If you want to experience the Australian backcountry, there’s nothing quite like camping in snowfall. Ruby’s got the list of the best snow camping spots Victoria’s got to offer.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
It’s a place which is calm and wild at the same time. A place hidden away from the hustle and bustle of ski resorts. A place where it’s just you and a vastness of pure, untouched snow.
It is raw. It is peaceful. It is backcountry.
For those wanting to experience the alpine environment in its true form, snow camping is the answer.
Please note: If you plan on camping and hiking Australia’s backcountry please ensure that you have thoroughly prepared before you enter this fragile and risky ecosystem. Fill out a trip intention form, familiarise yourself with alpine safety measures, and as always, practice strict Leave No Trace principles in Victoria’s wilderness, particularly in regards to toileting in alpine areas.
Whilst snow camping can be an intimidating adventure for beginners, this guide will provide you with tips to make your first snow camping trip a safe and enjoyable one.
It’s important to remember that out in the snow, anything can happen. The weather changes in an instant; high winds and white-outs are common, not to mention freezing temperatures. So, it’s crucial to be prepared for your first snow camping trip.
Not sure what gear you need? Discover Snow Camping – A Beginner’s Guide
One of the most important aspects of snow camping is location. The trick for beginners is to pick a location that’s secluded enough to experience the serenity of backcountry, but close enough to a patrolled ski area in case any help is needed. The three sites listed below strike this balance perfectly.
Location 1: JB Plain Hut and Camping Area
For those wanting to give snow camping a go, but still be within 200m of your car, then JB Plain is for you! This area was the first place I ever went snow camping and is perfect for your first trip.
The camping area is only 200m away from the car park, so you can easily make multiple trips to and from your car. Additionally, JB Plain Hut is located right at the campground, which can provide shelter from the wind or be a perfect location to warm up by the fire.
Please note: You’re not allowed to sleep in the hut, unless in an emergency.
The actual camping area at JB Plain is surrounded by snow gums and has plenty of open spaces to pitch your tent, as well as toilet facilities. Once you’ve set up your tent, you can enjoy many of the cross-country ski trails around the area.
The Brabralung Trail (12km) is a groomed track between the Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain ski villages that passes through JB Plain. Follow this trail from JB Plain campground to one of the many cafes at Dinner Plain Village (1.8km one way) for a well-deserved coffee after a night out snow camping!
How To Get There: Follow the Great Alpine Road approx. 10km past Mt Hotham Ski resort to JB Plain car park. From JB Plain car park, it’s an easy 200m walk to JB Plain Hut and camping area.
Distance to Nearest Resort: Approx. 1.8km to Dinner Plain Alpine Village
Location 2: King Saddle Shelter, Mt Stirling
For those seeking more adventure, Mt Stirling provides the perfect winter playground. Ski along a gentle, 2km groomed trail to reach the King Saddle Shelter. This area provides toilet facilities, as well as many spots around the hut to pitch your tent.
Please note: The hut is surrounded by alpine ash trees, which are not safe to camp under in high wind conditions.
Once you set up your tent, choose to sit back and relax in the hut or make the most of the surrounding cross-country trails. For those adventurers with a good level of fitness, take a day trip up to the Mt Stirling Summit (1749m). On a clear day this provides stunning 360° views over the surrounding mountains and Mt Buller Ski Resort.
How To Get There: Follow Mt Buller Road for 30km from Mansfield until the Mt Buller/Mt Stirling Alpine Resorts gate (entry fee applies in winter). After the gate, turn left into Stirling Road and continue for 8km until you reach the car park at Telephone Box Junction (TBJ).
At TBJ there’s a visitor centre, café and hire shop as well as the first aid and ski patrol base. From TBJ, ski along the Circuit Road trail for approx. 2km (grade = easy) until you reach King Saddle Shelter.
Distance to Nearest Resort: Approx. 2km from King Saddle Shelter to TBJ visitor centre, ski patrol, and café.
Location 3: Edmondson’s Hut, Bogong High Plains
Edmondson Hut sits in a flat area at the base of Mt Nelse and provides a beautiful spot for snow camping. The hut itself has a fire pit, bunk beds, and toilet facilities. You should note that this location is more remote compared to JB Plain and King Saddle Shelter, so it may be more suited to those with previous backcountry experience.
Make sure to check the weather conditions before you leave, as white-outs are common above the tree line on route to this hut. Whilst this trip requires a couple of hours of cross country skiing out to the hut, it’s well worth the effort. From the Edmondson’s, enjoy a short ski out to the nearby Johnston’s Hut or one of the other cross country ski trails around this area.
How To Get There: Follow the Bogong High Plains Road from Mount Beauty to Windy Corner car park, at Falls Creek Ski Resort. From Windy Corner, ski along High Plains Road across the Rocky Valley Dam Wall (2km, grade = easy).
Continue along High Plains Road for another 2.5km (grade = medium) until you reach Watchbed Creek information shelter. From here, ski along the Paralyser trail for approx. 4.5 km (grade = medium) before turning off to Edmondson’s Hut.
Distance to Nearest Resort: Approx. 9km from Edmondson’s Hut to Falls Creek Cross Country (includes shelter, café, rental shop and information centre).
Safety Tips for Snow Camping
- Don’t camp underneath trees with any overhanging branches. There’s nothing worse than a tree branch or big clump of snow falling on your tent in the middle of the night!
- Consider building a snow wall to block out the harsh wind. Check out this guide for instructions.
- Always tell friends/family your intended trip route and return date and complete a trip intention form (these are generally found at information shelters near the beginning of cross-country ski trails)