Hotham set to expand according to a new report

Hotham Alpine Resort, one of Victoria’s premier snowsports destinations, is investigating opportunities for expansion according to report commissioned by the Mt Hotham Resort Management Board (MHRMB). The report, published in August 2014, concluded there are significant development opportunities owing to Hotham’s unique location, its generous elevation (summit 1861m and alpine village 1750m) and its pristine environmental qualities. Management is investigating ski area expansions, addition of new lifts, enhanced snow-making capabilities, and the realignment of the Great Alpine Rd (see summary map below).

Source: Mt Hotham Resort Masterplan ‘ Draft Framework Consultation, August 2014

Caption: Map from the report summarising possible development opportunities at Mt Hotham

Lifts

The report includes plans for up to two new chair lifts and three new ski areas: A new ‘Imagine – Summit’ chair extends roughly east from bottom of the ‘Imagine’ ski run and extends upwards, across the great Alpine Rd, finishing just north of the top of the existing ‘Summit’ quad chair’. The available skiing area would be enhanced under this plan via a new, and second, ‘skier bridge’, traversing the Great Alpine Rd, which in turn would link the Summit area with the top of the existing Heavenly Valley skiing area. Snowriders expects that the new lift would reduce congestion in the lower section of ‘Slalom Gully’ (which gets very busy), and reduce wait times for the Heavenly Valley chair during peak loads (i.e. weekends).

A second chair, the ‘Higginbotham chair’, extends south-south-east from the top of the existing ‘Village’ quad chair, finishing just short of the top of the ‘Bid-D’ chair lift. This lift which would also traverse the Great Alpine Rd, would improve accessibility between the main resort and the Big-D area, providing skiers and boarders with a second access option (apart from the village shuttle bus (or walking)).  The feasability of both lifts will be investigated according to the report.

Caption: The ‘Heavenly Valley’ chair lift and skiing area, Mt Hotham. The proposed chair would extend from the base of the ‘Imagine’ ski run (bottom right of image) and extend up the valley toward the Summit area (top left of image)

Caption: Likely path to be taken by the Higginbotham Chair. The chair would extend roughly south, from the top of the Village chair and rise up behind ‘1750 Hotham’ (the accommodation visible in the image) before finishing at the to the top of Higginbotham (the hill visible at the top of the image).

Ski area expansion

Three new ski areas are also being investigated. Graphics in the report (see image above) show the potential for ski area development on both sides of the Great Alpine Rd: ‘H-Gully’, located east of the current ‘Australia Drift’ skiing area’; ‘P-Gully’, north of the Heavenly Valley chair (and east of the Keough’s quad chair); and finally a new ‘Women’s Downhill’ area south of the Higginbotham summit, and east of the Higginbotham chair. If developed, the three areas combined would significantly expand the skiing and snowboarding terrain on offer at Hotham – which is already substantial. This is an exciting prospect.

Caption: The ‘Australia Drift’ t-bar, and existing ski area. According to the maps in the report, the H-Gully ski area is located east the Australia Drift ski area (probably east beyond the ridge visible at the top left of the image).

Great Alpine Road realignment

Under the master plan framework, the Great Alpine Road would also be realigned to facilitate greater redevelopment opportunities within Hotham Central, including the creation of an enclosed, pedestrian focused and human scale ‘village heart’(see Image below). The new, and significantly developed village heart, would provide protection from the elements and offer a range of shopping, food and accommodation options. According to the report, all new infrastructure would be aligned to maintain the magnificent views of the surrounding alpine environment, available from the top of the Hotham village.

The realignment of the road would take it east of the present MHMB office and the Corral Carpark, before merging with the existing Great Alpine Rd adjacent to the Hotham Heights Chalets. The repositioning of the road would create opportunities to redevelop the existing Great Alpine Rd area (infront of Zirky’s and Hotham Central) into a pedestrian friendly, mall like environment. According to the report, “pedestrian access and circulation within Hotham Central area would be seamlessly managed, including removal of vehicular and pedestrian conflict points, appropriate management of pedestrian/ skier crossing locations, the establishment of a dedicated bus transport interchange and the creation of a dedicated short term ‘drop off’ zone to allow private vehicles to drop off passengers (prior to the driver parking in a designated day parking area).”

Source: Mt Hotham Resort Masterplan ‘ Draft Framework Consultation, August 2014

Caption: Map from the report showing the potential realignment of the Great Alpine Rd and the development of a ‘Village heart’

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