|List||National Heritage List|
|Legal Status||Listed place (07/11/2008)|
|Place File No||1/08/284/0028|
|Summary Statement of Significance|
The Australian Alps National
Parks and Reserves (AANP) are part of a unique Australian
mountainous bioregion extending over New South Wales,
the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria. The AANP
displays a mosaic of interactions between its natural and cultural
The natural landscapes of the AANP contain extremely restricted alpine and sub-alpine environments and flora and fauna species, with the alpine zone occupying a very small area (approximately 25,000 hectares). The AANP contains glacial lakes and includes the plateaus and peaks that are prominent and unparalleled in the Australian continent with an average elevation of only 330 metres above sea level. The AANP includes most of continental Australia's peaks over 1,700 metres and all of those over 1,900 metres and experiences extensive snow coverage on a seasonal basis.
The AANP provides a vital refuge for alpine and sub-alpine flora and fauna species, with a high level of richness and endemism across a wide range of taxa. During the late Quaternary Period and into the present, the high-altitude, cold-climate environment has provided refuge for species in an increasingly arid climate. The distribution of cold-climate species on the mainland retracted to the higher altitudes of the Alps as conditions began to warm up. The high peaks and plateaus of the AANP support a rich and unique assemblage of cold-climate specialist plant and animal species that have evolved unique physiological characteristics, enabling them to survive in an environment subject to extreme climate variation.
The cold-climate, high-altitude history of the AANP is expressed in the assemblage of glacial and periglacial features, unique in low-latitude, low-altitude Australia. These include five alpine lakes, thirteen cirques and associated moraines, ice-grooved and polished pavements and erratic boulders, block streams, permafrost and solifluction deposits. The collection of features contributes uniquely to our understanding of the nature of landscape response to climate during the ice ages of the late Quaternary and into the present.
The Mt Howitt fish fossil site demonstrates remarkable fossil species diversity and preserves fish fossils across a wide range of life stages from larvae to mature fish, over tens of millions of years. The site contributes an important narrative about the evolution of fish across a number of different marine and freshwater environments, and the development of features that enabled vertebrates to leave the water to exploit terrestrial environments for the first time.
Containing the highest parts of the Great Divide, and the only region of mainland Australia with seasonal snow cover, the Australian Alps strongly influence the hydrology of eastern Australia. The Alps contribute significant quantities of snow melt to the river systems of eastern Australia, and the water retention properties of the bog and fen communities in the AANP play an integral role in regulating water flow to river systems.
The AANP provides an outstanding example of the adaptability of a single plant genus, the genus Eucalyptus. The eucalypts dominate the AANP vegetation from the lowlands to the alpine heights, where the snow gum (E. pauciflora) defines the treeline. Much of the highest land in Australia occurs within the AANP which demonstrates very large topographical variations, which in turn is reflected in the high diversity of eucalypts along the altitudinal and climatic gradient.
The AANP contains the Indigenous history of moth feasting which involved the use of an adult insect – the moth – as the basis for large-scale annual gatherings of different Aboriginal groups for ceremonies sets the gatherings in the AANP apart from other Aboriginal ceremonial gatherings and has captured the Australian imagination, making it exceptional in Australia.
Transhumant grazing commenced in the 1830s and was the practice of using alpine high plains to graze stock during the summer months. It was a significant pastoral activity of the 19th and 20th centuries, continuously practised for over 150 years that made a considerable contribution to Australia's pastoral industry. Transhumant grazing created and sustained a distinctive way of life that is valued as an important part of Australia's pioneering history and culture. Historic features associated with transhumant grazing are evident in the former stockman's huts, the relict former grazing landscapes, stock yards and stock routes.
Scientific research has been undertaken in the AANP since the 1830s. The value is demonstrated by the density and continuity of scientific endeavour. Research sites extending throughout the Alps relate to botanical surveys, soil conservation exclosures, karst research sites, fire ecology plots, arboreta, glacial research sites and space tracking.
Snow-based recreation in the AANP commenced in Kiandra in 1861 with the establishment of the Kiandra Snowshoe Club and expanded from an ad hoc activity by enthusiasts to a multi-million dollar snow sport and tourism industry, today with substantial ski slopes and village resorts. The government hotels established in scenic locations - the Mount Buffalo Chalet, the Yarrangobilly Caves House and Precinct, the Chalet at Charlottes Pass, the Hotel Koscuisko (former) and Mount Franklin Chalet (former) were major features of the expanding activity in the early twentieth century.
Water harvesting in the AANP has contributed to the social and economic development of Australia. Elements of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme and the Kiewa Valley Hydro-electric Scheme occur within the AANP and contribute to the electricity needs of south-eastern Australia, evident in the major pondages along with the numerous tunnels, aqueducts, power stations, huts, roads and former settlements, town and work camp sites. Both schemes were major post-war reconstruction projects with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme employing over 60,000 displaced persons from post war Europe.
The North-East Kosciuszko pastoral landscape demonstrates the use of the mountain resources of summer grasses and herbfields in a remote environment with difficulty of access. As a relict landscape of past grazing leases it conveys the principal characteristics of transhumance and permanent pastoralism being the large areas of open grassy landscapes between timbered ridges and hills, stockman's huts, homestead complexes, stockyards and stock routes.
The AANP is a powerful, spectacular and distinctive landscape and is highly valued by the Australian community for its aesthetic vistas and experiences. Much of the terrain is valued for its remoteness and naturalness, including views to and from the Alps. The mountain vistas, distinctive range-upon-range panoramas, snow covered crests, slopes and valleys, alpine streams and rivers, natural and artificial lakes, snow-clad eucalypts, the high plain grasslands and summer alpine wildflowers all evoke strong aesthetic responses. Recreational pursuits in these landscapes are enhanced by aesthetic appreciation of their wild and natural qualities.
Snow-covered eucalypts, huts in mountain settings and mountain landscapes are distinctive Australian images captured by numerous artists and photographers. The mountain landscapes have inspired poets, writers, musicians and film makers. The AANP has a special association with the Australian community because of its unique landscapes, the experiences of remoteness and naturalness and as the only opportunity for broad-scale snow recreation in Australia. The AANP is widely recognised by Australians as the 'high country'.
Mount Kosciuszko is an iconic feature for all Australians and visited by over 100,000 people each year. The mountain was named by the explorer Paul Edmund Strzelecki after the Polish freedom fighter, General Tadeusz Kosciuszko in appreciation of freedom and a free people, an association that is passionately valued and celebrated by Australia's Polish community.
The pioneering history of the high country is valued as an important part of the construction of the Australian identity featuring in myths, legends and literature. The ballad of The Man from Snowy River epitomises horsemanship undertaken in rugged landscapes. The stories, legends, myths and lifestyles of the mountains have been romanticised in books, films, songs, and television series and many, such the Silver Brumby novels, are part of Australia's national identity. Through his ballad The Man from Snowy River, Andrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson captured the imagination of the Australian people, stimulating a passion for the high country and the way of life associated with the mountains.
The mountain huts of the AANP constructed for grazing, mining and recreation are valued by communities as a physical expression of the cultural history of the region. They have special associations with many community groups, such as the mountain cattlemen, skiers and bushwalkers but particularly with the Kosciuszko Huts Association that has been maintaining mountain huts and associated vernacular building skills for over 30 years.
Baron Ferdinand von Mueller is highly recognised nationally and internationally for his contribution to Australian botany, particularly his extensive and thorough botanical collections undertaken in several botanical collecting trips throughout the Alps on horseback. Eugen von Guerard is renowned for his painting North-east view from the northern top of Mount Kosciusko that is in Australia's national collection. The writer Elyne Mitchell and poet David Campbell lived near the mountains and their association with the alpine landscape is expressed in their literary works.
The Australian Alps (the Alps)
are identified as a bioregion under the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation
The Alps are known in Victoria as the
Victorian Alps or the High Country, as the Snowy
Mountains in New
South Wales and as the Brindabella
Range in the Australian Capital Territory. The term 'High
Country' is also often understood to mean the entire region of the Alps. |
The Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves (AANP) are a tract of eleven protected areas stretching across the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria, containing the vast majority of alpine and sub-alpine environments in Australia. These reserves have been managed effectively as a single palaeobiogeographic unit for much of the last two decades.
The boundary of the AANP comprises the following national parks and reserves: Brindabella National Park, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Namadgi National Park, Bimberi Nature Reserve, Scabby Range Nature Reserve, Kosciuszko National Park and Alpine National Park, which form the central part of the AANP containing true alpine and sub-alpine environments, Snowy River National Park, the Avon Wilderness, and the outliers of Mount Buffalo and Baw Baw national parks, with Baw Baw representing the southerly extent of the sub-alpine environments on mainland Australia (Parks Victoria, 2005). The boundary of the AANP includes Cabramurra (the highest town in Australia) and the ski resorts of Guthega, Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow, Charlotte Pass and Thredbo. In Victoria the six main alpine resorts are outside the boundary of the AANP.
