When we post photos of us caravanning during Winter in the cold, we often get comments telling us we’re crazy! For us, we don’t want our caravan to collect dust in the driveway over winter, so we try and get out as much as we can. (You can check our our TOP 3 reasons why you should go Winter Caravanning here!) . When our mates from Our Big Lap told us they were heading away for a Skiing caravan holiday, we highly recommended a visit to the NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park and asked them to let us know what they thought! We loved our time there during the Snowy River Whats up Downunder Series (you can check out the episodes here) Real Stories from Real Families…
When is a snow trip not just a snow trip? And when is a caravan trip not just a caravan trip? You guessed it – when you put them together for the very first time!
It’s no secret that a trip to the snow, especially with kids in tow, is not a cheap exercise – from lift tickets and lessons, to hiring gear and accommodation – it can all add up pretty quickly.
But it is also amazing, and one of my absolute favourite things to do and places to be. The Snowy Mountains have captivated me since my very first trip to the snow in 1988 when I was five years old, and my love of the snow, skiing and snowboarding and the alpine environment is something I want to be able to share with my kids.
Our first family holiday to the snow was back in 2016 when Ava was 3 and Finn was 18 months old. With Lloyd being a non-snowsports kind of guy he was on chief parenting duties, and Ava was to head off to have her first ski school experience while I was doing my best to find my snow legs again on the mountain. Between work and kids it had been almost 15 years since I had last hit the slopes so we went all out and booked a lovely apartment in Thredbo Village. It was amazing, and wonderful for Lloyd and Finn to have a bit of space at home base while the girls were out all day but it was also, of course, pretty pricey. Fine for a once-off, but probably more than we would be willing to pay for an annual family trip.
When it came time to plan our next trip we were again confronted with the cost of accommodation and how much value we were really prepared to place on staying ‘on snow’, or in a relatively spacious abode. After hours and hours of scouring the internet and weighing up options Lloyd had a light bulb moment and suggested we take the caravan! It had after all been our ‘house on wheels’ while we toured around Australia on #ourbiglap2017, so why couldn’t it be our ‘chalet on wheels’ for #snowtrip2018?
Being so used to doing a snow trip in accomodation a bit more spacious than a caravan I admit I had one or two reservations, but Lloyd was confident and after looking at the cost of a powered site in Jindabyne versus the amount of money we would otherwise be spending on accommodation I was very keen and rather excited to see how this little experiment would pan out.
If the 2018 snow trip in our van was a success our total trip costs would be slashed, making our trip much more affordable and my dream of perhaps making it down to the snow more than once in a season so much more achievable. There was a lot riding on this trip and I have to say it wasn’t just OK, we didn’t just kind of get through it… IT WAS FANTASTIC and our ‘chalet on wheels’, Big Red, didn’t let us down!
There are a few options for caravanners heading to Jindabyne and the Snowy Mountains, but for us we decided that we wanted to be in Jindabyne and ideally close to the shops, restaurants and the lake which would make it easier for the boys to fill in their time during the day and make it more convenient for when we weren’t on the slopes.
We asked our mates from Caravanning with Kids if they had a recommendation and NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park it was – nestled between Lake Jindabyne and Nuggets Crossing (Jindabyne’s main shopping precinct), it ticked all our boxes and became the perfect home base for our week in the NSW Snowy Mountains.
Not only is the park ideally located for your off-piste activities in and around Jindabyne, it was an easy 35 minute drive to the Perisher carpark and leaving Jindabyne around 7.30am saw us miss the traffic, get a great parking spot and be ready for first tracks when the lifts started spinning. If the SkiTube is your preferred method of transport to Perisher the Bullocks Flat Terminal is only 20 minutes from the NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park, or continue along The Alpine Way for another 10 minutes and you will find yourself in the heart of Thredbo Village.
The park itself is spread out along the foreshore of Lake Jindabyne and offers cabins as well as plenty of powered (some with slabs) and unpowered sites.
In our travels around Australia we have parked up our van in some pretty incredible places, and looked out of our van to some pretty amazing views, but I have to say it was pretty special for me to be able to park up our van at the NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park and look out my window in one direction and see the lake, and look the other way and see snow capped mountains…incredible!
The NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park had absolutely everything you could need for a comfortable stay regardless of the season. The centrally located amenities were spacious, modern, exceptionally clean and importantly during the winter season, nice and warm! There was also a family bathroom which I know goes a long way to making trips with younger kids that bit more manageable.
