Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Chuck it in your diary: VIC backcountry festival, Sept 1 – 3

The VIC BC Fest will be happening in and around Mt Hotham resort over three days in early September (1, 2 and 3).

It will look a lot like last year – a great tours program, workshops and skillshares (including more telemark and cross country), the ski in outdoor bar, speakers program, repair cafe, and demo village outside The General in Hotham village. There will also be an on snow camp site attached to the festival this year.

With a new and expanded organising committee, we are getting down to planning another great festival. Stay tuned for details, call out for the program and volunteer guides.

In the meantime, keep an eye on the website and socials.

Have you made a backcountry film we could screen at this year’s festival?

As we get into autumn, its time for the annual Backcountry Film Festival (details here).

The films will cover stories of outdoor stewardship, grassroots advocacy, backcountry adventure, and snow cinema by human-powered advocates, athletes, brands, activists, adventurers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

These films are shown all over the world. This year, Friends of the Earth is once again delighted to be the local host for Backcountry film festival in Melbourne. The festival will screen at RMIT in the city in early May.

We would love to include a locally made backcountry film. Skiing, riding, anything backcountry related is probably suitable. Maximum of 15 minutes in length. If you might have something to include, please get in touch:

A wander up Mt Wills & logging along the AAWT

Victoria’s highest mountain, Bogong (Warkwoolowler in the Waywurru and Dhudhuroa languages, meaning the mountain where Aboriginal people collected the Bogong Moths) is protected in the Alpine National Park.

Most people approach the mountain from the Kiewa Valley or across the Bogong High Plains. There is another route on the eastern side, following the appropriately named Long Spur to Mt Wills. This is all high elevation woodland and forests, and is the route by which the famous Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) leaves Bogong as it heads towards the Snowy Mountains. The 700 km long AAWT crosses the Alps from Walhalla to the outskirts of Canberra, and follows Long Spur from Bogong to Mt Wills before turning south and dropping into the valley of the Mitta Mitta River.

Mt Wills itself is a magical ‘island in the sky’ of isolated snow gum woodland, largely dominated by older trees. While it is connected by the long and high ridge back to Bogong, mostly the land around the mountain falls away to deep river valleys and forests that are initially dominated by Alpine Ash.

Now logging threatens the area between Bogong and Mt Wills.

Continue reading “A wander up Mt Wills & logging along the AAWT”

Backcountry film festival 2023

The Winter Wildlands Alliance presents their annual Backcountry Film Festival. This year’s screenings will showcase human-powered adventure in the backcountry.

The films will cover stories of outdoor stewardship, grassroots advocacy, backcountry adventure, and snow cinema by human-powered advocates, athletes, brands, activists, adventurers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

These films are shown all over the world. This year, Friends of the Earth is once again delighted to be the local host for Backcountry film festival in Melbourne. The festival will screen at RMIT in the city on Thursday May 4.

Continue reading “Backcountry film festival 2023”

Logging to start soon in the Upper Jamieson Valley?

It appears that logging operations are about to start in the upper Jamieson River in the Victorian high country, to the south east of Mt Buller. The operations, covering a coupe which is 40 hectares in size (coupe 380-503-0003) will occur right up against the edge of the Alpine National Park, just south of Mt Lovick. This is one of a cluster of coupes which are scheduled for logging. It also includes a significant roading operation to upgrade the existing track.

Please scroll down for updates.

Continue reading “Logging to start soon in the Upper Jamieson Valley?”

Logging and riding don’t mix

Nature based tourism is an enormous part of the economy of many regional centres. Skiing, mountain bike riding, bushwalking, bird watching, camping, paddling, trail running all provide a growing part of the local economies of towns across the country where there are public lands with opportunity for adventure.

Sadly, logging and destructive land activities impact on many areas. The fact is that people don’t want to walk or ride through a logging coupe or open cut. But logging currently threatens a number of important nature and outdoor tourism activity.

Continue reading “Logging and riding don’t mix”

Fighting fires in the mountains – could city people be part of the answer?

The Climate Council says that Australia faces ‘unprecedented grassfires next summer ‘supercharged’ by global heating’. Fuel loads that increased after heavy rain are now drying out and creating ‘powder keg’ conditions for future fires. While the mountains of the south east have had a number of mild summers with very limited fire activity, we know that next summer could be different if El Nino conditions return. In lutruwita/ Tasmania, dry conditions in the west have led to a number of significant fires this summer.

We know that climate change is making fire seasons longer and more intense, and that there are many things we must do to respond to these threats, around fire fighting capacity, community resilience, and ensuring our homes and cities are ready for the climatic changes that are already underway. People living in mountain communities and valley towns know the impacts of these changes very well – the fires of 2019/20 shut down many areas for months, with massive environmental and economic damage.

Continue reading “Fighting fires in the mountains – could city people be part of the answer?”

Final call for content – Mountain Journal magazine #3

As we inch closer to winter, I have finally started working on the 2023 edition of the magazine. The theme the first year was First Nations aspirations for the high country. In 2022, it was ‘giving back to the mountains‘. In 2023, the plan had been to honour and acknowledge the people who did the hard work of getting the Alps protected. I am now feeling that I probably lack the time to really do justice to this topic, although we will certainly make a start and already have some fantastic content.

I am looking for content for this edition:

Continue reading “Final call for content – Mountain Journal magazine #3”

Local issues meetup in Bright

Would you like to hear about great environmental and sustainability initiatives happening in the Upper Ovens valley? Then please join us for a free event on the evening of tuesday March 14 at Bright Brewery.

This forum will feature local speakers showcasing some great conservation initiatives, and be a good chance to catch up with like minded people.

Continue reading “Local issues meetup in Bright”

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”

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