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Lodge Life

Posted 8 Aug 2019

Hotham has a large and varied range of accommodation options, from modern apartments, luxury chalets or cosy lodges there are choices aplenty to ensure the perfect winter get away.

For some there isn’t anything quite like lodge accommodation and many people will tell you haven’t had a true snow experience until you’ve stayed in one of these communal living spaces.

While many regular visitors to Hotham are members of lodges you don’t have to be, to stay in this style of accommodation, but if you do choose a lodge come ready to share your snow trip with others and make new friends along the way.

Paul Webber is one of Hotham’s many lodge members and below is a short piece he wrote about lodge accommodation and some of the history behind it here at the resort.

I was sitting on the Audi Quattro chair around 3pm heading back to the village when I took a deep sigh and mused, what a great day at Hotham. It had been a little cloudy but mostly sunny, the snow was still firm and dry-ish, the skiing was good, well maybe not mine so much, but even so, it had been a thoroughly enjoyable day. Now however, my sunburnt cheeks and weary knees were saying time to head back to the lodge. A refresh, perhaps something to imbibe, and a warm fireplace was the order. 

I am a member at one of Hotham's many club lodges, at last count around 40, nestled amongst the magnificent snow gums in the Davenport precinct centred around the Big D, General Store and Jack Frost. Member club lodges are a very special, some would say unique part of the Hotham community. They come in all shapes and sizes and host an enormously varied group of passionate individuals who love the high country. 

Among the first were University Ski Club and CSIR of which both have an important 70-plus year history on the mountain. Back in the early 1970s, clubs were often formed and built by university students or groups of collaborative friends, schools and cooperatives.

Eumerallah, Gravbrot and SCEG were all started by young skiers imbued with the enthusiasm of creating Hotham as the communal base for their skiing. Langi-Taan Ski Club located near bus stop 8 was formed in October 1971 by Swinburne Tech students and like other clubs of the same era still has original members proudly contributing, some who have even taught their grandkids to ski.

Members of Aardvark Lodge are “free spirits...have open hearts and minds and accept and welcome others with warmth and good humour". If one sentence sums up a Hotham lodge then Aardvark has nailed it.

In August 1972 a group of Melbourne University chemical engineering students went away on a ski trip staying at a club lodge. After a long evening of good cheer, somebody remarked "why don't we build our own lodge?" Everyone was in heated agreement and three months later Asgaard Ski Club was born.

As John Nurse, one of Asgaard's founding members notes, "the trials and tribulations of building the lodge were enormous, there were countless banged thumbs and skinned knees". Possibly a few sore heads too. Those build days have past of course, getting anything erected today engages a completely different set of skills and regulatory approvals, as it should.

If you chance to snow shuffle around Hotham now, a number of clubs have had more than a lick of paint and a dose of TLC, they are continually refurbished, given a more contemporary feel and offer superb, stylish accommodation on the mountain.

Wander through Pegasus, Peninsula, B'rush, Arrabri and many others, these lodges impress with an architectural wow factor - beautifully laid out communal spaces, well-appointed kitchens, cathedral ceilings, ensuite bedrooms, quiet zones for the kids and for some, relaxing saunas and spas.

Joining a club as a member often means year-round access and if you've admired the snow-capped Feathertop in the distance riding the Road Runner chair in the ski season, then imagine the walk to the summit in summer…stunning. It's regarded as one of the must do walks in Australia. You could call your Hotham lodge, your all seasons, alpine holiday house.

I still delight hearing comments that lodges are an attractive and welcoming choice for many families. Clubs most certainly offer a terrific sense of camaraderie, a cosy environment where members and guests can socialise, brag about their riding and their tumbles. You know the expression, “the older I get, the better I skied”. 

I often marvel at how adults and children arrive at the lodge, meet other families for the first time, have a wonderful snow holiday and then say “let's do it again next year". And that’s just what they do, coming back year after year. 

Anyhow, it's back to our fireplace, a group of guests are on the balcony taking photos of the moody sunset and we've just been invited by a family we met three days ago to join them for dinner. I'm doing the dessert and no doubt we'll be mulling over whether we get up early to do the 7:30am first tracks at Heavenly. Think we will as one of the kids has just yelled out “it's snowing”. Fresh snow has just started to fall.

Such is the life of a “lodgie”, such is the spirit and charm of Hotham.

Paul Webber, Asgaard Alpine Club member

Photo: Asgaard founding member John Nurse with daughter Katrina and grandson Oliver.

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Member club lodges are a very special, some would say unique part of the Hotham community.

Paul Webber