Mt Hotham is well-known as a brilliant Victorian skiing destination. But in summer those sharp ridgelines and plunging valleys turn this part of the High Country into one of Australia’s best places to go hiking.

We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Taungurung and Gunaikurnai Nation, the traditional Country of the Taungurung and Gunaikurnai people who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Winding up the Great Alpine Road to Mt Hotham is an experience in itself. The mountain falls away, sometimes on both sides, as you climb to a whopping 1750 metres above sea level. You’ll feel way more than 4.5 hours away from Melbourne as gums become snow gums and fresh air begins to lend the sun a crispness not possible in the city.

Hotham Village is unique, with the village found at the top of the ski runs. For hikers, this means that trails strike out along ridgelines or drop down into lush valleys, immediately turning up the drama, even on shorter, easier routes. In spring and summer, Billy Buttons, Vanilla lillies, and Milkmaids flower across the region, turning it into a sea of yellow, pink, and white.

 

Swindlers Creek flowing strongly with snowmelt, summer’s a lush time of year in the High Country!

 

I spent a week hiking in High Country Victoria to find out exactly how good it was, and the answer is simple: it’s an essential visit for any Australian hiker. Even if you’re not that into walking, the 300-person strong village features an eco glamping experience, easy-to-visit alpine huts, and great places to stay and eat (cracking views included).

Can I convince you to ditch your beach holiday for hiking Hotham this summer? I reckon I can!

Tips for Hiking Mt Hotham

Mt Hotham is an alpine region, so there are some important things you should know before you traipse into the backcountry.

  • Weather can change rapidly. Check the forecast, pack warm and waterproof layers and be ready to turn back if needed
  • The sun can be spicy even if it feels cold, don’t forget sunnies, sunscreen, and a good hat
  • Alpine regions are fragile. Stay on the tracks and make sure to Leave No Trace out there
  • Detailed track notes and up-to-date information can be found in Mt Hotham village and on their website
  • Pack lots of water and snacks. It’s colder up high but also very dry so you can still get dehydrated!

 

You’ll find all the trail notes you need in Hotham Village

Hiking Mt Hotham – Routes for Every Occasion

 

Mt Hotham Summit Walk

Distance: 2.5km return
Difficulty: Easy from the village, intermediate from Diamantina Hut

This is a great hike to get your bearings after arriving in Mt Hotham. The route officially starts from the base of the Summit Trainer ski lift in the village and climbs up the grassy slope, but the better option comes from the other direction. 

 

Head down to Diamantina Hut after tagging the summit

 

Drive or get dropped at Diamantina Hut and climb the steep single track through the snow gums to the 1861m summit. Check out the toposcope that’s so old the distances are in miles! You’ll spot Mt Buffalo, Mt Feathertop, and Mt Buller on a clear day.

Hot Tip: Pair this walk with the Higginbotham Summit Loop (3km) for stellar views to the south.

 

Mount Loch Summit

Distance: 3.5km one way
Difficulty: Intermediate

The track out to Mt Loch is nice and open, with uninterrupted views out to the Razorback, Mt Feathertop, and Mt Buffalo in the northwest, and back towards Hotham Village in the southeast. Park at the Loch car park and follow the Australian Alpine Walking Track to pole 60. You’ll then follow a vehicle track past basalt columns to the summit cairn (a great spot for a snap!). Then head back the way you came, or continue onto the Huts Walk from the base of Mount Loch.

Mt Feathertop and the Razorback Ridge walk

Distance: 22km return
Difficulty: Advanced

The Razorback walk to Mt Feathertop needs little introduction. It’s one of the best day walks in Australia. Starting from Diamantina Hut you instantly begin walking along a sharp ridgeline, catching glimpses of Mt Feathertop, Victoria’s second-highest mountain, in the distance. The route is clearly marked, but very exposed, so prepare for a big day out and start early! 

 

The striking Razorback ridge leads all the way to Mt Feathertop

 

You’ll want extra time to check out Federation Hut as well as ample summit time. With a car shuffle or transfer from the Snowline Hotel you can make your walk one-way and mostly downhill via the Bon Accord or Bungalow Spur tracks. If you’re making great time you can walk a few extra kilometres to MUMC Hut (which has a cool geodesic shape).

Cool Tip: There’s a big lake in Harrietville called the Dredgehole just before the end of the hike, it couldn’t be more perfect!

 

The Huts Walk

Distance: 18km
Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced – mostly well-formed with some steep climbing (hike clockwise to avoid the steepest bit!)

Everyone loves a hut in the wilderness, and High Country Victoria is full of them! The Huts Walk takes in three, all with different histories that paint a picture of how the Mt Hotham region developed. The oldest hut is Spargo’s Hut, it’s one of the oldest structures in the region, built by prospector Bill Spargo in 1927-28 to support his mining ventures (he also helped establish skiing at Mt Hotham!). 

 

jean-francois rupp, alpine nature experience, Hiking Mt Hotham – High Country Walks You Have To Experience, photo by Tim Ashelford, High Country, Victoria, alpine

Jean-Francois Rupp (pictured here in his natural habitat) guides The Huts Walk with Alpine Nature Experience.

