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In a country better known internationally for its natural environment - Uluru (Ayers Rock) and deserts, coral reefs, tropical rain forests, together with the wildlife - kangaroos, koalas, penguins and the incredible egg laying mammals the platypus and echidna; the idea of snowfields and ski racing in Australia seems quite surreal.

That Australia is a land of contrasts is quickly made apparent to northern hemisphere skiers who arrive in Melbourne. After leaving the vibrant state capital of Melbourne with its combination of magnificent gardens, big city shopping restaurants and theatres, the would be Hoppet skier travels through open farmlands and the world famous vineyards and wineries of the Milawa and Alpine Valleys wine regions to the town of Mount Beauty, nestled at the foot of the mountains. While in Mount Beauty there is blossom on the plum trees, oranges and lemons on the tree and daffodils in the gardens, just a short 30km drive through tall eucalypt forest and an increase in altitude of 1200 metres brings them to the alpine village of Falls Creek, nestled in a sheltered valley on the edge of the snow covered plateau of the Alpine National Park (altitude 1,600 metres).

Last, but by no means least, of the features of the Hoppet is the friendly and relaxed approach to life of the Australian. Australians also love to participate in sport, and the Kangaroo Hoppet caters for this passion by offering not only the main 42km and the 21km event, but also a 7km event that attracts a diverse group of skiers, ranging from elite juniors to parents, grandparents, babies in pulkes and first time skiers.