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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Mt Feathertop

What’s happening with the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing?

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’.

Continue reading “What’s happening with the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing?”

National poll finds overwhelming support for protecting Australia’s wilderness

As a number of state governments continue to pursue commercial tourism options  in national parks and World Heritage Areas, a recent poll shows that these moves are out of step with community opinion. A Roy Morgan poll has found 90% of Australians support the protection of Australia’s wilderness areas. Of significance is the fact that support is high across the political spectrum, with 86% of Coalition voters, 92% of Labor voters and 94% of Greens voters agreeing wilderness should be protected.

Continue reading “National poll finds overwhelming support for protecting Australia’s wilderness”

Introducing Rolf Schonfeld

The Mountain Safety Collective (MSC) is a voice for the backcountry community. It organises training and other events, produces wonderful maps, merchandise, and the backcountry conditions report through winter.

It is run by a group of diehard backcountry enthusiasts. Lately it has been introducing its board. This is taken from the most recent MSC newsletter and is an introduction to the wonderful Rolf Schonfeld, who lives in Smoko in north eastern Victoria, at the base of Mt Feathertop.

Continue reading “Introducing Rolf Schonfeld”

Dinner Plain Mountain Adventure Festival

Dinner Plain in the Victorian Alps is hosting a 4 day adventure festival over the weekend of January 23 – 26 (the Survival Day/ Invasion Day/ Australia Day weekend).

It will feature a range of free and paid events, including:

  • an outdoor screening of the Bright Mountain Film Tour
  • self guided hikes to Mt Feathertop, with a free shuttle bus to the trailhead
  • abseiling tours
  • mountain bike clinics
  • photography workshops
  • orienteering sessions

Check the Dinner Plain website for full details, and bookings.

2020. It’s been fun. Let’s move on.

Wow. What a year. Crazy summer fires. Covid lockdowns. Terrible winter snow pack, but also some incredible snow storms. Lots of fighting over our mountains, including the endless culture war argument about horses. Kind of glad it’s almost at an end.

We all know the story: a dry winter and spring led to a horror summer, with massive fires across the eastern Victorian high countrySnowy Mountains and Brindabellas. Luckily Tasmania got off easy last summer.

Then the lockdown(s), which hit mountain and valley towns in Victoria especially hard, isolated Tasmania, and closed the NSW/ Victorian border. The economic impacts of these events will last for a long time.

And then there were the ongoing arguments about how to treat our mountains. It felt like issues were widespread this year. Here’s a few of them:

Continue reading “2020. It’s been fun. Let’s move on.”

Traditional names for ‘Australian’ mountains

I am keenly aware that no Aboriginal group or nation ever ceded it’s land to the colonisers. So those of us living in Australia are all living on stolen land. There is a lot of unfinished business that needs to be resolved, starting with negotiating a meaningful treaty between First Nations and the rest of the people living on this continent.

For a long time, indigenous people and traditions were white washed out of mainstream narratives about the mountains. As traditional owner groups reassert their connection to Country, that is slowly changing, and we can see it across the Alps. The first Aboriginal person I knew who had a strong connection to the mountains was Eddie Kneebone, who I met through our campaign work in north east Victoria in the 1990s. He had an astonishing depth of knowledge. He was instrumental in the campaign to have the Niggerheads on the Bogong High Plains renamed. It got me thinking about the power of language and names.

Continue reading “Traditional names for ‘Australian’ mountains”

Chillfactor 2020

After two great winters, we all knew 2020 was unlikely to be awesome snow-wise. But some of the early forecasts were for a ‘slightly better than average’ season. Then the snow started. We always get early winter snow in the alps, but this year it seemed more consistent. When we got that burst in late May I wondered if this was our base and it would indeed be capital letters Awesome ™

Sadly, June was different. NSW has fared better so far than Victoria, but this probably isn’t one of the winters we will reminisce about in 20 years’ time. But we will be talking about the COVID-19 lock down.

Chillfactor magazine just came out. Chillfactor – in its 21st year – is a mountain institution that has seen both fantastic and some pretty ordinary winters, and has always celebrated a broad cross section of Australian mountain culture.

Continue reading “Chillfactor 2020”

Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing ‘resurfaces’

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.

Continue reading “Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing ‘resurfaces’”

Backcountry 2020 – what’s the go?

With ski resorts announcing their plans for the season (and resorts having considerable control over access to many backcountry skiing and riding access points) we now have a sense of what winter will look like.

The key message is that if you’re planning to access backcountry via a resort you need to organise entry before you go. But there are many options outside resort areas.

Continue reading “Backcountry 2020 – what’s the go?”

Sections of Alpine National Park to be closed for deer cull

Parks Victoria have announced that sections of the Alpine National Park in north east Victoria will be closed between October 8 and 26 to allow for aerial hunting of deer.

It will include the entire Feathertop/ Razorback ridge from Diamantina hut and extending north of the Feathertop summit, and areas to the north west of Dead Timber Hill, into the Cobungra River valley, almost as far as Derrick hut. Check the attached map for full details.

Trail heads will be sign posted if the areas are closed.

Winter Dreaming revisited

Back in 2008, Stephen Curtain released ‘Winter Dreaming: an Australian Alps freeheel film’. It was a telemark ski movie which was filmed largely in the Snowy Mountains and a number of spots in north eastern Victoria, including the iconic eastern face of Mt Feathertop.

Ten years on, Stephen revisited some of the footage from the Feathertop scenes and re-packaged it into a 10 minute film called ‘Winter Dreaming. The backstory, Feathertop backcountry and beyond’ for the inaugural Victorian backcountry festival, held at Falls Creek in September 2018.

Continue reading “Winter Dreaming revisited”

state budget allocation to Falls to Hotham Crossing

Mountain Journal reported recently that Parks Victoria had released its final Master Plan for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing: 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.

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.

Continue reading “state budget allocation to Falls to Hotham Crossing”

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