The Snow Gauge

Running the rule over the ski & snowboard industry since 1995

Is this the biggest problem in Australia’s ski industry?

Posted by on Aug 13, 2015 in Australia | 4 comments


I was after all only after a bottle of Mt Franklin water. I didn’t want to buy Mt Franklin itself, or even procure a day pass to ski at Mt Franklin.

I’m just not quite sure how a $5.20 bottle of water can be justified. Perhaps at the halfway point of the Gobi Desert. But in an area under 13,000 square kilometres of snow? Quick, somebody explain market forces to me as I’m rather obtuse!

This one was bought at Blue Cow but it isn’t a lone example of slope gauging.

When I drove back to Jindabyne and saw $20 20-pack of water advertised out the front of the servo I told the owner my “liquid gold” story he just laughed. “They’ll try whatever they can get away with up there,” he offered.

A few days later back in Sydney I note that Woolworths had a 24-pack of their own branded water for $7. Hardly comparable I know, but a 2000+ per cent mark up?

To give the cafeteria at Blue Cow its dues, you could of course find tap water if you looked hard enough in the bar area or downstairs. You could also get a reasonable fish, chips and salad for a not ridiculous $14. You can also save 15% with a Perisher season pass so that’s not bad at all. But $10 for a slice of pizza, not much bigger than a piece of bread – well that’s a little stiff!

I’m reluctant to pick on specific proprietors but I simply can’t cope with the food prices at the Mid Station. There were the deluxe $17 gourmet meat rolls, $10 pies, $7+ pieces of cake that were perhaps marginally bigger than a triangle of Camembert you’d find on a cracker and while there’s an admittedly a good $2.50 special on hot chocolate in the morning the automated, machine-made drink suddenly hits the dizzy heights of more than $6 after that time.

I’ve noted the passionate defence from I assume their management on social media about their prices first hand but I wonder how many visitors will really be stopping to evaluate the fact that it is a place not managed by the mountain, that they have to pay Australian wages, that sometimes it will close because the quad chair is down, that they are remote etc etc. I think a lot of people will simply think the prices are simply too high – even for the snow.

So who is doing it right? I was super surprised at the service, quality of food and prices at Alpine Eyre, near the eponymously named t-bar. Good job guys. Soft drinks at $3, burgers under $10 and in general some civilised snow pricing. A smaller operation to be sure but they are pretty remote and deserve some kudos for doing the right thing by customers.

The other pleasant surprise I got this year was at Merritts in Thredbo. Thredders’ cafeteria food generally straddles the same kind of just short of painful but I’ll pay it prices that greet you at most places at Perisher. But Mountain House has been taken over by the resort this year and I think it is for the better. I can’t speak for the queues as both times I got their early but the costs seemed to have softened just a touch and the food was good. It ain’t cheap – but two things stood out immediately. The availability of cold , running water as soon as you walked in and the removal of the ATM just inside the door.

It may sound like a small thing but by having a third party cash machine that stings you with a fee, then not having EFTPOS available and charging you “mountain prices” on top really feels like one almighty lend. Good on Thredbo for scrapping it.

Well, I’m not going to pretend I have visited every eatery in six days on the snow this year but if you do have any suggestions for saving do let me know.  Perhaps we can chat about it over a nice bottle of chilled ’13 Franklin …



  1. $75 for a family of 4 for lunch at Blue Cow, that was as hard to swallow as the burger we had!!

    • Almost passable at that price! I start to suddenly feel a whole lot less hungry when you are looking at $25 or more for something fairly basic and a drink.

  2. $9 kransky rolls at the sundeck and $7:50 soup of the day seem reasonable for ski prices but you’ll be stung for drinks, water available free
    Man from snowy river has Good food not as cheap but better than resort fair and eyre cafe is the pick for best burger and reasonable prices

  3. Yeah the water is stupid but just don’t pay it bring a bottle and fill up or go off piste and eat some snow!
    As a vegetarian I laugh at the state of the burgers in the Australian snow regions
    Little secret try the vegie burger it’s made fresh and you don’t need to eat meat all the time. Oh and it hasn’t been sitting in some weird liquid stuff

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