The Hotham area has been a skiing destination for tourists for over 125 years, ever since the first travellers over the ranges strapped timber planks onto their boots at the Mount St Bernard Hospice in the 1880s.
Many thousands of years before the arrival of the first Europeans, Aboriginal people gathered in large numbers in the high country, particularly during the spring and summer months. MHARMB acknowledges the important and unique relationship that Traditional Owners have with the Victorian Alpine Resorts. The Gunaikurnai and Taungurung are the First People affiliated with Mt Hotham, who have fostered a strong cultural connection with the resort.
The rights of these Traditional Owners have been formalised via a Native Title Agreement and a Recognition and Settlement Agreement with the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC), both of which came into effect in October 2010, and a Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA) with the Taungurung Land and Waters Council that came into effect in August 2020.
In the mid 1830s, European squatters looking for grazing lands began to move into the district and, in 1851, gold was officially discovered in the region. This attracted a large population on each side of the Divide and saw significant movement of travelers over the ranges. Ultimately resulting in the establishment of more permanent populations in the shadow of Hotham.
With increased publicity in the 1880s, skiing as a tourism activity began to emerge. However, it was during the 1920s with the establishment of the Hotham Heights Chalet, that Hotham as a skiing destination really began. In 1933, the Railways Department took over the management of the Hotham Heights Chalet and the 1940s saw the establishment of the first ski clubs and lodges such as the Alpine Ski Club of Victoria (1944), the Wangaratta Ski Club (1946), Edelweiss Ski Club (1947) and the University Ski Club (1948).
The Alpine Resorts Commission
The Department of Crown Lands and Survey assumed responsibility for Mt Hotham in 1962, appointing a Committee of Management. The 1983 Alpine Resorts Act saw the formation of the Alpine Resorts Commission (ARC) to manage all Victorian Alpine Resorts permanently reserved as Crown Land.
Mount Hotham Resort Management Board
In 1998, separate management boards were created for the individual resorts and the Mount Hotham Resort Management Board assumed management of Mt Hotham. The following years saw the development of new ski terrain, lifts, chalets and in 1999 the opening of the Mt Hotham airport.