Search

Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Tag

local culture

Bold Horizon: High-country Place, People and Story

A new book on the Australian Alps will be released in April.

Matthew Higgins traces the mountain experience in a rich variety of ways. Firstly he talks of his own times in the alps as a bushwalker, cross-country skier, historian, and oral-history interviewer. Then, he profiles a range of people who have worked, lived, or played in the mountains: stockmen, skiers, Indigenous parks officers, rangers, brumby runners, foresters, authors, tourism operators, and others’.

Continue reading “Bold Horizon: High-country Place, People and Story”

Kerouac, Alaska and that book in my backpack

In my teen years I became obsessed with skiing, climbing, Alaska and the Rocky Mountains. My first multi day walk (the southern circuit at Wilsons Prom) propelled me into the outdoors. Me and my mates would ride our bikes out of town to go camping, we went on family trips to the snow, I did lots of hiking with a bushwalking group we set up at school, and then eventually discovered the Victorian Climbing Club, which opened up new horizons for adventures. I did my first summer of mountaineering in NZ/ Aotearoa when I was 18.

This was about getting outdoors and having adventures in the wild. But I quickly realised that I liked outdoor culture. I started to meet older people who had spent their lives pursuing climbing and skiing, and (as someone explained it to me), ‘the people of the little tents’, long distance hikers. I knew that a big part of having a healthy life was to be outdoors, to have the skills to travel through big landscapes safely and the ability to be with yourself and enjoy your own company. Solo trips became ever more important for me. Time on my own in wild nature made me spend a lot of time on the internal work that we all need to do.

Continue reading “Kerouac, Alaska and that book in my backpack”

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:

Continue reading “Bright Brewery’s solar powered beer”

Significant forest destruction proposed for Dinner Plain

Mountain Journal has previously reported on a plan to clear 1.8 hectares of Sub-alpine Woodland just adjacent to the Dinner Plain village to create an ‘Elite Training Facility’ (now called the ‘Village Green’).

The current proposal is to create a ‘large flat open grassed area approximately 90 m wide and 150 m long’. An access road and car parking along two sides of the grassed area are proposed, as well as public toilet facilities. A report prepared for Council describes it ‘as a community space (which) is large enough to facilitate sporting events such as polo, horse riding, and high altitude elite athlete training.’

Alpine Shire Council has committed to the delivery of $1,500,000 worth of capital works projects within Dinner Plain by 2027; and says that this will be funded by the Dinner Plain reserve (currently approximately $1,000,000) and additional funds as allocated by Council.

It now needs to decide whether to proceed with the proposal.

Continue reading “Significant forest destruction proposed for Dinner Plain”

Hakuba MountainLife Magazine

One of the influences for Mountain Journal was a great magazine from Colorado called Mountain Gazette, which existed in a number of forms from the early 1970s. It was an insiders view of life, landscape, and culture in the mountain states of the USA (it now exists as an online journal).

As a lover of regionally focused art and media, I’ve long enjoyed a range of magazines from around the world, mostly North America, which cherish and appreciate the mountain environment. There are lots of great sport-focused journals that have a strong emphasis on the natural environment where our adventures take place (some of my faves include Backcountry, Wild and Rock and Ice). The rarer ones focus on culture, landscape and the interaction between people and their surroundings (Orion is a brilliant ‘all round’ journal in this regard, but I especially loved Highline, which stopped production last year).

I was recently introduced to Hakuba Mountain Life magazine, a thoroughly beautiful homage to the backcountry in this part of the Japanese Alps (thanks Peter).

It is put together by Mio Tonouchi and Damian Banwell. Damian is an Australian backcountry guide. The magazine does have a focus on their business but extends way beyond, celebrating particular mountains, providing advice on backcountry adventures and avalanche safety, and touching on the human culture that inhabits the valleys around the Japanese Alps. It has great images. The magazine describes itself as ‘reflecting our love for backcountry life in our local mountains’. Damian and Mio are doing their best to Live the Dream, riding in winter and farming at other times.

Loving and appreciating place through any form of media is a great thing to do. But I do agree with the ‘contributers’ section of the magazine, which notes the contribution of The Mountains & Nature Itself: ‘do not confuse the moon with the finger that points at it’.

[IMAGE: Hakuba Mountain Life]

In praise of huts 2

Mountain Journal has previously covered the issue of huts in the high country. As we said then:

Huts in the mountains can be a vexed issue. Huts will tend to attract people and so tend to concentrate visitation within a larger area. As one example, most people who climb Mt Bogong tend to then turn towards Cleve Cole hut rather than head across to the Hooker Plateau. This tendency to influence visitation can be both good and bad.

They are part of the cultural history of the high country, and reflect major stages in the post colonisation era: cattle grazing, forestry, hydro, even fire watch towers and, more recently, huts built for recreational purposes. We also have a number of strange and random anomalies, ones that don’t really make sense: Craig’s hut near Mt Stirling as an example, which was built as a set for a film. There are, of course, those whose primary function is safety, such as Seaman’s hut near Mt Kosciusko, and huts that belong to clubs or even schools (Geelong Grammar on Mt Stirling)”.

With growing risk of wildfire, and many huts simply ageing and starting to fall apart, there is the chance that the overall number of huts will decline in coming years. Some are carefully looked after (the Kosciusko Huts Association lists the known caretakers of huts in the Snowy Mountains) but others are falling into disrepair.

I am more interested in indigenous history of the high country than huts, but I do appreciate the cultural value they hold for many people and the practical value of refuge huts.

Continue reading “In praise of huts 2”

Mountain Journal turns five

It’s autumn, and so it must be time for the annual reflection on the Journal. Hard to believe its half a decade old!

Much of my motivation in starting MJ was simply to create a forum where I could appreciate our mountains and the people who are drawn to live and play amongst them. Early on, I did a few interviews with people I admire, and always love to run stories on people getting out amongst our wonderful mountain environment.

Over the past few years, the visitation has swung towards politics and backcountry adventure. This was the case in 2014 in terms of visitation. Sadly this is probably because there have been so many negative decisions taken by the Victorian Coalition government as it relates to the High Country. With the election of the ALP in November, the key threat to the Alpine national park – alpine grazing – has again been stopped.

While MJ was never really planned to be a ‘track notes’ type site, it has been interesting to see very strong visitation to the few trip reports that have been posted.

Check here for the full report.

High Country Harvest

The High Country Harvest is a food based festival featuring 40 events across north east Victoria over 10 days.

15 – 24 May.

From the organisers:

You are invited to sip, sample and savour the bounty grown and created by chefs, artisan producers, craft brewers and winemakers at more than 40 culinary events over 10 glorious days. Most events sell out quickly, so bookings are essential.

You can find details on all the events here.

A half century of change in the Central Alps

Anyone who has hiked and skied the mountains between Buller and Stirling, and from The Bluff to Howitt and Cobbler and is over 30 probably knows the wonderful maps of Stuart Brookes.

Stuart has produced maps of the Alps and other popular walking areas since the late 1940s. As a teenager on my first walking, snow shoeing and skiing adventures in the area around the Howqua River, I fell in love with Stuart’s black and white map ‘Watersheds of the King, Howqua & Jamieson Rivers’. It had basic landform details shown through shading and all the features that a walker needed: good campsites, places where you could get water on the high ridges, routes and cairned trails rather than just the marked roads. I would get a new version every couple of years, and later versions were in multi colour and had contours. But they still had a sense of richness that are rare in modern maps. This was country that Stuart knew intimately and the maps evoked a rich sense of place.

Continue reading “A half century of change in the Central Alps”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