Rachael Oakes-Ash knows why Mt Stirling is still a ski slope to hit this winter. 

Best for: Cross-country.
Where is it: An easy three-hour drive from Melbourne and 30 minutes from Mt Buller.
Total skiable area: 3000 hectares. Number of lifts: 0.
Number of runs: 68km of cross-country trails.
Lift pass prices: The trails are free to use.
Why this resort has always rocked: Mt Stirling is a hidden gem, known to cross-
country skiers and a few downhill skiers and boarders who are happy to hike to access quintessential Australian back-country terrain.  It is low key and back-to-nature with alpine ash and snow gum woodlands, and cross-country trails designed to test the thighs.
What’s new? 
* The resort has no new features or programs for 2011 but the Alpine Camp, launched last year, continues this winter. A central teepee is set up around a pot-belly stove for dining and socialising, while seven accommodation tents sit nearby on raised, insulated platforms for overnight sleeping.
Event of the season: The Family Festival is usually held in July; a Backcountry Festival for telemark skiers is also held in July.
The details: www.mtstirling.com.au;
(03) 5777 6441.
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