The knife-edge ridgelines and plunging valleys of Mount Hotham have long attracted skiers and snowboarders. But Victoria’s highest alpine resort doesn’t lose its appeal in the summer – in fact, it thrives.
A vast network of hiking trails leads to historic high-country huts, through native bushland and to the rocky summits of Victoria’s most spectacular peaks. Bike riders can tackle one of the toughest road climbs in Australia, while the famous Razorback Ridge is a worthwhile pilgrimage for sure-footed trail runners and hikers. And when you’re done exerting yourself, you can kick back in a luxe glamping tent strung between snow gums.
Here are five ways to get active in the mountains this summer.
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High-country history comes alive on this 18-kilometre loop, which visits three historic huts around Mount Hotham, each telling a vastly different cultural story. Starting near the winter ski slopes, the track drops steeply to the creekside Silver Brumby Hut, a replica of a cattleman’s hut built as a prop for the 1993 film The Silver Brumby. From there, the track climbs to the heritage-listed Spargo’s Hut, built in 1927 by pioneering prospector Bill Spargo (a legend of Mount Hotham). Move on to Derrick Hut, surrounded by majestic, marble-trunked snow gums and built as a memorial to a cross-country skier. Expect to explore native mountain flora, streams and ridgelines with expansive views. The alpine weather can change quickly at any time of the year, so be sure to check the weather before you depart and ensure the conditions are safe.
This challenging 37-kilometre hike, which links Victoria’s two highest ski resorts, is best spread over three days. Every day is different, as the landscape unfolds over rocky, exposed ridgelines, lush river valleys and the expansive plateau of the Bogong High Plains. You can either tackle the walk yourself, carrying your own tents, food and equipment Snow Dog Transport operates a shuttle to get hikers over to Falls Creek, or go luxe with Alpine Nature Experience, which offers both guided and self-guided hikes with accommodation in glamping tents strung between trees, plus gourmet camp dinners and cooked breakfasts. When you finish, rock up to the General Store at Mount Hotham for a cold beer, classic pub meals and more amazing views (if you’re not sick of them by then).
Cycle from Bright to Mount Hotham
The hill climb to Mount Hotham Village is a rite of passage for any serious road cyclist who loves pushing the limits of their fitness. Starting from the pretty riverside town of Bright, you’ll warm up with an easy cruise up the Ovens Valley to Harrietville trail (where you can stop to refuel with a vanilla slice at Harrietville Bakery) before starting the 1279-vertical-metre climb. Forget about easing into it – this climb starts steep and mostly stays that way, with a section of gentle gradient in the middle to give your legs a bit of a break. There’s accommodation options on the mountain, so you don’t need to tackle the whole ride in one day. Have dinner at the Genny, spend the night, wake up to sweeping views of the surrounds and then make your descent back to Harrietville.
The Razorback Ridge runs from Diamantina Hut near Mount Hotham to the unmistakable peak of Mount Feathertop, Victoria’s second-highest mountain. The 22-kilometre return track traverses a rocky ridge that drops away dramatically into forested valleys below. It’s the perfect distance for trail runners to knock off a half marathon in the mountains ¬– but can also be walked in a day. The track gets crowded in summer, so try to go midweek or leave early in the morning, and don’t attempt it if the weather is bad (snow can fall at any time of the year).
If you don’t want to do the whole thing in a day, you can camp at Federation Hut, near Mount Feathertop, where toilets and shelter are provided. Running with a guide is a great option, especially if you’re apprehensive about the terrain or conditions. Shannon Dunbar from Alpine Running is your hook-up here and will curate a personalised trail run (or hike) for you. There’s also the Razorback Run event on March 16, 2024, with distances ranging from 22 to 85 kilometres.
The mountains around Mount Hotham have been traversed for tens of thousands of years by First Nations people of the Dhudhuroa, Jaimathang, Taungurung and Gunaikurnai nations. The 12-kilometre Brabralung Trail follows an ancient pathway between Mount Hotham and Dinner Plain, passing through heathlands and open plains and weaving between gnarled snow gums. Emus are sometimes spotted at JB Plain, and birdsong is your constant companion along the gently undulating and very peaceful trail. It’s suitable for walkers, runners or gravel cyclists and is generally sheltered and safe, often running alongside the Great Alpine Road. Do a car shuffle in advance or take a break and return on the same track. You can spend another night on Mount Hotham as well, which will mean resting your tired legs with a view of the sunset.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Hotham Alpine Resort.