Life Travel It’s summer … time to hit the slopes
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It’s summer … time to hit the slopes

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Walking

Shaking off Christmas cocktails is that much easier when you’ve got a 180 degree view of alpine peaks to distract you. Trade in the festive spread for a buffet of blue-grey summits that range from a doddle (Thredbo valley) to a life-changing adventure (the 650km Alpine Walking Track from Canberra to Walhalla).

New South Wales, the ACT and Victoria have thousands of kilometres of tracks. Many are accessible from resort centres, so you can have a bubble-bath when you get back. Your boots will scuff alpine wildflowers as – depending on your itinerary – you pass by heritage-listed cattlemen’s huts and dramatic escarpments. Download maps to your phone at Nature Tourism ServicesNote: stay abreast of bushfire warnings and avoid risky conditions.

Mountain running

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As above, only faster? Yes and no. Spearheaded by the unearthly feats of Spanish star Kilian Jornet as well as local heros Anna Frost and Brendan Davies, the sport aka sky running has taken off in the Australian Alps faster than a mob of spooked brumbies. Against some of the country’s most glorious backdrops, weekend warriors are scrambling toward sweat-stained oblivion in droves. Races tend to be either a short-and-sharp 1km vertical, or the sustained torture of marathon distance and more.

What’s on:

January 12 Bogong to Hotham Rooftop Run 35/64km
January 17-19 Bright training camp
February 1 Mt Buller 1km vertical
February 2 Mt Buller Skyrun 22/36/45km
February 7-9 Trail Running camp at Lake Crackenback
February 8 Kosciuszko Run 11/22km
February 11 Falls Creek Marathon
March 15 Razorback Run 22/38/58/68km
March 16 Bon Accord 1km vertical

Music festivals

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Big Day Out they ain’t. Driven more by the sublime surroundings than big name overseas acts, mountain music fests are less mosh, more posh. Kick back to local lineups of blues, roots, opera, rock and folk.

Strictly speaking, Beechworth is the foothills not the alps but jagging Anthony Warlow surely brings them – and you – closer to the heavens.

What’s on:

January 17-19 Thredbo Blues Festival 
January 18 Opera in the Alps Beechworth
January 24-27 Lake Jindabyne Irish Cultural Festival
January 31-February 2 Cool Summer Festival Mt Hotham

Dining and wineries

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Toss aside the skinny jeans. Your palate will guide you to the summits of taste, the only hard part is choosing which producers to visit. Cool climate winemakers, cheesemakers, orchardists, nut growers, brewers and distillers nestle in fertile valleys below the resorts, many with an on-site cafe or restaurant where they serve their labours’ fruit.

More producers are offering behind-the-scenes tours of their operation and it’s often easy to have a chat with the maker themselves – often the start of a flavoursome friendship. On-mountain, most restaurants with good reputations open only for holiday weekends and festivals.

Spa visits

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Spa centres are heading high, slowly but surely. For nature-lovers who prefer contemplation to adrenaline, it’s a boon. Body treatments, facials, massage, aromatherapy and hydrotherapy mingle with alpine air and a stroll past gum trees back to your room. Phone before you leave the city to ensure your preferred spa is open over summer.

Where to go:

Lake Crackenback

The Spa Beechworth 

Cycling

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Middle-aged men in lycra have heard the call of the wild. When your usual weekend loop through the suburbs starts to lose its lustre, the mountains are waiting. Snaking up serene alpine roads with a new challenge ‘round every switchback is claiming devotees in hoards. Off-road, you can join a tour to spin sedately from cellar door to farm gate, swerve along singletrack or charge white-knuckle downhill courses. Put your bike on Thredbo’s Kosciuszko Express chairlift and ride the nation’s longest lifted MTB downhill. Prefer to pedal? Be among the first to ride Dinner Plain’s latest trails, due for completion this summer as part of a three-year development.

What’s on:

January 26 The Audax Alpine Classic Bright
March 22-23 The Ultimate Snowy Challenge Jindabyne

Horse riding

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You don’t need your own Colt From Old Regret – or seat-of-the-pants riding style – to put yourself in the frame of the Snowy Mountains legends. Guides provide all you need for rides from one hour to five days, including a cattle drive if that’s what, er, flips your burger. If you’ve longed to pause at dusk beside film-star shack Craig’s Hut and stare at the horizon, giddy up.

What’s on:

February 17-21 The Man From Snowy River Ride

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