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Weekend Away: Mt Hotham For Those That Don’t Ski

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I’m the first to admit I’m no ski bunny. I didn’t grow up learning the intricacies of off-piste movement, and the extent of my snowy escapades consists of making snowmen and tobogganing a few times at Falls Creek when I was a kid. Those as long-in-the-teeth as I might also remember the time it snowed in Melbourne for nine minutes back in the mid-’80s.

But I do love Victoria and like to think I’m up for trying new things – so I recently schlepped up Mt Hotham for an icy weekend away.

The Drive

First off, it’s a bloody long way. Google Maps says 4.5 hours. That’s if you fang it with no red lights or dunny stops.

The good news is it’s a pretty nice drive once you get out of Melbourne. Pitstops of choice include Euroa, Myrtleford, Bright and of course the Big Ned Kelly at Glenrowan. Don’t forget to pick up snow chains at Myrtleford before heading up. Even if you don’t fit them, it’ll make you feel manly.

What To You

Mt Hotham is a world unto itself. People walk around in puffy clothing, dudes whiz by on skidoos, dogs pull sleds and skiers and snowboarders are two tribes. It’s sort of like going back in time, and not just because you don’t get phone reception.

I tried a few ski lessons, but felt about as elegant as a duck wearing roller skates. I’m sure with time and effort it pays off, but tobogganing and red wine by the fire is more my speed.

Happily there’s heaps more than skiing, snowboarding and falling over to do on the mountain. Besides snowball fights and tobogganing, there’s plenty to eat, experience and drink.

Eat

Being outdoors in the snow works up an appetite, and Hotham is brimming with more food options than the recently upgraded Highpoint food court. There’s everything from the classic bain marie potato cakes and fondue all the way up to Japanese fusion at Yama Kitchen + Bar and modern Austrian at Zirky’s. If you’re after schnapps and schnitzels or cocktails and kimchi jaffles, you’ll find it on the mountain.

Chill

There are few things more pleasant to do in winter than sip a glass of red by an open fire as snow falls outside. One thing that is more pleasant is getting a full-body massage followed by a relaxing dip in the outside spa at Onsen Retreat + Spa at Dinner Plain. Undoubtably indulgent – but how many times do you get to pretend like you’re a snow monkey? Worth it.

Smell The Icicles

One of my favourite parts of the weekend was going for walks on a cross-country ski run. The snow was pristine, the sun cast long shadows across the snow gums and on the ground were fresh prints from a kangaroo.

And the sunsets were amazing, almost as ace as the star-filled night sky that followed. I may not have learned to ski on the weekend, but I did learn to stop and smell the icicles. And Mt Hotham certainly felt a lot further away than a 4.5 hour drive from Melbourne.

Snow season runs until October. You’ve still got a few months to climb the mountain before summer. Get to it and see a new bit of Victoria.

If you’d like to learn to ski or snowboard, Hotham is running a Learn to Ski and Snowboard Week from 12 – 18 September. To find out more visit mthotham.com.au.


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