News

Hotham visitation highest since 2012

By Benalla Ensign

Benalla's skiers have been spoilt for choice in recent years with good snow across the Alpine region seeing a number of extended seasons.

That has been the case for the past three ski seasons on Mt Hotham - with more than four metres of snow ensuring 2019 was its busiest winter in seven years.

The recently completed 2019 snow season, which lasted 18 weeks from June 8 to October 6 at Mt Hotham, saw 151 474 guests visit Victoria’s highest alpine resort.

It was the fourth straight winter in which Mt Hotham’s guest numbers have climbed, with this season’s stats equating to 402 385 visitor days, an increase of 15 per cent on the 10-year average.

The last time Mt Hotham welcomed more than 150 000 guests during a winter was in 2012, a season in which bumper snowfalls were also experienced.

This year’s successful season kicked off with an opening weekend crowd 29 per cent higher than 2018 and the most guests since 2010, with 2778 visitors for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend launch.

After fantastic snowfalls through the early part of August, week 11 of the season saw Mt Hotham’s busiest day on record, with 2166 vehicles entering the resort on Saturday, August 17.

In each of the next three weeks crowds were up by 20 per cent on 2018, while week 15 saw an increase of 28 per cent from the previous year with 7212 guests, the most for that seven-day period in the past decade.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that more and more people are coming to Hotham,” Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board chief executive officer Jon Hutchins said.

“Experiencing Australia’s highest alpine village with the most down-to-earth people is one reason to come to Hotham, but the drive to the resort is also one of the most spectacular in the country, no matter what time of year.

“We’re not only seeing more seasoned skiers and snowboarders at Hotham, but more first-time snow-goers, too, while the resort hosts a growing number of winter events and activities.

“New drawcards that were hugely successful in 2019 included glamping or staying a night in a real igloo with Alpine Nature Experience, along with the Victorian Backcountry Festival, which found a new home here.

“Just as importantly all our on-mountain operators and staff continue to provide friendly service and an amazing alpine experience to guests.”

And the resort is not quite finished for the year as it hosts the second installment of the newly established psytrance music and arts festival, Return to the Source.

After being staged in the Strathbogie Ranges in 2018, Return to the Source will this year be held 5km from the Mt Hotham village at Whiskey Flat, from November 22 to 25.

About 500 people are expected to attend the festival, which will be headlined by a long list of international performers and plenty of local producers and DJs too.

● Return to the Source is a drug-and-alcohol-free event with more festival and ticket information available at returntothesourcefestival.com.au