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Holiday Starts Early With a Snow Trip Along the Great Alpine Road

July 7, 2014 Ski No Comments Email Email

Widely recognised as having the best skiing in Victoria, Mount Hotham is one of the state’s most popular winter destinations.

Rising to a summit of 1,862 metres, it boasts 245 hectares of ski area, including downhill runs and cross-country trails to suit all abilities – from learners through to experienced skiers and snowboarders.

And people planning a trip to its hallowed slopes are being encouraged to travel through Gippsland.

“Many people planning trips to Mount Hotham don’t consider the Gippsland alternative, yet it is a much easier drive and a more reliable route,” the marketing manager of East Gippsland Marketing Inc, Karly McCaskill, said.

There are two ways to drive to Mount Hotham: visitors can travel through Melbourne’s north east, passing through Harrietville, or they can head east through Gippsland.

“For those in the south east, coming this way avoids the city traffic crush and ensures almost certain access to the mountain,” Ms McCaskill said. “Not only are the roads far less busy, but access to Mount Hotham is safer and the road is very rarely closed. The route through the north-east is steeper and more treacherous, with more traffic.”

The picturesque passage takes people along the iconic Great Alpine Roadthrough the wild and beautiful Tambo Valley into the Victorian Alps. The route passes through stunning mountain landscapes and villages, include Bruthen, Ensay and Swifts Creek. Along the way, they can salute Mr Stringy, a carved and brightly painted stringybark stump and local mascot, which offers safe passage to travellers.

As gateway to the ski slopes, just 55 kilometres from the summit, Omeo is a must-see stop with fascinating mining and pastoral heritage. As well as its high country plains, fresh air and bush landscape, Omeo offers landmarks that reflect its gold-mining heritage, including the Oriental Claims, Log Gaol and historic court house.

Snow travellers can stay at the Golden Age Hotel where prices range from $50 to $160 a night and don’t increase during the ski season. Renowned for its hearty, delicious meals and old-fashioned country hospitality, the pub is located in the centre of town and the room rate includes a cooked breakfast.

“The Great Alpine Road is not just a beautiful drive, it’s almost always open,” publican Terry Watt said. “I’ve lived in Omeo for 20 years and it has only been closed a handful of times. When it’s closed, it’s closed everywhere.”

The Golden Age partners with Omeo Ski Hire, affectionately known as Billie’s. Billie’s offers a range of equipment for hire, including skis and snowboarding gear, waterproof clothing and chains for your car. (www.omeoskihire.com.au)

And if you’re keen to save money on the cost of mountain parking and chains you can leave your car in the pub’s car park. O’Connell’s Omeo Bus Service leaves twice daily every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from just down the road, returning in the evenings. (www.omeobus.com.au)

“The Great Alpine Road is one of Victoria’s hidden gems,” Ms McCaskill said. “And because the journey to Mount Hotham is just as spectacular as the destination, you can start to enjoy your winter holiday sooner.”

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