The VICTORIAN ALPS, the southern section of the Great Dividing Range, bear little resemblance to their European counterparts; they’re too gentle, too rounded, and above all too low to offer really great skiing, although they remain a popular winter sports destination. In July and August there is usually plenty of snow and the resorts are packed out. Most people come for the downhill skiing, though cross-country skiing is also popular, particularly at Falls Creek, Dinner Plain, Mount Buffalo and Lake Mountain (lakemountainresort.com.au), 21km from Marysville (south of the main Alpine region). Snowboarding was first encouraged at Mount Hotham and is now firmly established everywhere. Falls Creek, Mount Hotham and Mount Buller are the largest and most commercial skiing areas, particularly the last, which is within easy reach of Melbourne; smaller resorts such as Mount Baw Baw in Gippsland are more suited to beginners.
The towns of Mansfield, Bright and Mount Beauty are good bases for exploration of the Alps, and are great places to unwind. In summer there are activities such as hiking, horseriding and cycling; fewer facilities are open, but there are often great bargains to be had on rooms. If you’re driving, you’ll need snow chains in winter (they’re compulsory in many parts), and you should heed local advice before venturing off the main roads.