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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Bogong High Plains

Jaithmathang Senior Elders reconnect with their original Country

Jaithmathang Original Country elders are returning to the mountains to reconnect with their Yerto (meaning land/country high up). This story was produced by North East Catchment Management Authority and reproduced with their permission.

Jaithmathang Senior Elder, Loreman and Songman, Goengalla Jumma Myermyal Minjeke looks out over Yerto (meaning land/country high up) while standing on Mt Loch and reflects on a separation from Jaithmathang Original Country that has lasted generations. Mt Loch is within Shared Yerto of the GunaiKurnai and Jaithmathang Original Peoples’ Country. 

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A ‘mountain’ of loss – Snow Gum dieback in Victoria

Snow gums are experiencing dieback in Kosciuszko National Park, largely because of the impacts of the native longicorn (or ‘longhorn’) beetle. These beetles prefer to lay their eggs on moisture-stressed trees and, in warmer weather, the longicorn beetle can hatch and grow up to 75% faster. It is understood that climate change is helping the spread of dieback because of background warming.

Now spread of dieback is being seen more frequently in the mountain forests of Victoria. Gillian Anderson reports back on some recent observations of snow gum dieback on the Bogong High Plains.

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No commercial development on ‘the People’s mountain’!

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, 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. In the state budget for 2018/19, there was an allocation of funds to help make the project a reality. Now additional funds have been allocated to continue the planning for the project, including Stage 1 of the construction.

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. It will see a major upgrade of the route that currently follows Diamantina Spur up to the Razorback from the West Kiewa valley.

The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing is part of a ‘branded portfolio’ of four long-distance walks known as ‘Walk Victoria’s Icons’ and is being strongly backed by the Victorian government. Outdoor, nature based tourism is a great thing. It’s good for individual and public health, and great for regional economies. However, private commercial development within a national park is strongly opposed by many people. 

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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.

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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.

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Fires close a number of mountain areas in NE VIC

There are a number of fires that have started as a result of lightning strikes in the Victorian High Country.

There are three fires in the north east that have caused a number of areas to be closed to walkers – these are to the east of Mt Bogong and two along the eastern side of the Bogong High Plains.

Additionally, there are 13 fires in total burning in remote areas of forest in north east Victoria. The other fires are located in the Tallangatta Valley, Dandongadale, Abbeyard and Mount Selwyn.

DELWP says: ‘The remote locations of these fires are proving to be challenging for our crews and we fully expect them to burn for a number of weeks as firefighters work hard to contain them’.

Authorities say that the fires are behaving in ways expected in January and February as fuel loads are so dry.

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Call out for volunteers – Hawkweed eradication program

This summer, Parks Victoria (PV) will continue its volunteer program which is working on eradicating the invasive Hawkweed from the Bogong High Plains.

Hawkweeds are a highly invasive pest plant species which could cause major environmental damage in alpine and sub-alpine areas of Australia if not eradicated early.

The volunteer courses run out of Falls Creek over the summer in week long blocks. Details are below.

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High Plains Festival

Falls Creek Cross Country are excited to announce the first High Plains Festival!

It will happen over the weekend of August 31/ September 1, operating from the Centre at Windy Corner in Falls Creek resort.

LEARN NEW SKILLS – TOUR – MAKE TURNS

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Photographs by David Rosendale

Photographer David Rosendale returns to exhibit at Falls Creek with selected prints from his year long study of seasonal change, “The Fall”, with new and unreleased works spanning the years 2016 – 2019.

This Exhibition represents work produced whilst Artist in Residence at Falls Creek in 2017 and beyond, a perpetual commitment and study of the Victorian Alpine landscape.

The exhibition runs from 23 – 25 August 2019.

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A fully supported winter trip from Falls Creek to Mt Hotham

For those who are wishing to experience one of the best alpine winter adventures in Australia, Alpine Walking Guides and the Mt Hotham Volunteer Ski Patrol are teaming up to offer small group, three day/two night ski/boarding tours between Falls Creek and Mt Hotham.

You will be carrying only a day pack, so you can get the most out of the skiing/boarding on offer. Alpine Walking Guides staff will be setting up and staffing camp sites and all your gear will be provided for warm and comfortable nights in the Alpine Wilderness. Food and wines from the North East will be prepared by quality chefs and cooks. No one goes hungry on these trips.

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Climate change pushes the Mountain Pygmy Possum closer to extinction

The Mountain Pygmypossum, Burramys parvus, is Australia’s only hibernating marsupial.

It is a small, mouse-sized nocturnal marsupial found in dense alpine rock screes and boulder fields, mainly in southern Victoria and around Mount Kosciuszko. The species is currently restricted to three isolated mountain regions:  Mount Blue Cow in Kosciusko National Park in New South Wales, Mount Bogong and Mount Higginbotham/ Mt Loch in the Bogong High Plains in Victoria, and Mount Buller in Victoria.

The biggest threats to the remaining mountain pygmy possum populations include:

Now, recent research underscores the fact that climate change may be posing a major threat to the viability of the species by decimating the moths which act as a major food source for the possum.

The Guardian reports that the Bogong Moth which migrate in their billions to alpine areas have crashed, which is putting extra pressure on the endangered mountain pygmy possum.

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Registrations for this summer’s Hawkweed survey program in VIC Alps are now open

Hawkweed is a highly invasive pest plant species which could cause major environmental damage in alpine and sub-alpine areas of Australia if not eradicated early. For several years there has been an annual volunteer program held on the Bogong High Plains. Volunteer recruitment for the 2018/2019 season of the Falls Creek Hawkweed Eradication Program Volunteer Surveys is now open.

Continue reading “Registrations for this summer’s Hawkweed survey program in VIC Alps are now open”

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