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Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Victorian Alps

Walk to the Little Dargo, November 2022

The fires of 2019/20 burnt huge areas of north eastern Victoria. The remaining unburnt forests are more important than ever. One of these areas lies in the headwaters of the Little Dargo River, just south of Mt Hotham. It is a pristine area, without roads, and containing mature forest, much of it dominated by Alpine Ash. It is an area of state forest that lies right next to the Alpine National Park.

The state government logging agency, VicForests, intends to log a total of 11 “coupes”, or sections, of mature forest in the upper Little Dargo River, possibly starting in the spring of 2022 once the roads are opened after winter. These coupes are located in a series of clusters, where separate sections of bush will be harvested, creating a large zone of cleared land over time. Extensive roading networks will be needed to access the coupes.

Despite a strong community campaign, as of September 2022, the coupes remain on the VicForests Timber Release Plan, meaning they could be scheduled for logging at any moment. We do, however note that the planned logging road through the Alpine National Park has now been removed from the plan.

If you missed our previous trip to visit the Little Dargo, you have another chance to see this special place.

In conjunction with the Treasure family, we are hosting a walk in to the valley over the weekend of November 19 and 20. You are welcome to arrive on the saturday, and the walk will happen on the sunday.

This free trip will offer:

  • A shorter ( 2 – 3 hour) walk in to the edge of the Little Dargo headwaters
  • A longer (5 – 6 hour) walk into Fred’s Flat on the Little Dargo river
  • A chance to hear from Christa Treasure and Ray Anderson about the cultural value of the Little Dargo and surrounding area
  • The opportunity to help set up a potential base camp should the government continue with plans to log this precious area and protest becomes necessary

We will also be educating people driving through the area about the threats to the Little Dargo and looking for a team to be out on the Dargo High Plains road to engage with people driving past to explain the threat posed by logging.

Details

The Dargo High Plains is about a 6 hour drive from Melbourne, and accessed via a good 2WD road from either the Great Alpine Road or the township of Dargo.

You will need to be self sufficient in terms of food and camping gear and have suitable gear for the walks (we will circulate a list prior to the trip).

Please rsvp here so we know how many people to expect.

WHEN

November 20, 2022 at 8:30am – 2:30pm

WHERE

Dargo High Plains
Dargo High Plains road
Dargo High Plains, VIC 3862
Australia
Google map and directions

P1040195
CONTACT

Cam Walker · cam.walker@foe.org.au · 0419338047

Huw Kingston finishes a winter traverse of the Australian Alps

On September18,  adventurer Huw Kingston finished his long journey skiing and walking the 700km length of the Australian Alps, in the process raising over $62,000 for Save the Children’s Our Yarning project.

Yesterday afternoon, 52 days since his journey began with a Smoking Ceremony and ski at Victoria’s Lake Mountain resort, Huw Kingston could finally take off his pack and put down his poles. Fittingly the end of his journey was at the historic old ski area of Mt Franklin Chalet, high above Canberra in the Brindabella Mountains and, fittingly again, he enjoyed fresh snow to serenade him to the finish line.

Continue reading “Huw Kingston finishes a winter traverse of the Australian Alps”

Help protect the Alpine National Park from development

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.

The Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) opposes the commercial aspects of this proposal, and says There is already too much pressure on parks: invasive pests and weeds, increased bushfires and climate change impacts, and rapidly growing visitor numbers. That’s why they were set aside to protect nature in perpetuity. This insidious attempt to commercialise the Alpine National Park and compromise its carefully considered management plan must be stopped. But we need to work together if we’re going to protect our precious Alps.’

Continue reading “Help protect the Alpine National Park from development”

‘Alpine Odyssey’ crossing of the AAWT finishes soon

In a journey expected to take some 50 days, Huw Kingston, 59, is skiing and walking the 700km length of the Australian Alps this winter and, along the way, skiing at each of the 12 snow resorts. His Alpine Odyssey aims to raise $50,000 for Save the Children’s Our Yarning project.

Huw hopes to take the final steps of Alpine Odyssey to finish at the Namadgi NP Visitor Centre in Tharwa, ACT on the afternoon of Sunday 18 September.

Continue reading “‘Alpine Odyssey’ crossing of the AAWT finishes soon”

Seminar – Climate change, fire and the Victorian Alps

A report from the ‘Climate change and the Victorian Alps – preparing for the fires of the future’ seminar, which was held as part of the speakers program for the 2022 Victorian backcountry festival at Mt Hotham on September 2.

Speakers included an academic, a local landcare representative, Parks Victoria and DELWP.

Continue reading “Seminar – Climate change, fire and the Victorian Alps”

Introducing the Victorian Backcountry Companion

Simon Murray is one of those quiet legends of the backcountry community. You may not know his face, but if you do get out of resort in winter, you will know his work.

He was the brains behind the creation of Mountain Sports Collective, MSC (now the Mountain Safety Collective) which produces the daily backcountry conditions report. He produces the amazing maps sold via MSC, and initiated the ‘Slay Academy’ – training sessions in the high country. He is ridiculously talented at design, and came up with the ‘Barry’ image used for the Victorian backcountry festival and, back in the day, produced a great climbing guide for the Buffalo plateau (‘the Definitive guide to the granite paradise of Mount Buffalo).

