July 13, 2016 by Dadinator
You occasionally get swept up in a desire to do something special for your children. And sometimes the opportunity to do just that comes out of nowhere.
Some good friends of ours – fellow parents – came to The Mamanator a few weeks out from the school holidays with a crazy idea. An idea so crazy it just might work. A week in the snow at Dinner Plain in the Victorian Alpine region. We had sampled snow as a family once before, atop “Lolgambook” (Mt Franklin), a short drive from where we live, but Dinner Plain would be something else…. It would be 4 adults and 4 children under 5, a 6 hour drive and 4 nights away from home. Not the same as a 15 minute drive….
We were well prepared. Between op-shops, relatives who had ski gear and some improvising we got together passable snow gear – at very little cost (no point buying new gear for small children as far as we can see). We also pre-cooked all our food before heading up – the logic was that it meant we didn’t have to cook on holiday. It meant we took a few bags down….
Part 1: The Drive.
From Sunny Guildford to Dinner plain is just over 5 hours. We basically had 2 options: GO GO GO and ride out the inevitable tantrums, or take our time and stop over a couple of times on the way. With a check in time of 4pm, taking our time felt a lot more sensible.
We stopped at Heathcote where we discovered something new: A winery themed playground (which was also an amazing playground). They played and had morning tea while everyone went to the toilet.Our next stop was at Glerowan, site of Ned Kelly’s last stand. Why? Because The Mamanator had an odd sense of nostalgia about the place…. We also stopped in Bright to hire chains for the week – it is compulsory to carry them during the snow season.
There was one more stop on the way up to Dinner Plain to put the chains on, and right on cue The Lass declared she “needed to do a wee” at that very moment. We’d packed her potty, so we just set it up and let her go. The snow-chain checker didn’t know where to look when he came over to check on us, meanwhile I nearly wet myself laughing at my daughter’s squatting form silhouetted against the stark and majestic background of the Victorian Alps. She didn’t even complain about the cold.
Then came the experience of snow driving. I think I suppressed the memories, but clearly didn’t do too badly because before long we arrived at…. (drumroll).
Part 2: The Bunny Box.
No, we didn’t stay in a rabbit hutch. Our unit was named the “Bunny Box” for reasons I don’t really understand. It was a 3 story unit with Foxtel, a lot of heating and double glazing, and a hot tub on the snowy balcony. We got lucky actually… we were upgraded a few days before going up there.There was one major drawback though… The kids were up on the third story spread across 2 bunk beds. Parents were down stairs on the ground floor… It made for some interesting nights when screaming children required a response, scaling 2 flights of stairs and descending them, babe in arms, a couple of nights. It also meant lying in bed hoping that your 4-year-old could make it down stairs in a half-awake state without tripping and taking a massive tumble….
But did I mention the hot tub? Now that was cool…. Especially when you sat in it and watched light snow falling around you….
Part 3: The Snow
It was Tuesday morning we ventured out into the snow. All geared up of course.
There were snow balls to make, snow angels to impress upon the snow and snowmen to bring to life and who knows what else to do. On that first morning it was about footprints and feeling this powdery cold stuff called snow. And, for the 4-year-olds, it was all about eating the snow. I swear they ate half the snow off the mountain. They stopped to sup upon it every few minutes….
There was also tree climbing, and even attempted igloo construction.
But mostly there was tobogganing. We went to “The Pea Shooter” and went up it slowly, and down it quickly over and over again.
The Lass always wanted company on the way down, and on the way back up. I also distinctly remember trying to guide my boy back up the slope with the toboggan verbally, trying to help him avoid the descending sled riders.They also are handy for transport. MOOSH! MOOSH!!!
While there were other activities on offer, skiing, walks and even dog-sled riding, we found that the simple act of “stuffing around in the snow” (SAS) was more than adequate for our little ones, and if you’re taking 2 and 4-year- olds into the snow I’d suggest that anything more elaborate is not really necessary. At one stage we ran out of eggs and walked from The Bunny Box to the local shop. It took 2 hours because there were so many stops with the young ones to say “wow” at everything.
And eat more snow….
As for adult stuff, Dinner Plain has Australia’s highest altitude brewery! Which is exciting to beer enthusiasts.But we weren’t in a position to spend many nights out…. We spent most evenings playing board games and drinking home-made Bailey’s and wine. Before the first of the 4 kids woke up.
That probably sums it up. I’d recommend Dinner Plain as a place to take kids, there’s enough to do without it being too overwhelming, and the basic “SAS” activity is free once you are up there. The drive had my knuckles white at times (in a 2 wheel drive in chains), and it was a long way up and back. But the kids are still talking about it, a week later. For a 4 and 2-year-old, that’s a 5 star review.