Mt Hotham Ski Resort
Mt Hotham is considered by many to be the Australian ski resort for serious skiers and boarders. Unlike Falls Creek
which is known for its family friendliness and intermediate terrain, and Mt Buller where Melbournites go to strut and be seen at the après ski scene, Mount Hotham is where the real skiers go. That doesn’t mean Mount Hotham isn’t family oriented or doesn’t have vibrant après-ski festivities. It’s just that the advanced and expert terrain is what makes Hotham ski resort stand out, not only from its Victorian counterparts but also from all Aussie ski resorts.
Mount Hotham is somewhat unique in that it’s mostly an “upside down” ski resort. The village sits either side of the Great Alpine Road in the sub-alpine of the uppermost parts of the mountain. Only a few lifts rise above the road whilst most of the slopes drop down from the village. The mountain is very very old (much much older than the grey haired Austrian Zirky who graces the slopes!) and very eroded. It’s rather flat on the top where the beginners’ runs are, whereas the slopes get steeper as they drop into the valleys.
Ski and Snowboard Terrain
The Mt Hotham ski resort is reasonably sizeable for a Victorian ski resort with a vertical drop of 395 metres (1,845 to 1,450 metres) and 320 hectares (791 acres), although the official “skiable terrain” is only 245 hectares (605 acres). Of course the size of any Australian ski resort is dependent on the snow cover at any given time and the proportion of runs that are open!
The ski resort has good terrain for novices and intermediates, although Hotham Resort tends to cater much better to strong intermediate riders rather than those wanting to ride “light blue” runs, especially if the Orchard area is closed due to inadequate snow.
The official terrain stats are 20% beginner, 40% intermediate, and 40% advanced trails, so it has the greatest proportion of black trails in Australia (and that’s not even counting the off-piste terrain). Heavenly Valley is a renowned area for advanced riders with a range of steep gullies that provide lots of terrain variety, whilst the One Tree Hill area has some interesting tree skiing (which sounds rather paradoxical!!).
Experts head to the double black slopes in the “Extreme Zone”. This area has a few cliffs, super steeps, and tight trees, so it’s only for experts, but it’s not really that extreme when you compare it to some of the super gnarly terrain overseas. Another strength of Mt Hotham is the backcountry terrain.
Mount Hotham ski resort has 12 lifts (not including magic carpets) and there’s also one lift at Dinner Plain
. Impressively eight of the lifts are quad chairs, although they are all slow fixed grip chairs and it can get mighty cold sometimes as they move along at a thumb twiddling pace.
Mt Hotham Snow
Mount Hotham gets more natural snow than the other Victorian ski fields, but at only 3 metres per season on average, this is reasonably low compared with North America and very low relative to Japan skiing
. The resort has snowmaking facilities on some of the main trails to supplement the natural white stuff.
Mt Hotham has been dubbed the “powder capital of Australia”. It’s true that Mt Hotham potentially has the best snow in Australia but you’d need to keep your expectations in check with regards to the definition of “powder”. As with the other Aussie ski resorts, the snow conditions can vary significantly and sometimes that 4 letter swear word starting with “R” can attack the snow. However Mt Hotham has the advantage of decent elevation which helps with the snow conditions, particularly relative to Mt Buller.
Where is Mt Hotham?
Mt Hotham is a 381km drive northeast of Melbourne (approximately 4.5 hour drive) and 710km southwest of Sydney. The little alpine village of Dinner Plain
is 11km to the southeast, whilst the town of Bright is 55km to the northwest.
There is an airport located about 20km from the ski area, with direct flights from Sydney. Bus transport to Hotham from Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane is also available. For those self-driving, chains are required and national resort entry fees need to be paid to park at Mount Hotham.
Mt Hotham Accommodation
The Mount Hotham village is perched up high at 1,750 metres of elevation, so some of the lodging provides amazing views of the alpine areas. The village is spread out along the highway on a ridge. Free buses provide transport between the different accommodation zones and ski areas.
The Central Hotham area provides a little bit of ski-in ski-out accommodation in large chalets. Other Mt Hotham accommodation includes a couple of hotels, apartments, lodges, and lots of ski club lodges, many of which are not ski-in ski-out.
|Absolute ski-in/out located in the central village. Self-contained 1, 2 & 3 br apartments for up to 4, 6 & 8 guests respectively. Separate lounge with flat screen TV, dining & kitchen areas. On-site restaurant, bar & fitness centre....
See all Mt Hotham accommodation here >>
||White Crystal Apartments
|Ski-in/out studio apartments (for up to 2 guests ); best location in the village. Separate seating area with flat screen TV, dining & kitchen areas plus bathroom with a spa bath. There is also a restaurant & bars on-site plus gear rentals....
Lots of people choose to stay in Dinner Plain
(11km away). This charming village is popular with families, and Dinner Plain accommodation
provides better value for money. A bus service operates regularly to connect Dinner Plain and Mt Hotham.
The full gamut of amenities is covered at Hotham including snowsports school, child care, ski and snowboard hire, ski and snowboard shops, grocery stores, and a medical centre.
During the day there are lots of eateries to get a feed, varying from simple take-away joints to table service dining. There are several spots for evening dining, but real foodies may prefer to spend their evenings in Dinner Plain.
The après scene and nightlife at Mt Hotham is pretty good with options ranging from snowboard bum hangouts to upscale après ski culture bars. One stand-out is The General which is a fabulous all-rounder for food, drinking, views and entertainment.
Cross country skiing is very popular with 35km+ of groomed trails for varying abilities. The trails connect Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain, so you can always pop down to the Mountain Kitchen for coffee or lunch at DP before skooting back up to Hotham.
If you’ve trashed yourself on the slopes or need some indulgence, there’s a day spa at Mount Hotham. There are a couple of other activities for non skiers at Hotham, whilst Dinner Plain has a few more things to do.
Summary of Pros & Cons
- Hotham is hot! It is the best place in Australia for in-bounds advanced and expert riders by a country mile. The backcountry terrain is also a major pro.
- The elevation of the village provides for some spectacular scenery.
- Having an airport nearby is rather unique.
- The area has good cross country skiing.
- It’s much easier to access Mt Hotham accommodation compared to Falls Creek and Mt Buller where you generally have to catch an expensive snowcat or snow taxi.
- Mt Hotham is significantly less crowded than Mt Buller.
- Some of the best advanced terrain on the hill funnels into one sloppy mess of a run (Slalom Gully) where fast skiers and rank beginners combine, making it rather dangerous. It provides an amazing spectator sport for those sitting on the HV chair lift!
- The village is rather fractured and spread along a road. It’s not a quaint village where you can wander around, but if you want this you can stay at Dinner Plain.
- The kids’ ski area is separated from the main part of the ski resort, making it somewhat annoying for parents to drop-off and pick-up kids from ski school or child care.
- Other cons such as the high expense and the variable snow (quality and quantity) are common across all Australian ski resorts.