|360° panorama from Mount Hotham (scroll page right to see the entire picture)|
Route: Victoria Falls Camping Area, Dinner Plain, Mount Hotham, Harrietville.
The day begins with a long steep climb from the Victoria River to the alpine plateau. Once the plateau is reached, the gradient is gently uphill with a couple of exceptions (Slippery Pinch and Mt Hotham). There are reasonable views much of the way (marred for my trip by recent bushfires). After 23km Dinner Plain, a ski resort, is reached. It has a small general store (including a post office and café) which is open 364 days a year. At the entrance of the village there is also an indoor rest area if one needs relief from the wind or cold.
|Dinner Plain alpine village|
Twelve kilometres from Dinner Plain is the Mount Hotham alpine resort. The road winds around the main mountain ridge, offering spectacular views. The village has a supermarket (open daily) and various dining facilities. After the village, the Great Alpine Road continues to climb up the mountain and snakes underneath the summit. A detour to the summit up the dirt track will be greeted with stunning 360 degree views: Razorback, Mt Feathertop, Bogong High Plains, Mt Bogong, Mt Buffalo, Mt Buller and the ranges to the south are all visible on a clear day due to Hotham's height (1862m) and centrality in the Victorian Alps.
|The summit of Mount Hotham|
While the climb from Dinner Plains to Mt Hotham is a gentle affair, the descent from the peak to Harrietville is a thrilling ride. The road is cunningly perched on the apex of a knife-edge ridge, and the country side falls away beneath you. Over the next 20km, 1200m of altitude is lost. Make sure that your breaks are well-adjusted, wear warm clothes and beware of cars cutting corners from the opposing direction.
|Looking back at Mt Hotham on the Great Alpine Road|
Harrietville is a peaceful village nestled in the Ovens River Valley. It has a general store (open till 6pm on weekdays; closed on Sundays), pubs, bistros and a take-away food store. The caravan park is situated on the west branch of the Ovens River, which is really a large fast flowing creek it this point. In December 2005 I was charged $8 for one unpowered site and took a welcome shower after two nights of wild camping.
For those who want to push further after Harrietville, it is another 20km to Bright, which is a larger town, has more tourist attractions and plenty of accommodation. Between Bright and Harrietville there are also options for wild camping. (For example, there is a potential site after Smoko and just before the Freeburgh sign by the Ovens River, though it is a little close to the highway. There are better camping options after Freeburgh in the state forest, where Old Harrietville Road can be used for river access to collect water.)
Staying two nights at Harrietville offers the possibility of doing a long day walk (Harrietville - Mt Feathertop - Razorback Trail - Mt Hotham - Harrietville, with shorter variations possible). At 1922m above sea level, Mount Feathertop is Victoria second highest mountain. Walkers should be adequately equipped to deal with all weather conditions.
|Foreground: slopes of Mt Hotham; Midground: The Razorback; Background: Mt Feathertop|
Harrietville is in the valley to the left of The Razorback
Alternatively, one may chose to stay at Bright (300m above sea level) and cycle to the top of Mount Buffalo (1723m above seal level) the next day, continuing the tour the day following.
© 2008 Robert Taggart. Last updated 20 November 2008.