High on Hotham

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Skiers, snowboarders and snow bunnies, for the love of frost, head on over to Mount Hotham, possibly the only place in the world that offers a “Snow Guarantee”

Ski school was loads of fun, the instructors patient and it meant I learned correctly from the start. No bad habits. Within a short time, I was nearly as good as those little “Milo” kids as they were called, and I felt like a goddess.
Children can explore the world of snow while making friends and learning to ski in a fun environment with the Mighty Mites ski program for kids aged 3-5 years. It’s an amazing journey as a parent, to watch your kids find confidence in the snow, as well as witness their coordination and social skills develop.
ake sure you bring warm clothing and layer up. I don’t recommend wearing jeans, when skiing. I usually wear warm tights or thermal underwear under my ski pants and jacket. Believe it or not, you actually get hot sometimes! Gloves, proper footwear, woolen socks, goggles or sunglasses (as it get’s glary). Also throw in some sunblock!
Hotham has grown with the times and offers skiers and holidaymakers even more. Sking, snowboarding and snow go hand in hand, no snow, no sking, no boarding, so Hotham has invested in snow making machines to ensure conditions are ideal, with longer periods of snow. They’ve injected $4.4 million into snowmaking expansion for 2016,

Hotham Alpine Resort is located in the heart of the Australian Alps National Park. During summer it is the perfect spot to go hiking, but during winter it’s transformed into a winter playground.

The scenery up there is breathtaking, in both summer and winter. However, in winter the air fills your lungs and invigorates you in ways you’d find hard to imagine. Mt Hotham comes to life in winter as snow covers the resort and the chairlifts start turning.

Skiing and snowboarding, snow tubing and tobogganing, delicious dining, bustling nightlife and relaxing day spas beckon any explorer to Hotham for a winter holiday.

Hotham village is at 1750m, just below the summit of Mt Hotham (1861m). And it’s easily accessible, thanks to Australia’s newest touring route, The Great Alpine Road. Whether you drive, fly or coach it you’ll be there within hours of leaving Melbourne or Sydney.

It’s up to you how long you take to drive there, how many stops and breaks you have. There’s lots of little townships to stop at and take a break, taking in the country lifestyle they have to offer. In future travel logs, I’ll cover these places in more detail. For now, however, it is all about Mt Hotham and Falls Creek!

My first experience with snow, wasn’t at all positive. I didn’t have the right gear, so after 30 minutes I was wet, cold and ready to go home. I actually recall saying: “I’m never doing this again!”, as I grumpily slammed the car door, started the engine and began to defrost my toes.

However, when friends asked me to spend a week at Hotham, I found it difficult to refuse. They showed me the most amazing photographs and I saw no evidence of them suffering from “frost bite”. They promised they’d look after me and teach me the ropes. They told me what clothes to wear, very different from the ones I wore on that first trip! Both were experienced skiers and took me under their wings. The first day was a little challenging, as my sense of balance was terrible. That’s when I signed up for ski school! At first it was quite embarrassing having 5 and 6 year olds making it look so easy, with me struggling to stay upright. But I soon got the hang of it.

Ski school was loads of fun, the instructors patient and it meant I learned correctly from the start. No bad habits. Within a short time, I was nearly as good as those little “Milo” kids as they were called, and I felt like a goddess.

Hotham has easy slopes for first timers, beginners and kids to learn to ski and snowboard and become familiar with chairlifts.

I learned the term “snow plough” pretty soon. A method taught to beginner skiers to quickly wipe off excess speed. Not that I was skiing very fast. I learned how to turn and steer.

I was actually getting pretty “cocky”, but after I tripped over my own skis I realized that it doesn’t pay to show off too soon. I dusted off the snow, got over the fact those “Milo” kids were still laughing at me, and shyly retreated to the back of the queue.

The Big D is a beginner’s run and it’s still one of my favorite runs. I think it holds lots of nostalgia for me. It’s where I learned to ski and where I watched my two children progress from beginner level, to black run level (the advanced level).

At The Big D children have

• Their own designated skiing area , complete with magic carpets, cubby houses, sled trains

• The Big D chairlift that takes younger children up to the top of the ski area. This makes the Big D a really safe environment in which to gain confidence!

Hotham Family Fun

• Children can explore the world of snow while making friends and learning to ski in a fun environment with the Mighty Mites ski program for kids aged 3-5 years. It’s an amazing journey as a parent, to watch your kids find confidence in the snow, as well as witness their coordination and social skills develop.

• Older kids aged 6-14 can ski or snowboard with the Kids Club program under the supervision of Hotham’s experienced children’s instructors who share their passion for snowsports with your children in a fun learning environment.

• Ski under the stars with night skiing held on Wednesday and Saturday evenings at the Big D and Dinner Plain Snow Park. Dinner Plain is just down the road from Hotham. The Snow Park has a smaller ski slope, poma lift and snow tubing for the kids and not so big kids. It’s a quieter place for those with young children or new to the snow.

• 40 degree, Japanese-inspired Onsen at the Onsen Retreat + Spa in Dinner Plain.

