We know that lockdowns and covid has been hard on all mountain businesses. Now, many are struggling to find enough staff as Australians head to the snow in droves. The rise in interest in backcountry skiing and riding was certainly good for some businesses through the hard winters of 2020 and 2021, and this year is providing a welcome boost. But, faced with the rise in online shopping and the buying power and reach of large chain stores, it’s remarkable that there are still so many locally owned outdoor gear shops in and around the Australian Mountains.
Here are a few of them. If we don’t support them, we will lose them. And as we know, all these places offer local knowledge in a way that online stores can’t.
Going (roughly) from north to south.
Tom’s Outdoors. TUMUT.
‘Founded on a mutual love for the outdoors, Tom’s Outdoors began in 2015. Founders Gemma and Chris Russell, who continue to run the business, are on a mission to inspire a life lived outdoors through gear that’s considered, enduring and trustworthy.
Tom’s Outdoors operates from Tumut NSW, where we thrive in the mountains of Kosciuszko National Park and surrounds. The rugged Snowy Mountains region and all the outdoor activities it offers allows us to live and breathe what we sell’.
They do sell online so if you can’t get to the area, you could always buy something via their website. Their social media is always lively and worth checking if you’re heading into the Snowy Mountains.
Wilderness Sports. JINDABYNE.
Located in Jindabyne, with a winter shop in Perisher, and run by Bruce Easton, Wilderness Sports describes itself as ‘offering the most comprehensive range of backcountry ski and mountain products available in Australia. Our equipment expertise and advice comes from a long background of professional guiding both within Australia and overseas. The business started in 1977 & was the original licenced adventure and backcountry ski guiding business in Kosciusko National Park’.
It has a wide range of backcountry hire gear.
Ess Boards. JINDABYNE.
As you would expect from a snow board store in Jindi, this is a hip sort of place. The few times I have been there the staff have really known their stuff and they have a good range of backcountry splitboarding gear (they do also stock skis).
Harro’s Snow Sports. LAKE CRACKENBACK.
Harro’s is another long term business in the Snowy Mountains, and was established in 1992. It was set up by legendary snow industry figure David Harrison and his partner Sue. David passed away last summer and his son Mitch is carrying on the family tradition and managing the store.
Harro’s is another ‘all things resort’ ski and boarding shop but does have an interest in backcountry as well.
Snow Trek and Travel. WODONGA.
At first glance this is a shop for cross country and skate skiing, but there is a great range of backcountry gear out the back, backcountry clothing, extensive map selection, and good local knowledge. It used to be the Snow Gum shop, but now days is a family-owned independent retailer.
Rocky Valley Sports. MT BEAUTY.
Rocky Valley covers bikes, snow, and skiing. They have a great café and good local knowledge. They say they have ‘the largest range of ski hire in Mt Beauty, including downhill, cross country, snowboards, and back country equipment we specialise in making your holiday in the snow special’.
Rays Ski Shop. MYRTLEFORD.
This is another very long running family owned store, famous for its sales and offering all things resort in terms of sales, hire and chains.
Everest Sports. BRIGHT.
This is a relative newcomer to the scene. Run by Simon Head, and in a perfect location on the main shopping strip in Bright, Everest Sports has an awesome range of backcountry gear across all the styles – splitboards, snow shoes, AT and tele. Good local knowledge, maps, and lots of summer stuff too.
Bright Outdoors Centre. BRIGHT.
This is a general outdoors type of store, covering car camping, disposals, fishing, hiking and outdoor gear including shoes, tents, stoves, tackle, and clothing.
In the main street of Bright.
Tirol Sports. MT HOTHAM.
Tucked away in the Arlberg Building in Hotham village, and run by keen backcountry skier Hagen Dobrautz, this is mostly a resort focused hire shop. But he does have a range of splitboards and alpine touring gear for hire plus lots of backcountry safety gear for sale.
Snow Monkey and Happy Valley Hub. Mt HOTHAM and OVENS.
Run by Richard Neville, Snow Monkey is another well established mountain trader (also with a store in Melbourne). Focused primarily on resort skiing and riding, it has heaps of clothing and similar gear, plus various additional services like tuning, boot fitting, lodge delivery and more.
Happy Valley Hub is a newer venture, in the Ovens Valley. Apart from hire it has a range of backcountry gear for hire and sale.
The Hoys Empire. HARRIETVILLE, MT HOTHAM, DINNER PLAIN, OMEO.
Hoys have been around for ever, run the chain service on Hotham, have a dedicated team, plus the best road conditions updates for the Great Alpine Road (if you drive that road in winter, you should follow them on twitter). They have been going for more than 80 years! Primarily a resort hire and sales shop, there is also XC and snowshoes available. Good stalwarts of the local mountain community.
Outdoor Pleasure. MANSFIELD.
This is another of those generic outdoors stores, covering car camping, surf and outdoors clothing and equipment, fishing, hiking and skiing. Lots of good ‘last minute’ stuff you may need as you head into the mountains. It has been around for years.
Yes, I have missed a few. There are heaps of locally owned ski and board hire stores in and around the resorts and mountain towns. And I haven’t even started on bike specific shops. Please feel free to send me a short blurb and I will update the guide. Cam.email@example.com
I do not have any financial interest with these businesses (although I do know various owners and staff at a number of these stores).