Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps


Cam Walker

I work with Friends of the Earth, and live in Castlemaine in Central Victoria, Australia. Activist, dad to Tali & Mia, mountain enthusiast, climber, telemark skier, volunteer firefighter.

Its time to #ProtecttheMitta

The Big/ Mitta Mitta River flows from the Bogong High Plains, travels south then swings north into the Dartmouth Dam. It is one of Victoria’s most impressive mountain rivers, and is a drawcard for fishers, paddlers, campers and people who enjoy quiet time by a river.

Sadly, logging is now planned for an initial coupe in the headwaters of the river.

Action to highlight the threat posed by logging to the Mitta Mitta River.

Thursday March 16, 10am – 11am.

Meet at 10am. Mitta Mitta action on the river – highlighting the threat of logging in the headwaters of this important river system. This will be a simple ‘photo op’ in the river and a chat and cuppa tea around the fire with like minded people.

You can rsvp for the event here. You will be emailed additional information on logistics.

This is happening as part of the Mountain Roadtrip (March 14 – 19).

Check here for further information about the logging in the upper river.

Getting there

Meet at the Big River campground. This is where the Omeo Highway crosses the Big River in Glen Valley. This is about a 50 minute drive north from Omeo via the Omeo Highway, or a 60 minute drive from Mitta Mitta along the Omeo Highway. Search google maps for ‘Big River Bridge Campground, 4466 C543, Glen Valley VIC 3898’ for full details on the location.

Logging is planned upstream from the bridge towards the Bogong High Plains in the headwaters of the Big River. The coupe in the upper section of the Big River valley is 685-505-0001 (which is 35 ha in size, with a 2 ha road corridor). You can find out more about the logging here.

Screen Shot 2023-02-16 at 5.11.20 pm

Above: this map shows the coupe in the upper Big River (circled).

Update on the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing

The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing is a proposed 57 kilometre walk through the Alpine region of Victoria, combining and upgrading an existing track network. The final walk will be a 5-day 4-night hiking trip from Falls Creek to Mount Hotham. It has been strongly opposed by many environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts because the campsites will be privately operated and many people oppose further development within national parks. Check here for a previous mountain journal story outlining concerns about the proposal.

There was a feedback process on the draft designs. More than 6,000 people visited the Engage Victoria page on the project, more than 60 people joined conversations at ‘pop-up’ sessions in local towns, and more than 640 responses were contributed via survey, submissions and email. As expected, the majority of respondents expressed serious concerns about the proposal and many want it cancelled.

Continue reading “Update on the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing”

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”

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