The stillness of the bush, the soft crunch of snow underfoot and stunning views of the Victorian alps are attracting more winter enthusiasts to snowshoeing. The hire shops at Dinner Plain tell us they’ve stocked up on snowshoes, poles and warm clothing and are ready for a big winter. Trails around Dinner Plain are well suited to gentle meandering and tour guides are available to get you started. Snowshoeing is low-impact and suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Good signage and easy-to-follow maps are available from your mountain hosts. Once you’ve built your confidence, you can trek further afield – perhaps a short hike to discover one of the cattlemen’s huts around the area (the famed JB Hut is just two kilometres away). When you’re ready, check the weather and plan an overnight hike.
It’s not hard to spot brightly dressed, super-fit skiers on the 35 kilometres of winding trails around Dinner Plain. The regularly groomed tracks curve through hushed snow gums, taking in gentle rises, and are ideal for beginners. Experienced cross-country skiers regularly tackle the 10-kilometre expedition to Mount Hotham for views of majestic snow-dusted Mount Feathertop, the state’s second-highest peak. The return journey is slightly easier – or take the bus. Dinner Plain nestles into the 646,000-hectare Alpine National Park and ski-trail maps and cross-country skiing are free. Many a downhill skier has begun their sport at the Dinner Plain beginner’s poma lift. Start the little ones with a lesson here, before heading up the hill to Mount Hotham for more challenging slopes.
Dog lovers will love Dinner Plain. There’s dog-friendly accommodation, where the family pet is welcome to doze by a glowing fire, and a strong local affection for four-legged friends. Plus, there’s the chance to join one of the 60 fur-coated professionals from Howling Huskies for a dog sled ride – 46 of them have been rescued from shelters. Rides are offered for two or a family of four and run for either 30 or 75 minutes ($300-$550). The bright and often blue-eyed team of Siberian and cross-bred huskies and malamutes will happily let you pat their thick double coats before guiding you through a winter wonderland. Rug up for the sturdy timber sled, then bob and weave your way through frosted snow gums to the musher’s calls of gee (right), haw (left) and hike (go go go).
And when spring comes …
Dust off your mountain bikes this spring. Dinner Plain’s 24-kilometre network of flow trails will bed down over winter and two new trails are set to open in October. With runs of around two kilometres, graded from green (for beginners) to blue (intermediate), and a mountain bike park, there’s something for everyone.