Hotham is an alpine village located in Victoria, Australia, along the Great Alpine Road. The mountain offers a range of snowsports terrain in the winter and is regarded by some as "the deep n' steep powder capital of Australia". Hotham also offers summertime activities including bushwalking, mountain bike riding and fishing.
It also has quite a vivid nightlife and has an array of restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Eateries/Bars
- 8 Ride Guide
- 9 Other
- 10 Resources
Hotham is located at the crest of the Great Alpine Road, the highest bitumen road in Australia. By road the resort is 357 kilometres North East of Melbourne (4.5 hrs drive), 746 kilometres from Sydney (8 hrs drive), and 997 kilometres from Adelaide (12 hrs drive).
For the advanced skier, Hotham has a wide variety of black diamond (expert) runs to choose from such as those in the Extreme Zone including the famous Mary's Slide. Head out on to One Tree Hill or take part in Kat skiing adventures to access incredible terrain amongst the trees. With so many challenging steeps to choose from it is the perfect place for an adventure.
Hotham also offers a true snow holiday experience with ski in/ski out accommodation on top of the village and spectacular views across to Mt Feathertop. Close by are great restaurants, bars and cafes, a mountain shuttle bus at your doorstep and airport just down the road with direct flights straight into the Southern Hemisphere's highest commercial airport.
For those of you not looking for an extreme ski experience there are also a wide variety of additional activities at Hotham including snowshoeing, winter dogsledding tours, sparkling sunset tours, kids snowmobiling, grooming tours and two on-mountain day spas to choose from (Hotham and Dinner Plain).
Much of the terrain at Hotham funnels into the gullies. This feeds many skiers and boarders into a small number of runs leading to congestion on some main runs such as Slalom Gully. Many of the runs get steeper as they approach the gully. This signature area in Heavenly Valley is well serviced by an extensive snowmaking system. There is a steep progression from easy terrain onto steeper intermediate terrain.
Some terrain has a northerly aspect but the additional snowmaking investment in 2010 of $1.7 million has assisted with snow retention and enabled key access trails to open earlier and stay open longer. Some areas (such as the Orchard and Extreme areas) require approx. a 1m snow base in order to fill in creeks and form access tracks before they can be skied.
- Postal Address: PO Box 140, Bright VIC 3741
- FREECALL: 1800 468 426
- Fax : (03) 5759 3083
- Email: email@example.com
- Web: http://www.hotham.com.au/index.php?pid=407
Mount Hotham Resort Management Board (MHRMB)
- Postal Address: PO Box 188, Bright VIC 3741
- Phone: (03) 5759 3550
- Fax: (03) 5759 3693
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Web: http://www.mthotham.com.au
Hotham Skiing Company
- Postal Address: PO Box 140, Bright Vic 3741
- FREECALL: 1800 35 45 55
- Phone: (03) 5759 4444
- Fax: (03) 5759 3692
- Email: email@example.com
- Web: http://www.hotham.com.au
Main Article: Getting to Hotham
DRIVING Getting to Hotham is easy and safe for majority of the trip. Be aware that if your car drives on diesel, it is wise to fill up on 'Alpine Diesel' to prevent the fuel freezing in the tank. The hardest part of driving to Mount Hotham would be the short stretch between Harrietville and Hotham Village. This section of the road is windy so extreme care must be taken. For more information, click here
FLY Direct into Hotham Airport with Qantaslink during winter. Check www.qantas.com for more information. Charter flights into Hotham Airport are also available year round.
Pretty much whatever you want from cheaper club lodges offering single bunk accom or family rooms through to motel style, apartments and luxury villa style accommodation is on offer. It is quite spread out so make sure you know what part of the village you are booking into.
There are a few options here, from the Omeo side you can stay at Dinner Plain or on the western side you can choose from Bright, Mt Beauty, Harrietville and Porepunkah. All offer a range of accommodation from B&B's to motel or apartment style.
Single Day-ticket Adult: $106 Youth: $90 Children: $53
(Discounted in gazetted value season periods)
There are two halves to the ski school. The Kids Snowzone at Big D for 3 - 14yrs and the Adults Snowsports Centre located at Hotham Central. Both meet out the front of the buildings. Lessons can be purchased when lift tickets are purchased from the ticket office.
Hotham's team of more than 150 instructors are trained in teaching skiing and boarding, race & freestyle to adults and kids of all ages and abilities.
A 2 hour* group lesson is $58 per peron. No bookings are neccessary.
- A 1 hour lesson will occur if there are 2 or less 3 people in the class
It is a good idea to package lessons with your lift passes.
Lesson Meeting Places and Times Classes meet out the front of Hotham Central at 10am and 1.30pm. Please try to be at the meeting place 5 – 10 minutes prior to the lesson to allow enough time for the supervisors to put you into the correct class level.
