To look across the mountain ranges of the Victorian High Country from Mount Hotham is purifying. The drive – one of the most spectacular in Australia – is as breathtaking as the wind itself; the tranquillity, hypnotising. Whether snow-capped in winter or erupting in wildflowers in summer, a day trip into this renowned ski resort within the Alpine National Park is always rewarding.
ABOUT MOUNT HOTHAM
The ski resort of Mount Hotham rests atop the Great Dividing Range near the highest point of any main road in Australia. It's a rarity in that it's the only ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere to be situated at the top of the mountain rather than its base, rewarding visitors with wide-open views as far as the eye can see. To its east are the Bogong High Plains where the waters run inland to the Murray River. Across the divide to its west are the Dargo High Plains, where the waters run to the sea. And presiding majestically to its north is the stately Mount Feathertop (1,922m), named for the feather-like cloud often seen near its peak.
Mount Hotham (1,861m), the mountain from which the resort takes its name, is a rounded hill to the side of the village as you enter from Harrietville. It was named in 1854 after the then Governor of Victoria, Sir Charles Hotham.
Prior to the cutting of the Alpine Road from Harrietville to Omeo, early access to Mount Hotham was via the Bon Accord Track, which can still be travelled as a hiking trail from Harrietville to The Razorback and on to Mount Hotham.
The first skiiers are believed to have hit the slopes near Mount Blowhard in 1880, but it wasn't until the 1920s – when road access greatly improved and the Hotham Heights Chalet opened – that ski tourism really took off.
Today, Australia's highest ski resort has 13 chairlifts, three terrain parks and 35km of cross-country ski trails as well as family activities like dog sledding. The nearby alpine village of Dinner Plain offers the country's best tobogganing.
The rare beauty of Australian snow, with its waltzing snow gums and snow-dusted wombats, is not to be missed, but the refreshing mountain summers are just as beautiful. Alpine meadows burst into colour come January, and the cool summer breeze and clear skies make the mountains a welcome escape from the heat of the valleys. It's the ideal time of year to explore the Alpine National Park's many hiking trails, which branch out in all directions to connect Mount Hotham with Harrietville, Falls Creek and Dinner Plain. Whether you hike to the summit of a mountain, or go in search of historic huts, there are walks to suit all style of adventurers, big or small.
THINGS TO DO IN MOUNT HOTHAM
1. Skiing & Snowboarding
Go skiing or snowboarding on Mount Hotham's infamous slopes, or learn to ski with a skilled instructor.
2. Sleep in an igloo
Spend the night in an igloo and feast on French fondu and mulled wine with Alpine Nature Experience.
3. Cross-country ski to Dinner Plain
Cross-country ski The Brabralung Trail from Mount Hotham to Dinner Plain.
4. Go on a dog sled ride
Go dog sledding through the snow gums with Howling Huskies at Wire Plain or Dinner Plain.
5. Explore the backcountry
Get off the beaten track on a guided snow expedition of the Alpine National Park.
1. Hike the Razorback to Mount Feathertop
Hike the ridgeline of The Razorback to the 1,922m summit of Mount Feathertop on one of Australia's most spectacular day hikes.
2. The Huts Walk
Pack a picnic and explore the historic huts and scenic beauty of the High Country on The Huts Walk.
3. Mountain biking at Dinner Plain
Hire a bike in Dinner Plain and hit the trails of the nearby Dinner Plain Mountain Bike Park.
4. Go tree-tent eco glamping
Experience an alpine summer night in the comfort of the Alpine Nature Experience Eco Village.
5. Danny's Lookout
Not up for an epic hike? Don't worry, all the best views can be seen from the spectacular Danny's Lookout on the Great Alpine Road.
PREPARE FOR ANYTHING
From snow to bushfires, floods and gale-force winds, the weather in the High Country can be fierce and change rapidly. Always check conditions before venturing out, ensure your equipment is working and carry adequate food, water and warm clothing. Importantly, download the VicEmergency and the Emergency Plus apps to your phone.
Notify someone of your plans before you set out. Many parts of the High Country have poor or no mobile phone coverage. Emergency beacons and satellite devices are recommended for your safety.
LEAVE NO TRACE
Our region is sensitive to human presence. We are privileged to have endangered animals such as platypus, pygmy possums and alpine dingoes surviving in our environment. Your behaviour has a direct impact on our flora and fauna. When driving or riding, stay on formed roads and don't cut new lines. Protect our wildlife and the beauty of our environment by taking all rubbish with you.
Never light a fire on a Total Fire Ban day. When permitted to use fire, always extinguish your campfire completely before you leave. Enjoy our outdoors, and remember, leave no trace.