For the slow traveler wanting a short walk on the High Plains around Falls Creek in Northeast Victoria, there are some nice tracks joining up various historic huts.
Some of these huts were originally used by cattlemen who would bring their livestock up onto the plains in search of summer pastures. Over time and with changing attitudes to national parks and their role in ecological protection and conservation, various studies negatively assessed the impact of cattle grazing on the High Plains. Access to the Alpine National Park by drovers was stopped, but it really never went away as a political issue.
This was ultimately a case of ecological conservation against the recognition of cultural heritage (or at least one part of the cultural heritage of the Victorian and Australian Alps). It tended to become an ‘either/or’ situation, depending on where people sat with the ‘natural heritage/cultural heritage’ divide This was unfortunate because things are rarely ‘either/or’.
Cattle have been banned from the park for many years but the Victorian conservative government re-opened some parts of the park, or its immediate border, to cattle again for ‘scientific research’. With the recent change of government, the practice is now, again, banned. Perhaps these on-going changes are outcomes of the fact that the ‘either/or’ mentioned above hasn’t been fully resolved, so the foundations for cooperation to get over this haven’t been laid.
Other huts have been used through the development of hydro-power, such a central part of Australia’s post-World War II development path. Still others have been built by ski-tourers who developed the skiing industry at times when facilities were ‘basic’ (at best) but who, in doing so, brought their cultural/landscape connections to this particular form of recreation. As a result, ski touring or snow-shoeing on the High Plains in winter is a special experience
This short walk takes you to two huts – an original cattleman’s hut (Wallace’s hut), and one which has been used for ski touring (Cope hut). There is an easy track to follow.
You can begin this along the Bogong High Plains road – the track to Wallace’s hut is signposted at around 7.5 kms along the road from Rocky Valley. Wallace’s is one of the original huts of the Victorian high plains.
After Wallace’s hut you can continue your walk to Cope hut – one of the original ski-touring huts built in the 1920′s.
The whole circuit will take around about 2-3 hours or so return. But it’s easy to take longer – stop and enjoy the atmosphere, the changing smells, the sounds of the High Plains. After all, that’s what slow travel, especially walking, is all about.
You can find further information on the circuit here. It’s a nice and easy introduction to some of the history that has shaped, and continues to shape, the landscapes of the High Plains. Enjoy the walk!