The drive to Mt Hotham is a scenic one whether you are taking the Harrietville approach or coming from Omeo. There are spectacular views out across the surrounding high country and down into the valleys below. In your travels to Hotham you’re likely to have noticed the signs that mark localities along the way. Many of these place names were given during the days of mining while others were titled as the resort developed. Below are some brief histories behind 10 locations along the Great Alpine Road.
Harrietville to Hotham
This rather steep section just a few kilometres above the Harrietville gate is where the road changes from the western side of the spurn to the eastern side. It got its name from the quartz reef mine Mons Meg which was in the adjacent gully and was one of the most profitable mines in the area.
The Black Hole
Dimly lit at night by solar-powered street lights, this chain bay refers to the area below in the upper reaches of the East Branch of the Ovens River. The name was given by miners who lived and passed through this ravine as during winter the sun barely reached the deepest recesses of the valley.
The area between Mt St Bernard snow clearing station and CRB Hill was originally known as Ducky’s Hollow after cattle grazier Ducky Howard. It was later mistakenly renamed Dungey’s Hollow after Constable Arthur Dungey a mounted trooper from Harrietville in the 1880s. Dungey was responsible for finding an all-seasons route from Bright to Omeo via the Cobungra diggings.
Danny’s Lookout (Baldy Flat)
This spot between Mt Blowhard and Little Baldy was named after Danny Cavedon who was the local RACV agent in the 1970s. A friendly character who helped many stranded travellers he would often stop here and take in the views of the Ovens Valley, Mt Buffalo, Mt Feathertop and the Razorback.
Located at the top of the last climb to Hotham from Harrietville, one of the original theories about what the wooden cross here marked was that it was the grave of a goat that perished after being brought up the mountain by road builders. However, what it does mark is the highest point on the Great Alpine Road and the highest section of sealed road in Australia at 1845m.
Hotham to Omeo
This spot is the location of Hotham’s snow play area and where numerous cross-country trails take the more adventurous out amongst the remarkable natural landscapes. Wire Plain got its name after a wire fence holding yard was erected for one of the area’s grazing licenses. The little green corrugated-iron hut here was erected by Harrietville grazier Billy Howard in 1962.
Once the location of the Cobungra Ditch workers camp and later a Country Roads Board workers camp, it is now home to the Hotham biathlon arena. It’s said to have gotten its name during the gold mining days when a number of whiskey cases being carried by a packhorse dropped to the ground and broke. The grave of William Laurie, a 36-year old miner, is also nearby.
The eastern resort entrance to Hotham, this location is the approximate area where Mother Johnson’s shanty, hotel and accommodation was situated, catering to passing traffic and the workers of the Brandy Creek mine and the Cobungra Diggings.
A long-time favourite grazing spot of the mountain cattlemen this area is also a designated camping ground. It’s not known for certain which JB the area was named after but the two are Jim Brown, one of the first stockman in the area, and J.B Johnson, who had an early freehold title to the plain.
Flour Bag Plain
This location is named after a broken white quartz outcrop, that when not covered in snow resembles scattered calico flour bags. It was also the location of Rundell’s Alpine Hotel. The establishment catered to the Omeo Bright coach service becoming an overnight stop and horse changing station. It burnt down in 1928.
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