MILO Mighty Mites (3 - 5yrs)
Full day - program runs from 8.30am -3.30pm Half day - program runs from 8.30am - 12pm
MILO Kids Klub (6-14yrs skiing) and (7-14yrs boarding)
Full day - program runs 9.30am - 3.30pm Half day - program runs 9.30am - 12.30pm
It is best to hire Equipment on mountain from one of the Hotham Sport location alternatively from Myrtleford, Bright, Omeo or Harrietville prior to arriving at the mountain.
The village is dispersed along the Great Alpine Road and runs for a couple of kms on a narrow strip on either side. There are two main areas, Hotham Central which is where all the main admin buildings are and the day car park along with a selection of accommodation and night spots etc. The other is a km or so down the road at Davenport which is dominated by club lodges. This is also where the beginners area is - The Big D. There are a sprinkling of lodges between, perched on the edge of the road.
A free Village bus runs along the road constantly and it is unusual to have to wait more than 10 minutes anywhere for the bus. It runs very late into the night.
If you stay at Davenport, and assuming good snow, you can access the main runs via the "Davenport access" run if you are good enough (strong intermediate). Of course if you are a beginner then you want to be at that end anyway for The Big D. There is no return link however so it is a bus home to any of these lodges.
There is a bus to and from Dinner Plain: it runs to a timetable with 30 minute schedules at peak times, hourly thereafter. The passenger cost is set every season, and includes the Resort Management Board's entry fee (government imposed fee). The alternative drive to the resort by private car can be restrictive, since the RMB usually enforce a parking requirement at Wire Plain, leaving the car occupants to catch the village bus to get to the ski area.
Day parking is limited; the main day carpark is small and fills early so they start sending you down the road where you can take a village bus back to the main area. There is also parking at the Loch Carpark with easy access to Heavenly Valley - lift tickets can be bought at the Village Chairlift from 8.30am each day.
Overnight parking is fine, off in a distant carpark with a 5 minute bus trip back which is not unusual in Australia and quite acceptable.
Hotham Village provides a handful of public toilets at various points around the ski resort including Hotham Central - the main building. The only on-piste toilets are located at the top of Heavenly Vally - these were installed over summer 2010.
There is a small public transport lounge next to the bus stop (opposite of the Village Lift). Use this lounge if the conditions outside is deteriorating (such as heavy rain or snow).
Hotham - Falls Creek Helilink
Unique in Australia, the resorts are linked by a 6 minute helicopter ride. As both resorts are owned by the same company, lift tickets are interchangable, so for the cost of a return helicopter ride over the Alps (with views to NSW on a good day) skiers are able to have 4-5 hours riding on a completely different terrain.
Bookings must be made through the Guest Services desk in Hotham Central.
The Summit Bar in the Snowbird Inn has a fantastic range of meals and is very popular for lunch. By comparison, the Summit Bar offers great value for money, a fully licenced bar, open fire, great service, and a fantastic view of both the Summit and Australia Drift ski runs.
Bars & Entertainment
There are two primary bars - Swindlers at Hotham Central is for the young and raging set and is firmly priced with snow dollars (expensive) while the General is next to Big D and has more of a locals bar feel. It still caters for the young and ragers and is wall to wall people most nights but you don't feel like you are being fleeced quite as much.
If you are staying in Dinner Plain (14kms down the road) there is also a good selection of bars and restaurants to choose from. Jump on the night bus from Hotham which runs most of the season on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday nights.
Hotham is lacking in this area. They have a dedicated beginners area at Big D which isn't bad and offers the first time (or almost first time) skier/boarder some reasonable basic terrain which is fairly protected but the big issue is where then? The only option is the Summit which is an OK low intermediate run but it is very exposed to the weather which beginners are traditionally less tolerant to. After the summit it really moves to strong intermediate with no other options and hence you often find places like slalom gully littered with freaked out beginners not up to the terrain and wondering how on earth they are going to get out of there!
Really depends on what lifts are open and what the snow depth is. At times when the snow depth is minimal then the only places that are groomed are Summit, Big D, Sun Run, Slalom Gully, Basin and the trails which link these areas. Heavenly Valley needs a lot of snow to allow grooming on anything more than Imagine and Milky Way. If there is enough snow Race Gully and under the lift line down Gunbarrell are quite often groomed and are great for more advanced skiers. The Orchard area is also good for intermediates when groomed and tends to still be fairly smooth all day, due to the southerly aspect which keeps the snow firm, and the number of different options you have to get to the bottom. Hoggs Back and Varsity Drag are great when groomed, although like the rest of the Blue Ribbon area must have at least 1 metre of snow to allow good skiing.
