Sweet Dreams are Made of Cheese

Looking for something different to do in the snow at Hotham this winter? Head out for an Alpine Nature Experience. Where you can snowshoe to a fondue dinner and even stay the night in a heated snow dome. And get a skidoo ride back to your car in the morning.

Snowshoeing out to the eco-village

Alpine Nature Experience Snow Shoe Tours

Jean-Francois started the snowshoe to fondue tours last year. He has been busy over the summer working with local designers and engineers to create the snow domes for overnight guests.  The temporary village was transported to site and set up by Jean-Francois, with minimal impact on the fragile alpine environment.  The timber structures for the domes are made in Wangaratta. Using ethically harvested Victorian Ash from the Black Saturday bush fire areas. The canvas is designed and made in Porepunka.  The domes are built with one idea in mind: simplicity is a luxury.

Arriving at sunset to stunning mountain vistas

Growing up in the French Alps

Growing up in Annency, a little town in the French alps. JF was on skis from the age of two, and has many interesting stories of both the Australian and French mountains.  A lover of cheese, wine and the alps he created the tours as a way of making up for all of the things that he was missing from his home town. “The beautiful people, the great stories, the history, the great food and the idea of sharing moments and creating memories.  And all of those things are here.”

Using both French and local produce, the tours are designed for people to experience the snow like you would experience the beach.  “You don’t have to be a surfer to go and have a great time by the beach, and I felt like that’s what the snow needed. To show people that you can enjoy all of that scenery without the daunting aspect of having to be on skis, or it might be a little bit too hard for me.”

Jean Francios, creator of Alpine Nature Experience

The Experience

Meeting late in the afternoon at the Wireplain carpark (bus stop No. 12) we prepare for our adventure.  Snowshoeing through the picturesque snow gums along the cross country ski trails. We stop along the way to hear tales of the French and local mountains.  Arriving at the gorgeous snow-covered eco-village we’re greeted by spectacular mountain vistas, a stunning sunset, and a hot glass of JF’s home made Gleuhwein.  Sitting around the crackling fire with our warming Gluhwein. Watching the eco-village turn into a winter wonderland of fairy lights as darkness falls, before heading into the heated tepee to begin our three course dinner.

Home made Gluhwein on arrival, thanks Karl

A winter wonderland

After an entree of soup from the Harrietville Bakery, it was a hands on experience learning to make authentic French cheese fondue.  Grating the cheese, cutting the bread and stirring the pot to make our fondue, followed by dessert, schnapps and more tales from the mountains.

A hands on fondue experience


After a comfortable sleep in the heated domes, we wake in the morning to a dusting of snow and a warming cooked breakfast before being picked up and taken back to the carpark by skidoo.

Cosy heated snow domes sleep up to four people in each dome

The domes have solar powered lights and even a phone charger

A skidoo ride back to the carpark in the morning

Spend a night off the grid out in nature, but still within reception.  A night of great food and wine and stories in a unique Australian Alpine environment.

Tours run Wednesday to Sunday throughout the winter, bookings essential  www.alpinenatureexpernece.com.au

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