• Massage treatment at the White Spa at Hotham Central.

• The village has a delicious range of dining options to suit all budgets or dance it up at one of the many bars Hotham is renowned for.

• Sled dog tours and snowmobile rides.

• Fly to nearby Falls Creek via helicopter to experience more of the stunning Victorian Alps.

• Explore the extensive network of cross-country trails around Mt Hotham, Wire Plain and Dinner Plain, all protected areas within the Alpine National Park.

• Hotham really does make it all so easy — they even offer a day-care centre for younger children and an introduction to skiing program with outdoor and indoor activities, lunch and snacks for kids age 2+. The kids also get to see Harry the Snowdragon, Hotham’s mascot, who lives at the Big D and is on standby to make sure your child has the best snow holiday, with free live stage shows and singalongs every Wednesday and Saturday from 4pm. This has always been a “winner” for my friends with younger children, as it gives the parents time out to also enjoy “ski time”.

Instructors

All Hotham’s instructors are highly qualified and many instruct overseas during Australia’s off winter season. The Ski & Ride School has three locations:

• Hotham Central for the Adult’s Ski & Ride School,

• Big D at Hotham for the Kids’ Ski & Ride School

• Dinner Plain Ski & Ride School which offers lessons for both adults and kids.

What to bring?

• Make sure you bring warm clothing and layer up. I don’t recommend wearing jeans, when skiing. I usually wear warm tights or thermal underwear under my ski pants and jacket. Believe it or not, you actually get hot sometimes! Gloves, proper footwear, woolen socks, goggles or sunglasses (as it get’s glary). Also throw in some sunblock!

• If you are staying overnight or for a few days you can bring your own food and self-cater, or dine out.

• You must take snow chains, even if they are not required to be fitted. Along with the other ski gear these can be hired. Hoys offer a free snow chain fitting service (see advertisement). Fitting chains is not a fun job, so guys (and let’s face it, it won’t be us girls fitting the chains), why not let someone else get dirty?

• Bring a torch, a good quality one.

• Take a good pair of gloves that offer protection, if you intend fitting snow chains.

Safety

• I’ve written a blog on my website about different aspects of vehicle safety

• http://www.whereskathietouring.com.au/blog/post/661/Snow-Victoria/

• Also see this link for a practical demonstration on how to fit snow chains.

• https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRRXVY4P7Gg

• http://www.hotham.com.au have condition reports advising whether chains need to be fitted and general weather conditions.

If you get stuck, there are chain fitting service operators on the Great Alpine Road who are also available to fit chains for you for a small charge.

Get up and Ski

Hotham’s great ski-in ski-out accommodation options make for a stunning location to stay, and also make it easy to get around the resort. In other words, you get up, dressed in your snow gear, and ski from the door of your accommodation.

• Ski right from the road or drop the kids off at ski school from the car.

• Alternatively, Hotham has a fantastic village bus service running from 6am to 2am daily. (This is the method I prefer).

• There are bus stops all over the resort and buses pick up from most accommodations taking you to ski areas, Ski & Ride School, shopping and restaurants.

• There is ample parking on the mountain for vehicles, with car parking covered by the cost of resort entry which also goes towards maintaining resort facilities: waste disposal, village snow clearing, free village transport and ski patrol services.

Where does the snow come from?

Hotham has grown with the times and offers skiers and holidaymakers even more. Sking, snowboarding and snow go hand in hand, no snow, no sking, no boarding, so Hotham has invested in snow making machines to ensure conditions are ideal, with longer periods of snow.

In fact, Hotham even has what they call a “Snow Guarantee”. If the Gods above don’t let the snow fall, then Hotham helps out using it’s snow making machines. They’ve injected $4.4 million into snowmaking expansion for 2016, all aimed at pleasing us, the skiers, snowboarders and snow bunnies.

Healthy mind, body and soul?

Whether you decide to go to Hotham /Falls Creek for a few days or a week – your mind, body and hopefully your soul will feel the benefits.

It’s fun and nothing like slogging away in the gym (sorry you gym junkies).

It’s commonly accepted that any physical activity enhances health. Vigorous physical activity generates the brain to release endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine, which are chemicals that make you feel good. Outdoor winter sports such as skiing burns calories, increases cardio, and you don’t have to worry about going on a guilt trip over sipping hot chocolate, because you will soon burn those calories off.

How to book?

It’s easy to book your Hotham holiday and learn to ski or snowboard. Hotham Holidays reservations team can:-

• Organise your accommodation, equipment, lift passes, lessons and can explain how to get there.

• Find deluxe apartments, hotels and lodge accommodation options at the resort as well

A Hotham Holiday is closer than you think.

Contacts/more information

• Information www.hotham.com.au

• Ski & Ride School www.hotham.com.au/snowsports

• Accommodation, lift passes, equipment hire www.hothamholidays.com.au

• Dinner Plain Snow Park www.hothamholidays.com.au/snowpark

• Chains www.rayskishop.com.au http://www.hoysskis.com.au

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