The camp kitchen was well utilised during our stay by the many adventurous souls who were taking on their snow holiday in tents and swags… presumably with very, very warm sleeping bags! The kitchen area was very well equipped and protected from the stiff winds that are known to blow through Jindy in the winter. On several nights a week the camp kitchen wood fired pizza oven is fired up – some nights are designated as BYO pizza to cook, and other nights you can place your order and have a toasty pizza cooked up for you. What more could you want after a day on the slopes? Perfecto!
There is also a small TV/games room alongside the camp kitchen. Our kids enjoyed giving the pool table a workout and the campers passing their time (and charging their phones) in the games room enjoyed watching me try to maintain some semblance of civility while the kids went crazy with the pool table as kids tend to do!
For the kids there is also a playground within the park grounds, or you could always take the bikes and scooters along the Lake Jindabyne Foreshore Trail which passes right by the NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park. If swimming is more your thing you can always take a dip in Lake Jindabyne in the summer time, and for winter swimming the local indoor heated pool is located just across the road at the Nugget’s Crossing complex.
Importantly for snow tourists like ourselves the NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park has a secure drying room at Reception which is accessed by an individual code.
In summer time Lake Jindabyne becomes a boating mecca and if it is boating you are keen on doing (winter or summer) the NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park has you covered with a boat ramp conveniently located onsite.
As I said, our New Age Big Red did not let us down in the alpine conditions but as with any caravanning adventure, a little planning goes a long way. Beyond the requisite safety checks that should be carried out before any trip, there were just a few extra things we packed and did to make our winter stay that bit more comfortable and enjoyable…
* Alpine driving – if you are towing a caravan there is every chance you are towing it with a 4WD vehicle which is a great start when it comes to driving in alpine conditions. That said there are a few pieces of information on alpine driving that are great to know when you are planning your snow adventure which you can check out here.
- Small electric heater – we don’t have a diesel heater in our van (yet!) so we packed a little electric heater as a backup to our reverse cycle air conditioner that we planned to use as our main heating source. Surprisingly the air conditioner kept the van comfortably warm, happily humming along all night every night and only cutting out on our last night when the wind stopped and the temperatures dropped below freezing. Even when this did happen we were impressed by the relative comfort of our un-heated van, and by how quickly our little electric heater could bring the temperature up to a level that meant you didn’t mind getting out from your nice warm bed!
- Hot water bottles – nothing is cosier than hopping in to your pre-heated bed and snuggling up to your hot water bottle, right? The kids loved it, and as for the adults you could consider an electric blanket to keep things nice and toasty!
* Frozen Pipes – while caravanning in very cold climates there is of course the chance of hoses and pipes freezing overnight and out of our five nights in Jindabyne we only had this happen once. That said, we prepared for it each night by filling our kettle ready for a cuppa in the morning, and also another jug of water that we would be able to use for face washing and teeth brushing. I had also wondered how our hot water system would cope in the colder temperatures and happily we found that the system handled the conditions with ease performing no differently to how it has performed in less extreme conditions.
* Outside Living – one of the big differences we experienced on this trip was that we couldn’t do any ‘outside living’ as we are accustomed to when caravanning. It wasn’t the temperature that was the issue but more the wind just blew and blew the week we happened to be in Jindabyne. But thankfully between our full-size van and the recreation areas at the caravan park we were able to make those few hours either side of dinner time work quite comfortably for us. If you are used to spending most of your time outdoors on caravanning adventures it may be worthwhile considering bringing along the DVD collection or some boardgames should the mountain weather force you indoors.
* Private Drying Room – damp boots and gear is always an issue on a snow holiday and although we had access to the drying room at the caravan park I figured that with our air conditioner running all night to keep us warm we were living in our own drying room. So once dinner was packed away and the kids had retired to the bed for a movie I would string up our Slide n’ Dry pegless clotheslines above the dining table to hang our socks, thermals, gloves and other lighter items, and our jackets and pants were hung on coat hangers to dry out overnight. I also set up the electric heater we had brought along and used it to dry our boots on the table (note to self to pack an extension lead so I can set it up on the floor next time!). The boots would be dry by the time we went to bed, and our clothes would be well and truly dry by the time we woke up in the morning. It was then easy to collect everyone’s items up first thing in the morning and lay them on each person’s bed ready for a new day on the slopes!
It took a little bit of thought, scheduling and occasional shuffling of this to there when we wanted to open a cupboard for a snack but it worked a treat and saved the early morning walk to the drying room to collect our belongings.
Our trip to the NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park with our ‘chalet on wheels’ was a runaway success on every front, but especially the budget front!!! Jindabyne and the surrounding alpine areas have so much to offer for a winter or summer getaway and is a place and experience that should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.
Will we be doing it again? Hell yes we will! #snowtrip2019 planning is well underway… we hope to see you and your ‘chalet on wheels’ there!
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