Fri 26 Jul 2013 - Fri 26 Jul 2013
Clancy, Sonia and I had been looking forward to this day. Being able to once again head up into the mountains to enjoy some fun in the snow. Clancy and I weren't exactly sure how Sonia and Kaden would like it however, as we expected it to be rather windy, cold and wet. When we'd previously been up to see the snow on Mt Wellington near Hobart, Sonia hadn't minded it too much, while Kaden grizzled a bit more than normal in the fairly accommodating weather. Only way to find out was to remain positive about it and go find out!
The day prior to heading into the Ben Lomond National Park, I'd rung the company that operate the village and all snow sport associated activities on the mountain - Ben Lomond Snow Sports, to gather some information. They were extremely helpful and recommended we make use of the landcruiser troopy shuttle they provided (call the given number once at the departure/drop off point near the ranger's hut) and layer the kids as much as we could, plus bring an extra set of clothes each.
The drive across from where we'd once again camped at the Hadspen Discovery Holiday Park was rather picturesque. We missed seeing the sign for the road into the National Park, but figured it out quickly enough and were soon on our way up. Not far in from the National Park boundary, we came across the entrance into the small camping area and decided we'd have a look. It was pretty good, with decent toilets and shelter shed available. We could've quite easily camped there the night before if we'd known more about it and wanted to. Had to admit to myself though that I had enjoyed my nice hot shower and warm dry bathroom the previous night! The view from the lookout at the campsite area was pretty good to.
It then didn't take us long to reach the departure/drop off point for the shuttle. The road was a bit wider, with (from memory, so don't quote me on this!) a small shed on the right hand side, and small wooden stand/shelter on the left. Parking was on the side of the road, and we were glad to find that we had enough phone reception to call the given number and wait for the shuttle to arrive. Our 'waiting' however, was more like a mad rush to find all the extra layers that we wanted to put on the kids and us, and get them appropriately dressed, as we'd forgotten to do it earlier in the rush to leave early. Before we were even halfway ready, the troopy had arrived to pick us up. Thankfully, some other people had turned up by this stage as well, so they headed up while we continued to get ready. Note for next time - plan ahead and be a lot more organised!
This road is known as Jacobs Ladder. It's a zig-zag gravel road, which was rather wet and slippery for the time we were there. So it was a very good thing that we didn't try and take our campervan up. It definately would not have made it! Talking to the shuttle driver, there'd been about 200 cars parked wherever they could to utilise the shuttle service a weekend or 2 previous, and two light four wheel drives without chains had slipped off the road and into the gutter (road is sloped in towards the mountain).
It was fairly foggy on the way up, but we were able to just catch glimpses of the surrounding dolorite cliffs. Coming down later though, visibility had dramatically reduced even further which was rather dissapointing for me, as I'd been hoping to enjoy the view of the cliffs that my parents had mentioned, and that I'd seen in photo's whilst researching this area.
- Snow, Wind and Rain
All the staff that we dealt with in the ski hire building were extremely helpful and friendly. They were very accommodating and understanding towards families with young children, ensuring we could access the heaters, and had everything we needed. There were quite a few other families with kids slightly older than Sonia there as well. We hired a jumpsuit for Sonia (tried to encourage her to get gloves as well, but she wasn't going to have anything to do with that. Her own gloves and gumboots were 'good'!), pants for me and Clancy, a toboggan, and boots for Clancy. All of that plus the cost for utilising the shuttle, and it only came to $90 or thereabouts, which we thought was rather good!
Sonia loved playing with Clancy in the snow. Snowball fights, tobogganing, building a snowman. Staying positive and encouraging her to do all these sorts of fun things helped keep her mind off the wind and her cold hands. Her gloves were woollen knitted ones without the fingertips. So yes, it didn't take long for them to become totally soaked. What surprised me however, was that it didn't seem to bother her as much as I thought it would! I thought we would've very quickly been going back to the hire building to buy some proper gloves or mittens. But no, every time I asked, the response was 'no' 'not sore' gloves good'.
Kaden on the other hand, absolutely hated the wind. I had him in the Ergo baby carrier underneath my jacket, with another jacket/microfleece over him as well to try and reduce the amount of wind blowing across his face. I found that if no wind got into him, he was fine, but as soon as he felt some wind... that was it, constant grizzling. It didn't take long though before he fell asleep.
I managed to go for a slide on the toboggan with Kaden and Sonia a few times before it was time to head in for lunch at the hotel adjoining the building where we'd stored all our extra gear. We could've brought our own lunch, but figured it was easier to buy something hot there. There was a good fireplace in there too, that we were able to dry Sonia's gloves out on. I, along with some other mum's also put our kids' socks out to dry while waiting for our meals, before realising a while later the sign requesting patrons to please refrain from drying socks on the fireplace. Oops! Oh well, no one complained to us, and they'd pretty well dried by then thankfully!
The weather had deterioted a fair bit by the time we got back outside again. Raining and snowing at the same time. We completed a few more toboggan runs, hastily built a small snowman, threw a few more snowballs, then decided to call it quits for the day. After returning our hired equipment and saying some heartfelt thankyou's to the staff, we found we only had to change one layer of wet clothing on Sonia (moisture had seeped up her sleeves and pant legs), before it was time to get back in the shuttle and head down Jacob's Ladder to retrieve our van and continue on our way.