Tourism North East has called for feedback on the master plan for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing walk. This has been billed as an ‘iconic’ walk which links the two resorts via the Bogong High Plains and Cobungra Gap, and is generally done over three days. A permit is required to camp at the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing campsites.

There is a proposal for a major re-alignment of the walk, which instead of skirting the High Plains, cuts out to Tawonga Huts then down into the Kiewa Valley and up Mt Feathertop. This new proposal would require substantial new track building up the Diamantina Spur. The initial public consultation period for the Plan is over.

Information from Tourism North East:

Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing Master Plan

The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing (FHAC) is the third of four projects that form part of the Walk Victoria’s Icons portfolio. The master plan will determine the best route for the Alpine Crossing. The current walk between Falls Creek and Mount Hotham covers a section of about 30 – 40 kilometres of the 655-kilometre Australian Alps Walking Track. A resolved, design-led, strategic master plan and implementation strategy is currently being developed which considers regional tourism and commercial opportunities in the context of recent changes to public land policy, particularly tourism investment in national parks. The master plan will also identify any planning issues in the region which stem from the planning scheme, environmental overlays, management plans, bushfire management overlay and areas of cultural and environmental significance.

A master plan is now being drafted for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing.

The master plan will:

Resolve the specific walking alignment/ route which delivers a high quality, nationally significant alpine walking experience;
• Clarify walking track grades, facilities and the infrastructure required to support the walking experience;
• Identify the tourism and guided walking services and accommodation required to support the walking experience and attract target markets;
• Prepare a fully resolved ‘Cost Plan B’ and a concise, prioritised and staged implementation plan for the progressive development of the walk;
• Undertake business planning to identify opportunities and priorities for investment and to inform the preferred model for the development and the ongoing operation of the walk;
• Confirm the net economic and employment benefits to the State of Victoria.

A master plan is being developed to determine the best route for the walk and the facilities and services required to support it. As the first major step in the planning, a Preliminary Concept has been developed and your comments are currently sought.

The Preliminary Concept:
The preliminary concept outlines the preferred 40-kilometre route for the FHAC that will take over three and half days. The current proposal commences the walk north of Wallace Hut (seven kilometres drive from Falls Creek) travelling across the Bogong High Plains to Tawonga Huts for the first night. Day two starts from Tawonga Huts down Westons Spur to stay at either Blair Hut or the Diamantina Horse Yards overnight. Day three involves a hike up the Diamantina Spur to High Knob (night three) where walkers have the opportunity to walk to the summit of Mount Feathertop. The final day’s walk is via the Razorback finishing at Diamantina Hut near Mount Hotham.
To access the preliminary concept please click here

For the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing Poster please click here

 

A comment from the Backcountry Forum about the proposal:

Make no doubt about it…this is all about commercial development within the National Park. “A resolved, design-led, strategic master plan and implementation strategy is currently being developed which considers regional tourism and commercial opportunities in the context of recent changes to public land policy, particularly tourism investment in national parks.” Amongst this short sentence of bureacratic jargon it leaves no doubt that it is about commercial development along the walk.

This area of the Alpine National Park already contains the highest density of commercial development with the Park (Falls, Hotham, Dinner Plain) and has the highest density of sub-alpine towns and access points surrounding it of all the park. The Alpine Resorts are set aside for commercial development within the National Park and development should be restricted to these areas. If a new walk/realignment is to be developed it should be focussed on shortening the route so that commercial development desired by ‘pay to walk’ customers is contained in the existing Alpine Resorts. I am getting a little tired of Alpine Resorts marketing the National Park as their product.

Part of me thinks that the good thing about this proposed alignment is that, apart from the waste of public money in what has already been done and preparing this ‘masterplan’, it takes ‘pay to walk’ customers and commercial operators away and leaves the traditional route and camping areas to walkers. However, with commercial development comes restriction to others to drive people to utilise the commercial operation and provide the paying elite with an ‘excusive experience’.

It is also strange that the TNE makes mention of the Australian Alps Walking Track as the proposed new alignment significantly reduces the amount of the walk on the AAWT. The true ‘iconic’ walk in this part of the Alpine National Park is the AAWT from Hotham to Bogong or Harrietville to Mountain Creek.