The Alps are within the traditional lands of a number of Aboriginal groups including Ngarigo (Monero-Ngarigo; Ngarego; Ngarrugu); Wiradjuri; Ngunnawal; Wolgol [Walgalu]; Krautungalung; Brabiralung; Braiakaulung; Gunai/Kurnai; Minjambuta; Djilamatang; Djiringanj; Jaimathang - Yaitmathang; Duduora; Biduelli (Maap; Bidawal; Birdawal); Woiworung; Wurundjeri; Taungurung; Thau; and Walbanga (Goulding 2002; Tindale 1974 cited in Kabaila nd). Many Aboriginal people from the Alps now live throughout Victoria, the New South Wales south coast, Canberra, the Snowy Mountains region and beyond. These people continue to have an ongoing connection to the place (Goulding 2002) and some of their recollections of their lives in and around the mountains have been recorded, for example by Wesson (1994), Waters (2004) and Young (2005).
The Eastern Highlands is an elevated region of eastern Australia, extending for more than 3,000 kilometres roughly parallel to the coast from Cape York Peninsula to central Victoria. The southern part of the highlands is submerged in Bass Strait, before it reappears as the Tasmanian central highlands. The natural landscapes of the highlands vary in age, lithology and topography. In places, plateaus are dissected into rugged hills and their eastern edges, which are generally steeper than the western slopes, form high escarpments. These unite to form the Great Escarpment, which runs from northern Queensland to the Victorian border (Ollier 1988).
The popular name for the highlands, the 'Great Dividing Range', derives from the highlands' function as a drainage divide, which has influenced the hydrology of the entire eastern portion of the mainland by diverting the rivers of the eastern states east to the coast or west inland. For much of its length the divide itself runs across rather low relief country where there is no distinctive 'range'. The highest elevations of the Great Dividing Range occur in the Alps. In eastern Victoria the old plateau has been eroded into separate high plains (such as Snowy Plains and Bogong High Plains), mostly lying south of the divide (Ollier 1988). Australia's highest mountain on the mainland, Mount Kosciuszko, is in the Snowy Mountains.
Topographically, the region is an elevated undulating peneplain, separated in places by valleys and gorges into ridges, escarpments and large flat areas, known as high plains. In New South Wales much of the plateau country is still intact, whereas in Victoria, the ranges show progressively more relief to the south and to the west, where deep valleys and gorges have dissected the topography, leaving the plateaus of the Bogong High Plains and smaller isolated plateaus like Mount Buffalo and Baw Baw prominent in the landscape.
The natural landscape of the Alps was in part shaped by episodes of glaciation. Glaciers are effective agents of erosion, transport and deposition, and glacial features appear distinct in the landscape from features formed by river flow. Glacial lakes often form in depressions carved out by glacial erosion (cirques), but also occur when dams of glacial deposits (moraine) form between a retreating glacier and an earlier end-moraine. In the still water of these lakes, clay and silt settle on the bottom in two thin layers, one light and one dark, called varve. This process is characteristic of glacial lakes, with two layers of sediment representing one year's deposition. These can be read like tree rings to indicate the age of a glacial lake (Plummer and McGeary 2003).
Periglacial processes are also effective agents of erosion, transportation and deposition and occur where the landscape is exposed to extreme conditions of freeze and thaw. Geological features resulting from periglacial processes are usually quite distinct from features formed by glacial processes. The AANP contains a remarkable concentration of landforms developed under periglacial processes of extreme freeze and thaw action. Such features include the movement of soil particles by the growth of needle ice, and in wet spots below long lasting snowpatches, solifluction and the mass movement downslope of soil and stones. Solifluction most commonly causes terraces or lobes, from the gradual movement of waterlogged soil or other surface material downslope, especially in places where the frozen subsoil prevents the percolation of surface water. Slope deposits and blockstreams are the largest, most widespread and easily recognisable periglacial features in the AANP (Galloway 1989; AALC 2005). On a smaller scale, solifluction terraces range from less than one metre to several metres in size. These include the non-sorted steps above the tree-line at Kosciuszko dating to around 2,500 years ago, which indicate a renewal of cooler conditions at that time (Costin 1989). There are no modern glaciers in Australia, although some snow drifts persist into late summer at higher elevations. Modern periglacial activity is restricted to elevations above the treeline (Barrows et al. 2001).
The Australian continent remained largely untouched by late Pleistocene glaciations even in its highest landscapes. Consequently these landscapes preserve periglacial features, ancient landscapes, deep soil profiles and long biostratigraphic sequences. In Northern Europe and North America, in comparison, advancing and retreating glaciers scoured montane landscapes down to the bedrock, removing many features and deposits shaped by earlier glaciations and periglacial activity. The absence of intensive Pleistocene ice modification of the elevated landscape of the Victorian and Australian Capital Territory Alps is unusual. The lack of glacial activity and the mild climates of the Holocene epoch (the last 12,000 years) have preserved convex slopes and undulating plateaus above the treeline and well-developed deep alpine humus soils, as well as a range of active and fossil periglacial features (Kirkpatrick 1994).
The AANP contains nine limestone karst areas, with Yarrangobilly Caves and Cooleman Plains being the best documented of these. The Yarrangobilly impounded karst area in northern Kosciuszko is characterised by surface karst features such as gorges, arches, springs and pinnacle fields as well as several hundred caves, including six show caves open for public viewing (ISC 2004). The Cooleman Plains karst area is located to the north of Tantangara Reservoir, in the northeast of Kosciuszko National Park. It contains an impressive array of karst features including caves, valleys, active and abandoned springs and stream sinks, and a series of small features known as 'A-tents' (ISC 2004; DEH 2006b).
Flora and Fauna
The flora and fauna of the Alps are a unique assembly of colonists of a young and ephemeral habitat evolved in a cold mountain environment, surrounded by a lower, warmer and more arid landscape (AALC 2005; DEH 2006a). Similar vegetation probably existed during previous interglacial periods and some basic elements of the flora might have persisted for at least the last few hundred thousand years. However, extreme climate fluctuations and changing fire regimes throughout the Quaternary probably resulted in major changes in the distribution and composition of the flora (Kershaw et al. 1986 in Busby 1990; Coyne 2000).
Today, the Alps contain four distinct vegetation zones that are altitudinally and climatically determined. These zones are characterised by changes in height and species of the dominant eucalypt species and in the density, type and growth forms of under-storey and ground cover species (Cameron-Smith 1999; AALC 2005). These zones are the tableland, montane, sub-alpine and alpine zones. The alpine zone occupies a very small area of land above the tree-line (AALC 2006). Over time the extent of the alpine and sub-alpine zones has retreated, with increasing temperatures as a result of a changing climate. The floristic zones are attitudinally defined as follows (AALC 2005):
Grassy woodlands and dry open forests occur on lower slopes or tablelands. Precipitation is higher in the montane zone and the forest is generally taller and denser than the sub-alpine zone. The trees are dominated by a mixture of eucalypts which are taller and grow closer together. At the highest elevation of the montane slopes just below the sub-alpine zones there is a band of tall open forest dominated by alpine ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis), the tallest eucalypts in the Alps standing at around 20-40 metres (Cameron-Smith 1999; AALC 2005).
Above around 1,500 metres there is an abrupt change in vegetation from tall forest to a low-growing sub-alpine woodland dominated by the snow gum Eucalyptus pauciflora. The plants growing here have to endure low temperatures year round and precipitation falls mostly as snow and ice. The trees are stunted and often twisted away from the prevailing wind and as they approach the alpine and valley-bottom treelines, snow gums typically develop an increasingly shrub-like appearance and cluster into 'islands' generally associated with rocky outcrops. They can survive temperatures down to about -18 degrees Celsius, often in deep snow (Cameron-Smith 1999; Coyne 2000; AALC 2005).
