Top of the world

Summer or winter, the Victorian High Country boasts a rich catalogue of attractions to rival the drive and views.

From the drive itself to the impossibly perfect vistas, the Victorian High Country rewards the traveller with a plethora of activities and accommodation, tastes and experiences that give the mountains their magnetic pull.

Jonathan Ross, Ollie Khedun (Mount Hotham images)

29 March, 2022

Just 90 minutes north west of the thriving metropolis of Melbourne, for Victorians, the region can be be easily and often explored

No matter from which direction you make your approach – travelling north west from Melbourne, or even the long way, south west from the nation’s capital – the Victorian High Country has a special allure that makes it a favourite of those looking for adventure or just the special escape of the mountains. The very rooftop of Australia, it is the closest thing we have Down Under to the majestic Central Alps in Europe, and while there is something of a height differential from their European cousins, the Victorian High country and on into the Kosciuszko National Park across the border, has its own special alpine character that draws visors from all over the country.

While its offerings may change with the seasons, the ‘High Country’ remains a stunning location all year round. Impossibly perfect vistas appear around every bend, charming country towns beckon and activities from mountain biking or skiing to wine tasting perusing galleries and museums reward adventurous more sedate tastes equally.

Just 90 minutes north west of the thriving metropolis of Melbourne, for Victorians, the region can be be easily and often explored, while for those coming south, it is a greater undertaking (nearly six hours from Canberra), so deserving a longer stay. Either way, there are plenty of reasons to make the trip – here is just a snap shot.

A different perspective

No matter that stunning scenery is part and parcel of the entire, region, there is no substitute for the perspective gained by floating above it all. While the ground-level views wow, the natural splendour of the area’s pastoral grazing land and scenic landscape are best appreciated from above in a form of transport from a simpler time. Perhaps even quieter than an Audi e-tron, a hot-air balloon ride is an experience in itself and the views are really just the icing on the cake. To be fair, the 360-degree views of the Mansfield countryside are worth even the very early start – rising pre-dawn to drift above the sleeping township below and watching the sun emerge and chase away the last remnants of night.

An experience that evokes child-like-joy and satisfies that primal urge to fly, Global Ballooning Australia has shared sunrise with thousands of people in this classic ballooning region.

Perhaps even quieter than an Audi e-tron, a hot-air balloon ride is almost a religious experience

A perfect taste of the enviably countrified life

Home away from home

With a breathtaking outlook over Barwite Valley and across to Mansfield, BullerRoo offers up luxurious surrounds but with its own distinct rural flavour. With a ‘back-to-the-land’ vibe, this farm stay is the perfect luxe home base for families or groups, located just 50 minutes from Mount Buller ski resort, this regional recharge features two distinct accommodation options. From the BullerRoo Luxury Chalet – a private hilltop retreat that sleeps five and offers 180degree views of Mt Buller – and the charming colonial Stone Creek Cottage which is perfect for larger groups ready to enjoy a welcome escape from urban life. For a taste of the enviably countrified life on the 24-acre pygmy goat stud farm, simply wander the property, soak in the views, splash in the property’s river or even try your hand at feeding the animals. And for those impassioned by farming with best practice sustainable land management and ethical animal husbandry, guests are invited to learn more from property owners Vicki and Ed van der Hoeven.

Suspended animation

For those with more of a taste for the outdoors, Alpine Nature Experience offers just that, but with its own unique twist and without forgoing the essential comforts of home.

During the summer months, families and small groups can experience nature from a different perspective at the Summer Eco Camp based within an eco-village in the wilderness of Hotham. Raised off the ground and strung between trees, these award-winning tree-top tents are an off-grid camping experience like no other. Complete with thick insulated mattress, warm sleeping bag, phone charger, tent light and bag storage, they take the concept of tent life to … well, new heights.

Everything at the campsite is carried in and out on foot to reduce any impact on the fragile alpine environment, creating an environment where visitors can enjoy the pristine wilderness and help keep it pristine in the process.

The ultimate spot for secluded sundowners, this is the perfect way to experience a whole new way of watching the sunset over one of the most stunning lookouts in the High Country.

Raising the humble tent experience to new heights – literally

Embracing the old principals of growing grapes and making wine as naturally as possible with minimal intervention

Toasting the mountains

An area with a rich wine making tradition, those partial to the grape will be spoilt for choice throughout the region. Delatite Winery is definitely one worth adding to your itinerary, with its distinctive taste and a strong commitment to sustainable agricultural practices and winemaking, this vineyard has been family owned and operated for over 50 years. Embracing the old principals of growing grapes and making wine as naturally as possible with minimal intervention and additions, this modern-day winery offers the best of both worlds, and several incredible drops worth writing home about. For those with more time (and a designated driver), spend the afternoon at the new Delatite Winery Dining Room against a backdrop of some of the region’s most breathtaking views. Offering a highly personalised tasting experience from their orchard, permaculture garden, and local producers, choose from a seasonal set menu, share plates and platters, while you take in the vista of this picturesque property and its surrounds.

Home of quattro

Whether you’re visiting for the first time or the fifth, the grandeur of this rugged mountain range never disappoints. Known as Australia’s highest alpine village, Mount Hotham is a year-round resort boasting a myriad of adventure, dining, and accommodation options.

With myriad trails for hiking, biking and trail running in summer it offers a brilliant alpine escape from the city, but it is for the colder months that Hotham is best known. Outstanding skiing is just the start, with howling husky sled dog tours, biathlon, back country tours, scenic flights and helihop, cross country skiing, night skiing and boarding, snowshoeing, retail therapy and of course an outstanding après-ski experience. For those needing to refuel from all the adventure, Cosy lodges and luxury chalets abound in this quintessential ski resort town.

Audi has enjoyed a long association with ‘Hotham’ – a true home of quattro if ever there was one and Audi drivers can prearrange VIP parking at the Corral Day Car Park, with easy access to the famed Audi quattro chair and all the pristine snow fields beyond. 

Beautiful year round, Hotham truly shines when the temperature drops and the snow falls