The Falls to Hotham Crossing is a lovely three day walk from the resort town of Falls Creek, across the Bogong High Plains, to Mt Hotham. Managed by Parks Victoria, you need to book to use the designated campsites near Cope Hut and Dibbins hut. It is a hugely popular walk.
There are also plans to extend and reroute the Crossing, turning it a five day ‘serviced hiking opportunity’ in the Alpine National Park. In the state budget for 2018/19, there was an allocation of funds to help make the project a reality. Now additional funds have been allocated to continue the planning for the project, including Stage 1 of the construction.
The proposal has been widely criticised because it will help open up previously undeveloped areas near Mt Feathertop and allow private development within the Alpine National Park. It will see a major upgrade of the route that currently follows Diamantina Spur up to the Razorback from the West Kiewa valley.
The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing is part of a ‘branded portfolio’ of four long-distance walks known as ‘Walk Victoria’s Icons’ and is being strongly backed by the Victorian government. Outdoor, nature based tourism is a great thing. It’s good for individual and public health, and great for regional economies. However, private commercial development within a national park is strongly opposed by many people.
Apart from allowing ‘dispersed’ camping for people doing the trip, and creating ‘2 elevated 3-person platforms’ at each of the designated ‘Hiker Camps’ (each with a communal shelter/ or hut attached, providing weather protection to cater for platform users), there will also be ‘Operated Huts’ which will be run by private operators: this is the crux of the opposition from many in the walking and environmental communities.
According to the plan, the Bogong Rover Chalet, currently leased by the Scouts Victoria could be re-purposed to provide accommodation for walkers at the end of the first day. At the other sites, Operated Huts for twin or triple share beds, approx. 4 x 4 metre each, with some outdoor decking with deck chairs will be established.
They will be ‘located individually and some grouped to sets of 3 or 4 to accommodate larger group settings and families’. They will also each have a communal hut. Final hut numbers will be determined by the footprint of each overnight node and a business study at a detailed planning stage. The one that is generating the most controversy is the last one, which will be high on the Diamantina Spur, very close to The Razorback and quite likely visible from the summit of Feathertop.
The Falls to Hotham Master Plan can be found here.
What’s the state of play?
While his has been a long slow process, grinding towards the eventuality of commercial accommodation being established in the Alpine national park close to Mt Feathertop, its not over yet.
The government has recently announced a tender process for the Environmental Values Assessment for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing. This will include an ‘Identification and assessment of potential threats to environmental values resulting from the enhanced trail including the hiker camps, hut accommodation and supporting facilities’.
Darren Edwards has produced an action guide of ideas about how to express your opposition to the route going over Mt Feathertop and including commercial accommodation.
There is also a significant opportunity to push for federal government intervention via the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Stay tuned for details!
For background stories on the Walk proposal, please check here.