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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Alpine Tasmania

If you love the natural environment of Tasmania you need to subscribe to Tasmanian Geographic (TG), an online journal covering “exploration, research,science outreach, adventure & expedition journalism, educational mapmaking, documentary filmmaking, ecological & experiential & educational tourism, historical musings, museum studies, project updates, and more”.

In their most recent edition, there is an announcement about a book on the alpine environment of this island paradise.

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End of the ski season. Happy New Year

I don’t know about you, but I’m at my best in mid winter. My brain works better, I feel more cheerful, I want to be out amongst it. I crave altitude, snow, rock, ice, and being above tree line.

I always get a bit sad at the end of winter. One way to deal with the sadness is to embrace it, so I try to make sure I’m at Hotham for closing weekend. There’s something so final about last day of the season. As services wind down, the lifts stop spinning, the bus does its last lap of the village, and Dinner Plain and Hotham empty out, I feel like winter is finally over. I’m ready to move on into the next season. Traditional New Years Eve happens in the middle of summer, just after Christmas madness, with hot weather stretching out for months on either side. I find it hard to feel like the year is over as the land just feels the same, caught in the summer doldrums. Whereas end of winter is a physical event. For me, the day after snow season ends is New Years Day, it marks a clear end of one part of the year, and I feel like I can step fully into spring.

Happy New Year, everyone. Only 234 sleeps til winter!

Continue reading “End of the ski season. Happy New Year”

Winter 2017. (Almost) done.

Wow. What a winter. Some forecasters were predicting a ‘slightly better than average’ season, and opening weekend saw skiable snow in the resorts, but then things slowed down for several weeks until we started to get serious snowfalls in July. We had four epic storm fronts during the season, variously called The Blizard of Oz, Snowaggedon 2.0, etc, with the best snowpack in September for 17 years. Most resorts extended their season a week until October 8, and there is still many weeks’ worth of skiing in many parts of the backcountry.

As the season winds down, like most snow addicts I’m already thinking about next year. Personally I had an awesome winter, with a highlight being a road trip from the Snowies to Mt Hotham. But I did a lot of ‘weekend warrior’ drives and now that the snow frenzy is dissipating, I feel like I’ve woken up after a big bender with a hangover and a slight sense of guilt…

Continue reading “Winter 2017. (Almost) done.”

Spring splitboarding mission to the western faces

This great story about a late season trip to the western slopes of the Snowy Mountains comes from Main Range Backcountry.

Antony von Chrismar goes on a Spring splitboarding mission to the western faces after getting back from a European summer.

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The Alpine Challenge

This looks epic. A 160 km mountain run that takes in six major peaks in north east Victoria. (There are a number of shorter courses as well, of 100, 60 and 36 kilometres).

“The Alpine Challenge is without doubt the toughest, most challenging, most spectacular and rewarding mountain trail run in Australia—if not the southern hemisphere over four distances. The 100 mile (160 km) course takes in 6 major climbs with 7,600 m of ascent and descent including Mt Feathertop, Mt Hotham, Mt McKay, Spion Kopje, Mt Nelse and Victoria’s highest mountain, Mt Bogong plus five river crossings. The 100 km involves over 4,000 m of ascent and descent and the 60 km course over 2,000 m of ascent and descent, whilst for those undertaking the 36 km run you will have over 1,300 m of ascent”.

Key Information

Date: Saturday 25 November–Monday 27 November 2017

Location: Alpine National Park, Victoria, Australia

Start/Finish: Slalom Plaza, Falls Creek

Full details here.

1,700 years of climate history in Tasmania’s King Billy Pine

This is a fantastic story. Anyone who has walked in the mountains of central and western Tasmania is probably familiar with the King Billy Pine (Athrotaxis selaginoides). Individual trees can live for more than 1,00 years. It is one of the conifers that are endemic to Tasmania and exists only within a very limited range of habitat. Fire threatens the species (one third of its habitat was burnt in the twentieth century), and climate change is expected to increase the severity of fire seasons in future.

The following article outlines a research project that used core samples from King Billy trees to develop a better understanding of climate in Tasmania in previous centuries. It is available here.

Continue reading “1,700 years of climate history in Tasmania’s King Billy Pine”

Fears over Snowy River’s health without independent monitor

The Snowy Mountains scheme, built between 1949 and 1974, diverts the water of the Snowy River and some of its tributaries, much of which originally flowed southeast onto the river flats of East Gippsland, inland to the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers irrigation areas. This has caused the health of the Snowy to decline dramatically.

Following long running campaigns, the Snowy Water Inquiry was established in January 1998. The Inquiry recommended an increase to 15% of natural flows. In 2000, Victoria and NSW agreed to a long-term target of 28%, requiring A$375 million of investment to offset losses to inland irrigators. It has been hoped that this increase in flow will help the health of the river system improve.

However there have been ongoing fears that the flows are not being properly managed in a way that will maximise environmental benefits. In 2013, the NSW Government abolished the Snowy’s scientific monitor and a replacement body, announced in 2014, has not yet been established. As pointed out recently by ecologists, without an independent monitor, there is a risk that the health of the river will go backwards.

Continue reading “Fears over Snowy River’s health without independent monitor”

The Bright Mountain Film Tour

The Bright Mountain Film Tour (BMFT) is a celebration of mountain culture and those who embrace it. The organisers say ‘over five nights, the best adventure films from around the world are showcased amongst the alpine communities of North East Victoria’.

This​ ​year​ ​BMFT2​ ​will​ ​feature​ ​some​ ​epic,​ ​home-grown,​ ​Aussie​ ​adventures​ ​and​ ​some​ ​awesome female​ ​adventures,​ ​recognising​ ​the​ ​diversity​ ​in​ ​adventure​ ​sports.

Bright has become the epicentre of mountain sports with visitors from around the world enjoying everything the town and surrounding area has to offer. The BMFT is not just a film festival, it’s a community celebration. The films are handpicked by a panel of local enthusiasts, all experts in their related fields of filmmaking, mountain sports and tourism. The BMFT organising committee are looking to grow the event through the support of like-minded sponsors.

There are screenings planned for the new year period, in a range of towns, starting on December 28.

You can find full details and book tickets here.

Bright Brewery’s solar powered beer

The Bright Brewery is a key business in Bright in north eastern Victoria. It has grown steadily over the years, and has an impressive operation in a fantastic location. The brewery is connected to the community, supporting local musicians, and many initiatives, like bike rides and events, and recently the Bright Festival of Photography. It financially supports many initiatives in north east Victoria.

It also has a strong commitment to sustainability:

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