Mount Higginbotham overlooks the Hotham Village, and has some of the best views on the mountain – which is probably why the Last Run Bar has a setting sun in their logo. It’s also a great place to unwind after that ‘last run’.
Locals who know the mountain
Teresa and Paul Cavagna are mountain folk from way back. They’ve owned and managed the Last Run Bar for 24 years, and have been coming to Hotham for 35 years, so they have seen a lot of change.
“We came to Hotham in 1983, planning to earn some money so we could be hippy farmers in NSW,” says Teresa, “but that clearly never happened! We fell in love with the mountain.”
Every job you can think of
The two of them have done almost every job available on the mountain. Paul first worked as a towie on the double chair in 1983, when the bottom station for the chair was located where the current Audi Quattro (Village) chair bottom station is now. They remember the 1983 season well, which started with all lifts operating on opening weekend.
Teresa sold tickets in the old ticket office, located where the Snowbird is now. “The Bird’s current main bar was ski hire in those days,” she says.
A place where they will remember your name
Paul is a carpenter and they both worked the 1984 summer when the Big D building was being constructed. He went on to work as a bus/zoo cart driver, ticket seller, and later joined Ski Patrol. Teresa worked at the Genny and Jack Frost and for two seasons at the Mother Johnson’s ticket box on the Dinner Plain approach to the resort. She even had a stint painting orange poles on the Summit in summer!
Together they have managed a lodge as well as many of the properties across the mountain, so along with managing one of the iconic restaurants at Hotham, this all adds up to an intimate knowledge of the mountain and its people.
As a result, the welcome is warm when you walk in Last Run Bar’s door. It will only take a visit or two to be on first-name terms – this couple has a remarkable knack for remembering names and faces!
Cheeky Cocktail Hour and a Half
The atmosphere is comfortable. After plonking myself at the bar to await my cocktail during their ‘Cheeky Cocktail Hour and a Half’ (also known as ‘Hilarious Hour’), I imagined that I could sit here quite happily for few hours, shooting the breeze with Paul and Teresa.
The whole place is family-friendly, with a kids’ menu and the element that parents love to see, colouring in pages and pencils to keep the kids occupied at least long enough to get the wine poured and sampled.
The menu manages to combine both hearty, filling food with a good dose of something different – try the chicken, roast garlic and basil terrine with beer bacon jam for entrée, perhaps, or the chilli mussels. The mains reflect the cosmopolitan character of the place, with everything from house-made gnocchi with creamy pesto (a nod to Paul’s Italian-Swiss heritage) to kangaroo fillet served with raspberry jus and sweet potato fries.
Last Run Bar is also one of the few places on the mountain to offer milkshakes for the kids.
Heavenly Peppermint, anyone?
However the years of practice mean that a highlight is definitely the cocktails. Most are named after a local place or icon, apart from the delicious espresso martini, and I have to say the ‘Heavenly Peppermint’ well and truly lived up to its name. Crème de Cacao, Kahlua, Crème de Menthe and cream, with a sprinkle of crushed peppermint crisp on top had me feeling refreshed after a long day.
Last Run Bar is a place where many locals relax, and visitors no doubt will feel like a local in no time. The fondness Teresa, Paul and their staff have for Hotham is evident all around - the cocktails were named by a former barman, the kids’ colouring-in sheet was drawn by local artist Woolly in 1994, and the pictures all around the wall chart the changes across the mountain and are well worth a look during your visit.
Paul and Teresa are sadly calling it a day after 24 years, and Last Run Bar is up for sale. Visit them while you can, and enjoy a piece of Hotham’s wonderful legacy.