Jane Reddy jumps aboard a dog sled.
Plump snowflakes are falling on Mount Baw Baw and through smudged goggles I see the Siberian husky turn and fix me with a cool stare. I look away.
"That's Koda, he's a cheeky one," says the musher, Jake Greaves, as he helps me into my ride, a low-lying sled, its seat lined with sheepskin. The engine is a six-member team of dogs and Koda's at the front.
Greaves gathers the reins and, without warning, yells "hike!" in a masterful command before we jerk into motion, huskies howling.
We're moving at up to 10km/h and it's exhilarating to feel the power of endurance sled dogs acting on instinct as we take to an icy trail lined with snowgums.
"Gee!" (veer right), then "haw!" (veer left). "Koda, no time for games!" The dogs are frisky and there's a scent of rabbit. Greaves loosens the reins for a spell. While we watch Maximus, Shadow, Hunter, Zac and Diesel sniff and explore, Greaves speaks of a childhood fascination with wolves, later finding the closest-looking thing in the form of a husky. Just two sled-dog running tours in the snow are available in Australia. The other is at Dinner Plain near Mount Hotham.
Jane Reddy travelled courtesy of Tourism Victoria.
Mount Baw Baw is about 160 kilometres from Melbourne.
Howling Husky runs tours every weekend during the snow season. A 30-minute village run costs $110 a person; a 90-minute sunset run costs $380. Phone 0409 517 633; see howlinghuskysleddogs.com.
Woolybutt Cabin has two bedrooms, from $322 a night. Alpine Hotel has double rooms from $154. Anare Lodge sleeps 14, from $475 a week. See mountbawbaw.com.au.