The snow gum (Eucalypus pauciflora) is an emblematic eucalypt associated with alpine scenery, particularly stunted and twisted growth forms. The species is common on high mountainous and plateau areas of the Alps and Tasmania, but also occurs on other tablelands and mountains, and some near-coastal areas in southern New South Wales, Tasmania, western Victoria and South Australia. It is generally found at an altitude above 1,500 metres to altitudes approaching 2,000 metres but often found down to around 1,000 metres or occasionally 600 metres, with rare occurrences to near sea level in Tasmania (CSIRO nd). The species has several described sub-species, the most cold-tolerant being subsp. niphophila (found at the highest altitudes suitable for tree growth in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria); subsp. debeuzevillei (restricted to some isolated peaks in northern Koszciusko National Park, New South Wales and adjacent similar areas of the Australian Capital Territory); subsp. hedraia (found only at the upper treeline around Falls Creek in Victoria, with subsp. niphophila occurring not far away) and subsp. acerina (the treeline form on the Baw Baw Plateau in Victoria). The typical subspecies, i.e. subsp. Pauciflora, also occurs where there is a treeline at slightly lower sub-alpine altitudes and is abundant in this sub-alpine habitat on all but the highest parts of New South Wales and Victoria (APC 2007, B Lepschi pers. comm. 25 October 2007). For the purposes of this report the 'snow gum' in the AANP will be referred to as Eucalyptus pauciflora.
The alpine zone is subject to the coldest temperatures and the most persistent snow and the most obvious change in the vegetation is the transition at the treeline or upper altitude where trees can survive. The treeline generally coincides with mean mid-summer temperatures of about 10 degrees Celsius. At this level the limited solar energy only provides for day to day survival and renewal of leaves - there is not enough photosynthetic activity for the development of the large root systems, trunks and branches required by trees (AALC 2005, AALC 2006b). The deep organic soils of the alpine zone have been the subject of scientific interest, as they differ from other alpine areas around the world where soil formation is limited (ISC 2004). These soils have remarkable water retention properties and contribute to the slow release of snow melt over the year to the catchment.
In the high plains cold air drainage is associated with an altitudinal inversion of ecosystems. Cold-tolerant communities which are often treeless occur both at the highest and at the lowest levels, often referred to as frost hollows. Forest and woodland communities occur between the altitudinal extremes (Costin 1989; Coyne 2000).
Above the treeline is the true alpine zone the vegetation comprises a diverse mosaic of lower growing vegetation communities including heathlands, grasslands, herbfields and bogs, interspersed by bare protruding rockherbs reaching no more than a metre in height. The alpine zone is subject to the coldest temperatures and the most persistent snow and is too harsh an environment for trees. The alpine zone supports a diversity of communities including herbfields, heaths, bogs, fens, feldmark and sod-tussock grasslands, and several of these communities have significant hydrological and biological conservation values. Alpine bogs produce significant volumes of high-quality water, which they release slowly into catchments in summer, when rainfall is scarce. Bogs and fens are groundwater communities dominated by hummock-forming mosses (Sphagnum spp.) and acidophilous shrubs. These communities develop in sites where partly decomposed organic matter accumulates and is colonised by water-loving species such as sedges (Carex spp.) (AALC 2006b). Deep organic soil profiles exist here and are partly responsible for the water retention properties of these high altitude ecosystems.
There is a limited flowering season, and mass flowering takes place in the summer months (ISC 2004). The AANP demonstrates high species richness in a range of plant families and genera including the daisies (Asteraceae, especially Brachyscome, Helichrysum and Ozothamnus), willow-herbs (Onagraceae), starworts and cushion-plants (Caryophyllaceae), southern heaths (Epacris), bottlebrushes (Callistemon), eucalypts, particularly of the ash type (subgenus Monocalyptus), riceflowers (Pimelea), lilies (Liliales) and orchids (Pterostylis, Prasophyllum and Dipodium). One genus of tree, Eucalyptus, dominates the alpine landscape. The ubiquitous eucalypts cover upland and valley alike, occupying every available ecological niche except for the frost hollows and the highest mountain tops and ridgelines. Over 30 species of eucalypt replace each other along a number of ecological sequences across Kosciuszko National Park (DEC 2006; ANHAT 2007).
Generally the range of vertebrate species in the region extends beyond the AANP and most are not dependent on alpine conditions. However several alpine vertebrate and invertebrate species have a limited distribution and many are threatened. The family of the smallest of the Australian possums, Burramyidae, includes the mountain pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus). Endemic to the Alps, the species is the only marsupial observed to display a physiological adaptation to cold, surviving the winter months in an energy-saving torpor (Mansergh et al. 1989; Mansergh and Broome 1994). Many other animals living in the AANP, particularly reptiles and amphibians, become inactive in colder temperatures and conserve energy by hibernating or becoming torpid. Species such as the mountain pygmy-possum, the native bush rat (Rattus fuscipes), the broad-toothed rat (Mastacomys fuscus) and Swainson's antechinus (Antechinus swainsonii) use the insulating properties of the snow to survive long cold winters by living entirely underneath it (AALC 2005). The ubiquitous short-beaked echidna has adapted to the extreme climate of the region, demonstrating both torpor and hibernation (Grigg et al. 1991).
The alpine she-oak skink (Cyclodomorphus praealtus), alpine water skink (Eulamprus kosciuskoi) and high plains (or alpine bog) skink (Pseudemoia cryodroma) have a substantially alpine distribution. The alpine water skink occurs in sphagnum bogs and alpine she-oak skinks are found at high altitudes in sub-alpine woodland. The mountain dragon (Tympanocryptus diemensis) is the only agamid lizard that occurs above the winter snowline in Australia. It is found up to about 1,750 metres in open woodland, open heath and on rocky north- or west-facing slopes of the mainland mountains (Coyne 2000; Cogger 2000; Wilson and Swan 2003; Swan et al. 2004).
The humid climate and generally pollution-free waters and bogs provide ideal habitats for frogs. Several species are largely restricted to the alpine and sub-alpine zones, including the Victorian Baw Baw frog (Philoria frosti), the brilliantly marked southern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne corroboree) and the northern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne pengilleyi) (Cameron-Smith 1999; Coyne 2000; Cogger 2000).
The climbing or broad-finned galaxias (Galaxias brevipinnis) is a native fish that used to be found in waterways at all elevations throughout the Alps. It can climb damp rock faces into shallow warm pools of water to regulate its body temperature (Coyne 2000). It is now restricted to the alpine and sub-alpine waterways above waterfalls where introduced migrating trout cannot reach (AALC 2005).
An emblematic alpine insect, the Bogong moth (Agrotis infusa) migrates to the high country in early summer from north-western New South Wales and Queensland, where it breeds and feeds. It clusters in large groups in rock crevices and caves and remains dormant over summer to escape the heat of the lowlands. This attribute is called aestivation or summer hibernation (AALC 2005). Caves provide a stable environment for specialised invertebrate fauna in the AANP, much of which is still to be studied (Coyne 2000). Yarrangobilly Caves and Cooleman Plains support distinctive invertebrate species restricted to the karst systems (Coyne 2000).
The AANP contains two identified Ramsar sites: one comprises Blue Lake, Hedley Tarn and the majority of their catchments in Kosciuszko National Park, and the other being the Ginini Flats Wetland Complex in Namadgi (Coyne 2000). Wetlands occur where the water table is close to the surface: in valley bottoms, along stream courses or seepage areas on valley sides. The ecosystems of a few alpine streams have not been influenced by the introduction of trout or by water diversion (Costin 1989). Research on the flora and fauna of alpine aquatic systems indicates major differences between alpine systems and other aquatic systems in Australia (Cullen and Norris 1989). These streams and wetlands are floristically and physiographically complex and vary from wet Poa grassland, Carex-dominated fens, to peat bogs rich in sphagnum and hydrophytic shrubs and herbs. The presence of an additional sphagnum species, S. subsecundum, which is tolerant of submersion, distinguishes bog communities on the Baw Baw plateau and Lake Mountain, outside AANP (Coyne 2000).
The Alps receives some of the highest precipitation in Australia and contains the headwaters of a number of major Australian rivers including the Snowy, the Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers. Large quantities of snow melt feed into the alpine rivers during spring and summer and are diverted into the Snowy Mountains scheme (Geoscience Australia 2007). The upper Murray catchment contributes more than 17 percent of the average annual runoff into the Murray-Darling basin, from only 1.4 per cent of the basin's area. The relatively low temperatures result in low evaporation rates and regular and plentiful precipitation. The high water-holding capacity of snow, of deep alpine soils and of vegetation - notably the bog communities, results in slow discharge rates of water and contributes to reliable stream-flow, by Australian standards, throughout the year. Around 2.5 metres of water falls as rain and snow in the region each year, and its slow release by sedgeland peats, fens and sphagnum moss beds maintains flow in streams and rivers, especially during drier summer months (Costin 1989; Good 1992a; Crabb 2003). As a result, the region holds large volumes of water resources and catchments that are highly valued for irrigation and domestic supply.
