Over the border
Mount Hotham Travel Blog› entry 4 of 5 › view all entries
Mt Hotham is a ski resort in the Victorian Alps, perched on the top of the mountain with its ski runs heading down. It's much more spread out than nearby Falls Creek, and smaller than the NSW resorts of Perisher and Thredbo. But it's not about size, right?
I drove to Mt Hotham with a friend from Canberra; it took us close to 10 hours, taking into account roadworks, a dinner stop in Albury (or was it Wodonga?), the obligatory "are we on the right road?" stop and the creeping mist as we wound our way up the mountain. Driving through the village at night was eery, with the roads banked by deep snow. We stayed at the White Crystal apartments which is pretty much in the centre of Hotham; unfortunately, you have to park a couple of kilometres down the road and catch the bus back, and then try to remember exactly where you parked your car 4 days later.
The apartment is 2-storey with a kitchen, drying room, 1.5 bathrooms. It was on the cosy side because we had 3 more people than were supposed to stay there, but we made it work. The best thing about on-snow accommodation is the fact you can put your boots on in the warmth and comfort of the indoors before heading out; not hopping around on one foot in the windswept carpark of Perisher while your hands slowly freeze. So, Hotham was already a winner for me!
There are very few green runs at Hotham; the beginner slope is the only part of the resort that is uphill from the road. It always looked so windy and horrible up there, so I pitied any boarders/skiiers who had come here to learn. We spent the first couple of days familiarising ourselves with the runs just below our accommodation, including a few black runs which took us deeper into the gullies - with some great scenery of the surrounding mountains.
The best part about the terrain at Hotham is perhaps the huge bowls carved out into the side of mountains, which make for some seriously fun boarding (if I remember correctly, some of these were found off to the side of the Heavenly Valley chair). We were lucky; it snowed the first couple of days and was bright and sunny for our very last day, when we visited the Orchard which is on the far side of the resort. The Orchard is sparesly populated with low shrubs and a couple of trees - powder heaven! - and ends with a relatively narrow chute which you can make the most of by riding it like a halfpipe. The crowds were manageable, particularly if you timed your breaks off-peak, and the only part I didn't like was the last part of the Snake Gully run which takes all the traffic from the Orchard area and other lifts, and gets chopped up and bumpy (not to mention dangerously full of people).
The Mt Hotham resort area is serviced by free shuttle buses so you can visit other hotels and pubs down the road; we only ventured out once to a pub for schnitzel/pizza because we had a bar at the bottom of our building (bonus!). We also managed to catch a freestyle competition just outside our apartment one night, which really instils some respect for those (crazy) boarders and skiiers who can land massive jumps - and those who can't!