Another turn around the sun. Another reflection about Mountain Journal.
I love having a think about the year that was. We had a brutal start to 2016, with huge fires burning in Tasmania. Like many people, I struggled with grief after seeing large areas of fire sensitive vegetation burnt in the high country. It is difficult to accept that many of these places will not fully recover during my life time. Fire has long been a part of ecological life in Tasmania, yet we are now facing something different, with many scientists saying we are already witnessing ‘climate change enhanced’ fire seasons.
Once we were out of summer, it feels like the rest of the year was a mellow one, and the 2016/17 summer hasn’t been bad in terms of bush fire, and winter was good (but could have been awesome if only the temperature had been a few degrees lower when those rain events came through). Now we’re getting the first snow of the year, with falls across the Alps and Tasmania so hopefully it will be a good winter.
In fact, in some ways, what strikes me most about the last year is how ‘normal’ it all seemed once you factor out the Tassie fires.
Sadly that’s not the case when you look at the bigger picture. In a week where NSW broke all records for heatwaves over summer, and flooding impacted on large areas of WA, snow fell in Tasmania. The world is increasingly beset by erratic weather which is being driven be overall warming. For instance, 2016 was the hottest year on record. And it probably did impact on snowfall – we probably felt that bit of background warming in those rain events we got in July and August (the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration says that warming on the land in 2016 was 1.43 degrees Celsius higher than pre industrial levels).
In terms of visitation to the site, the most popular items in 2016 were a mix of politics and adventure:
- The perennial favourite, the guide to ‘sidecountry’ skiing around Mt Hotham in Victoria,
- Plans to try and start the renovation of the Chalet on Buffalo Plateau,
- The backcountry film festival (the 2017 season will show in Melbourne and Sydney in April),
- A number of items on climate change and bushfires (in particular the reports on the devastating fires of early 2016 in the Tasmanian highlands,
- Various reports on walking in Tasmania, including the Ducane Traverse,
- A number of stories on traditional owners of the Australian Alps,
- The plan by the Victorian government to upgrade the route for an ‘iconic’ walk from Falls Creek to Mt Hotham, including a substantial new development and potential for privately owned hut development in the Alpine National Park.
Thanks for having a read. I always welcome contributions – please check here for details – but if its mountain related then please feel free to send it through.