There is physical evidence of Aboriginal use across the region in the form of surface artefact scatters and open campsites, scarred trees, stone quarries, ceremonial grounds, stone arrangements, quarries, rock art and rock shelters with cultural deposit (Flood 1980; Grinbergs 1993a; Goulding et al. 2000; McConnell et al. 2002a, 2002b; Freslov et al. 2004).
Three rock shelters containing evidence of human occupation on the fringes of the AANP during the Late Pleistocene have been excavated: Birrigai – 21,000 + 220 BP (Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Australian Capital Territory), Cloggs Cave – 17,720 + 840 BP (Buchan, Victoria) and New Guinea II - 21,000 + 900 BP (Snowy River National Park, Victoria). While neither New Guinea II nor Cloggs Cave occurred within the periglacial zone, it is likely that conditions were cold, dry and harsh. Birrigai is immediately adjacent to areas affected by periglacial conditions. Aboriginal rock art occurs at both New Guinea II (finger fluting) and Cloggs Cave.
Aboriginal people have identified many places of value within the AANP, such as dreaming trails, spiritual places, ceremonial places, story places, named places, birthing places, food and medicine collection localities, raw material collection localities, and men's and women's places. A number of specific locations of importance to individuals have also been named (Goulding et al. 2002; Waters 2004).
Many descriptions of historic features have been summarised from the report Assessment of the Cultural Heritage Values of the Australian Alps National Parks (Truscott et al. 2006).
The high alpine pastures offered surrounding landholders good grazing during the summer months when feed was scarce on their home stations. Transhumant grazing, the practice of bringing cattle and sheep up to graze on the well watered high country pastures during the summer months, ameliorated the threat of drought in the low lands and allowed home pastures time to recover. This process of moving stock into and out of the high country pastures, resulted in a variety of significant features associated with alpine grazing including stock routes, stockyards, huts and homestead landscapes.
Most of the grazing landscapes of the AANP are now relict but remain obvious by their open character. Maps delineating the former pastoral properties and grazing leases exist illustrating the extent of the activity across most of the 'plain' areas of the AANP. The higher areas remain as grasslands while some of the cold air drainage plains of northern Kosciuszko are now revegetating in shrubs such as hakea.
A large network of stock routes crossed the Alps - some are extant while others have faded into obscurity. The Snowy River Route through the Willis customs station is now the Barry Way (New South Wales) and the Snowy River Road (Victoria). The Tharwa Kiandra Stock Routes and Miners Trails are now the Boboyan Road and Snowy Mountains Highway. Many of the former stock routes became fire trails with some modification to their original form. The Murray Gap Fire Trail in north Kosciuszko is an important historic stock route, the Fainter Cattle Track to the Bogong High Plains became the Fainter Fire Track. Although grazing has ceased in the AANP, the transiting of cattle has been allowed to continue under permit along specified routes through the Alpine National Park.
Permanent pastoral properties were also established in the Alps. These were modest homesteads with many outbuildings for housing stock during the winter months. The huts and homestead complexes demonstrate the vernacular building techniques using hand tools such as an adze and broad axe. Stockyards and in some cases exotic trees also remain in the landscape.
Most of the huts in the AANP are stockmen's huts that were built for alpine pastoral activities are located within or on the edges of open areas, generally near the road or stock route. Shelter huts constructed by stockmen for personal shelter and storage were built to survive the impact of the harsh winter weather. On average they measured three by six metres, with a stone fireplace or detached chimney and with a sleeping platform or bunks. Their fabric reveals the use and re-use of available materials, due to the difficulty of bringing building materials into the high country. Although the number of huts has been depleted, mostly by bushfires, there are around 150 huts remaining in the AANP from the original suite of huts of almost double that number. The Kosciuszko Huts Association (KHA, 2004) and the Victorian High Country Huts Association (VHCHA 2008) list and map the location of the huts in the Alps and a summary of some of the key huts and homesteads follows.
Cascades Hut is located about 50 metres off the fire trail from Dead Horse Gap to Tin Mines. It was built in 1935 as part of a summer pastoral grazing run and was restored in the 1970s. The hut has a strong association with the Silver Brumby novels.
Coolamine Homestead was established in the 1880s and is an important example of an alpine pastoral grazing run. The complex today consists of Southwell House and main homesteads, the cheese house, an iron building in front of Southwell House, yards and outhouses.
The Currango Pastoral Landscape shows evidence of former grazing leases of Currango plain and contains 25 buildings constructed between 1851 and 1926, including Old Currango and Currango Homesteads and their outbuildings. The landscape was grazed from the 1830s. Old Currango Homestead, built in 1873 and subsequently modified, is the oldest homestead in Kosciuszko National Park. The Currango homestead complex was built in 1895 and is the largest and most intact homestead complex of the 11 snow belt stations and is the only one that has been almost continuously and seasonally occupied since the 1850s. The homestead is still functioning for tourism.
The Gudgenby Station was used for pastoralism from 1844. It contains the current Gudgenby Homestead, built in 1967 on the site of the original homestead, the Hudson Ready Cut Cottage built in 1927, and ancillary structures. The pastoral landscape is contained within the Gudgenby Valley at the junction of the Gudgenby River and Hospital Creek.
Oldfields Hut was built in 1925 and is located in the east of Kosciuszko National Park almost at the border with Namadgi National Park, on the track that leads up to Murrays Gap and Mount Bimberi. It is a fine example of a hand built slab timber hut with a corrugated iron roof. The place retains remnants of a vegetable garden and fruit trees.
The Orroral Homestead was first used for summer grazing in 1839. The homestead precinct contains remnant fences and stockyards, huts dray tracks, animal pens, sheds, a shearing shed, the 1860s and 1950s buildings, a well, and an orchard and plough-fields.
Wonnangatta Station was established in 1866 and is situated in the Victorian Alps in a remote pastured valley, with the Wonnangatta River running along its length. The Station site consists of the burnt ruins of the main Homestead, a blacksmith shop site and cattlemen's hut, cattle yards and pens, orchard, plantings and cemetery. It is located near the junction of Conglomerate Creek and the Wonnangatta River, 29 kilometres north-west of Crooked River township (DEW 2007a). The main homestead was burnt accidentally in 1957 but the site still contains chimney remains and is surrounded by exotic European tree plantings (Truscott et al. 2006).
Wallaces Hut is also known as Seldom Seen Hut, and is located at Wallace Gap on the Bogong High Plains. This hut is the oldest complete structure in the Alpine National Park built in 1889 by the Wallace brothers, Arthur, William and Stewart, from snow gum slabs and woollybutt shingles. The National Trust classified the hut in 1967, and the Rover Scouts of Victoria have continued to maintain it for some decades (Truscott et al. 2006).
The gold rushes in the Alps brought miners from all over Australia and the world, including many from Europe, Britain, America and China. From 1851 to the 1920s almost 70 fields were mined in the Alps and adjacent areas in Victoria, including some tin and copper mines, although many mining fields within the region had relatively low yields.
There are 68 mining fields found in the AANP or the adjacent Historic Areas (LRGM 2002). The Kiandra mining field in New South Wales and the Red Robin Mine landscape in Victoria are regarded as the sites most representative of the low technology style of mining that occurred in the Alps.
The Kiandra mining field shows the particular characteristics of mining in the Alps in the nineteenth century, notably in its extensive alluvial mining remains and use of water races to capitalise on the high water volume but low water velocity. The Kiandra township site and associated diggings include Township Hill, New Chum Hill, Surface Hill, Kiandra cemetery, Pollocks Gully, Commissioners Creek, and sections of Bullock Head and Eucumbene River. The only early extant buildings are the courthouse and Matthew's cottage, both of which have been significantly altered. The diggings are in generally good condition and with all machinery and equipment removed (LRGM 2002).
The Red Robin mine site contains a blend of early and recent elements including huts, camp settlement and housing, mine dam, machinery, mullock heap and tailings dump (Victorian Heritage Register 2006). Of particular interest are the remains of the vertical boiler next to the battery house, used to heat water to facilitate plate amalgamation of gold in sub-zero conditions.
Associated with the sites is an important collection of in-situ mining equipment. Huts such as the suite of Tin Mine huts and the original Grey Mare Hut were constructed for mining. Many of the huts have since become shelter destinations for bushwalkers and skiers.
As well as receiving some of the highest precipitation in Australia, the shape of the landforms makes the region particularly amenable for providing ample water resources that are used for power generation. There are two hydro-electric schemes partially within the AANP that tap into this water resource; the Kiewa Hydro-electric Scheme (KHES) and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme (SMHES).
