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Five things you might not have known about Hotham

Posted 20 April 2020

1. A Melbourne suburb with the same name

Hotham once shared its name with the inner Melbourne suburb that is now North Melbourne. When Ferdinand Von Mueller visited the alps in the 1854/55 summer, he named several peaks, one of which he called Hotham after Victoria's first Governor and Governer of the time, Charles Hotham. North Melbourne was known as the Borough of Hotham from September 30, 1859 until its change of name on August 26, 1887.

2. Christmas Day naming

If you’re a cross-country skier you’re likely familiar with Christmas Hill trail and lookout but do you know how the name came to be. It was given by Jan Havranek who on Christmas Day 1974, set out with his family in search of possible winter cross country trails. Following a cattle trail to the area, the family enjoyed Christmas lunch at the site of the lookout. Jan then returned the next day to place a sign that read Christmas Lookout.

3. Built as a movie prop

One of the huts that makes up Hotham’s iconic Huts Walk was originally built as a temporary movie prop. Yes, Silver Brumby Hut, situated in the Plains of Heaven on Swindler’s Creek below the Blue Ribbon ski area, was built in 1992 for the Australian film ‘The Silver Brumby’. The film is based on the famous novel by Elyne Mitchell and starred Russell Crowe. The present hut was built in 2006/07 as a replica of the original.

4. The first lodge on Hotham

The Alpine Club of Victoria built the first lodge at Hotham, doing so in 1945. The club formed as a result of a conflict within the Ski Club of Victoria, over the selection of the site for a club house. The 'old guard' of touring and telemark vintage pushed for the Mt McKay area while the downhill skiers preferred Hotham. When members pushing for Hotham couldn’t sway the majority, they broke away, and as they say, the rest is history.

5. Hotham's beginner ski area

Did you know prior to 1939 Mt St. Bernard catered for novice skiers who later graduated to Mt Hotham when their skills were sufficiently advanced. Mt St. Bernard is about 10km from the Hotham village on the Harrietville approach and interestingly, can still be skied. The Wangaratta Ski Club have two rope tows here, one is on the face of Mt St. Bernard and the other runs along the spur that their lodge is built on.