driving, my children burst through the door of our NRMA holiday park cabin and flop onto the bunk beds.
We’ve come to Jindabyne for the opening weekend of the ski season, although right now there’s not much snow. Only one run is open at Perisher. It doesn’t matter too much – if you stay in Jindabyne, there’s plenty to keep the kids occupied.
You can check out the cookie factory and sample some delicious free cookies. You can play squash at the Bowling Club, bike ride around the lake or catch a movie at the Jindabyne cinema.
NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park has the best location in town. It’s right on the lake and across the road from Nuggets crossing which has a Woolworths, Thredbo and Perisher retail stores (to get lift tickets early with out the lines) and plenty of cafes, restaurants and ski gear shops.
The cabins have kitchens with stove tops – a lifesaver for families. We stock up on cereal, bread and milk at the supermarket and make peanut butter sandwiches for snacks.
At sunset we head down to the lake to climb boulders and throw stones into the water. It’s something I loved doing when I came here with my family as a child. Simple, easy family fun that lasts for hours.
The kids find a green wooden canoe and jump in, pretending to sail out to sea. My daughter Amelie, 8, slumps back and demands her brother Callum, 10, row.
As they run across the sand they kick an old rodent skull, lying discarded on the ground. We examine the bone and the teeth before the kids run off and pretend they are in the middle of a desert.
The huge boulders that dot the shore of Lake Jindabyne are great fun to climb. Each time the kids conquer one they pose for a photo or ask me to take a video of them flossing. You can also hire bikes and ride all around the lake.
In the park’s playground the kids take turns on the slide. They fill it with woodchips and scatter them as the slip down giggling.
The lake becomes a patchwork of red, yellow and orange as the sun sets and a chill sets in so we hurry back to our toasty cabin rubbing our hands to stay warm.
In the morning, the kids are busting to hit the slopes. I awake to Amelie jumping on my bed, grinning and yelling “Snow”.
The NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park has vouchers for guests to get a discount at Base Ski and Snowboard hire. Jason and the team kit us out in ski and snowboard gear and give us the snow report. Sadly, no new snow. Still only one run open.
We pack the gear into the Toyota Prado and head for the hills. The lines for lift tickets at Perisher are incredibly long and I wish we booked back in Jindabyne.
Amelie and I head up the mountain while my husband stays on the learner slopes to help my son learn to snowboarding. With only one run open, it’s packed. My daughter, however, doesn’t care. She zooms off the chairlift on her skis and hurtles down the slope, seeking out any kicker jumps she can find along the way.
We’ve done the same run about 15 times before we decide we’ve had enough.
We head back down the mountain for a late lunch at Wild Brumby. The distillery at Crackenback has schnapps tasting, award-winning gin and delicious, hearty food. The best part is that it is kid-friendly.
Amelie and Callum have running races through the gardens, explore the caravan cubby house and play with the art installation as we wait for our table. Chris and I taste some schnapps. Pear, sour apple, baked apple, butterscotch – it’s hard to know which one is the best.
When the food comes it’s worth the wait. My ricotta and spinach dumplings are the perfect antidote to cold weather. Callum digs into the veal burger licking his lips in delight.
There may not me much snow yet, but Jindabyne still has plenty to offer for families.
Getting there: Jindabyne is located in the Snowy Mountains, NSW, a six-hour drive South of Sydney. Or you can fly to the Snowy Mountains airport and hire a car from there.
Staying there: NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park is right on Lake Jindabyne close to the village shops and Nuggets Crossing. The deluxe snowgum cabins sleep five and have views over Lake Jindabyne.
Playing there: Base Snowsports in Jindabyne can kit you out with skis, boots, snowboards and snow clothes to hit the slopes. Both Perisher and Thredbo have retail stores at Nuggets Crossing so you can book lift tickets before you go.
The writer travelled to Jindabyne as a guest of NRMA holiday parks and Toyota.