The KHES was constructed over more than 20 years from the late 1930s. The scheme diverts and harnesses branches of the Kiewa River, with its source in the Bogong High Plains and near Mount Hotham (AGL 2008). The topography of the Victorian Alps with its low valleys extending deep into the high country means that several parts of the KHES are not within the AANP. However, the relevant catchments and many individual features lie within the AANP. Facilities associated with the scheme include water storages, aqueducts, pipelines, roads, power stations and gauging stations.
The SMHES was constructed between 1949 and 1974 and is located partly in the north-western Kosciuszko National Park (McHugh 1999; Pearson and Marshall 2000). The source of the Snowy River is on the Main Range. The scheme harnesses branches of the Snowy River and diverts water flow to the west, producing electric power and providing water to major irrigation systems along the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers.
Recreation and Tourism
The network of tracks and roads throughout the Alps, many of which were originally established to allow access for early infrastructure for industries such as logging, mining and pastoralism, have more recently been used for the development of the tourism industry and for park management. These routes range in condition from walking trails and fire management trails through to serviced roads and highways. This evolving network of routes has made the Alps accessible to recreational users.
Trails within the AANP are used by horse riders, bushwalkers, hikers and mountain bike riders. The Australian Alps Walking Track spans some 650 kilometres from Walhalla in Victoria to Tharwa in the Australian Capital Territory. The Bicentennial National Trail, launched in 1988, extends from Healesville through the Alps to Cooktown in Queensland. Other walking trails of note include McMillans Walking Track and the Hume and Hovell Walking Track. Service roads and highways include the Alpine Way; the Kosciuszko Road and the Great Alpine Road. These are examples of works undertaken by state governments to encourage and underpin tourism in the region throughout the twentieth century.
As a result of the Alps becoming more accessible, tourism began to prosper from the early 1900s. Many features of early tourism enterprise are still extant in the landscape, others have been lost through bushfire and development, and others have been upgraded. These historic recreation features include resorts and associated tourism infrastructure, hotels, lodges and chalets. Many of the huts originally constructed for mining and pastoralism have become shelter destinations for bushwalkers and skiers.
The main resorts within the AANP include Thredbo, Perisher, Guthega, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow and Charlotte Pass in New South Wales and Mt Buffalo in Victoria. The Victorian resort villages of Mt Hotham, Falls Creek and Dinner Plain are not within the AANP boundary. Mt Buffalo resort is on a granite massif plateau, and touring groups began visiting the Mount Buffalo plateau from 1856. By the 1890s there was a hospice and a hotel on the plateau offering accommodation to visitors. Thredbo, on the other hand, is a compact village in a narrow valley, and the central Kosciuszko resorts have a particular landscape character in the way the buildings integrate with the environment, in particular: their clustering, spacing and scale; as well as their conformity to the land slopes, creeks and access bridges (Freeman 1998). The resort style architecture shows the adaption of a number of styles to Australian conditions, and ranges from accommodation built in simple vernacular style, to buildings that adapt the style of chalets built in European alpine regions. The buildings in the resorts are a mix of private and commercial lodges, hotels, apartment blocks and staff accommodation lodges, and many show innovative design concepts.
The Yarrangobilly Caves House was built in 1901. The majority of buildings from this period are still present and in near original condition (DEW 2007d). The original Hotel Kosciusko was built in 1909 and was destroyed by fire in 1952. The Hotel Kosciusko was a large European style building that had a grand slam ski run, the first commercial ski slope in the Snowy Mountains area. The existing building is adapted from the staff quarters of the original complex and is known as Sponar's Chalet.
The Mount Buffalo Chalet was designed as a temporary building and was completed in 1910. The Chalet is reminiscent in style to northern European Chalet architecture (Heritage Register Victoria 2007). The Chalet at Charlotte Pass was originally opened in 1930 to encourage tourists to visit the Snowy Mountains. It was rebuilt in 1939 has undergone some modifications and upgrades to meet visitor demand and expectations over the years and still continues to operate as a tourism destination.
The Franklin Chalet south west of Canberra was built in 1937-38 and was destroyed in the 2003 bushfires. The Chalet site, associated huts, a stone gateway, ski runs, and the remains of a vehicle powered tow are extant and associated with Australian skiing in the period 1936-1963 (KHA, 2007). Illawong Lodge at Guthega was built in 1957 as a simple one storey structure which was added to the former Pound's Hut and still functions as a ski lodge (DEW 2007c). Cope Hut on the Bogong High Plains was constructed for the safety of skiers in 1929 (KHA 2001).
The Ski tube is Australia's highest rack railway system and is an 8.5 km journey through the longest railway tunnel (a total of 6.3 km) in the country. Bullocks Flat terminal is 1,120 metres above sea level and the terminal at Mount Blue Cow is at 1875 metres - a total climb of 755 metres.
The alpine environment, unique on mainland Australia, early attracted scientific interest. Scientific research in the AANP encompasses three key stages, the first of which commenced in the early 1800s with exploratory research undertaken by several pioneering individuals, who significantly contributed to the documentation of the region's geography, geology and botany. The second stage, during the period from the end of the 1800s to the early 1900s, developed scientific endeavour into more specific disciplines such as meteorology, geomorphology, ecology and astronomy. During the final stage, research built on previous efforts, with an increasing focus on conservation sciences from the1970s.
The AANP contains features associated with this developing scientific research. Routes and shelter-huts, for example, are often associated with historic scientific research along with other activities in the AANP. Scientific routes often followed previous tracks made by pastoralists and gold-prospecting surveyors, but also explored 'new' ground, opening new paths to Europeans. An example of historic scientific surveys following previous routes is the botanical surveys undertaken by Baron Ferdinand von Mueller between 1853 and 1861, which have since been mapped (Truscott et al. 2006; Costin et al. 1979).
Other features of historic scientific research include vegetation monitoring and fire ecology plots, glaciation research sites, karst research sites and hydrological monitoring sites.
The Yarrangobilly Caves karst area is the best-known and largest karst area of the AANP and is located in northern Kosciuszko. Historic research at the site has involved studies into karst processes and karst flora and fauna. The Cooleman Plain karst area has been used as a glaciation research and hydrological monitoring site.
The AANP has been extensively researched in terms of vegetation community dynamics. Vegetation monitoring and fire ecology research include sites such as the Piccadilly Fire Ecology Plots. Other long term research includes studies into vegetation trends in the sub-alpine and alpine zones between 1957 and 1978, as documented by Wimbush and Costin (1979). The Pretty Valley and Rocky Valley grazing exclosures were long-term vegetation monitoring plots located on the Bogong High Plains and were first started in 1941 by Maisie Fawcett (Carr). These plots formed part of scientific research resulting from a concern for clean water supply and have been carefully maintained and the vegetation remeasured regularly.
The Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek Space Tracking Stations were established in 1965 and 1967 and closed in 1985. The foundations of the antennae, the administration buildings and their infrastructure remain today as evidence in the landscape. The 26 metre antenna from Honeysuckle Creek was relocated to Tidbinbilla Tracking and renamed Deep Space Station 46 where it is used for communicating with spacecraft positioned close to the Earth.
Hundreds of stream gauging stations installed by water and power authorities provide important data related to surface and snow run-off; impacts from erosion; fire predictors and post-fire recovery; changing condition of catchments; and impacts as a result of infrastructure, such as the hydrological research by Costin and Wimbush (Griffiths and Robin 1994; Macdonald and Haiblen 2001a).
There is a range of research currently underway on climate change and its impacts on the high altitude ecosystems of the AANP. This includes the monitoring of snowpatches as a useful single index of climate change; monitoring of the extent of vegetation retreat or change; participation in the Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA) - an international effort studying sites on an altitudinal transect with vegetation plots and temperature loggers; studies of invertebrates on snow-melt gradients; studies of alpine lakes involving coring of lake ice-depth, establishing the ice break-up date and snow algae and associated diatoms; studies of treelines which are already moving into the sub-alpine treeless valleys in both Victoria and New South Wales; and studies looking at the phenology of flowering in the alpine zone (K Green pers. comm. 5 April 2008). Other research includes studies into post fire recover after the 2003 bushfires includes the assessment of fire impact on Sphagnum bogs in Namadgi National Park, assessment of the recovery of the broad-toothed rat in Brindabella National Park and the effect of bushfires on orchid reproductive (ACTEC, 2004).
Between 132 and 95 million years ago, pyroclastic volcanism may have been related to the onset of continental extension in eastern Australia. Uplift of the Eastern Highlands themselves is associated with the separation from Australia of the Lord Howe Rise and the opening of the Tasman Sea, beginning about 95 million years ago in the Late Mesozoic Era. Sea floor spreading terminated in the Tasman Sea at about 54 million years ago during the early Cenozoic Era, but continued in the Southern Ocean as Australia continued to drift northward relative to Antarctica. Episodes of upwelling of the mantle intruded granite into the crust. This metamorphosed the marine and alluvial sedimentary rocks of the High Plains into schist and gneiss. Uplift and erosion eventually produced granite massifs like Kosciuszko, Baw Baw and Mount Buffalo.
