The Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) is the premier long distance trail through the Australian mountains. Stretching about 680 km from Walhalla in Victoria, it passes through the Alpine National Park in Victoria, Kosciusko National Park in NSW and finally into Namadgi National Park in the ACT. Alicia Crossley recently walked it solo. This is her reflection.
Activists have been campaigning for the creation of the ‘Emerald Link’ park in East Gippsland, which aims to protect the more-or-less intact ecosystems that run from the coast to the mountains. A long distance walking trail is an integral part of the proposal. The proposed Sea to Summit Forest Trail would create a network of walking tracks linking the coastal town of Bemm River and the existing Wilderness Coast walk to the summit of Mount Ellery, the highest mountain in far East Gippsland.
The Victorian government has recently released market research findings, which is part of the $1.5 million Andrews government’s investment in planning for the walk.
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 (PV), 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. After the finalisation of the Master Plan for the walk, the state government allocated $2 million of funds in the 2018/19 budget. Then additional funds were allocated to continue the planning for the project, including Stage 1 of the construction.
Parks Victoria say ‘The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing will be one of Australia’s outstanding alpine walking experiences that captures the essence of the Australian Alps – the solitude, the seasons, the breathtaking beauty and the stories of the High Country’. However there has been sustained opposition to the proposal because it will see development of private commercial infrastructure (including small accomodation ‘pods’) within the Alpine National Park.
PV are currently focused on completing the Environmental Values Assessment. PV say that the assessment will ‘ensure potential impacts are identified and that the appropriate avoidance and mitigation measures are put in place. The planning process is aimed at reducing current and future impacts on the values of the national park’.
So, chances are that not many of you are heading off for a skiing, walking or climbing adventure in the northern hemisphere this summer. Luckily we have lots of amazing country on our doorstep.
It’s a great chance to get out somewhere you’ve never been or go back to that place you’ve been dreaming about for years.
If you need a bit of inspiration, check here for some links to films on backyard adventures.
Where are you heading this summer and what are your plans for 2021?
Some of my plans:
- a long walk on the central plateau of Tasmania
- a winter camp out on The Twins
- a long ski in over The Bluff to Mt Howitt
- lots of hitting the groomers at Hotham
- maybe a winter road trip to TAS to check out Ben Lomond, Rufus and Mt Field
- an end of season trip and camp on Mt Loch
Please feel free to share yours.
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.Continue reading “No commercial development on ‘the People’s mountain’!”
As 2020 races towards Christmas and New Year, lots of us are thinking about presents and holidays. Here’s a few ideas about some of the great businesses in north east VIC that you could support. As we all know, these regions were hard hit by last summer’s fires, two rounds of pandemic lockdown and a shortened ski season.
This is like #emptyesky for gear and adventure operators.Continue reading “Support mountain businesses this summer”
Mountain Journal has previously reported on the planned walking track through the Tyndall Range in western Tasmania. The TAS government wants to see it developed as the next ‘iconic walk’ in the state. This will mean considerable walking track development in what is currently a remote and undeveloped area, and could bring up to 10,000 people a year into a delicate alpine environment. As stated by the Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA), ‘construction of any hardened track on the Tyndall Range and Plateau would mar the landscape and destroy its wild and natural character’.
This is an update on the status of this proposal.
The Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) reports that ‘Originally proposed in a 2008 (and long obsolete) Nature Based Tourism Strategy, a Falls to Hotham ‘icon’ tourist walk has been re-invigorated yet again’.
For some background to this project, check this page for various articles from Mountain Journal.
There is no doubt that our fire seasons are getting longer and more intense and this is starting to have potentially landscape changing impacts. There is concern that Alpine Ash forests could be wiped out in some areas where fire comes in multiple waves before the recovering trees can set seed. Parts of north eastern Victoria have been burnt three times in a decade. Mountain Ash forests face similar threats.
It is tragic that fires are so frequent and intense that we face the prospect of seeing these vegetation communities collapse. There are many ways we must respond: acting decisively on climate change, and protecting these forests from wildfire and over logging. Aerial seeding programs also aim to help these forests survive.
The old growth forest of Kuark is (I can’t bring myself to say ‘was’) a jewel in the wild landscape of East Gippsland. It provides habitat for threatened species such as the Sooty, Masked and Powerful owls, Greater gliders and Long footed potoroos, and is a rare rainforest type where warm and cool temperate rainforest blend together in an ‘over lap’ assemblage.
There was a long campaign, led by Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) and The Wilderness Society to see the Kuark protected. It had considerable success, and was scheduled to be fully protected under a Bill in parliament to include Kuark in the Errinundra National Park.
Then this summer happened. I watched in horror as parts of the legendary Errinundra Plateau burnt and the rainforests of Martins Creek were devastated. I hadn’t heard news of the Kuark until now.
Ed Hill led the campaign to protect the Kuark forest. He has been up there recently. This is his report.
This summer’s fires had a devastating impact on the environment and economies of the Victorian, NSW and ACT mountains.
Now, the Victorian government, through the Inspector-General for Emergency Management or IGEM, is holding an inquiry into ‘Victoria’s preparedness for and response to the 2019-20 fire season’. You can make a submission to this process.
Fires are still burning out of control across much of the Australian High Country. Yet we are already well into the blame game, where some people and groups are blaming environmental activists and/ or The Greens party for ‘stopping’ fuel reduction burning and hence making the fires worse. While this is not true, this resonates with certain anti green and conservative demographics (check here for an alternative view of the conversation).
There is no doubt that fuel reduction burning has a role to play in how we manage forests and other landscapes. The problem is that it is often seen as a ‘one size fits all’ tool that will reduce fire intensity in all environments. But in reality, it works well in some ecosystems and is counter productive in others. This is a subtlety that is lost on the ‘fuel reduction is the answer’ boosters.
The argument that we need to increase fuel reduction burns in snow gum and true alpine environments is already caught up in the broader land management debate, and will continue in the coming months. So it’s worth taking a good look at what science says about the value of fuel reduction in our high mountain areas.