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Mt Hotham

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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Heading to the Backcountry this Season? Stay safe with a AST1 Course

If you’re a Splitboarder and want to be part of an EXTENDED Alpine Safety Training (AST1) course in Victoria – a collaboration between Alpine Access Australia and the Let’s Split crew – read on!

Continue reading “Heading to the Backcountry this Season? Stay safe with a AST1 Course”

Backcountry 2020 – what’s the go?

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.

Continue reading “Backcountry 2020 – what’s the go?”

VIC Backcountry Festival 2020

Lots of people are asking whether the Backcountry Festival will happen this year. The short answer is YES, providing Mt Hotham is open and backcountry access is allowed.

With the COVID-19 pandemic requiring society wide shut down of non essential activity, it is not yet certain whether the 2020 ski season will happen. Obviously, like all other snow lovers, we are anxiously waiting for the government announcement on whether ski season will proceed, and if it does, in what form.

Because the festival is not scheduled until the end of winter (September 4 – 6), we are hopeful that the festival will be able to proceed.

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What are the ecological costs of this summer’s fires?

In late November, fires started in East Gippsland as a result of lightning strikes. As noted by Peter Gardner, these went on to become major blazes. On new year’s eve, lightning storms started fires across the Victorian mountains and fire season came to the Alps with a vengeance.

Since then, huge areas of the Victorian Alps and Snowy Mountains have burnt. As at January 14, many of these are still going and, of course, the key priority is containing them.

But once it’s all over, we will need to count the ecological cost of these fires. Some areas in the Alps have now burnt three times in about 15 years. There is no doubt that longer fire seasons, driven by climate change, are already impacting on mountain and foothill environments.

The short answer at this stage is that we just don’t know what the full ecological impacts of these fires will be.

The following is a fairly random collection of reports on local impacts of the fires on mountain areas. It focuses on ecological values and impacts. Of course, this does not mean that human and economic impacts don’t matter. The narrow focus here is simply to try and share some information about what the impacts will be on natural systems, as the other stories are already being told widely in mainstream media. It will be added to as areas are re-opened to the public. I would welcome your reports for inclusion: please email text and stories to cam.walker@foe.org.au

Continue reading “What are the ecological costs of this summer’s fires?”

Backcountry gathering in Melbourne

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.

Facebook event page here.

Come along and catch up with the BC crew.

If you can’t make it along, remember that you’re welcome  to complete a brief survey about the festival and what you would like to see next year.

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‘Have You Considered Relocating Because of Climate Change?’

A decade ago, I moved from Melbourne to Castlemaine in Central Victoria. Box and Ironbark, Peppermint and Yellow Gum country. Hilly sandstone country. The land of the Jaara people. It took me a while, but I fell in love with the place, and now its home.

But even at the start, I remember thinking ‘this is a crazy place to live in a time of climate change’. Already hot and dry in summer, its going to get hotter and drier in coming years and experience worse water stress. It’s the same story all over. Climate change is already happening, and bringing impacts everywhere. Along the inland rivers, towns are running out of water. Along the coast, at places like Inverloch, storm surge is stripping away coastlines. In Mildura, the town had 65 days last summer that were above the heatwave threshold. Parts of Australia are expected to become uninsurable because of more regular flooding. And in the mountains, our winters are already becoming more erratic. It goes on and on. Nowhere is immune.

We are all familiar with the plight of climate refugees – people whose environment or economy is so impacted by the effects of climate change that they have no choice but to move. Mostly these are seen as people in the global South – the ‘developing’ world (although Hurricane Katrina, which devastated much of the USA’s South and displaced millions, shows that this is also a reality even in the rich world).

Something that I have noticed in recent years is a growing number of people who have opted to move from choice, not necessity, who are seeking a friendlier climate. I have lost count of the people I know or have met who have bought land in Tasmania, especially in the south west or north east. Some of them don’t live there: they have bought land as a safety net in case it goes to shit on the mainland. I know people from north east Victoria, in towns like Wangaratta, who have moved to the cooler and wetter hills of South Gippsland. There are people who have swapped the dry inland slopes of Central VIC for the lusher coasts of the Otways. And I know people who have left the hill country of Gippsland and Central Highlands, tired from the relentless stress of ever worsening fire seasons.

Continue reading “‘Have You Considered Relocating Because of Climate Change?’”

Reducing waste at Mt Hotham

The following update on efforts to reduce the amount of rubbish going into landfill at Mt Hotham comes from the Resort Management Board:

‘Hotham’s pristine environment is a key reason people visit year after year, and it’s the responsibility of the Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board (MHARMB) to protect this precious place. Over the past two decades MHARMB has worked to reduce the amount of rubbish exiting the resort into landfill. From 2002 to 2010 an active recycling program saw the amount of collected compacted recyclables double, and from 2010 to 2017 the amount of annual waste sent to landfill reduced by 112.5 tonnes.

The Chaser’s War on Waste has helped bring the issue of waste and its impact on the environment to the notice of everyone, but Australia continues to be to among the most wasteful nations in the developed world. However, Hotham is doing its bit in this battle and even as visitation grows year on year, the resort continues to reduce the amount of rubbish it puts into landfill.

Here on the mountain, MHARMB provides transparent red bags for municipal waste, clear bags for recycling and ‘Livin Bin’ green containers with opaque compostable liners for organics and food waste. In winter garbage is collected every day, with all waste from around the mountain taken to the recycling shed where it is sorted. The transparent red bags recently replaced opaque black bags to allow collection staff to identify and remove any items that can be recycled rather than be placed in landfill.

The empty plastic bags and all cardboard is baled and recycled by the garbage team, while co-mingled recycle items are sent to Tambo Waste near Bairnsdale. General trash is sent to the resort’s landfill site at Cobungra, while food waste is put in skips until full and are then delivered to the Cobungra facility to be composted. The compost is then used for revegetation programs.

Batteries are taken by MHARMB too (via collection bin in the MHARMB office), and cigarette butts are collected from butt bins; both are sent for recycling while the resort’s hard waste collection has recently expanded to include e-waste. Additionally, foam boxes are collected, stored and at the end of the ski season taken to Albury Transfer Station where they are chipped and melted into blocks for reuse – last year half a tonne of foam left the resort.

Bev Lawrence David FThese are the main collection streams on the mountain but there are also many other items gathered and recycled by individuals, lodges and even Hotham Kids Club. Many of these initiatives have been kickstarted by MHARMB’s Environmental Officer Bev Lawrence (pictured here at the recent Backcountry Festival), a local icon who is passionate about reducing waste to preserve our fragile environment.

“Landfill is filling up and if we don’t slow it we’re just going to go under with rubbish. If something can be recycled or reused rather than being put into the ground – great,” Bev said. “People who get involved in recycling tend to see the long-term picture and the garbage team here at Hotham is really passionate and very committed to what they do.”

Bev says people often don’t believe the effort the resort goes to reduce solid waste and to dispel any myths, she runs tours of the recycling shed for anyone wanting to learn more. If you are interested in a tour of the Hotham recycling centre you can email Bev at environmental@mthotham.com.au.

 

Continue reading “Reducing waste at Mt Hotham”

VIC backcountry festival 2020

After receiving resounding feedback about the 2nd Victorian Backcountry festival, we have decided to lock in dates and locations for 2020.

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.

If you know of any major clashes with these dates, please let us know asap. Cam.walker@foe.org.au

See you out there.

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