Uplift along the eastern and south-eastern margin of Australia continued into the Cenozoic. Volcanism between 70 million and about 5,000 years ago formed chains of volcanoes and volcaniclastic sediment along the length of the highlands. In much of south-eastern Australia, regional tilting and the development of disconformities within the Bass Strait basins, fault reactivation and localised uplift in the Strzelecki Ranges, Mount Lofty Ranges and Flinders Ranges, as well as the later 'Kosciuszko Uplift' of the reactivated Eastern Highlands, continues to the present day (Betts et al. 2002; McGowran et al. 2004).
During the Quaternary Period (the last 2.6 million years), global environments were subject to up to twenty severe glacial episodes. The highest parts of the AANP experienced two glacial periods during the latest Quaternary (in the last 100,000 years). The earlier sequence, before about 60,000 years ago, is known as the Snowy River Advance or the Early Kosciuszko Glaciation. The glacier sequence of the later Headley Tarn Advance, between 35,000 and 15,000 years ago, became progressively less extensive and is termed the Late Kosciuszko Glaciation (Barrows et al. 2001; Barrows et al. 2002). During the Late Kosciuszko Glaciation, glaciers probably formed in a small area of 30-40 square kilometres around Mount Kosciuszko and more extensively in the Tasmanian highlands (Galloway 1989; Kiernan 1996; DEC 2006). These advances correlate with glacier advances in South America and New Zealand and are recorded in landscapes, sediments and features of the Kosciuszko Plateau.
Early Indigenous Occupation
The more recent biophysical character of the Alps has been determined by its long geological and climatic histories. Geological uplift, volcanism and glacial and fluvial erosion of the region have led to an open peneplain landscape in the north and central regions, glacial features in the higher altitudes, with an increasingly rugged and dissected environment to the south. The shape, orientation and altitude of the natural landscape of the Alps have strongly influenced the movement of people across the region.
The migrations of modern people around the world witnessed and moved with the glacial and interglacial cycles of the Quaternary, as sea levels, treelines and water tables rose and fell. During these climate cycles, Australian landscapes were increasingly subject to cold aridity or 'dust ages' rather than ice ages, as Australia drifted northward into drier climates (Bowler 1978; Bowler 1982). The Alps, in contrast to arid zone expansion in much of continental Pleistocene Australia (1,800,000 to 12,000 years ago), provided important biological refugia during the arid phases of the late Pleistocene, as their glaciers and melting snow sheets provided spring and summer run-off to parched lowlands (Bowler 1978; Bowler 1982).
During the latest Quaternary at the height of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), approximately 20,000 years ago, small areas within the Snowy Mountains were glaciated, and periglacial conditions extended down to at least 1,000 metres above sea level along the Great Dividing Range. Evidence from the New Guinea II rock shelter in the Snowy River National Park shows the earliest scientific evidence for Aboriginal occupation on the fringes of the AANP during this time.
Excavations of three rock shelters - New Guinea II (Snowy River) and Cloggs Cave (Buchan River) in Victoria, and at Birrigai rock shelter (Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve) in the Australian Capital Territory – show a consistent pattern of small numbers of stone artefacts in occupation levels dated to the late Pleistocene and early Holocene, approximately 15,000 years ago (Ossa et al. 1995). Beginning around 12,000 years ago the present alpine plant communities most likely colonised the higher altitudes in response to increasing temperature and precipitation following the LGM.
About 5,000 years ago an increase in human occupation and use of the Alps began (Rosenfeld and Winston-Gregson 1983; Flood 1987; Kamminga et al. 1989; ISC 2004; Freslov et al. 2004; Freslov et al. 2004; J Tunn pers. comm. October 2005). This was a period of cultural change in Australia, marked by new technologies such as the small tool tradition. The archaeological evidence shows that at this time Aboriginal people moved throughout the region, from lower plains and valleys through to the alpine highlands.
Larger open occupation sites are generally located at lower altitudes within sub-alpine or montane environments, in sheltered areas associated with more diverse resources. In Victoria major open sites containing 4,000 artefacts and 18,000 artefacts have been located at Horsehair Plains (1,570m - 1,300 metres) (Freslov 2004) and at Dinner Plain (1,250 metres) at least two artefact scatters estimated to contain more than 100,000 artefacts have been identified (Freslov 2004). A high density of discrete sites has been recorded at Little Thredbo Valley in New South Wales (1,100-1,200 metres), which Kamminga et al. (1989) interpreted as representing repeated visits by small groups of people over a long time period.
Open sites in higher altitude areas such as the Mount Buffalo plateau, Bogong High Plains and Perisher Gap (1830 metres) are generally sparse of artefacts, consisting of small isolated finds or low density artefact scatters, as well as some edge ground axes (Freslov 2004; Flood 1987). Sites in these alpine and sub-alpine areas generally occur on summit ridges, broad highland plains or spur ridges, often associated with gneiss outcrops, snow gums and water. In some cases multiple small sites have been found clustered around rocky outcrops which might have supported Bogong moth populations (Freslov 2004).
The most intense occupation appears to be associated with major lines of movement through the highlands, for example along major river valleys and ridge lines, with large, denser sites occurring along relatively easy routes through the mountains; and small, sparse sites located on harder, less used routes (Freslov et al. 2004; ISC 2004). It is likely that resource exploitation and settlement patterns were complex and wide ranging in response to a risky, less predictable environment (Freslov et al. 2004).
Ethnohistorical records describe the annual movement of Aboriginal people into the high country prior to or during the summer months for large inter-tribal gatherings associated with the collection of Bogong moths (Flood 1980; Waters 2004; Goulding 2002). Historical references specifically refer to moth collecting in the high country of Kosciuszko National Park, in particular Bogong Mountain and the Townsend-Abbott Range; in the Brindabella Range; and the Victorian high plains, with specific reference to a mountain at Omeo (Bennett 1834; Scott 1869; Helms 1895; Jardine 1901; Eyre 1859; Gale 1927; Freslov et al. 2004; Flood 1980). The different locations mentioned in the various ethnohistorical records suggest that the moths would probably have been exploited wherever they aestivated in the Alps (Flood 1980).
Local groups such as the Jaimathang of Omeo, Djilamatang of the Upper Murray, and the Minjambuta of Mount Buffalo were joined by clans travelling long distances to attend these gatherings, which appear to have been highly organised (Freslov et al. 2004 citing Robinson's journal, 15/6/1844; Flood 1980). Coastal tribes might also have travelled into the mountains to join these gatherings (Payten 1949; Dawson nd). People met at the foot of the Alps in early summer for ceremonies before moving into the mountains to collect Bogong moths and use other seasonally abundant resources. The daisy yam, for example, was an important resource in alpine and sub-alpine zones, and Aboriginal people with yam digging sticks were frequently observed in the uplands in the nineteenth century (Freslov et al. 2004) maintaining social and political links between tribal groups as people came together for ceremonies, corroborees and intertribal battles (Young et al. 2000; Flood 1980).
Alpine plants were an important resource to Aboriginal people for food, medicine, tools, clothing, decoration, and ceremonial use (DECC 2006). The grass-tree (Xanthorrhoea australis) was used for kindling for fires and fire-stick farming. Vegetable food was a staple especially the tuber and daisy yam because of the availability throughout all seasons. Other important vegetables include: bulrush roots; orchid tubers, the starchy pith of tree-fern trunks, young shoots of grass-trees, and varieties of seeds and fruits. Seeds and seasonal fruits and berries were collected during the summer and autumn months while the honey from native flowers such as the bottlebrush and other native flowers provided sweet nectar (Flood 1996).
Pastoralism and Mining
In the early 1820s early explorers and settlers moved into the Snowy Mountains well before the colonial administration took steps to promote the spread of the colony (Higgins 1992; Hayes 1999). Explorers such as Hume and Hovell (1824) and John Lhotsky (from 1834) made early observations of Aboriginal people's presence in the Alps: the smoke of Aboriginal camp fires seen at a distance, scarred trees, river dams and the people themselves (Young 2005; Freslov et al. 2004). Many accounts of Aboriginal people, their cultural practices, movements and daily lives in the Alps were recorded during the 1800s, and surveyors working in the district recorded many Aboriginal place names (Young 2005; Boot 2004; Freslov, 2004; Wesson 2000).
