Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



Stand up for the Mountain – no cable car on kunanyi

The Mt Wellington Cableway Company’s (MWCC) proposal for a commercial centre on the summit of kunanyi/Mt Wellington, aerial tramway up the face of the mountain, associated infrastructure and works is now open for public comment. Whether you live in Hobart or just love the mountain, you can make a submission about the proposal.

Local residents group Respect the Mountain – No Cable Car says: ‘The Mountain is too significant, too wild to be handed over to developers. MWCC’s plan degrades kunanyi/Mt Wellington and fails to comply with much of the relevant legislation’.

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‘Mountain Gazette’ gets another life

I can’t remember when I first discovered Mountain Gazette magazine. Somewhere in the distant past. The last time I found it ‘in the wild’ was in a mountain hut above Breckenridge in Colorado a couple of years ago, where old copies had been left by backcountry skiers and riders. MG was an inspiration for this website. I always loved its quirky and idiosyncratic take on ‘mountain life’. After a long absence, MG is finally back in print and the first edition (# 194) is wonderful.

The magazine started its life in 1966 as the Skiers Gazette. It morphed into Mountain Gazette, stopped production in 1979, then was reborn in 2000 and ran until 2012. Now, Mike Rogge has purchased the magazine and given it a new, new life. And it’s gorgeous.

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Call out for feedback and stories

Mountain Journal covers anything that seem relevant to mountain environments and mountain culture here in south eastern Australia and lutruwita/ Tasmania. It has a strong outdoor adventure and environmental protection ethos, which influences what issues we cover.

As we move into the end of year reflections, I wanted to ask readers what they enjoy and what they want to see more of on the website.

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Finding the beauty at home

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.

Finding hope among the old trees

I don’t know about you, but my wanders in the mountains are often dominated by grief as I see places I love burnt beyond recognition. I’ve spent way too much time looking at burnt forests lately (for instance the Tabletop fire), and the realisation that as I get older, the forests are getting younger has been hard to accept.

More than 90% of snow gum woodland in Victoria has burnt at least once in the last 20 years, and we are down to a fragment of remaining old mountain forests (estimates are that we only have 0.47% of old growth alpine ash left in Victoria). Most people who are paying attention will see what’s going on, and experiencing solastalgia (the distress specifically caused by environmental change and climate change) is both natural and normal. But it can be hard to stay positive in the face of grinding and overwhelming change. And many of us, especially if we live in the bush or mountains, hold fear about the ever more intense fire seasons.

But there is so much wonderful country that remains, and we know that, given time, alpine ash and snow gum forests will recover (if we can keep the fires out until they mature).

Continue reading “Finding hope among the old trees”

Federal government accepts need for publicly owned air fleet

Since last summer, there has been a long public conversation about how we can increase our ability to fight bush fires. While this has covered everything from the role of fuel reduction burning, the impact of climate change, and the question of Cultural Burning, another important aspect has been the role of planes and helicopters in fighting fire.

There is a recent – and significant – development in this debate.

Continue reading “Federal government accepts need for publicly owned air fleet”

A chat with Jakob Kennedy

Jakob Kennedy is a content producer and nature enthusiast. He is currently involved in the development of a film called Awaken, which follows adventurers on three continents as they come to terms with the growing impact of climate change on the places they love. 

Jakob says “other than my clear love for snowboarding, it is nature, the experiences she provides and the inevitable lessons that are the reason I’m still doing this. So to be involved with a project that honours the value of these moments, by raising awareness to the importance of maintaining said environment, is a sure highlight in my career.

We only get one world and we only get one life do our best to care for it”.

The full version of the film will be released this January. You can see the trailer here.

Mountain Journal caught up with Jakob to find out about what the project and what inspires him. You can read the interview here.

The independent review of the 2019/20 fires

Inquiry into the 2019–20 Victorian fire season 

After the 2019–20 Victorian fire season, the Inspector-General for Emergency Management was charged with ‘investigating Victoria’s preparedness for the fire season, response to fires in large parts of Victoria’s North East, Gippsland, and Alpine regions, and will review relief and recovery efforts’.

On 31 July 2020, Inspector-General Tony Pearce delivered his report to government on Phase 1 of the independent Inquiry. It covered ‘Community and sector preparedness for and response to the 2019–20 fire season’.  The report made a series of Observations and recommendations.  It has now been made public. The government now needs to decide how to respond to the report and the recommendations.

The take home message from the report is:

‘Measured in terms of their geographic extent, the tragic loss of life, the damage to property and infrastructure, the devastation to flora and fauna, and their overall social and political impacts, the 2019– 20 fires mark a key turning point in Australia’s relationship with fire and the environment’. 

Continue reading “The independent review of the 2019/20 fires”

Cable car developer lodges extra information on proposal

A developer has long attempted to build a cable car up the face of kunanyi/ Mt Wellington, above Hobart (background information available here). It has been resisted for years by local residents, environmentalists, and many others who fear the visual impacts of the project.

The proponent, Mount Wellington Cable Way Company (MWCC), had been requested by Hobart City Council (HCC) to provide additional information before it could consider the development application (DA). MWCC has now provided extra details.

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VIC Backcountry Festival 2020

Lots of people are asking whether the Backcountry Festival will happen this year. The short answer is YES, providing Mt Hotham is open and backcountry access is allowed.

With the COVID-19 pandemic requiring society wide shut down of non essential activity, it is not yet certain whether the 2020 ski season will happen. Obviously, like all other snow lovers, we are anxiously waiting for the government announcement on whether ski season will proceed, and if it does, in what form.

Because the festival is not scheduled until the end of winter (September 4 – 6), we are hopeful that the festival will be able to proceed.

Continue reading “VIC Backcountry Festival 2020”

The Central Plateau from the air

These images were taken from a lovely 46 minute video of ‘a flight over the Tasmanian Highlands on a mostly sunny autumn afternoon’ from Gary J McArthur (whose account is called Wandering Foxbat). This film is available here. He posts many great videos of flying over Tasmania.

He flies over Mt Roland, down along the western edge of the Central Plateau to the Ducane Range, then north to Cradle Mountain.

I couldn’t resist taking a few images from the video of some of my favourite peaks.

Continue reading “The Central Plateau from the air”

Snow! Plans.

This current burst of cold has certainly made the conversation about ski season more real. Many of us are expecting an announcement – at least in Victoria – by mid May (the 11th is the date that the Victorian government will announce what next for the society wide lock down). The NSW police commissioner has said the state’s restrictions on outdoor movements and public gatherings would remain in force for at least 90 days, but that he was hopeful of being able to relax them beyond that date: 29 June.

For business operators, international instructors, local staff, and all snow lovers the wait is agonising.

I recently posted a poll on twitter, asking what people thought would happen this winter: a full ski season. Late start. Or no season at all – with or without the option of backcountry skiing. It was a small group that responded, but around 2 thirds felt there would be no season.

Continue reading “Snow! Plans.”

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