Hotham has much offpiste skiing opportunities. For instance on the back side of the summit you can go for a short hike, and have a nice run of freshies and have a mate pick you up in a car at the Great Alpine Road and take you back for another run. Other areas are the backside of Mt. Loch, Mt. Higginbotham, Avalanch Gully off the side of the Summit, and for the really adventureous a hike out to Mt. Feathertop will provide possibly the best XC and Alpine off piste skiing in Australia.
Out of Bounds
Hotham has lots of out of bounds ski opportunities. The rule of thumb, however, is - if you are reading this then you are probably not the best suited person to be going out of bounds. For the benefit of those who do venture out of bounds, there are a number of things to watch for. If you go out along golden point, you need to plan to get back to level with the village chair in order not to have to cross the creek in your ski boots. Avalanche gully is a creek, which can open up in spring. The west side of Avalanche Gully has cliffs - steer clear unless you are really good. There are a number of areas where cornices form, please watch these. Icy conditions can see you have a high speed slide into a tree if you do not control your speed.
Having said all that there are plenty of out of bounds opportunies ranging from road-serviced lifts, to climb outs, to dis-used runs, all within close proximity to the resort. It is often said that Hotham is one of the best 'front country' resorts in Australia - where you are never more than a single walk up the hill away from the resort.
Hotham and Dinner Plain has over 35km of cross country trails, with circuits ranging in length from 2km to 15km. Some trails start straight from Hotham village, or you can take the free village shuttle bus to Wire Plain, the starting point for most courses. Other trails start around Dinner Plain. Something for everyone!
Best of all there are no trail fees for cross-country skiing at the resort. Cross-country skis and other equipment can be hired at Hotham Sports, located in Pinnacle DP. Hoys offer new XC gear & snowshoes for hire – available from Hoys Harrietville, Hoys Mt Hotham & Hoys Dinner Plain.
Blue Ribbon used to be famous for its bumps that often approximated snow covered VWs - but is groomed at times these days. Brockhoff has the most consistent bumps but is one tight one only.
Hotham holds the title of Australia's Powder Capital and you are sure to still be able to find some untracked powder stashes off piste. Gunbarrel and Brockhoff are good spots, or if you are feeling energised a hike out to Golden Point will ensure you will find some freshies.
Blue Ribbon, when open is a great area to ski when the winds are high and visibility is poor. The main runs have many trees down both sides which help to keep you orientated and the many different possible routes down both skiers left and right of the lift provide great variety. It is only suitable for high intermediate and advanced skiers.
For lower intermediate the village loop down the Basin, Catwalk and Slalom Gully is the best option for a longer run. Watch out for Slalom gully at peak times and later in the day, as it gets very bumpy and busy. As an alternate the mid station load of the Playground double provides a good even pitch and open expanse down Sun Run, however it is a reasonably short run.
For beginners the Big D area is the most sheltered.
There is a snowplay area just up from the day car park near the top of the mountain. While Tabogonning is apparently prohibited a silly little sign is not going to stop a deterimined kid ... and the fact they put a net up to catch the errant sledge is testimony to the fact that they dont think it will either.
Around the snowbound Davenport village (where most of the lodges are) there is ample room for snow play and normally at least half a dozen intricate igloos can be seen in s quiet stroll down Higgi drive.
Cobungra Platter down in Dinner Plain is also a great spot for the kids with the Peashooter Toboggan Slope open (snow permitting)
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The Hotham village is located on top of a ridge and is therefore often subject to very high winds and whiteouts during storms. The many of the ski runs themselves are located in the valley, out of much of the wind, but once you approach the ridgeline again in the chairlift, you will soon know pain on a windy day! The Summit beginners run and Drift T Bar are the most subject to the wind as these are on top of the ridge.
Fortunately not every day is windy and Hotham often experiences lengthy spells of perfectly calm bluebird weather thanks to its altitude.
Also being a little further into the range, Hotham tends to see colder air, but not as much orographically induced precipitation as its counterparts on the edge of the great dividing range (for example Buller and Baw Baw). Hotham can get down to as low as -10C in the heart of winter, but more typically overnight temperatures are a more comfortable -2 to -3C. Temperature range over a day in winter is typically very small with a daily temperature range of about 5C. The average maximum temperature is 1C and the average minimum is -3.7C in July.
Mt Hotham is part of Australia's Great Dividing Range that stretches from Queensland through to Victoria. All of Australia's major snow resorts are part of this major Geographical feature.
Hotham came into being as a ski resort in 1925 when Bill Spargo, chief ganger of the crew upgrading the road asked if he could open the new house that was the central base for the crew in winter as a guest house. The same year Feathertop Bungalow also opened and St Bernard Hospice was renovated and reopened. Previously the only ski lodge in Victoria was the Buffalo Chalet. More details on the history of Hotham.