How To Get To Mt Hotham

How To Get To Mt Hotham

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Where is Mt Hotham?

Mount Hotham is located in the Great Dividing Range in the state of Victoria. The Mt Hotham Ski Resort is on the Great Alpine Road in the Australian Alps National Park. The Hotham village is located at an elevation of 1,750m, just below the summit of Mt Hotham (1,861m).

By road, Mt Hotham is 381km northeast of Melbourne and 710km southwest of Sydney. The village of Dinner Plain is 11km southeast of Mt Hotham, the town of Bright is 55km to the northwest, whilst the sleepy town of Omeo is 55km to the southeast.

Driving to Mt Hotham

Driving is the most common way to get to Mt Hotham. From Melbourne and southern areas there are two primary ways to drive to Hotham.

The main route for driving to Mt Hotham from Melbourne is via the Hume Highway to Glenrowan/Wangaratta and then onto Bright and Harrietville, with a drive time of approximately 4.5-5 hours. The 32km drive from Harrietville up the mountain to Mt Hotham is very exposed, steep and windy, particularly near the top of this northern approach. The drive to Hotham is relatively easy compared to most New Zealand ski fields (which can be frightening!) because the Hotham road is paved, there are lots of safety barriers, and there are big orange poles with flashing lights. Nevertheless, Mt Hotham road from Harrietville is the most challenging of the Australian ski field roads. This is NOT the ski resort to drive to if you're just heading there for sightseeing and you have limited or no experience driving on snowy mountain roads. In foggy or blizzard conditions the drive can be very challenging, even for those with lots of mountain driving experience.

The other route to drive to Hotham is via the Princes Highway to Bairnsdale and then via Omeo and Dinner Plain. The drive time is about 5.5 hours. This southern approach is a little mellower and is less buffeted by the weather. Chains are a little less likely to have to be applied on this approach, and the road between Hotham and Omeo is less inclined to close compared to the road up from Harrietville.

Once at Hotham, do not follow google maps blindly to get to your lodge. Chances are that your lodge is only accessible via road during summer and there is the risk that you'll inadvertently drive onto a snowy walking or ski trail and get bogged and have to spend hundreds of dollars to get towed out of your mess. See parking below.

If you do not have mountain and snow driving experience, you may wish to drive to Harrietville and then get a bus from there.

See the driving to Victorian ski resorts page for tips on driving to the snow in Australia.

Do I Need Chains to Drive to Mt Hotham?

Tyre chains must be carried in your car during the winter season and applied as directed via signage (or as directed or required). There are usually staff manning the gate just out of Harrietville, and they’ll turn you around if you don’t have chains. See the snow driving page for tips on tyre chains.

Chain hire is available at ski shops in Ovens, Myrtleford, Bright, Harrietville and Omeo. During peak travel times when chains have to be fitted, Hoys provide a chain hire fitting service on the Harrietville to Hotham road, which is free for those that hire chains at Hoys.

[AdListings collection="Australia" category="Mt Hotham" subcategory="Chain Hire"]

Road Conditions for Mt Hotham

The Great Alpine Road (GAR) is Australia's highest accessible sealed road in winter, and some parts of the road between Harrietville and Mt Hotham are very exposed to blustery winds. Occasionally during or after blizzards, this approach is closed, or access is only permitted in convoys. Sometimes the GAR is also closed due to accidents on the road, which are commonly due to a car not using chains when they should.

The Omeo side of the GAR is less weather plagued and it's very rare that the road gets closed.

For up to date information on road conditions for Mt Hotham and whether the Hotham road is open, and if chains need to be applied for 2WDs or all vehicles, see the Hotham website or app. Or on snowy days your best bet for up to date information is the Hoys Facebook page.

Petrol & Diesel Vehicles

There is no longer petrol available on-mountain so make sure you fill up before you head up the hill. The closest petrol stations are in Omeo and Bright. The petrol stations in Bright are generally not open very late in the evenings, so you might need to fill up out on the major highway (e.g. Glenrowan on the Hume Highway) if travelling at this time. Thankfully for night owls, Omeo has 24 hour fuel.

If you have a diesel vehicle, be aware that normal diesel fuels can freeze and your car will not start. Fill up your car with alpine diesel in Myrtleford, Bright or Omeo. Ideally arrive at the petrol station with less than half a tank of fuel. If you’re only partially filling your car you should also purchase additive and add it to your fuel. Once again, note that service stations on the approach are not open very late in the evening, with the exceptions of the 24 hour fuel stops in Myrtleford and Omeo. Do not turn up to Bright at 9pm hoping to fill your car with alpine diesel.

