Discover Mt Hotham
Located just 4.5 hours drive from the heart of Melbourne, Mt Hotham is nestled amongst the Victorian Alps of the Great Dividing Range. It boasts spectacular views, its own airport and a whopping 320 hectares of ski terrain. Mt Hotham is a year round resort, so winter-time means all your favourite snow-based activities are available and the summer sun brings out stunning landscapes and plenty of trails for hiking, biking and trail running - so there's always a new adventure to be had.
The Mt Hotham area has been a skiing destination for tourists for over 125 years, ever since the first travellers over the ranges strapped timber planks onto their boots at the Mount St Bernard Hospice in the 1880s.
Many thousands of years before the arrival of the first Europeans, Aboriginal people gathered in large numbers in the high country, particularly during the spring and summer months. Though the history of contact is poorly recorded, it is known that the principal language groups in the Mt Hotham region included the Gunai Kurnai, Dhudoroa and the Jaitmathang.
In the mid 1830s, European squatters looking for grazing lands began to move into the district and, in 1851, gold was officially discovered in the region. This attracted a large population on each side of the Divide and saw significant movement of travelers over the ranges. Ultimately resulting in the establishment of more permanent populations in the shadow of Hotham.
With increased publicity in the 1880s, skiing as a tourism activity began to emerge. However, it was during the 1920s with the establishment of the Hotham Heights Chalet, that Mt Hotham as a skiing destination really began. In 1933, the Railways Department took over the management of the Hotham Heights Chalet and the 1940s saw the establishment of the first ski clubs and lodges such as the Alpine Ski Club of Victoria (1944), the Wangaratta Ski Club (1946), Edelweiss Ski Club (1947) and the University Ski Club (1948).
The Alpine Resorts Commission
The Department of Crown Lands and Survey assumed responsibility for Mt Hotham in 1962, appointing a Committee of Management. The 1983 Alpine Resorts Act saw the formation of the Alpine Resorts Commission (ARC) to manage all Victorian Alpine Resorts permanently reserved as Crown Land.
Mount Hotham Resort Management Board
In 1998, separate management boards were created for the individual resorts and the Mount Hotham Resort Management Board assumed management of Mt Hotham. The following years saw the development of new ski terrain, lifts, chalets and in 1999 the opening of the Mt Hotham airport.
At Mt Hotham the snowfalls that ensure a persistent snow cover typically begin from mid-June and then continue sporadically until early September. The prevailing wind across the Bogong High Plains and Mt Hotham is from the northwest, and south-easterly winds (often associated with fog and mist) are also quite common. The average total annual precipitation (including both snowfall and rainfall), is 1494mm; and with temperatures ranging from an average winter min of -3.4°C to an average summer max of 15.7°C, it's easy to understand why Mt Hotham’s flora and fauna are well adapted to facing the challenging conditions typically found within an alpine environment.
To date over 100 indigenous fauna have been found and recorded within the Resort! Mt Hotham is home to native Australian mammals, such as the Mountain Pygmy Possum, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Black-tailed Wallaby, Platypus, Short Beak Echidna, Common Wombat, Common Ringtail and Brushtail Possums, Mainland Dusky Antechinus, Broad-tooth Rat and Bush Rat and numerous species of small bats. In fact, it was at Mt Hotham that the Mountain Pygmy Possum, once believed to be extinct, was discovered within the University Ski Club in 1966. Since this discovery more populations of Mountain Pygmy Possum have been discovered within the resort and are carefully monitored for their conservation. Recently a second 'Tunnel of Love' was constructed to allow the possums to cross under The Great Alpine Road.
You'll also be able to spy a variety of birds on the mountain such as the Wedge Tail Eagle, Magpie, Kookaburra, Nankeen Kestrel, Superb Lyrebird, Crimson Rosella, Flame Robin and a variety of Honeyeaters. Mt Hotham is also home to numerous alpine reptiles, such as the She-Oak Skink, the Mountain Galaxias Fish and the Alpine Tree Frog. There are also a number of introduced species within the resort such as the Rabbit, Hare, Fox, Deer and Cat that pose a significant threat to our amazing Aussie wildlife.
Many of the indigenous species are further threatened by climate change. As such, Mt Hotham has been working hard to reduce its electricity consumption and it's greenhouse gas emissions and the Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board have been investigating alternative energy production.
Between November and February Mt Hotham bursts into flower thanks to its rich alpine species diversity. The Resort stocks several books that can help you identify species as you explore, and a self-guided ecology walk brochure is available to help you identify communities of significance. With over 400 native species, many of which are unique to the Australian alps, it's a sight you won't soon forget.
Much of the flora within the Resort is indigenous, from the Snow Gums that dominate the upper slopes to the Alpine Ash and Mountain Gum which populate the woodlands downslope and the Snow Daisy and Horny Snow-grass that are common in snow patch communities. Historically, many exotic (weed) plants were introduced through cattle grazing and for soil stabilisation purposes. This, combined with more recent construction and development, as well as recreation and tourism activities, has led to an increase in the exotic flora at the Resort. Some of these exotic species have become invasive, such as Ox-eye Daisy, Grey Salix Willow, English Broom, Yarrow and Soft Rush. These invasive weeds pose a threat to the biological diversity of the Resort and as such, the Board conducts a thorough annual weed eradication program to combat this threat.
The Victorian Alps Nursery
As part of Mount Hotham Resort Management Board's environment program, the Victorian Alps Nursery supplies the plant tube stock for rehabilitation projects on Mt Hotham and at other alpine resorts in Victoria and New South Wales. The nursery has evolved after lengthy research into germinating and propagating alpine and sub-alpine species of the Australian mainland. This work has been supported by the Victorian government's conservation department and La Trobe University. Production standards were established by Elizabeth MacPhee, an expert horticultural scientist with many years experience in the production of high altitude plants and, Rebecca Read, the nursery’s principal horticulturist, continues to refine methods of propagation for alpine species.
The Victorian Alps Nursery is the place to go to get expert advice about your alpine re-vegetation project. Not only can the team give you a personal consultation, they can facilitate your plant order requirements. Find out more by contacting the team below.