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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Victorian Alps

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

In mid December, large fires started in East Gippsland. 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?”

#ClimateImpactVic map launched

Act on Climate Victoria, the climate change campaign at Friends of the Earth Victoria, has launched an interactive map which shows details of climate change impacts on local communities, businesses and landscapes across the state.

It notes that snow cover has declined across the Alps since the 1950s. You can submit your observations of climate change impacts for inclusion in the map.

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Alpine Access Australia

Alpine Access Australia started as a guiding company and now provides a range of snow safety programs and avalanche training. Many in the backcountry will know Dave and Pieta Herring and instructor Luka Panik. AAA operate both in the Snowy Mountains and a growing number of mountain areas in Victoria.

AAA are the avalanche safety course providers at this year’s VIC backcountry festival (September 8 and 9) and will be offering courses in the Hotham area before, during and after the festival.

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Fires burning across VIC alps

Following a major lightning storm, there are a range of fires burning across the Victorian Alps. Many of these are not yet contained.

There are currently fires in the following areas:

  • Crooked River/ Dargo area
  • East Gippsland, north of Buchan
  • North of Licola
  • Mt Buller/ Howqua area
  • Camberville/ Lake Mountain area
  • South of Mt Hotham/ Dinner Plain.

Check the Emergency Vic website before traveling into the alpine areas.

1,000 km by bike through the Alps for climate action

On Oct 13 Clycle 2018 will leave Federation Square in Melbourne, with the plan to cycle all the way to Canberra via the Australian Alps.

Clycle 2018 is described by the organiser as a ‘non-charity’ bike ride. The idea is that instead of pledging money, supporters pledge ‘actions’ that will help to fight climate change. This is an unsupported trip so riders need to be fit and competent in remote areas and able to ride long distances (they expect to average 80 – 100 kilometres a day).

The organiser Peter Foot says “I’m riding a bicycle from Melbourne to Canberra, a distance of 1000km, whilst carrying an inflatable elephant. I’m doing this to bring attention to the climate crisis (the elephant in the room), and to start conversations about this most pressing of issues. It’s the largest threat to our way of life, yet it is rarely discussed in the media, or in polite company, and I want to change this.”

Grand Departure: 9am, Saturday 13th of October, Federation Square Melbourne.

Continue reading “1,000 km by bike through the Alps for climate action”

Will we recognise the future?

Every time I drive up the hill from Harrietville to Mt Hotham, I feel a strange mix of joy and sadness. Its always good to get back into the mountains. But those burnt out alpine ash forests break my heart.

People will often say ‘fire has always been part of the landscape’. True. But that misses the point that fire intensity and frequency is already increasing as we lurch into the climate change influenced future. In my lifetime it has already transformed many of the landscapes I know and love best. What will the coming decades bring?

Continue reading “Will we recognise the future?”

Summer events in the Australian Alps

Mountain Journal often advertises high energy events like trail running, road riding, cross country races, etc. But summer is also a good time to relax, take it easy, and chill out with friends. Here are some listings for festivals, low key nature events, and social gatherings that are happening in the Alps over summer 2017/18.

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Weatherproofing the Buffalo Chalet

The Mt Buffalo Chalet was built in 1910 and run for many years by the Victorian railway authority. It is an incredible building in a remarkable location, just near the Gorge in the Buffalo National Park.

It has been closed since 2007 and fallen into disrepair. Sections of the building have been demolished because it would have been prohibitively expensive to renovate the whole complex.

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Second tunnel at Mt Hotham to link Mountain pygmy possums

Mountain pygmy possum populations separated by the Great Alpine Road in Victoria will soon have a new, specially-designed tunnel to help them meet a mate. There is already one tunnel on the slopes of Little Higginbotham. The new one will be at Cherokee Corner. The project needs $300,000 of funding to make the tunnel a reality.

The following article is from Nicole Asher of the ABC.

Continue reading “Second tunnel at Mt Hotham to link Mountain pygmy possums”

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