14 June 2022

Early snow spells bumper season start for some; causes season end for another

| Claire Fenwicke
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Kids in the snow

Unprecedented early-season snow meant a cracking opening weekend for the resorts. Photo: Thredbo Resort.

Fresh powder flew and new runs carved up as the Snowy Mountain ski resorts celebrated one of their best opening weekends in recent memory.

A 125 cm dumping of early season snowfall and cold temperatures in the lead-up to the Queen’s Birthday long weekend meant skiers and snowboarders were spoiled for choice on the mountains.

Thredbo marketing manager Caroline Brauer said it was an opening to remember.

“The snow cover was as good as it gets. After the challenges of the past two years, this is exactly the way we wanted to welcome everyone back to the resort,” she said.

“The strong start to the season is just what the resort, community and snow industry needed. The smiles on all the faces of our guests and staff are a testament to just how overdue a season like this has been.”

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All of Thredbo’s main resort areas were open as the weekend attracted numbers similar to those seen during the peak season.

Ms Brauer recommended anyone making their way to the snow should plan early.

“With the excellent early season conditions, we expect strong demand on weekends and during school holidays,” she said.

“Thredbo is managing its capacity by limiting the number of lift passes it sells to ensure a smooth flow of guests and a positive experience.”

But the massive snowfalls didn’t spell good news for everyone.

Selwyn Snow Resort announced it would miss its scheduled opening on 2 July as its principal contractor cannot complete important rebuilds in time.

Unprecedented early snow – totalling more than 100 cm in seven days – on top of record rainfalls in November and December, material supply shortages and last year’s state-wide COVID lockdown hampered efforts for the resort to be open on time.

A Selwyn Snow Resort spokesperson said this was devastating news for guests, employees and the local community.

“We want you to know we share this sadness with you and look forward to a fresh start in 2023,” they said.

The resort has advised everyone who has purchased tickets and rentals would be refunded in full in the coming weeks.

Tractor clearing a road

More than 100 cm of snow fell in seven days, making construction efforts even more difficult at Selwyn. Photo: Selwyn Snow Resort Facebook.

The long weekend was also busy for police both in NSW and the ACT.

A man died in a single-vehicle crash on the Hume Highway at Sutton Forest on Saturday (11 June).

Police were told a car veered onto the median strip before hitting a tree. One male passenger died, while the male driver and another male passenger were taken to hospital in stable conditions.

Overall for the Southern region, there were 29 major crashes, while 693 drivers were caught speeding.

Almost 31,800 breath tests were conducted, resulting in 36 charges.

This included an incident where Cooma Traffic and Highway Patrol officers stopped a Honda CR-V on Kosciusko Road, Jindabyne, at about 11 pm on Monday (13 June), which was travelling without headlights.

Police spoke with the 35-year-old Sydney driver who produced an expired international driver’s license. He was subjected to a roadside breath test, which was positive. His female passenger was seen holding an infant, and neither were properly restrained.

The man was then arrested and taken to Jindabyne Police Station where he allegedly returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.063. He received infringement notices for driving with low range PCA, being an unlicensed driver, driving with one unrestrained passenger (16 years or older), driving with a passenger not restrained as prescribed (six months or older but less than four years), and driving in the dark with no lights.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander Assistant Commissioner Brett McFadden said the type of behaviour shown by a small number of drivers was unacceptable.

“While the rest of the state abides by the road rules, [such drivers] are extremely lucky they did not harm themselves or other road users,” he said.

“While the [long weekend] operation has now concluded, rest assured we will continue to have our officers proactively patrolling the streets to take appropriate action against those who drive dangerously.”

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Police were also out in force across the Territory.

ACT Policing Senior Constable Damien Kinnane said while police were happy with the “relatively low number” of offenders on Canberra’s roads, he wanted that to be zero.

“Unfortunately, some drivers showed little regard for road safety,” he said.

On Saturday (12 June) alone, police conducted more than 400 random breath tests and seven people were caught drink driving.

Among those caught was a 21-year-old man who returned a 0.129 result, despite being on a special licence which meant he was not allowed any alcohol in his system when driving.

Snr Const Kinnane said unregistered vehicles, drivers using their mobile phones and drug drivers were also caught, including a 33-year-old female, who was also speeding and driving while her license was suspended.

Those travelling to the snow for the rest of the season were reminded police would be on the lookout to ensure the snow was both enjoyable and safe.

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