Travel photo-journalist Elle Green skids out of Sydney for a few days of action and rejuvenation at Victoria's premier ski area Mount Hotham.
Sitting at 1861m above sea level on a ridge, Mount Hotham is Australia’s highest Victorian resort with 13 runs and is known for more advanced and intermediate skiers. With a higher then average snowfall and plenty of back-up snow making machines, Mt Hotham is fully equipped to answer your every snow trip desire.
Elle checked in with us to share what's hot in Hotham:
After a quick 90 minute Qantaslink flight from Sydney, I touched down at Victoria's Mount Hotham Airport - a mere 30minute drive from the skifields - where the air was a crisp -1˚C.
Only 10kilometres from the airport I arrived into the picturesque Dinner Plain Alpine Village, home to many employees of Mt Hotham’s Resort and holiday homes to travelling ski lovers. Standing tall and close together are beautifully manicured timbre and stone chalets all painted in matte greens, blues and greys with snow capped roofs resembling quaint ‘Gingerbread’ houses - quite the fairytale.
Many hiking and cross county ski trails begin in Dinner Plain which is also home to restaurants, the stunning 'onsen' (Japanese-style hot springs) and the meeting point for the Dog Sled tours.
Mountain Kitchen Café
Situated in the heart of Dinner Plain, Mountain Kitchen is a locally run, home-style café serving regional produce for breakfast and lunch all year round.
I ordered the smoked salmon salad for lunch with zesty capers, lettuce, spanish onion and slices of lemon that was light in size yet bursting with fresh oceanic flavor. After a strong long black and rich homemade brownie I left feeling energized and ready for the slopes.
Nestled in the far end corner of Hot Plate Drive, (the only heated drive way in Hotham) was my accommodation for the duration of my stay: Outside Edge - a 4-story spaciously designed apartment, with 3 bedrooms, 2 living rooms and 2 bathrooms, fitted-out to host up to 12 people at a time.
Special features include a fully equipped open plan kitchen with a dining table and living room overlooking floor-to-ceiling mountain views and a snow capped private balcony (good luck opening the door with all the snow), laundry facilities, flat screen TVs, backdoor access allowing you to ski straight onto a run and my personal favorite - a heated bathroom floor, a winter necessity.
Tucked away beneath the white linen in my queen bed with two fire stoves slowly burning in the timber-floored apartment, it was easy to forget how cold it was outside. I recommend sleeping with the bedroom blinds open - each morning I woke slowly from the warmth of my fluffy doona to watch the sun rise over the mountains outside.
I had a private Snowboarding lesson that triggered my past ‘beginner boarding’ skills mainly focusing on turns.
My first day was on The Big D (a beginners and kids run) where in 4.5 hours with winds up to 60-90kmph, poor visiability and -2˚C I regained my Snowboarding confidence.
I smiled ear to ear on the free Village bus back up to Hotham Central and straight to Swindlers where I was rewarded with a tasty pint of Golden Ale.
One night, I went on a Snow Grooming tour of the slopes with Beau, one of the resort's eight groomers.
The groomers sit in sizeable tractors with the important and highly skilled job of ‘shaping’ the runs and paving guides in a corduroy pattern each night, ready for the next morning's first lift runs. These nocturnal groomers begin their craft from five o'clock in the evening and work through until sunrise, weather dependent.
Straight off the Snow Grooming tour I had dinner at White Room, Mt Hotham’s only elite fine dining restaurant sitting below Hotham Central. The modern menu has a variety of meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes sourced from local produce and matched with premium beers, wines and cocktails. I sipped a ripe fruity 2012 Marlborough Slipknot sauvignon blanc with my entrée of Baby Carrots, chermoula soil, goats curd, citrus, coriander and mint.
A beautifully coloured dish and rich in flavor, I made sure I had room for my main of confit Salmon, brown butter hollandaise, cauliflower, cashew, raisin, quinoa, smoked salmon jerky, watercress and lemon. The cauliflower was slightly seared marrying nicely with the butter soft salmon. Needless to say, I slept like a baby that night.
Onsen Spa + Retreat
Located at the can't-miss round-a-bout in Dinner Plain, the Onsen Spa + Retreat is an absolute must for any Hotham snow-goer ready to be pampered. There’s a gym, outdoor onsen, indoor lap pool, sauna, spa and a substantial treatment menu.
I indulged in a 90minute Mountain Hot Volcanic Stone massage on a cloud of soft white towels in a warm room scented with essential oils. The gentle sounds of a distant rainforest whispered sweet nothings into my ears as my masseuse used a mixture of hand and hot stones to massage my aching muscles. The stones provided a spark of heat than ran like a jolt through my body, resulting in the very pleasurable relief of tension that left me relaxed and in a state of zen.
Quite fittingly, next door to the onsen is the Japanese inspired Tsubo Restaurant, operating throughout June to October for lunch and dinner. This quaint restaurant offers a casual dining experience adopting old and modern techniques from Japan. Highlights of my meal were the mini mushroom, cabbage and squid okonomiyaki (Japanese-style savoury pancake), lemon Coffin Bay oysters and grilled eggplant, all washed down with a Japanese White Ale and soothing warm sake.
Siberian Husky dogs
If you’re a dog lover then go visit the Siberian Husky dogs that pull the Dog Sled tours in Dinner Plain.
I was so lucky to meet and cuddle all 10 Huskies, but in particular a super cute 9-week-old pup that I so desperately wanted to smuggle back to my apartment to keep me extra warm at night.
Peppers Rundells Alpine Lodge
For a lazy day by an open fire I suggest relaxing at Rundells in Dinner Plain. Open seven days-a-week for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the winter season, it's a fantastic place to slouch back in soft leather couches and watch it snow outside.
I paired a mulled wine with the 300g porterhouse steak and potato puree, roquette parmesan salad, tarragon mayonnaise and port glaze. An absolute terrific winter warming meal where the tender meat topped with the peppery roquette really hit the spot.
If you go
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