Australia’s ski season kicks off in a little over six weeks’ time and 2019 is looking a little different for skiers and boarders heading to the slopes there.

The big news is that American company Vail Resorts which owns about 20 leading ski areas including Australia’s biggest, Perisher, has spent $120m (US) buying two more Aussie ski areas Falls Creek and Mount Hotham.

Australia only really half a dozen full-scale commercial ski areas so this gives Vail about half the market – Falls Creek is the country’s third largest resort and Mount Hotham (below) the fifth.

The main upside of the deal for skiers and boarders, Vail Resorts would argue, is that Australians can buy their ‘Epic pass’ and ski or board all three areas as well as the company’s North American resorts for one up-front price that’s not a lot more than the cost of a single week’s lift pass.

Australia’s remaining main ski areas, Mt Buller and Thredbo, have signed up to the competing Ikon Pass from the rival American Aterra group.

Regardless of ownership and lift pass politics, out on the slopes there are new developments too.

Mt Buller is installing a Doppelmayr 6-seater detachable chairlift on Bourke Street.  The new lift is a twin to the Mercedes-Benz Express lift and will move guests quickly out of the village to Baldy in just over two minutes. 

The resort is also investing in a second Techno Alpin all-weather snowmaking machine to ensure the season starts promptly at the start of June.

Perisher have invested $4.2 million replacing their Leichhardt T-bar with a new quad chairlift ready for the 2019 winter. This increases capacity and uplift speed on the route which serves The Cleft, Powder Ridge, Snowy Trails runs and the Leichhardt Terrain Park.

Falls Creek are reported to be improving their Gully Chair to make it run faster this coming winter.

Most Australian ski areas will open regardless of snow conditions on the weekend of June 7-10 2019 which is a holiday weekend in the country.

The country already saw some good snowfalls in March so will be hoping more arrives when it’s needed in late May and the start of June.