Some traditional routes and pathways through the high country were used by Aboriginal people guiding early settlers and explorers into the high country (Gardner 1991; Wesson 1994). For example, it is believed that the cattlemen Brown and Wells found the Bogong high plains and the route up the ridge north of the Bundarah River with the assistance of local Aborigines (Gardner 1991). The pathways of human movement through the Alps, namely the tracks, roads and routes used by the early explorers and cattlemen were influenced by the existing Aboriginal pathways, the climate, access to water and the topography of the Great Dividing Range itself. These pathways helped navigate the scientists, gold prospectors and recreation seekers through the Alps as well.
The arrival of Europeans in the broader region led to many changes in Aboriginal people's lives, restricting access to resources and movement across the landscape, and disturbing traditional social and cultural practices. Clashes occurred between Aborigines and settlers with deaths on both sides, for example at Bungil and Thologolong on the Murray, and on the northern side of the Murray River at Dora Dora (to the east of Albury) (Freslov 2004 citing Philipp 1987). Regionally, the 'Faithfull Massacre' occurred in 1838 near present-day Benalla, where a number of Aboriginal people attacked and killed seven Europeans and their stock in a party of overlanders led by George Faithfull. A large number of Aboriginal people were killed in retaliation (Freslov 2004).
Most early settlers that came to Australia were from the United Kingdom and this applies to the first pastoralists into the Alps. The rapid uptake of land in the 1830s meant settlers and stockmen in eastern Australia were expanding into the Snowy Mountains looking for grazing country. Pastoral settlement of the Victorian high country started with the early journeys of exploration by George MacKillop who travelled along the Snowy River and through to Omeo in 1835. Stock from permanent pastoral establishments such as Currango was moved from the high country for the winter months keeping only a small number of breeding-stock. In recent years four-wheel drive vehicles have taken the role of the pack horse but for many years horses carried horse feed, tucker, saddles, shoeing gear, tools, camp ovens, dog food, dogs and candles. Stock yards, often portable post structures, were used in the musters.
Drought at the end of the 1830s created significant interest in the well-watered mountain environment with the high pastures offering landholders good grazing during the summer months when feed was scarce on their home stations. This led to transhumant grazing, a practice unique in mainland Australia – that of bringing cattle and sheep up to graze on the high country pastures during the summer months ameliorating the ever present threat of drought in the low lands and allowing home pastures time to recover (Hayes 1999 in Truscott et al 2006).
The colonial administration instituted a system of grazing licences in 1836 to control grazing, and licenses were issued on an annual basis for a fee of £10. Whilst they afforded no title in land they could be renewed and there was no limit to area or stocking rate. By 1855 taking cattle up to the high pastures of the Alps had become an established practice from both sides of the Great Divide, giving rise to some varied forms of land tenure in areas that became set aside for national parks, and became the source of major conflict in land and resource use (King 1959).
Most of the stock routes across region are associated with transhumant grazing. An important stock route was the Monaro route through to East Gippsland following the Snowy River. Large numbers of cattle, sometimes numbering in the thousands, were taken along this route when the ports of Gippsland handled large livestock export volumes (Grinbergs 1993a). After the parks became established many stock routes were renamed and in some cases modified and developed as fire trails but still used for moving stock.
By the mid 1800s, Aboriginal people had become an important part of the region’s pastoral industry, working as stockmen, station hands, house servants, and 'black trackers'. Many oral histories recollect stories of mustering brumbies from the Alps to be transported to the south coast then shipped to be used as cavalry horses; sometimes Aboriginal people would also trade horses for food (Wesson 1994).
The early explorers, pastoralists, scientists and artists, who experienced the landscape for its agricultural uses, scientific information and scenic topography, were predominantly immigrants from Europe, who brought with them their traditional use practices, scientific and mountain landscape experience and appreciation. Many early explorers, scientists, and artists associated with the Alps came from other countries in Europe: Lhotsky and Strzelecki from Poland, Mueller, Guérard, and Neumayer from Germany, and Lendenfeld from Austria. In 1840 Mount Kosciuszko was scaled by Paul Edmond de Strzelecki and named by him after his Polish countryman, Tadeusz Kosciuszko (Truscott et al 2006).
The two significant waves of European migration into Australia that impacted on the cultural diversity and the cultural life in the Alps were the Gold Rush of the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth century and after World War II during the development of the two major hydro-electric schemes: the KHES in Victoria and the SMHES in New South Wales.
From about the mid 1850s, gold miners entered the region and followed the established tracks set by earlier travellers to explore the valleys, foothills and rivers surrounding the Alps. From 1851 to the 1920s almost 70 fields, including some tin and copper mines, were mined in the Alps and adjacent Historic Areas in Victoria (LRGM 2002).
The gold rushes in the Alps brought miners from all over Australia and the world, including many European countries, Britain, America and China. The influx of hopeful miners from around the world changed the demography of the region and many miners stayed. Resentment and inter-racial hostility plagued the goldfields and the first real violence took place at the Buckland field in 1857, known as the 'Buckland Riots' (Truscott et al 2006).
Many mining fields within the region had relatively low yields and the main interest centred on Kiandra, which experienced a brief gold rush commencing in 1859 after the Pollock brothers, who were graziers, discovered gold. By 1860 there were 10,000 people on the goldfield but the rush was short-lived, ending in 1861 (LRGM 2002). By the 1920s mining had mostly ceased in the region and the population soon declined, reflecting the broader economic situation impacted by a shortage of labour and materials after World War I. There was sporadic activity later when the gold price rose, and in 1941 there was a rush at the Red Robin mine near Mount Hotham in Victoria, which is still being mined (LRGM 2002).
Mountain ash and alpine ash were harvested for use in the mining, hydro electricity and recreation industries. Most mills were small family businesses located in the sub-alpine regions with harvesting sourcing timber from the sub-alpine and montane zones. Kiandra had a waterwheel driven mill in 1885. With the establishment of forest commissions, forest management measures were introduced along with arboreta and plantations. The timber harvesting industry in the current AANP area was small compared to that undertaken at lower elevations. Eucalyptus oil distilling was also undertaken in the montane zone (RFA 1999; Sullivan and Lennon 2004).
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Victorian Board for the Protection of Aborigines and the New South Wales Aborigines Protection Board gradually moved many Aboriginal people from the Alps onto missions and reserves outside the AANP, such as Lake Tyers and Coranderrk in Victoria from 1861, and Delegate and Brungle in New South Wales from the 1880s. Despite this, some Aboriginal people maintained connections with the mountains as a place for work, hunting, collecting food and medicines, and as a place of spirituality for reconnecting with ancestors and country.
Recreation and Water Harvesting
The earliest tourism activity developed in the mid-1850s, with touring groups visiting the Mount Buffalo plateau from 1856. By the 1890s there was a hospice and a hotel on the plateau offering accommodation to visitors. In New South Wales snow sports were also gaining popularity, with the earliest recorded 'snow-shoe and skiing sports' reported at the goldfields town of Kiandra in 1861 (Truscott et al 2006).
Governments began to recognise the tourism potential for the Alps and funded improved access and infrastructure such as roads and rail networks, as well as the development of the Yarrangobilly Caves House in 1909, the Kosciusko Hotel in 1909, the Mount Buffalo Chalet in 1910, and the Chalet at Charlottes Pass in 1920. After World War I, many recreational activities were fostered as part of the healthy body movement, including bushwalking, skiing, horse riding, cycling, tennis, golf and ice skating on the Kosciusko Hotel's artificial lake (Gare 1992 in Truscott et al 2006).
The emergence of skiing as a significant recreational activity started in the 1920s in the Alps. The Ski Club of Australia was formed in 1920, followed by the Ski Club of Victoria in 1924 and many other ski clubs shortly after. By the 1930s facilities for winter sports were well established at Mount Buffalo and the slopes of Mount Hotham, attracting more adventurous skiers. In New South Wales, the Kosciusko State Park Trust began investment into resort development, including an appropriate architectural idiom up until 1967 (Freeman 1998).
The demand for clean water to supply Australia's growing urban and regional centres was the key driving force behind the protection of many of the catchments in the Alps. The Upper Cotter catchment near Canberra (now within the Namadgi National Park) was reserved in 1909 to ensure domestic water supply for the capital. Protection of mountainous country in both Victoria and New South Wales came about as a result of concerns about the catchment of the Hume Reservoir in the 1930s, while some began to express concern at the potential damage to the environment by sheep and cattle grazing practices as well as burning, which was thought to be causing large-scale erosion. In 1938, the New South Wales Government declared the Upper Snowy River and its tributaries an area of erosion hazard.
