Search

Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Mountain Journal magazine #2 published

For the second year, we have produced a print version of a magazine, based on content from the Mountain Journal website. In 2022, the magazine is a collaboration with Mandy Lamont of Lamont magazine. Distribution of magazines across mountain towns and resorts starts on June 7.

Continue reading “Mountain Journal magazine #2 published”

Featured post

An Icon at Risk: current and emerging threats to the Victorian Alps

Snow Gums (Eucalyptus pauciflora) are the classic alpine tree of the High Country, generally growing at heights between 1,300 and 1,800 metres asl. Anyone who has visited the Australian High Country will know – and probably love – these trees.

In recent decades, wildfire has been devastating huge areas of the Snow Gum forests, with significant fires in the Victorian High Country in 1998, 2002/3, 2006/7, 2013 and 2019/20. More than 90% of Snow Gum habitat has been burnt at least once in the last 20 years.

The species can survive fire. However, climate change driven fire seasons are leading to more frequent fire, which is causing more death of trees and changes to forest structure. In some instances, localised collapse of Snow Gum woodlands is now being observed. As climate scientist Michael Mann describes it, we are now seeing climate change play out in real time.

We must ask whether we are now seeing the start of the collapse of Snow Gum woodlands, one of Victoria’s iconic vegetation communities.

Continue reading “An Icon at Risk: current and emerging threats to the Victorian Alps”
Featured post

A rescue plan for the Snow Gums

The first time I skied in the backcountry in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, I was shocked by the dieback of pine trees. While I had read a lot about the beetle that is devastating a lot of the conifer forests in that part of the world, it was a shock to see it running through entire hillsides. Even in the glorious deep powder of a northern winter, I was reminded of the terrible ecological changes that are rippling through ecosystems across the planet.

Back home I was familiar with a similar pattern. Across the mountains that I love I could see the Alpine Ash in freefall as more frequent fires were starting to see local collapse of Ash communities. More regular and intense fires has led to loss of seedlings before they can produce seed. The situation is so dire that the Victorian government has an aerial seeding program to try and keep Ash populations viable.

Meanwhile, at higher elevations in the snow gum country, a double sided threat is charging through the forests: dieback, caused by a native beetle is killing individual trees, while climate change driven fire regimes were devastating vast areas of the high country.

Once you see these changes, you can’t unsee them. The endless stands of grey dead trunks. The loss of the old trees. The thickets of flammable regrowth. Every trip to the mountains reminds you that we are seeing ecological collapse in real time.

Continue reading “A rescue plan for the Snow Gums”

Grollo family buy Mt Hotham airport

There has been much speculation about the future of the Mount Hotham Airport in recent months as the community waited to see who would buy it.

It has now been announced that the Grollo family has acquired Mount Hotham Airport for more than $6.5 million and ‘plans to develop residential accommodation for workers and staff at the nearby Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain ski resorts on the 105-hectare site’.

The airport is a significant section of higher elevation private land along the Great Alpine Road from Omeo to Dinner Plain/ Mt Hotham. Many in the community had hoped that the new owner (it was previously owned by Vail Resorts) would focus on building for the community good – that is, provide affordable accommodation for on mountain workers and their families.

Continue reading “Grollo family buy Mt Hotham airport”

Walk to Mt Wills

Victoria’s highest mountain, Bogong (Warkwoolowler in the Waywurru and Dhudhuroa languages) is protected in the Alpine National Park. It sits high above the town of Mount Beauty and is a drawcard for hikers, skiers and backcountry snowboarders. It is an alpine wonderland of wildflowers in summer and deep snow in winter.

However, surrounding areas continue to be logged. And now a series of logging coupes are proposed along the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) between Mt Bogong and Mt Wills. Additionally, a coupe is planned in the headwaters of the Mitta Mitta River, close to the AAWT.

If this concerns you, please join us for a walk to Mt Wills on saturday March 18. It is about a 90 minute walk up a good 4WD track to reach the summit. We will take a photo of the group on the summit with Mt Bogong as our backdrop as part of our campaign to build awareness about this new threat to mountain forests.

Continue reading “Walk to Mt Wills”

Tali Karng – a jewel in a changing landscape

Tali Karng is a magical lake, tucked away in the mountains north east of Licola in the Victorian high country.

According to Parks Victoria, Tali Karng is the only natural lake within the Victorian Alps. ‘Held behind a rock barrier created thousands of years ago, the underground stream it feeds emerges as the infant Wellington River 150m below in the Valley of Destruction’. It is about 14 ha in size and sits in a deep valley. It has been a hugely popular walking destination for decades, especially with scout and school groups, and ‘doing the Tali Karng’ walk is a rite of passage for many as they transition from weekend to longer walking trips. It is also a place that reflects the changing way we view, manage and visit our wild natural places.

The lake is on the traditional lands of the Gunaikurnai people, most likely members of the Brayakaulung clan. When I first visited Tali Karng at 15 years of age, I had no idea of the First Nation connection and we often camped by the lake. There was no signage or acknowledgement of the traditional owners. At that point I had no awareness of Aboriginal people in the mountains and I assume that was the same for most people who loved bushwalking.

That started to change after the Gunaikurnai won a Native Title determination in 2010.

Continue reading “Tali Karng – a jewel in a changing landscape”

20 years on from the 2003 Alpine fires.

