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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Mt Hotham

Mountain winter events 2021

Recent snowfalls across the Alps has got every snow lover excited about winter. Here is an initial list of snow related events happening across Victoria, NSW and the ACT this winter.

Please check here for a list of tour guides, all avalanche training providers, and gear hire options.

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Good news for the Mountain Pygmy Possum

The mountain pygmy possum (MPP) is a small animal of The Australian high country. Since, 2008, it has been declared by the IUCN Redlist as Critically endangered. Population estimates totalled less than 2000 individuals from the three combined isolated populations in 2000.

They are reliant on Bogong Moths to build up reserves for winter and for successful breeding. The lack of moths has had a significant impact on breeding in recent summers. But there is some good news from the 2020/21 summer.

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Victoria’s alpine resort management boards to be merged into Alpine Resorts Victoria

The Andrews government has announced the establishment of a new management structure for Victoria’s alpine resorts.

Alpine Resorts Victoria – set to start work by July 2022 – is intended to ‘make Alpine Boards more efficient’. It will be created by merging Victoria’s four alpine resort management boards, and will govern Falls Creek, Mt Hotham, Mt Buller, Mt Stirling, Lake Mountain and Mt Baw Baw resorts.

Continue reading “Victoria’s alpine resort management boards to be merged into Alpine Resorts Victoria”

Taungurung Indigenous Land Use Agreement in ‘Limbo’

An Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) between Taungurung Land and Waters Council and the State Government is in ‘legal limbo’ after the Federal Court found it was registered incorrectly.

The land use agreement was finalised in October 2018 as part of a broader settlement agreement largely under the auspices Victoria’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. The settlement agreement formally recognised the Taungurung people as the traditional owners of more than 20,000 square kilometres of land in north central Victoria from Kyneton in the west to Bright in the east. The agreement includes a number of national parks, including sections of the Alpine National Park and Buffalo National Park.

Federal Court proceedings concluded earlier this month, with Justice Debra Mortimer finding errors in the way the agreement was registered with the National Native Title Tribunal.

It is not yet clear whether this will impact on the agreements regarding the Alpine national parks.

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Bushfire recovery funds for alpine and valley communities

Ten projects in Indi (north eastern Victoria) have received funding through the federal governments Local Economic Recovery (LER) program for bushfire recovery.

Local Member for Indi, Helen Haines, says: ‘They will bring new jobs and attract tourism, and I’m so proud to see the hard work and initiative of our region recognised by this investment.

‘It is fantastic that the Alpine resorts have received $7 million for three transformational projects. The resorts were hit hard by the fires and then COVID-19, and yet inexplicably, the Government had initially excluded them from the bushfire recovery funding.

‘There is also great news for tourism in our region here. $5 million for the Great River Road, upgrades to the Alpine Hotel and Bright Velo will help position our region for a strong economic recovery, creating sustainable jobs by bringing tourists to our wonderful region’.

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The Victorian backcountry festival is back in 2021!

After moving online in 2020 due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the Victorian Backcountry Festival will be back at Mt Hotham in 2021.

The Festival celebrates the growing movement of ‘all things backcountry’, focused on  human powered winter activities such as cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, telemarking, alpine touring, split boarding, photography and snow camping.  This will be the fourth year that the Festival has run, and the second time at Mt Hotham.

The Festival aims to not only provide an introduction to the ever-growing suite of backcountry activities, but to also make it more accessible to the general public, whilst educating them about mountain safety.

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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. 

Continue reading “No commercial development on ‘the People’s mountain’!”

Support mountain businesses this summer

As 2020 races towards Christmas and New Year, lots of us are thinking about presents and holidays. Here’s a few ideas about some of the great businesses in north east VIC that you could support. As we all know, these regions were hard hit by last summer’s fires, two rounds of pandemic lockdown and a shortened ski season.

This is like #emptyesky for gear and adventure operators.

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Mini wind turbines to power off-grid communications – and more?

Mountain communities usually rely on long underground or above ground power lines to connect them to electricity supply. These can be cut or damaged by bushfire and winter conditions. Stand alone micro power grids powered by renewables could well be the climate-friendly solution to this problem.

Renew Economy reports that:

‘The Australian Renewable Energy Agency will provide $341,990 in grant funding to support the development of mini wind turbines designed to power off-grid telecommunications towers and remote applications’. When combined with storage batteries, these could also provide electricity to ski resorts and other remote and mountain towns.

Continue reading “Mini wind turbines to power off-grid communications – and more?”

Victorian Alps relief auction

Your chance to give back to Victoria’s Alpine Region, hit hard by bushfires and Covid-19. 

The Victorian alpine community has a special place in all of our adventure hearts, filled with beautiful mountains, great people and businesses, amazing food and memories shared through generations. 

But the community we all love is hurting – first with the bushfires, then the cancellation of the 2020 ski season due to Covid-19. They need our help. 

Which is why the team at Amer Sports have brought the Australian outdoors and snow industry together to create an online auction for you to support the alpine businesses doing it tough in Victoria. 

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The Tabletop fire 10 months on

Mt Tabletop is in the Alpine national park, on Gunaikurnai country, between Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain. Its snow gum country that is already feeling the changes that are coming with climate change. The forests in the area have burnt in 2003, 2013 and 2019/20. Some areas have burnt 3 times. 

The terrain is a mosaic of snow plains, old open forests, crazy regrowth in burnt areas, and multi aged woodlands. It was burnt badly last summer.

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Winter of The Little Things

I don’t know about you, but I’m a winter person. I daydream about snow through summer, sneak off to the mountains in autumn to get that sense of oncoming winter, and once the snow arrives, I’m there. My New Year’s Eve is the end of the ski season. Having New Years in the middle of endless summer heat never made sense to me, but the end of the season, when thousands start to head off the mountains and quiet returns, really marks the end of the year for me.

Like other snow addicts I anxiously check the season outlook. Those big falls in May and early June gave me hope for a good season in 2020, in spite of the fact that we just had two great winters and three in a row was going to be pushing our luck. 

Then came lockdown 1 and 2, the closure of the VIC resorts, and a pretty ‘uninspiring’ winter.

Continue reading “Winter of The Little Things”

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