Several years ago, Tourism Victoria suggested that Victoria needed four ‘iconic walks’ in order to help ensure the state became a bushwalking destination. One of these was the ‘Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing’.

After a great deal of work, the final masterplan for the walk has been released by Parks Victoria.

Parks Victoria describes the walk as ‘a five-day, four-night hiking experience that traverses the Great Dividing Range, from Falls Creek to Mount Hotham’ and will ‘offer an array of opportunities for visitors to discover and learn about the natural and cultural values of the Alps’.

It says the master plan will deliver:

  • New and environmentally friendly hiker camps
  • Updates and improvements to existing trails
  • Low-impact huts tailored for walkers who prefer a roof over their head
  • Educational experiences through guided tours and interpretive signage
  • World-class trail infrastructure constructed with environmentally sustainable materials and design
  • Increased visitation into the region, boosting overall tourism activity and regional dispersal of visitors
  • The creation of more than 200 jobs in construction, 99 of which will be regionally based, with another 130 full time jobs in the servicing sector

Previous reporting in Mountain Journal can be found here.

The Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) has strongly opposed the master plan, saying:

When the ‘Alpine National park’s boundaries were decided in 1989, lines were drawn around the Falls Creek and Hotham resorts so development would be contained within those areas.

This proposal completely reverses that stance. The proposed buildings unnecessarily introduce private development and built infrastructure to one of the finest areas of the Alpine National Park”.

Some specific detail on the Master Plan:

New huts

The implementation of the Master Plan would open the door to private development within the Alpine National Park. There is a proposal for new privately operated huts at Red Robin Mine, Diamantina Spur, Tawonga Huts, and near the rover Scout Chalet on the Bogong High Plains.

The huts are described as:

‘Roofed accommodation (a managed and comfortable way of engaging and taking in the grandeur of the natural setting, providing a sense of safety, comfort and relaxation in nature). The provision of Operated Huts will extend the season, for example, for cross-country skiers. This will be offered by a single lease holder experienced in servicing roofed remote accommodation’. (p 82).

‘Operated Huts will offer beds for two or three people per hut, and are supported with a communal hut for dining and social life’’

Intensified trail development

‘World-class trail infrastructure will be durably constructed with environmentally sustainable materials and designed with sensitivity to the immediate environment. The walking experience will be improved to engage with the outstanding beauty of the scenery, while keeping added infrastructure to a minimum to reduce environmental and visual impact. This will include new rest stops inviting the walker to soak in the spectacular views, interpretive signage or artwork to engage with the stories of each place and track upgrades to ease access for a wider range of walkers’.

It will require a substantial upgrade of the route that current exists on the Diamantina Spur, changing it from its current status as a remote area route to a major, formed walking track. Sections of new track will be investigated in the