The Mt Mawson ski field in the Mt Field National Park is the southern most ski area in Australia. It’s a remarkable place, and while it’s of a low elevation, with very limited vertical terrain, and is subject to the notoriously fickle snow conditions to be found in Tasmania, it is a magical spot. It has several rope tows, and is a Club ski field composed of seven lodges, with no public accommodation. Its also a fairly solid 30 to 45 minute walk up the mountain to get to the ski field.
But like the surrounding ranges within the Mt Field national park, when its in condition its truly fantastic.
It is also a volunteer mountain that operates at the weekend. At the other Australian resorts, we get very used to having everything done for us. Mt Field is more like skiing was in Australia in the early days. It had a good winter this year, with tows running on weekends from mid August until early October.
According to the end of season report from the president of the Southern Tasmanian Ski Association (STSA) Peter Davis, there were various bits of excitement during the season, like the following:
“The season started on 13th of August, but unfortunately there was a problem with the access road which prevented the majority of skiers from getting through. (It took) took 5 hours to clear the road, and then a landslip was identified … which kept the road closed for a couple of hours longer. … There was a queue of 100 cars waiting to get up the Dobson Road”.
Then there were technical issues with the tows. At one point the rope on the University Tow broke. “Fortunately STSA had two rolls of new rope on the mountain, and on Sunday the volunteers tackled the big job of joining a new rope, under the patient guidance of experienced Mt Mawson Ski Patroller Andrew Davey. Members of the public helped to move the 500 metres of heavy rope across to the Uni Tow, and then a team of skiers and boarders assisted with tensioning the rope down the hill in preparation for completion of the final splice.
Ironically later in the season we experienced some intermittent electrical problems with the University Tow, and so it was not used for the last 3 weeks of skiing”.
Public facilities are pretty basic: there is a simple visitors hut up on Tarn Shelf, the Ski Patrol have an unheated shipping container as their base, and the public shelter in the village is also unheated. The good news is that a new shelter is currently under construction and will be ready by next winter.
When the snow is good, there is some fantastic touring out towards Mt Field West (although the access over the Rodway Range is mostly through boulderfields and can be hard and dangerous in certain conditions or sketchy snow cover). The whole place is deliriously pretty and incredibly wild. If you can’t find a way to stay in one of the club lodges there are some basic huts that can be hired through the parks service (called the Government Huts, these are not in the actual village at the ski fields, rather they are located near to the Lake Dobson car park). If you haven’t been there you should definitely add it to your skiers/ riders bucket list (with the suggestion you keep your options open and drop everything and get there when the snow is on).
The image used above is of the Rodway Tow, photo by B Oakes.