Touring Destinations – Mt Hotham
Mt Hotham is situated on the Great Alpine Road and can be reached from Omeo to the east, or from Bright and Harrietteville to the west.
Rather than being on a plateau, Mt Hotham is situated on a high ridgetop, and the surrounding scenery, especially towards Mt Feathertop, is very spectacular. The terrain is more gentle to the east towards Dinner Plain.
Just to the west of Mt Hotham, cross country skiing can be done along The Razorback towards Mt Feathertop, and from the Mt Loch carpark to Mt Loch, Machinery Spur and Swindlers Spur.
To the east of Mt Hotham there is a network of groomed cross country ski trails at Wire Plain, which continue past the Biathlon Range at Whiskey Flat and finish at Dinner Plain village. This area has over 35km of groomed and marked ski trails.
Mt Loch & Machinery Spur
The Mt Loch carpark just before Mt Hotham Village is the starting point of some of the most spectacular skiing in Victoria. From the carpark the groomed XC trail passes along a narrow ridgeline next to the Hotham downhill runs, following the Australian Alps Walking Track. The trail then climbs steeply and heads uphill towards the Mt Loch summit.
From Mt Loch one can ski north along Machinery Spur, with views of the rugged east face of Mt Feathertop becoming more spectacular as one continues north along the ridge.
Or a pole line can be followed in the other direction south to Derrick Hut and Swindlers Spur, or to nearby Spargos Hut. Derrick Hut was built as a day shelter for cross country skiers, named after Charlie Derrick who died in a blizzard while attempting to ski from Mt Bogong to Mt Hotham. This pole line descends Swindlers Spur down to Dibbins Hut.
The Razorback is a long narrow ridge which extends north from the Great Alpine Road out to Mt Feathertop, Victoria’s second highest peak. The start is at Diamantina Hut, 2.5km on the Harrietteville side of Hotham Village. The route is mostly above the treeline, providing excellent views, but is exposed and steep in places and can be treacherous at times. Mt Feathertop is approx. 22km return.
Wire Plain Trails
The Wire Plain Nordic trails start 2km east of Mt Hotham village and run along both sides of the Great Alpine Road. A Nordic shelter is located on the west side of the road opposite the Old Wire Plain Hut, and is also serviced by a free shuttle bus from Mt Hotham.
The groomed ski trails on the northern side of the road include the Christmas Hill Trail, Charlie’s Trail and Big Spur Trail which head northeast along a forested spur, and the Great Divide Trail which heads to the Whiskey Flat Biathlon Range. On the southern side of the road there are a few short loop trails (Possum Flat Loop and Dargo Lookout Loop) plus longer trails which eventually continue towards Dinner Plain.
These ski trails run through a woodland of snowgums and provide a more sheltered skiing area than the higher and more exposed areas of Mt Hotham and Mt Loch.
Dinner Plain Trail
Beyond Wire Plain a well-marked and regularly groomed XC ski trail winds its way along the southern side of the road through a woodland of snow gums and meanders across the snowy expanses of Paw Paw Plain, offering glimpses of Mount Tabletop and the Dargo High Plains to the south. It drops to Mother Johnson Flat, named after the somewhat disreputable owner of a wine shanty on the way to the goldfields, and then past the old cattleyards of JB Plain before crossing several small creeks and springs as it heads to Dinner Plain village. There are numerous access points along the Great Alpine Road, and the section from JB Plain to Dinner Plain is suitable for beginners.
The Dinner Plain Hotel makes a good destination for lunch before heading back to Mt Hotham. A shuttle bus runs regularly between Dinner Plain and Mt Hotham, and is often used by tired skiers for the return trip. The Mt Hotham to Dinner Plain Race is held along this route in early August.