Eight people rescued after being trapped by heavy snow on Mt Hotham

Eight people have been rescued after becoming trapped in heavy snow near Mount Hotham with "terrible" conditions forecast to get worse.

The alarm was raised following heavy snowfall on Monday afternoon.

The four adults and four children, aged between six and 12, spent a chilly night in their vehicles on the Blue Rag Range Track west of the Dargo High Plains Road. Temperatures got down to minus five overnight and are currently sitting on minus two.

There were fears they would be trapped there as conditions in the area worsened, with wind gusts of up to 110km/h forecast for later on Tuesday.


But at midday police announced they had got them out, safe and well.

The vehicles were stuck in thick snow, which locals say is up to half a metre deep in some places after heavy falls on Sunday.

“It started on Sunday evening, it started coming down quite heavily," a local told The Age.

"We had 30 centimetres over Sunday night, and since then we have had maybe 10 centimetres on top of that. The weather has been terrible, howling winds.”

Police say one group of travellers in two 4WDs got stuck in the snow after failing to bring appropriate snow gear with them. A second group them came across them, tried to get them out, and also became stuck – leading to all needing to be rescued.

Click Here:

Blue Rag Range is an extremely remote track through Victoria's High Country but is popular because of its panoramic mountain views. There is only one way in or out, and the sides of the track drop off steeply on both sides.

Tuesday's rescue attempt follows an incident on Monday morning where eight students and two teachers from Beechworth Secondary College were rescued from Mount Bogong.

That group were in the final day of a five-day hike and got caught out in thick snowfall.

Earlier, Senior Sergeant Doug Incoll said the hikers had set off in the morning and were forced to turn back to a hut, before being recovered about 2pm.

‘‘There was 20 centimetres of snow yesterday,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re expecting another 25 centimetres today above 1200 metres, which is where the group of 4WDs are.

‘‘There is an increase in strong winds forecast throughout today.’’

He said those in the vehicles had adequate shelter, food and water.

Rescue crews gathered about 6am on Tuesday to resume the search, which is being hampered by the deep snow.

‘‘We’re making progress and we’re continuing to assess the road conditions,’’ Senior Sergeant Incoll said.

‘‘If the snow get insurmountable, we will have to get a bulldozer or other equipment in.’’

He said the conditions were ‘‘terrible’’, but those in the vehicles were safe and warm.

‘‘The weather can change in the alpine environment at any time of the year, but at this time of the year the snow can be extreme and last a few days,’’ he said.

‘‘People need to be aware of the conditions and undertake a risk assessment of whether they need to change their plans.

‘‘You need to determine whether it’s a good idea to go out in the first place.’’

With Border Mail