Australia – The “Powder Highway”, Seeking Solitude Along Victoria’s Great Alpine Road

March 25th, 2020
A road winds through it. The GreatAlpine Road is truly unique, offering easy access to vast powder fields. Skier, Drew Jolowicz. Photo: Mark Tsukasov

Mountainwatch | Chillfactor Magazine

This story first appeared in the 2019 issue of Chillfactor magazine, words by Drew Jolowicz  and all photos Mark Tsukasov.

Reaching a height of 1840 metres, the Great Alpine Road lays claim to being Australia’s highest sealed road and provides access to Hotham Alpine Resort. The route originates in the North-East Victorian town of Wangaratta, meandering through the Ovens Valley before winding its way up to Hotham.   It then continues down through Dinner Plain, Omeo and culminates in the Gippsland town of Bairnsdale, 303 kilometres later.  The exposed and often snow-covered ridgeline between Harrietville and Hotham offers the most impressive views over the Aussie high country and provides great ski touring prospects for those who prefer less competition and more expansive terrain.


The Great Alpine Road accesses some big, open faces in Hotham’s side country. Skier, Drew Jolowizc. Photo: March Tsukasov

On a clear day there are 360-degree vistas all the way from Baw Baw in the South, right up through to the NSW snowy mountains. Now for well-travelled ski bums, references to the “Powder Highway” will no doubt conjure up images of deep powder, loonies and toonies, served with a generous helping of interior BC’s finest Canadian bacon.  Not to be out done, the 2018 stellar Aussie winter provided the perfect conditions to head out and ski lines on our very own Down Under version of this fabled stretch of tarmac.


Drew Jolowicz , dry powder on the edge of Australia’s version the “Powder Highway” Photo:Mark Tsukasov


Drew Jolowizc making big turns in some expansive terrain. Photo: Mark Tsukasov

Now you could say the plan was pretty loose (aren’t all good plans?), but the general gist was to drive up and down the Great Alpine Road and ski terrain that could be accessed from close proximity to the road.  I suppose in the strictest sense, you could call this car-assisted backcountry skiing (what?).

No lifts were harmed in the process and all descents (and ascents) were made within a stone’s throw of the Great Alpine Road.   With the talents of Mark Tsukasov behind the lens, we set out to ski and photograph as many of these zones as we could in one awesome winter.


Sam Leitch, a committed turn in some steep  terrain close to Hotham’s village. Photo: Mark Tsukasov

Over the course of the season we encountered all sorts of weather and snow conditions along the “Powder Highway”.  Everything from deep snowy pow days, brilliant bluebird, amazing dawn light and even some creamy spring corn (poor man’s pow), was on offer.

For close to a decade we had travelled the Great Alpine Road gazing at these lines thinking maybe, just maybe this is the year.   Days often started in darkness under headlamps and finished after the sun had disappeared on the horizon.  It takes a special type of season to capture these moments and winter 2018 produced some amazing days.


What goes down, must go up. Drew, earning turns on the “Powder Highway”.


They say the next best thing to powder snow is corn. With last year’s deep snow pack the 2018 September ‘corn harvest’ was big! Photo: Mark Tuskasov


First light on Razorback Ridge. This place has a way of making you feel small. Scale set by the Victorian Alps. Skip Drew Jolowizc. Photo: Mark Tsukasov