Car Parking Hotham

As if the lift ticket and chain hire prices aren’t high enough, they also stiff you with mega parking fees too! Like the other Victorian ski resorts, exorbitant fees have to be paid for car parking aka resort entry fees. These fees go towards ski patrol, village bus services, village snow clearing, cross country trail grooming (not sure why the cross country skiers shouldn’t have to pay trail fees), and waste management.

Day parking is rather limited at Mt Hotham. Early birds can park at the Corral car park opposite Hotham Central, whilst other day car parks are located further down the road and generally require a shuttle bus to get to the slopes (advanced skiers can ski-out from many of the day parks, pending snow conditions). For intermediate and above riders, the other option is to park at the Loch car park, which provides direct access to the Heavenly Valley slopes.

There is very short term parking for overnighters to drop off their gear near their accommodation. If your lodge is a decent distance from the road, many of the lodges have their own sled for transporting luggage, or there is an oversnow service available via Snow-Tow Mt Hotham.

Other than a few lucky folks who have privileged parking near their accommodation (e.g. Hotham Heights), most overnight parking is a long way from the accommodation and requires a shuttle or a walk to get back. At least it’s better (and cheaper) than at Falls Creek and Mt Buller where you have to get a special taxi or snowcat over-snow transport to get to the accommodation.

Buses to Mt Hotham

Buses depart at least daily from Melbourne at Southern Cross Station and the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport and travel via the Hume Highway to Mt Hotham, making brief stops at Myrtleford, Bright and Harrietville. There are also bus services from the Wangaratta train station.

For those who don’t want to drive up the mountain, there are also regular bus services between Bright or Harrietville and Mount Hotham. Alps Link is a very affordable bus to Mt Hotham. The bus runs between Bright and Omeo via Harrietville, Hotham, Dinner Plain and Cobungra. It runs twice a day during winter on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

[AdListings collection="Australia" category="Mt Hotham" subcategory="Shuttles"]

Flying to Mt Hotham

Hotham is rather unique in that it has its own airport. The only catch is that it’s located 20km away from the ski area, down the hill past Dinner Plain towards Omeo. The other catch is that there are no longer commercial flights into Hotham Airport. You'll need to charter a plane unless you just happen to have your own plane, although there may be a few pilots offering inexpensive services via Facebook groups. From Hotham Airport you can get a very expensive 4WD taxi to Hotham Resort, so ideally you can find someone to pick you up.

The other option is to fly into Albury Airport where coach buses meet some incoming flights for the 2.5 trip up to Hotham. You can decide whether you think it’s worthwhile to fly to an airport 2.5 hours away.

One limitation of flying into Hotham Airport or Albury is that you can’t take much luggage on those little planes. Another limitation of the Hotham airport is that it tends to be weather plagued.

Getting Around the Mt Hotham Village

The Mt Hotham village is rather spread out along the Great Alpine Road. There aren’t really any specific walking paths, so leave your stiletto heels at home! There are very regular Mt Hotham buses that travel up and down the village between the main accommodation areas, the parking areas, Big D, and Hotham Central. These free buses operate into the wee hours.

Getting Between Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain

The Dinner Plain village is located about 11km southeast of Mt Hotham. Dinner Plain is located outside the national park so resort entry fees don’t have to be paid for those staying overnight at DP, however they are required for those driving up and stopping at Mt Hotham.

Alternatively there are semi-regular buses between Dinner Plain and Hotham, with a few bus stops at each area. Fees are charged for the bus to cover the resort entry fee (the buses are partially subsidised by Dinner Plain council rates). Generally if there are only one or two people travelling from DP to Hotham, it’s financially worthwhile to catch the bus.

Other Ski Resorts Nearby

Not sure if you’d classify Dinner Plain as a ski resort, but it has one platter lift and a beginner run, and is operated by Mt Hotham.

Falls Creek Ski Resort is located a little to the northeast of Hotham as the currawong flies, but it’s 105km by road via Harrietville and Mt Beauty. On fine days it’s possible to get a helicopter between Mount Hotham and Falls Creek so you can ski the sister resort for the day (also on the Epic Pass), but it’s not available for those with luggage who are transferring between resorts.

Perisher is a long way via road from Mt Hotham, but if you want to use your Epic Pass at another Australian ski resort, it is possible to get a helicopter shuttle between Hotham and Perisher.