The Backcountry Film Festival is produced each year by Winter Wildlands Alliance as a celebration of the human-powered winter experience and a gathering place for the backcountry snowsports community.
The Melbourne show will happen on Wednesday 25 March.
TIME: Please feel free to arrive from 6.30pm. Films from 7pm – 9.30pm.
VENUE: Building 80, Level 1, room 2, Melbourne.
445 Swanston Street Melbourne (between Franklin and A’Beckett streets). Easily accessible by public transport (trams on Swanston Street or trains via Melbourne Central).
TICKETS: Suggested donation: $8 conc & students/ $15 waged. There are no online sales. Tickets available at the door. There will be plenty of room. Sorry, cash only sales on the night (there are ATMs nearby). There is a seating capacity of 180 people.
As fire fighters get on top of the blazes that have been devastating huge ares of the Victorian, NSW and ACT mountains, towns and communities are starting to re-open. Many parks are still closed but towns are increasingly open for business.
The impacts on the natural and cultural values of the mountains are also huge. We are trying to track ecological impacts (details here) and post about cultural impacts where we can.
For instance, the Kosi Huts Association reports that:
“At least 10 of the mountain huts dotted around the national park have been destroyed, including Delany’s Hut, Sawyers Rest House, Wolgals Lodge, Matthew’s Cottage, Brooks Hut, Pattinson’s House, Round Mountain Hut, O’Briens Hut and Four Mile Hut.“
It is likely that there will be re-building efforts for many of these huts.
There will also be lots of ecological restoration and track work happening that will require lots of good will and volunteer effort.
Please let us know what’s going on.
If you’re planning any recovery efforts (or are aware of any) that require volunteer support or input, then please email details to me and I will include here. Thanks.
The picture above comes from Andrew Stanger. The NSW Nordic Ski Club is building nesting boxes for animals that need hollows.
Up until Christmas, there hadn’t been a lot of fires in the High Country, either in Tasmania or on the mainland. That all changed on New Years Eve. Lightning storms triggered fires across Tasmanian, Victoria and NSW. What followed has been nothing less than an absolute disaster as huge areas of the mountains have burnt – and continue to do so.
With large areas evacuated, the economic impacts on local economies has been devastating. This is peak tourism season, yet entire areas are under evacuation orders, businesses are closed and events are being cancelled. The flow on effects on many people’s income will continue for months.
I am seeing many people who are struggling because their region or business is closed. Even where a town is open, the ever present smoke in many places is not very enticing to tourists.
So once the fires are under control, please have a think about doing a trip to the High Country. Aim to head off with your wallet full and your stomach, esky and food basket empty.
If you love winter, then chances are you love a good ski or snowboarding film. This year’s batch of new films have been released over the last couple of months (pre Northern winter). One thing that’s really obvious in the ski/ riding genre is the ever growing number of films that are focused on human powered adventure. It’s great to see this tradition continue this year with a number of films focused on low carbon adventures.
We’re facing heatwaves, drought and mega fires. Fire season started early right along the eastern seaboard and while the mountains have largely been spared so far, its going to be a long summer.
The updated Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook which has just been released shows that extended area of Gippsland and the mountains of North East Victoria are forecast to experience above-normal bushfire potential over the summer.
Global leaders (including our own federal government) have comprehensively failed to agree on how to tackle climate change during the recent UN negotiations in Spain. Horse numbers are sky rocketing in the Snowy Mountains because the NSW government is in thrall to political forces who refuse to accept the ecological costs of having large feral horse populations in alpine and sub alpine environments.
The list could easily go on. When you look at the state of the world, it’s hard not to get depressed. So here is some outdoors related ‘end of year’ good news for you.
Wherever you are and whatever you do, I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing, and fire free, summer.
As you will probably know, we have turned the 2020 Victorian backcountry festival into a three day event, from Friday – Sunday Sept 4, 5 and 6. Things will kick off on Friday morning so hopefully you can make a long weekend out of it. After receiving strong positive feedback, we will be running another guided trip straight after the festival, probably to Mt Bogong.
Quite a lot of people have expressed interest in getting involved in planning the 2020 festival.
So if you’re in Melbourne, please come along to this BC Fest get together.
Thursday NOV 28.
Upstairs at Friends of the Earth, 312 Smith St, Collingwood. Enter via the side, on Perry Street, and head up the stairs.
We’ll start at 6.30pm, have a quick chat about how you can get involved (there will be a series of working groups taking on different parts of the festival like the touring program, the speakers program, the outdoor bar, etc). Please bring your ideas and enthusiasm about what you want to contribute next year to make it bigger and better.
Then from 7 til 8pm (ish) we will drag a few classic backcountry films out of the vault and enjoy on the big screen (ingredients likely to contain Jeremy Jones shredding big lines in Alaska). Please feel free to BYO drinks. Free event.
Are you a backcountry skier, snowboarder or snow shoer who also makes films?
We are looking for some short, locally made backcountry films to screen at the Backcountry Film Festival (BCFF) in Melbourne (March or April 2020) and the 3rdVictorian Backcountry Festival (Mt Hotham, September 2020). The BCFF program is put together by the US-based Winter Wildlands Alliance, and this season features a great line up of films (details here). But we like to open up the season with a local film.
Here’s an example of one from a couple of years ago – Mt Townsend 2209. If you’re keen to contribute something please get in touch. Cam.email@example.com
It needs to be under 7 minutes and suitable quality for a big audience of backcountry enthusiasts.
It will be a three day festival, held from Friday to Sunday, September 4 – 6.
Due to the huge level of support from the Hotham community and businesses and attendees, we will keep the festival at Hotham.
We will keep the basic format – lots of tours and workshops, speaker’s program, outdoor bar, AST 1 avalanche training, and an extended trip after the festival. Spreading the festival over three days will allow us to fit more in.