 

Next up is Derrick Hut, built in 1967 as a memorial to a skier who died in a blizzard. This gorgeous hut is found in what can only be described as a meadow, and is a great place to have lunch or set up camp on longer walks.

Silver Brumby Hut is different again! Originally built in 1992 for the Aussie film Silver Brumby, the replica was built by a bunch of local community groups in 2006-7 and is delightfully placed in the valley next to the tranquil Swindlers Creek.

 

Hey Siri: Define idyllic

 

All summer long you’ll be spotting wild lilies, orchids, and herbs, especially the bright yellow Australian Buttercup as you listen to mountain streams and feel that alpine breeze on your cheeks.

Alpine Nature Experience run this hike as part of their Hike’n’Feast experience – you’ll be guided through the High Country, learn the histories of the huts and fill up with a gourmet meal around the campfire in the evening. 

Love History? Check out the 12.5km Cobungra Ditch Walking Track and imagine hunting for gold in such wild and unforgiving country.

 

Brabralung Trail

Distance: 12km one way
Difficulty: Intermediate

Indigenous Australians used the High Country as meeting places long before white settlers made their way there. In summer they’d feast on Bogong moths in large ceremonies. In fact, ‘Brabralung’ is a Gunaikurnai word for the region and the trail is an ancient mountain pathway. There are many signs that’ll help you learn about Australian Aboriginal culture in the High Country, making this hike a cultural experience as well as a natural one.

It’s a privilege to walk this track from Mt Hotham to Dinner Plain. You’ll experience environments from classic Snow gum forests to alpine wetland, open grassy plains and dense woodland. Some alpine species survive here only because cold air regularly runs downhill and condenses moisture from the air. Pretty neat! 

Hotham to Falls Alpine Crossing

Distance: 37km
Difficulty: Advanced

Did you know you can hike between Mt Hotham and Falls Creek? It’s a 105km drive but only 37km between the two resorts! While some people power it out in a day, it’s more often done as a two or three day hike. As you’d expect, the Alpine Crossing features everything there is to love about the High Country. Historic huts, diverse alpine landscapes, wildflowers, bubbling streams and those sunrises.

There are heaps of providers doing shuttle services and tours, but Alpine Nature Experience offer bag transfers, gourmet food, G&Ts, and floating tree tents. Who said hiking had to be hard, eh?

Visit the Eco Village

Speaking of Alpine Nature Experience, these guys know how to make camping comfy. Starting off with Snowshoe & Fondue, founder Jean Francois has since expanded to all kinds of unique nature experiences.

With the permission of Mt Hotham and parks, he’s built a small, removable eco-village on the edge of the escarpment between Dinner Plain and Mt Hotham.

‘If I packed it all up, you wouldn’t be able to tell it was here in a year,’ Jean tells me while we sip Shiraz Durif and Genepi, and eat Coq au Vin in a huge tipi tent that acts as a dining room.

Food is his other passion, particularly fresh, high-quality ingredients, and having worked for wineries and grown up in France, he really knows his merde. 

The highlight? Floating tents. Jean pitches Tentsile tents that suspend metres off the ground between three trees. They’re comfier than a hammock and thanks to tree protectors they don’t damage the trees at all. As someone who’s generally a bit of a dirtbag, I was amazed at how comfortable I was while still feeling very connected to nature.

 

Floating tent. Sunset. Goals met.

Visit The Genny

‘Any season, any reason’ is the motto at The General at Mt Hotham. It’s open year-round and it’s Australia’s highest pub at 1750m. Take that, lower pubs! Inside you’ll find a small supermarket, post office and, of course, an excellent bar and bistro crammed full of ski memorabilia.

 

It’s pretty common at the Genny to just order a platter of entrees for dinner. When in Hotham!

 

My pick is the karage chicken, but you also absolutely have to try the tacos. The balcony looks out over uninterrupted High Country and the sun sets behind the pub, leading to golden hills while you sip a local golden ale. 

But, most importantly, make sure you only ever call it ‘The Genny’.

Stay at Mountain Dreaming or Camp at Dinner Plain

After a long day of hiking where do you want to be? Crawling into your tent or settling into fresh sheets? There’s beaut camping amongst the snow gums down at Dinner Plain, about a 15 minute drive from Mt Hotham, there’s even the historic JB Hut to cook in if the weather gets gnarly. 

Or you could book an apartment at Mountain Dreaming, which’s attached to The Genny (handy if no one wants to be deso) and enjoy every creature comfort to keep you fighting fit for the trails.

If you book in with Alpine Nature Experience (did I mention there’s a woodfired outdoor bath?) you’ll be getting the best of both worlds, so pick your poison!

 

Comfier than a hammock, floating tents are the best way to relax after a long day on the trails.

The Best Hiking Hub in Australia?

It’s a big call, and when Mt Hotham told me becoming Australia’s no. 1 destination for hiking was their aim, I was pretty sceptical. But having been there, hiked their ridgelines and valleys, and seen the continual work they’re putting into their trail network, I’m feeling pretty convinced.

I’d get there before everyone else finds out.

This piece was brought to you by a real living human who felt the wind in their hair and described their adventure in their own words. This is because we rate authenticity and the sharing of great experiences in the natural world – it’s all part of our ethos here at We Are Explorers. You can read more about it in our Editorial Standards.