A favourite landscape – The Mt Bogong section of the Alpine National Park, NE Victoria, Australia
Mt Bogong is Victoria’s highest peak at 1986 metres (6516 ft). With its cap of snow in winter and its summer grey-green colouring of eucalypts and snow plains, it stands as a silent sentinel looking over the high plains, the valleys and the villages which make up this section of the Australian Alps.
I love this place – on so many levels. It’s a valley (and its mountains) where I did early bush walks, where I spent many holidays and weekends with my family, and where I’ve walked and cycled. It’s one of those places that I’ve ended up with multiple connections to, and so I’ve ended up with a very significant attachment to it – partly borne of my history, partly my ‘go to’ place for relaxing, partly as a place for ‘reconnections’, especially when I’m back in Australia after being away a long time.
The Bogong region is unique in the Australian Alps. Ten of the 11 highest peaks in Victoria are in the area, and there is an abundance of well-signposted walking and mountain biking tracks (both in the foothills and on the High Plains themselves) that keep visitors busy for hours, days and weeks. In addition, the landscape provides a combination of natural and cultural heritage which the visitor can experience. The natural heritage is characterised by Peppermint and Alpine Ash Forests in the foothills, the snow plains and landforms of the High Plains, and a variety of fauna and flora, including the endangered Pygmy Possum. The cultural heritage of the area incorporates indigenous use of the landscape, the huts of the Mountain Cattlemen, and the Hydro-Electric developments which contributed so much to Australia’s post-Second World War development. In some of the villages close to the mountains, Australia’s gold mining heritage can be discovered.
Towns of the valley and the High Plains
The towns of the valleys provide a rich experience in terms of outdoor recreation, wineries, and fresh locally-produced food. There is a wide range of accommodation – B&Bs, motels, hotels, camping grounds and bush camping.
On the High Plains, Falls Creek provides resort style accommodation all year round. In spring, summer and early autumn, the walks of the High Plains are readily accessed from Falls Creek or nearby. In winter, Falls Creek becomes a ski resort for downhill enthusiasts as well as being the beginning point for a range of day and multi-day ski-touring or snow-shoeing opportunities in the High Plains.
Tawonga, Tawonga South and Mt Beauty
Mt Beauty, Tawonga and Tawonga South began as accommodation for the thousands of people who came to the area to work on the Kiewa Valley hydro-electric scheme in 1949. A significant part of Australia’s post-second world war economic development, the Hydro Electric Schemes attracted migrants from Europe who settled in the valleys of the Bogong foothills and were instrumental in developing the towns of the upper Kiewa valley.
These towns have experienced a variety of economic changes and shifts since this time. Hydro-electricity, forestry, tourism and changes to agriculture have seen the economies of the towns alternate between recreation, conservation and development.
Bogong Village was once a Hydro workers town. Approximately half-way between Mt Beauty and Falls Creek, Bogong Village is now an accommodation and outdoor education centre.
Falls Creek, originally know as Horseshoe Creek, was established as accommodation for hydro-electric workers. During the late 1940s the first ski lift and lodge were built, providing the foundation for the resort town Falls Creek now is.
Mountain Creek Walks
The beautiful Mountain Creek camping ground provides a base for exploration around the foothills of Mount Bogong as well as for more adventurous walks onto the Bogong High Plains. From Mountain Creek, it is possible to walk through tall forests and ancient ferns, follow well-maintained 4WD or park management tracks, climb to the roof of Victoria by ascending Mt Bogong, Victoria’s highest mountain, explore the Bogong High Plains, or relax at your campsite by Mountain Creek, the choice is yours.
The walks provide opportunities to explore or relax, to undertake multi-day walks or those of just a few hours. They provide you with an experience of the forests of the foothills, the high plains and the mountain landscapes of Mt Bogong and its surrounds.
There are a number of shorter walks starting at Mountain Creek. The 30 minute ‘Shady Gully Walk’ takes you along Mountain Creek and through Peppermint forests. Keep an eye out for ancient ferns along the route, as well as the patterns cast by light and shade as you walk along the track. Getting closer to the creek you will feel the shadows of the trees and the ferns and see the moss-covered rocks. The shadowy depths of the forest begin to impact on the landscape – the cooler air, the softer gurgle of the creek and the emergent sounds of birds speak for the changing nature of the walk.
Mt Bogong Walks
The walk from Mountain Creek to Bogong provides access to the Bogong High Plains. Many of the walks on the high plains are marked by a combination of trail marks on trees or posts, and numbered snow poles. The snow poles provide useful markers in places that are often very exposed.
Falls Creek Walks
For those who like comfort and some Alpine accommodation, coffee shops for a hearty breakfast to help start the day, and supplies at small supermarkets, Falls Creek is a useful starting point. Its position as an Alpine Resort with a series of summer activities means it provides opportunities for walker and riders as well as down-hill and cross-country skiers and snow-shoers
Cycling is very popular along the valley and also, for mountain-biking, throughout the Bogong section of the Alpine National Park. there are maps available which show the mountain tracks. Or just take your bike and explore the country roads of the valley.