Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps


Namadgi National Park

‘Mature-aged native forest may never return to parts of Namadgi’

In January and February 2020, the Orroral Valley Fire burnt more than 80% of Namadgi National Park in the ACT. Since then, monitoring and recovery efforts have sought to protect damaged environments and aid the recovery of the park.

A report released in 2021 showed that some areas and forest types were recovering well (for instance, many Candle Bark forests and Snow Gums) however the news was grimmer for other vegetation types like Alpine Ash.

Two years on, it is clear that full recovery will take many years and sections of the park will never be the same. Mature-aged native forest may never return to parts of Namadgi National Park because climate change is impacting regeneration.

Continue reading “‘Mature-aged native forest may never return to parts of Namadgi’”

Ecological recovery in Namadgi National Park

In January and February 2020, the Orroral Valley Fire burnt more than 80% of Namadgi National Park in the ACT, leaving large areas blackened and apparently lifeless.

Monitoring the recovery of Namadgi National Park from the Orroral Valley fire has occurred since the fire. This is managed by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate within the Department of Environment, Heritage and Water. They have just released a great visual report on the recovery of animals and vegetation communities in the park. It is mostly good news.

The report is available here.

Some highlights from the report:

Many Candle Bark forests and Snow Gums are recovering quite well.

The rate of recovery appears to be strongly affected by moisture availability.

Wetter sites, such as Snow Gum woodland near Mt Franklin Road, are recovering faster. Snow Gums on drier and rockier sites are demonstrating less recovery.

One exception to the general pattern of good recovery is Alpine Ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis), which is killed by intense fire and must regenerate from seed.

It is uncertain how well Alpine Ash will recover after two intense fires only 18 years apart; Conservation Research ecologists are currently assessing the degree of fire impact and the extent of recovery in Namadgi’s Alpine Ash forests.

Fortunately, some important stands of Alpine Ash were not affected by the Orroral Valley fire. A total of 2,415 ha, or 33% of the Alpine Ash forest in Namadgi, did not burn in 2020.

Some species can benefit from burning.

By killing shrubs, removing leaf litter and creating areas of bare ground, the fire resulted in ideal conditions for the germination of short-lived herbs and grasses.

Billy buttons (Craspedia sp.) covered the burnt slopes of Mt Gingera in November. Later they faded and set seed, to be replaced by other brightly-coloured species. By February, bluebells and paper daisies (Xerochrysum spp.) were the dominant flowers.

We may not see another flowering event like this for years or decades.

How are fauna populations recovering?

Although the fire took a heavy toll on animals, many survived, either in unburnt or lightly-burnt patches or by taking shelter beneath the ground.

The first teams onto the fire ground found a surprising number of birds (click unmute background audio to listen), mammals, invertebrates, frogs and reptiles,

Preliminary results are encouraging. The burnt areas of Namadgi still ring with an impressive array of singing birds.

Namadgi feral horse plan released

Wild horses pose a major threat to the Australian High Country. One of the dilemmas faced by land managers is that horse populations can cross borders to recolonise ecosystems if populations are removed in one state. Cross border collaboration between Victoria, NSW and the ACT is a key part of dealing with the problem.

The ACT Government has sent a strong message to its NSW and Victorian counterparts with the release of the Feral Horse Management Plan for Namadgi national park, which was devastated in last summer’s fires.

Continue reading “Namadgi feral horse plan released”

NSW’s inaction on horses causing problems in ACT

Have you ever lived next to a bad neighbour who doesn’t care how their actions impacts on you? If so, then you probably know how Victoria and the ACT feel about NSW’s unwillingness to control the herds of wild horses that range in the Snowy Mountains.

The enormous environmental impacts of wild horses are widely documented. In spite of this, the NSW government has aligned itself with the ‘brumby lobby’, which wants to keep wild horses in the Kosciuszko national park for ‘cultural reasons’. They have legislated to protect the horses from culling. Given that there is no fence between the mountains in NSW and adjoining states, this negligence is impacting Victoria and the ACT.

Continue reading “NSW’s inaction on horses causing problems in ACT”

Australian Alps Book: Kosciuszko, Alpine and Namadgi National Parks

By Deirdre Slattery, published December 2015

The following comes from the Australian Alps website.

This new updated version of the original book published in 1998 is a must for students, agency staff, alpine history buffs, adventurers, naturalists and anyone one who has a love and passion for the Australian Alps. 

A fascinating guide to Kosciuszko, Alpine and Namadgi National Parks, it introduces the reader to Australia’s highest mountains, their climate, geology and soils, plants and animals and their human history. It traces the long-running conflicts between successive users of the mountains and explores the difficulties in managing the land for nature conservation. Published by CSIRO, copies of the book may be attained via the web-link at

A review of the book can be found here.

review: A Night on a Mountain in Namadgi National Park

Whenever I fly from Melbourne to Canberra I try and get a window seat facing south, to get whatever glimpses I can of the High Country. The descent takes you over the wonderfully rocky, domed ridges of the Brindabella Ranges, scattered with frost hollows and ratty looking snow gum fringed ridgelines.

I haven’t been up into those mountains for years, but it’s on my perennial ‘to go’ list. Coming from the south I find the Main Range of the Snowies is normally sufficiently distracting that I don’t get any further north.

In the modern world of evolving media, the concept of ebooks has become popular. These can be books on specialised themes made by regular people, which are available in a print per purchase format, allowing an idea for a book to make it onto paper without the costs and commitment of producing a large print run.

A Night on a Mountain in Namadgi National Park is produced by Barrie Ridgway and available via Blurb, one of the online book companies. When you order it, a copy is printed and mailed.

The author says “this book is a textual and photographic portrayal of the beauty, vastness, peace and preciousness of wilderness in general and a unique Australian wilderness in particular. It is my portrayal of the need to preserve wilderness in its own right for the survival of all life on this planet Earth”.

It is a set of visually gorgeous photos taken as the author and his friends climb a peak in Namadgi Park to watch the sun set and spend the evening on the mountain. It reminds me of the ‘mountain viewing rituals’ described by deep ecological thinker Dolores laChapelle.

The book is primarily full colour photos, with some minimal commentary about the journey up the mountain and a plea to protect wilderness. It is a worthy addition to our literature about the Australian Alps, largely letting the landscape speak for itself, albeit through the eyes (lens) of someone with a great affinity for the place.

You can buy it via the Blurb website. Although this is expensive, it is a glorious book of 98 pp, with lots of gorgeous full colour pics at all scales, from the micro to the landscape level. The Softcover version comes in at about $50.

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