There is still time to provide feedback. Check the online form here. We’re getting some really great feedback on how to make it a better event, so please take a few minutes to let us know your thoughts.
The 2019 Victorian backcountry festival is done and dusted. This year the BC Fest moved to Mt Hotham, and it was wonderful to see the Hotham – and broader BC community – embrace the new location. Hotham is the perfect spot because of the amazing terrain, ease of access and strong backcountry community, both on the mountain and down valley in Bright and Harrietville. Close to 400 people registered. We had 31 tours, skillshares and workshops, an extended speaker’s program, a Protect Our Winters info and film night and a ski-in outdoor bar at Village Lookout in the Christmas Hills.
The first thing I need to do is thank everyone who backed or got involved in the festival. Of course, there are too many names, but here’s a start:
Resort management and lift company were fantastic in their support. Special thanks to Adam Galvin and Jason Nightingale from resort management and snow groomer Greg O’Donohue. The venues were so supportive – big thanks especially to Sooty, Darren and everyone at The General, Marty at The SnowBird, and Mark at Blizzard Brewery. And the people who pitched in to help, especially Buff Farnell, Kelly van den Berg, who brought in so many skilled tour leaders, and Merrin Jokic, who MC’d an epic afternoon of speakers. Rupert from Bright Brewery, Mel and Luka from Crepe Collective and Steve Belli did the food and drinks at our outdoor bar. The bar itself was a work of art, a product of much digging by my partner Natalie, Dave, Peter, and my brother Mitch, Kyle, Simon and his crew. The speaker’s program was huge and people made a real effort to be there. Thanks to Josh from POW and Stephen Curtain for his film making workshop. Dave, Pieta and Luka from Alpine Access ran avalanche courses as the training partner for the festival. Big thanks to Peter Campbell and all the Bush Search and Rescue crew, Jason Ball from Vic Police SAR, and Rolf Schonfeld for his endless commitment to snow and avalanche safety. A deep bow to head of ski patrol Bill Barker who provided impeccable advice on conditions and inspiring presentations at The Genny. Simon Murray dug snow pits and did most of our graphic design. Chris Hocking and Drew Jolowicz provided amazing sidecountry images. David Flanders was our rego desk guy and podcast interviewer extraordinaire.
Of course, the tour leaders, who brought incredible skills and knowledge and donated their time and insights and were all amazing. And you – the backcountry community, who showed up and pitched in. It really was a fantastic and inspiring weekend.
In my post festival delirium I know there are many more people to thank.
From resounding feedback, it’s clear that the festival has come home to Hotham. We need to check dates and lock in venues but we’re hoping it will happen over the weekend of September 5 and 6, 2020.
As was the case last year, we worked hard to ensure a diversity of voices in the speaker’s program. Melissa Clarke provided a phenomenal level of knowledge about touring the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains and the joys and pitfalls of touring with pulks (sleds). Ash Peplow Ball spoke compellingly of the need for the snow sports community to get organised to protect winter. Bill Barker shared his knowledge of Hotham avalanche hotspots. Tim Macartney-Snape shared more than 40 years worth of incredible images of climbing and skiing big peaks around the world. Bev Lawrence and Georgina Boardman updated us on the plight of the Mountain Pygmy Possum and efforts to protect remnant communities. Hotham legend Buff Farnell shared some of his favourite images of skiing Hotham over many decades, many of them from acclaimed photographers Andrew Barnes and Karl Gray. Climate striker and skier Naimh Smith-O’Connor finished off the POW night with a powerful message. Ted Suurkivi, Mark Frost, Mia Walker, Kelly van den Berg, Lisse Dunser, Simon Murray and Josh Fletcher also spoke.
We tried to offer a range of beginner and intermediate courses, covering everything from snow shoeing to ski mountaineering. There was self rescue and first aid, navigation and snow camping. After a warm and sunny week, Saturday morning saw the return of winter and considerable avalanche risk, so many tours ended up going ‘south side’ into places like Women’s Downhill rather than onto the higher peaks. Amine from LetsSplit led another successful splitboard outing and with better conditions on the Sunday, there were trips out to the Workshop Chutes, Dargo Bowl, Eagle Ridge and Mt Loch. Daniel Sherwin and Kyle Boys are leading the three day trip out to Feathertop which starts this morning.We also had a strong presence from a number of outdoor brands. The North Face put up their expedition dome, Wilderness Sports made the journey from Jindabyne, and Everest Sports and Snow Sports and Travel and Mammut were also on board, offering a wide range of demo gear and products. Patagonia provided prizes for the POW event, and Blue Dinosaur offered heaps of energy bars. Thanks also to the businesses who offered inkind support through providing venues.
There were glitches and things that could have been done better. Thankyou to everyone for their good humour and generosity of spirit throughout the festival.
We all love snow
After a huge weekend, I’m starting the final packup and enjoying this fresh snow. There will be an online feedback poll circulated to people who registered this week and I would also welcome your direct feedback via email. It’s clear that we are onto something with these festivals and it now needs to grow beyond being a one man show. The remarkable growth in the festival in just two years and keen interest shows that there is a deep interest in the backcountry. I hope that we can set up an organising team for the 2020 festival soon.
By definition, skiing and riding in the backcountry is something we tend to do in small groups. It was wonderful to see and meet some many great people, share a beer around a fire on a gorgeous mountain top, and see the energy and enthusiasm as people came back in from their tours. We’re a diverse bunch and have the shared love of mountains, deep snow and winter and it was great to have had the chance to help bring a good chunk of the BC community together to enjoy some turns, have good conversations, and some wonderful time out in our wild and beautiful mountains.See you next year. Cam