It is 20 years since the 2003 Alpine fires tore through much of the Victorian high country.

On 8 January 2003, lightning strikes ignited 87 fires, 8 of which would join to form the largest fire in Victoria since the 1939 Black Friday bushfires, burning through 60% of the Alpine National Park.

For more than 40 days, several high country townships, including Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain, were under threat from a fire that would ultimately burn 1.3 million hectares, destroying 41 homes and upwards of 9,000 livestock.

According to Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV), emergency workers and volunteers from across 35 agencies, including more than 4,000 firefighters, helped protect community, landscapes and property over that summer. There is a great set of images from the fires on the FFMV facebook page.

Since that time, fire has become more common in the high country. A lot has changed since then, both in terms of how we fight fires, and the resources we have available to do so.

Continue reading “20 years on from the 2003 Alpine fires.”

Mountain Journal turns 13

Crikey. What happened to 2022? Seemed like it went forever, yet it also felt like a blur as it rushed past.  A mild summer, a wild rollercoaster of boom and bust winter, then a wet spring. Here is the annual review.

Alpine time in Tasmania

What’s not to love about lutruwita/ Tasmania? Mild climate, wild landscapes, endless mountains, remarkable forests, wonderful rivers. If you love the higher alpine country, and rocky peaks, there is so much to do, and so many places to visit.

But compared with the high country of NSW and Victoria, you generally need to do some work to get into the alpine zones. There are few easy 2WD roads to get up high, like the tourist road up kunanyi/ Mt Wellington, the road over the Central Plateau past yingina/ the Great Lake, the Ben Lomond plateau, the road to Lake Mackenzie and so on.

But in most places you do need to walk and climb to get to treeline and above. That’s one of the things that makes these places so special. I recently had the chance to get back to Mt Rufus, a peak in the south of the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair national park, which has an elegant long alpine ridge that leads to incredible views of the west, south west and central mountains.

Continue reading “Alpine time in Tasmania”

‘A brief story of a remarkable Historical gathering’

Mountain Journal has published a number of stories in recent years about the fact that Jaithmathang Original Country elders are returning to the mountains to reconnect with their Yerto (meaning land/country high up).

As Jaithmathang Senior Elder, Loreman and Songman, Goengalla Jumma Myermyal Minjeke said in 2021, “in 1830 there was a population of more than 600 Jaithmathang Original People living in our isolated pristine Yerto Alpines, in our Mountain Ranges and on our fertile High Plains Country”. 

“By the early 1850s our population was decimated and there were only a handful of our people left; there was the arrival and occupation by pastoralists and miners, and then the numerous massacres and killings. The last few Jaithmathang who were left were removed away from our Country to other surrounding settlements”.

Now reconnection is happening. This story comes from Karina Miotto and Goengallayin Jumma Jumma.

Continue reading “‘A brief story of a remarkable Historical gathering’”

International Mountain Day, 2022

International Mountain Day has its roots in 1992, when the adoption of Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 “Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development” at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Environment and Development put a milestone in the history of mountain development.

It is celebrated each year on December 11.

Continue reading “International Mountain Day, 2022”

A long, slow wander along the Australian Alps Walking Track

Many mountain people will know Josh Kynaston for the music he plays with his partner Evie as the duo Life Dreamers. They are regulars at many venues across the valley towns and mountains of north eastern Victoria. Joshua loves music. And walking in the hills. He has a plan to combine the two passions – doing a slow traverse of the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWR) in late 2022, starting at the southern end. And writing new songs and maybe an album as he goes.

Continue reading “A long, slow wander along the Australian Alps Walking Track”

Logging will damage the Epic Alpine Ride at Mt Stirling

Mt Buller and Mt Stirling are famous for the fantastic bike trails that exist on both mountains. The Australian Alpine Epic route is described as ‘one of only a handful of IMBA Epic accredited trails in the world, the Australian Alpine Epic is a unique, tough and exhilarating journey’. It climbs onto Mt Stirling from the Delatite Valley before heading north past Mt Winstanley.

Sadly, now sections of the Epic ride will be directly impacted by logging operations on Mt Stirling – unless we stop it.

A large area around Mt Stirling is expected to be clear fell logged soon (starting any week now), including several coupes that will directly impact the Alpine Epic ride.

Continue reading “Logging will damage the Epic Alpine Ride at Mt Stirling”

Join us for a walk up Mt Bogong/ Warkwoolowler to oppose logging of mountain forests

Victoria’s highest mountain, Bogong (Warkwoolowler in the Waywurru and Dhudhuroa languages) is protected in the Alpine National Park. It sits high above the town of Mount Beauty and is a drawcard for hikers, skiers and backcountry snowboarders. There are no roads on the mountain, and access is slow because of the steep climb up from the valley. It is an alpine wonderland of wildflowers in summer and deep snow in winter.

However, surrounding areas continue to be logged. And now a series of logging coupes are proposed along the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) between Bogong and Mt Wills. Additionally, a coupe is planned in the headwaters of the Mitta Mitta River, a major river which starts on the Bogong High Plains.

If this concerns you, please join us for a walk to Mt Bogong on Friday January 20. We will walk up Staircase Spur. We will take a group photo with banner on the summit as part of our campaign to build awareness about this new threat to mountain forests.

Continue reading “Join us for a walk up Mt Bogong/ Warkwoolowler to oppose logging of mountain forests”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