The north east part of Victoria, especially the Ovens and Kiewa Valleys, have been one of my favourite getaway locations for many years now with the gorgeous scenery in the most relaxing surroundings. Especially in the Spring when the trees blossom and in particular the Kiewa Valley when it is just a lush green. So when October rolled around last year I needed footage and images of snow, and I thought it was finally time I headed up the Great Alpine Road to Hotham Heights. It was the second week after the snow season ended so I knew there would be a reasonable cover around for photos, even though it was another short trip with just a one night stay.
I’ve been to Bright so many times but always turned off to Mount Beauty and the wonderful Kiewa Valley, so this was the first time that I had been through to Harrietville and beyond. The beautiful little township of Harrietville, was very quiet after the snow season, sits at just over 500m in elevation, and is the start of the start of the ascent towards Mount Hotham. This first part of the climb is full of tight twists as you quickly rise up around 500m through the dense trees before hitting the ridge atop a large valley. The first thing that you notice when you get up here is the thousands of dead white trees that stretch as far as you can see.
The road then follows the ridge south as it slowly rises, and eventually the views open up to a magnificent valley. I could see the road right across the valley where it rises relatively steeply up for quite a distance as you approach Hotham. I was getting very excited as I navigated around the bend at the very south of the valley as the road took a large U shape turn before heading north up the final rise towards the resort. There was still no snow in sight and as I looked west across the valley I was very confident of a great sunset with the fractured cloud coverage.
As the road climbs the final rise in elevation along a ridge, you can see the village of Hotham Heights to the east and the first glimpses of snow along side the road before you hit near the peak elevation and the beautiful mountains still with a decent sprinkling of snow. Growing up in a very dry farming area, I still get extraordinarily excited by the sight of snow!
Naturally with any photo trip up to these heights in mountainous terrain, the weather can turn and no more than 10 minutes the clouds got thicker by the minute and the wind picked up which elimated the chance of sending the drone up for some video. Then the rain started to come in and there went any chance of getting a great sunset image or video were gone.
As you drive into the village you have to drive under one of the snow runs which was pretty cool, and then enter the village which was virtually a ghost town at this time of the year which is great as a photographer – well it would of been if the weather was better, but I was optimistic about a morning shot.
After scoping out the township and looking for potential locations for shots in the morning, it was off to my accommodation in Dinner Plains which is the closest permanent settlement of 200 people about 10km further east. It was already starting to get towards zero and with a prediction of minus 6 degrees celsius overnight I was ready to jump into bed early and get some rest of the morning.
Dinner Plain is situated just off the Great Alpine Road as you turn into the township. It felt more like a large accommodation resort than a township, and I was happy to see people walking around the town and some small shops open. But I loved the feel of the small town, and I can see myself coming back again when I do the whole Great Alpine Road. After finding my accommodation the clouds started to break up so I quickly went out searching for a desperate sunset but to no avail, as the clouds once again grew dark and the rain came in for half an hour. So finally it was off for an early night.
As my alarm went off very early, I quickly packed and as I left the accommodation I was hit with the chill of the minus 6 weather as I walked to the car. Luckily I was parked under the cover of a tree so minimal ice on the windshield, so then it was off to Hotham Heights. As I was setting up in a few positions, my hands started to freeze as this is the first time I’ve shot at temperatures this low and I don’t own any gloves for this type of weather. But there was no way that was stopping me from shooting videos and getting some landscape shots as the sun was rising and the beautiful colours that filled the sky.
Even though I was bordering on frostbite, the view was simply amazing and I had plenty of images and footage to grab. Unfortunately as the sun rose the wind picked up and there was no way I was risking the drone in this weather. I walked around a bit more taking full advantage of being the only soul in the village before packing up the gear and starting 4.5 hours drive back to Melbourne. Even though I didn’t get the exact video or the quality of shots I would of liked, it was still a successful scouting mission and so relaxing to be out of the city.
Finally after this trip I had enough footage and images to start the process of getting the Little Australia Project up and running. I’ll have a few more posts coming up and hopefully I’m planning on getting back out on adventures now the bushfires have finally settled down across most of the region.