Apart from organising the tour program for the 2022 Victorian backcountry festival, and getting some epic backcountry trips in, Simon has recently released the Victorian Backcountry Companion, which features an incredible range of tours, from beginner to expert.

Continue reading “Introducing the Victorian Backcountry Companion”

Climate change, fire and mountain environments

We know that climate change is already impacting on the Australian Alps. Declining snow pack, hotter summers, and longer fire seasons are just some of the impacts we are seeing. This brings many challenges to land managers, and is changing the mountain landscapes we know and love.

Additionally, local economies rely on the beautiful natural surroundings of the Alps, which attract skiers, riders and others from around the state and the country. Declining environments will impact on the numbers of visitors and hence local economies.

This short seminar will delve into the issue of fire, and how we need to respond to longer and more intense seasons in the Victorian mountains.

If you can’t attend the event, it will be livestreamed via the event facebook page.

Continue reading “Climate change, fire and mountain environments”

The Australian Alps Walking Track

There are many incredible long distance walking tracks crossing the mountains of the world. Some, like the Pacific Crest Trail or PCT, which goes from Mexico to the Canadian border, have a high profile and see thousands undertake (or at least start) the journey each year. After the Overland Track, our most famous long distance mountain walking track would be the Australian Alps Walking Track, or AAWT, which stands out because of the smaller numbers of people who undertake it, its relative remoteness, and the fact that long distances of poorly marked tracks can make for difficult route finding. There are not many towns along the way (only a couple of ski resorts) and food drops can be a lot of work to organise and very time consuming (in contrast, along the PCT people mail supplies to themselves in the towns the trail passes through).

Continue reading “The Australian Alps Walking Track”

Falls to Hotham Crossing: Visual Impact Assessment released

The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing is a popular 3 day walk across the Bogong High Plains. It has two designated campsites that you need to book. For many years the Victorian government has been pursuing the further development of the walk, with a diversion to Mt Feathertop. This would turn it into a five-day 57-kilometre walk. Many people have expressed concern that the proposal includes a commercial aspect, with four campsites with structures included as part of the plan, which would be run by a commercial operator. PV say that ‘walkers will still be able to camp in other locations along the track and complete the crossing for free if they don’t want to use the new overnight facilities’.

Community consultation was undertaken between 2016 and 2018 to create the Master Plan. Parks Victoria have just made two announcements about the project:

  • That K2LD Architects have been appointed to create designs for the project.
  • They have also released the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment. PV say ‘This assessment is a detailed independent assessment of the visual impacts of the project on the landscape. In particular, it considers impacts of roofed accommodation’.

Continue reading “Falls to Hotham Crossing: Visual Impact Assessment released”

The literature of the high country

Barry Lopez was a wonderful author who focused on exploring the relationship between human cultures and nature. He passed away in 2020. His famous work Arctic Dreams was the first of his books that I discovered, and I have enjoyed his essays for many years. I am currently working through Embrace Fearlessly the Burning World, which was published shortly after he died. It is a luminescent collection of essays and one really stood out for me: Out West. He embarks on a long road trip to try and connect with the western plains of the USA. As he leaves, he loads up the many books that reflect on, or are based in, the areas he would be visiting. There are many famous names and books on the list, from Wallace Stegner, Ansel Adams to Cormac McCartney. He reflects on how history is recorded, how land and place is captured in literature and art, and how our understanding of the past shifts according to the dominant narratives of our time.

That, of course, got me thinking about the books I would have with me as I started a long road trip of our mountains. This is the start of a fairly Victorian-centric list.

Continue reading “The literature of the high country”

This tax time can you support campaigns to protect our mountain environments?

Mountain Journal is one of my passions. Along with things like my involvement in the backcountry festival, Protect our Winters, and the Mt Hotham Dinner Plain CFA, there are many ways I try to share my love for the mountains. One of my other passions is my work as campaigns co-ordinator for environmental group Friends of the Earth (FoE). In the last few years FoE has started to do substantial work in support of mountain environments.

Continue reading “This tax time can you support campaigns to protect our mountain environments?”

After two mild summers, burnt snow gum forests are recovering.

Over the past couple of years, various people have been tracking the localised loss of snow gums in the Victorian high country due to more frequent and intense fires. We know that snow gums are, like many Australian trees, fire adapted. But we also know that they enjoy a decent gap between fires and that with climate change already increasing the frequency and intensity of fires, that we are starting to see localised loss (‘collapse’) of these woodland communities.

Given my connection to the Mt Hotham/ Dinner Plain/ Dargo High Plains area, initial investigations started there. Sadly, there is no shortage of localised collapse in that area, where repeat fires have killed off both parent trees and seedling regrowth. But through advertising via Mountain Journal and the Snow Gum citizen science facebook page, we started to get reports from across the Victorian Alps, from Mt Clear in the ranges south west of Howitt to Mt Pinnibar, in the far north east of the state. Thanks to everyone who contributed content.

Having greater numbers of people looking has given a wider sense of where loss is happening. But it has also given us an understanding that, in many areas, the trees are now starting to come back.

This is wonderful news.

Continue reading “After two mild summers, burnt snow gum forests are recovering.”

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