As a number of state governments continue to pursue commercial tourism options in national parks and World Heritage Areas, a recent poll shows that these moves are out of step with community opinion. A Roy Morgan poll has found 90% of Australians support the protection of Australia’s wilderness areas. Of significance is the fact that support is high across the political spectrum, with 86% of Coalition voters, 92% of Labor voters and 94% of Greens voters agreeing wilderness should be protected.
The Mountain Safety Collective (MSC) is a voice for the backcountry community. It organises training and other events, produces wonderful maps, merchandise, and the backcountry conditions report through winter.
It is run by a group of diehard backcountry enthusiasts. Lately it has been introducing its board. This is taken from the most recent MSC newsletter and is an introduction to the wonderful Rolf Schonfeld, who lives in Smoko in north eastern Victoria, at the base of Mt Feathertop.Continue reading “Introducing Rolf Schonfeld”
Dinner Plain in the Victorian Alps is hosting a 4 day adventure festival over the weekend of January 23 – 26 (the Survival Day/ Invasion Day/ Australia Day weekend).
It will feature a range of free and paid events, including:
- an outdoor screening of the Bright Mountain Film Tour
- self guided hikes to Mt Feathertop, with a free shuttle bus to the trailhead
- abseiling tours
- mountain bike clinics
- photography workshops
- orienteering sessions
Check the Dinner Plain website for full details, and bookings.
Wow. What a year. Crazy summer fires. Covid lockdowns. Terrible winter snow pack, but also some incredible snow storms. Lots of fighting over our mountains, including the endless culture war argument about horses. Kind of glad it’s almost at an end.
We all know the story: a dry winter and spring led to a horror summer, with massive fires across the eastern Victorian high country, Snowy Mountains and Brindabellas. Luckily Tasmania got off easy last summer.
Then the lockdown(s), which hit mountain and valley towns in Victoria especially hard, isolated Tasmania, and closed the NSW/ Victorian border. The economic impacts of these events will last for a long time.
And then there were the ongoing arguments about how to treat our mountains. It felt like issues were widespread this year. Here’s a few of them:Continue reading “2020. It’s been fun. Let’s move on.”
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.
After two great winters, we all knew 2020 was unlikely to be awesome snow-wise. But some of the early forecasts were for a ‘slightly better than average’ season. Then the snow started. We always get early winter snow in the alps, but this year it seemed more consistent. When we got that burst in late May I wondered if this was our base and it would indeed be capital letters Awesome ™
Sadly, June was different. NSW has fared better so far than Victoria, but this probably isn’t one of the winters we will reminisce about in 20 years’ time. But we will be talking about the COVID-19 lock down.
Chillfactor magazine just came out. Chillfactor – in its 21st year – is a mountain institution that has seen both fantastic and some pretty ordinary winters, and has always celebrated a broad cross section of Australian mountain culture.
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.
With ski resorts announcing their plans for the season (and resorts having considerable control over access to many backcountry skiing and riding access points) we now have a sense of what winter will look like.
The key message is that if you’re planning to access backcountry via a resort you need to organise entry before you go. But there are many options outside resort areas.
Parks Victoria have announced that sections of the Alpine National Park in north east Victoria will be closed between October 8 and 26 to allow for aerial hunting of deer.
It will include the entire Feathertop/ Razorback ridge from Diamantina hut and extending north of the Feathertop summit, and areas to the north west of Dead Timber Hill, into the Cobungra River valley, almost as far as Derrick hut. Check the attached map for full details.
Trail heads will be sign posted if the areas are closed.
Back in 2008, Stephen Curtain released ‘Winter Dreaming: an Australian Alps freeheel film’. It was a telemark ski movie which was filmed largely in the Snowy Mountains and a number of spots in north eastern Victoria, including the iconic eastern face of Mt Feathertop.
Ten years on, Stephen revisited some of the footage from the Feathertop scenes and re-packaged it into a 10 minute film called ‘Winter Dreaming. The backstory, Feathertop backcountry and beyond’ for the inaugural Victorian backcountry festival, held at Falls Creek in September 2018.
Mountain Journal reported recently that Parks Victoria had released its final Master Plan for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing: 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.
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.
Several years ago, Tourism Victoria suggested that Victoria needed four ‘iconic walks’ in order to help ensure the state became a bushwalking destination. One of these was the ‘Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing’.
After a great deal of work, the final masterplan for the walk has been released by Parks Victoria.