I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published July 8th 2013
High Country Wonderland
With the first real snow of the season forecast for this weekend dedicated snow-bunnies will be packing their skis and families & day-trippers will be heading for the hills.
Now I'm not a skier, I'm far too uncoordinated for that, and I'm not all that keen on snow, far too cold & wet for my liking.
But I did have reason to visit Dinner Plain in mid-winter last year and if I were inclined to indulge in snow sports it's just the sort of place I'd be heading for.
Welcome to Dinner Plain on Victoria's Great Alpine Road
Dinner Plain is at the heart of the Victorian High Country, 357 Kilometres from Melbourne via the Hume Highway and Great Alpine Road or 457 Kilometres via the Princes Highway and Great Alpine Road.
At just 13 kilometres down the road Dinner Plain is close enough to the prestigious Mount Hotham Alpine resort to enjoy its slopes, restaurants and bars but far enough away to enjoy the slightly more laid-back lifestyle on offer here with its pub, half dozen or so restaurants & cafes, supermarket and some 300 chalet's set among the snow gums.
The Dinner Plain pub offers a warm welcome
Dinner Plain stands on 571 acres (231 Hectares) of freehold land originally owned by an Omeo grazing family, the McNamara's.
During Victoria's 1850's gold rush, the region's population exploded and hundreds of diggers worked the creeks of the sub-alpine area searching for alluvial gold deposits. By 1883 a road had been built, crossing the Alps from Omeo to Bright and by 1900 a weekly horse-drawn coach service operated between the two towns in the summer months. The coachmen stopped for their midday meal at, you guessed it, Dinner Plain.
There are some 300 lodges scattered among the Snow Gums at Dinner Plain
Development of an alpine village was undertaken in the mid 1980's and the Dinner Plain Hotel opened on June 8th 1986, the first new hotel licence issued in Victoria in 100 years.
Dinner Plain is just a great place to wake-up to
Since then Dinner Plain has been promoted as an environmentally friendly alpine village, highlighting the environmental assets of the area rather than the après-ski social activities of the premier resorts such as Hotham and Falls Creek. Drive up the Great Alpine Road and the Mount Hotham Resort hits you smack bang in the face, party-central in the midst of the High Country. Dinner Plain on the other hand seems to meld into the surrounding bush no doubt inviting just as much fun and social activity but on a much smaller scale and without quite as many bright lights.
A Winter wonderland outside but Dinner Plain's lodges offer all the comforts of home inside
Highlights of the ski season at Dinner Plain include the Pub to Pub Cross Country Ski Race and the annual Dinner Plain Sled Dog Challenge.
This year the Pub to Pub will be staged on August 3rd attracting skiers of all standards to tackle the 11 Kilometre race from the Mount Hotham General Store to the Dinner Plain Hotel.
A week later the 20th Annual Dinner Plain Sled Dog Challenge will kick-off with an estimated 350 dogs and 75 mushers (drivers) taking on the two day timed endurance event.
The Dog Sled racing is a unique event in this part of the world with Dinner Plain the only Australian Alpine Village permitted to race and only on this one week-end.
The annual Sled Dog racing is an event unique to Dinner Plain
Like me though you might find Dinner Plain more attractive without the snow and there is no shortage of things to do during those times. Bush-walking, horse-riding and mountain bike riding are all very popular pastimes in this part of the world and the locals put on one more spectacular event.
Each Easter weekend thousands of enthusiasts make their way to the nearby Cobungra Station for the annual Dinner Plain Geebung Polo match and horsemanship exhibition. Something not to be missed if you're any kind of horse enthusiast.
So Dinner Plain really is a place with something for everyone where you can ski to your heart's content or simply suck in the incredibly clean air of this pristine alpine environment.