I have always said Mt Hotham is the only place to ski. Hotham is the ‘IT’ handbag of the snow world, at least in Victoria. It’s the Mimco of Australian arm candy – one you would love to have but if you were offered Gucci or Fendi (Canada or Japan), you wouldn’t say no. I took my annual ski trip to Hotham this past weekend, another shining example as to why you just can’t go past this mountain when it comes to your Victorian ski holiday.
If you want to hear about the accommodation, or the places to eat, visit my article for Onya Magazine that I wrote last year. This year I want to tell you about the people, the atmosphere and the amazing food.
I’m not going to lie – I don’t like the cold or the wind. I realise this is mostly what you are in for when you choose to go skiing – but it’s not at all. There is so much more to heading up the mountain that you will only discover if you visit.
I’m not made of money and skiing is an expensive venture. This year we stayed two nights, leaving at 4.30am on Friday morning in order to get maximum time on the slopes. We took out first trip down the Big D at 9.45am – the sun was shining, the air was crisp and the slopes were fresh – and most people were heading home, heading up or sleeping it off. Friday is definitely your best day on the mountain.
$12 bowls of wedges and sour cream will get you moving for the afternoon and some homemade lasagne on Friday night, washed down with plenty of red wine, will see you fast asleep in no time, resting a weary body after a hard days’ powder. The wedges were old and the lasagne no three hat restaurant, but average bain-marie food and my shabby cooking was no match for what was to come on Saturday.
Fair-weather skier that I am, I didn’t head out on Saturday. Instead I procured the papers, chatted to complete strangers on the bus, talked jobs and mobile phone reception with other people staying in the lodge and grabbed a drink at the local with a friend from home. The thing about the snow is that everyone is there for a good time – be it skiing, lounging or having a drink and catch up. It’s the perfect social holiday.
And then came the good stuff. Uncle P, who was celebrating his birthday, chose to cook for twenty five rather than head to a restaurant serving overpriced food. A very talented chef (who together with Aunt G run a lovely little café/restaurant at Aireys Inlet, truffles, that I do recommend you visit should you pass through), Uncle P spent the best part of two days in the kitchen and in the end we had 4 kinds of hors d'oeuvres, a divine main and the most amazing looking gateaux I have ever seen created with my own eyes.
As much as I like to eat food, I’m not much for technical terminology, so at my best description, our main was chicken breast with a slice of mango inside, served over cous cous with a spicy Moroccan sauce. I had rice (and many thanks to Uncle P and Aunt G for substituting for me - I am gluten free remember) and cleaned my plate – even after several rice paper rolls and a decent helping of my favourite dip.
A meal such as this should be accompanied by excellent wine, many friends and a good helping of laughter. Skiing is the sport of the social and a weekend at Hotham will definitely give you a dose of warmth – be it from the wine, the fire or the abundance of laughs.
Image One: Snake Gully ski trail at Mt Hotham, courtesy Mt Hotham
Image Two: Our party of 25 sits down in the communal dining room
Image Three: Our fantastic main, as prepared by Chef Uncle P!