During the early twentieth century attention was also increasingly focussed on the opportunity to harvest water sourced from the Alps for power generation. The Victorian State Electricity Commission proposed a major hydro-electric scheme for the Kiewa River and construction commenced in the late 1930s.
The idea for a hydro-electric scheme in the Snowy Mountains formed part of post-war reconstruction planning during World War II. The Federal government saw the development of the scheme as part of a major tool for post-war employment. The SMHES began construction in 1949 and employed migrants and about 60,000 European Displaced Persons from World War II. Migrants formed 70 per cent of all workers from 30 countries, especially from eastern and southern Europe. Similarly the KHES employed around 3,500 workers in 1951, many of whom were migrants. Both schemes took longer to complete than anticipated: the KHES was finished in 1961 and the SMHES in1974 (Truscott et al 2006).
These large projects in sparsely settled areas required their own infrastructure and, as a result, new towns were built to service the schemes and their employees: Mount Beauty in Victoria for the KHES; and Khancoban, Talbingo and Cabramurra in New South Wales for the SMHES. However, the construction of water storages for both schemes in low-lying areas, such as at the town of Old Adaminaby in New South Wales, displaced the local populations from their homes and land with much grief (McHugh 1999).
The construction SMHES was pivotal in opening up the Kosciusko State Park through construction of road and villages. Commercial enterprises began in the post war years at the resorts in the development and operation of the ski tows. The early phase of resort development re-used former SMHES workers' accommodation as ski lodges (Freeman 1998). Migrant workers on the hydro-electric schemes from continental Europe often stayed on in the region and participated in winter recreation.
The alpine resort villages commenced development in the 1950s and by 1957 there were a number of ski clubs operating. Tony Sponar, a Czechoslovakian hydrographer who worked for the SMHES, along with Charles Anton, Eric Nicholls and Geoffrey Hughes, promoted the development of Thredbo as a ski resort. Thredbo resort developed from its original concept and lease in 1955 into the most developed alpine resort in Australia. From 1959 large operators took over the commercial enterprises and expanded them (Freeman 1998). Resort villages also developed within the parks; Perisher, Smiggen Holes, Guthega, Selwyn and Mount Franklin. Larger resorts and resort towns beyond the AANP boundary developed to service ski recreation. The development of infrastructure to support snow skiing in the Australian ski fields saw Australia producing skiing champions such the paralympian Michael Milton, and Kirstie Marshall, Australia's first world champion skier. Zali Stegall, winning the Bronze medal for Alpine Skiing in 1998 at the Winter Olympics held in Nagano (AIS 2007).
Scientific research in the AANP encompasses three key stages (Macdonald and Haiblen 2001a) each of which reflects the wider scientific interests of the relevant period. The first stage commenced in the early 1800s and comprises early exploratory research undertaken by several pioneering individuals, who significantly contributed to the documentation of the region's geography, geology and botany. The second stage from the end of the 1800s and early 1900s shows a general branching out of scientific endeavour into more specific disciplines such as meteorology, geomorphology, ecology and astronomy. The final stage of research builds on previous efforts, with an increasing focus on conservation sciences from the1970s.
Scientific research in the AANP from the early 1800s was typical of the era with increasing interest in the natural sciences. Vast collections were made around the world and housed in national museums. Key researchers during this period include geologists Dr John Lhotsky in 1834 and Paul Edmund de Strzelecki who undertook investigation and mapping in the Alps in 1840, and Thomas Townsend, the New South Wales Government Surveyor, who determined the source of the Murray River in 1846-47, delineating the eventual border between the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria when Victoria became self-governing in 1851.
Between 1853 and 1861, Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, Victorian government botanist for Victoria, greatly advanced botanical research in the Alps region. He undertook four botanical surveys following tracks made by pastoralists and gold-prospecting surveyors, but also explored country new to Europeans, finally climbing Mount Baw Baw in 1861. He made extensive collections of plants which were sent to Kew Herbarium in London and formed major part of George Bentham's, Flora Australiensis (a seven-volume flora of Australia published between 1863-1878) (Costin et al. 1979). Mueller discovered many new species of sub-alpine and alpine flora for western science (Costin et al. 1979; Truscott et al 2006).
In 1863 Alfred William Howitt, explorer, ethnographer and natural scientist, was appointed police magistrate and warden of the Omeo goldfields. During this period he traveled long distances on horseback throughout Victoria, studying and documenting the geology and botany of the landscape. He wrote numerous papers on Aboriginal societies and ethnographic descriptions, including studies of communities in south-east Australia associated with the Alps (ADB 2006).
From the 1870s to the 1880s James Stirling, the Victorian district surveyor at Omeo recorded the geography, geology, botany and meteorology of the Alps. From the 1890s Joseph Maiden, New South Wales government botanist, undertook botanical research in the Kosciuszko region, while in 1897, Richard Helms, government geologist, undertook mining surveys. They documented the degraded catchments from grazing and regular burning (Good 1992).
The second phase of research is typified by sustained research into many scientific disciplines that contributed to a growing understanding of the area. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, researchers began to pursue more specific inquiries. The English-born meteorologist Clement Wragge established a weather station in 1897 on Mount Kosciuszko to compare temperature and air pressure at sea level and at altitude, reflecting earlier work he had conducted on Scotland's Ben Nevis. During this period there was a growing international interest among natural scientists about the possible glaciation of alpine Australia which led to conflicting theories held until the 1960s after which it became increasingly convincing that glaciation had occurred. Glaciation research sites, including the Cooleman Plain karst area, are closely associated with the Sydney-based geologist Tannatt William Edgeworth David (Macdonald and Haiblen 2001a). In 1901, when absolute dating was not scientifically possible, Edgeworth David, Richard Helms and Edward Pitman estimated the dates of glacial features at Railway Embankment, New South Wales, now seen as 'one of the finest attempts at an absolute age anywhere in the world' (Griffiths and Robin 1994, 40 in Truscott et al 2006).
The 21 arboreta in the Brindabella Range in the Australian Capital Territory were established in the late 1920s at differing altitudes and aspects for tree conservation, taxonomic research and to monitor the ecology of flora. The Australian Capital Territory 's oldest and largest arboretum was located on at Blundell's Flat in Uriarra Forest with the first plantings began in 1929 (TAMS 2006). The Bendora Arboretum is the only remaining example of the original 21 arboreta that were destroyed by the 2003 bushfires.
Key scientific figures drove the need for a clean water supply and soil conservation across the Alps. In the 1940s Maisie Fawcett (Carr), when with the newly established Soil Conservation Board of Victoria, and later with John Turner of Melbourne University, established and regularly monitored a series of grazing exclusion plots at Rocky Valley and Pretty Valley near Falls Creek in Victoria (Truscott et al 2006). These grazing exclosures were established as long-term vegetation monitoring plots and have been carefully maintained in the following decades and the vegetation remeasured regularly. The plots provided important information on the impacts of grazing on the long-term regeneration of alpine grasslands. Fauna studies also became more targeted from the 1940s, with, for example, research into invertebrates describing 40 different insect families found above 1,700 metres in the Snowy Mountains .
Since the 1950s Alec Costin has undertaken extensive research into alpine vegetation community dynamics and soil science. Costin documented the destruction of alpine and sub-alpine moss beds (Sphagnum) and other alpine plant communities in Victoria and New South Wales from grazing, and undertook detailed research into alpine soil. Hydrological research undertaken by Costin and Dane Wimbush in the early 1960s focused on hundreds of stream gauging stations that were installed by water and power authorities, providing data related on surface and snow run-off, and impacts from erosion and fire, fire predictors and post-fire recovery, and infrastructure impacts (Costin and Wimbush 1961).
Other research of note undertaken in the 1960s and 1970s related to geomorphological processes, with key research sites located in the Kosciuszko National Park and in Victoria at the Buffalo Plateau and Mount Howitt. The Cooleman Plain Karst area was first visited in 1860 by the geologist, Reverend William Branwhite Clarke. Dr Joseph (Joe) Jennings, a renowned geomorphologist, commenced his research at the karst sites in the 1960s. Research at Cooleman and Yarrangobilly karst sites have illustrated a facet of the complex interrelationship of karst and cold climate geomorphology, defined periglacial dates for the region and improved knowledge of the climate and vegetation variation of this alpine area, (Griffiths and Robin 1994; ISC 2004; Macdonald and Haiblen 2001a).
A joint agreement between Australia and the United States of America in 1960 resulted in three space tracking stations being built in the Australian Capital Territory as part of a wider international network with National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA). Honeysuckle Creek provided essential support to the Apollo 11 mission in August 1969, relaying Neil Armstrong's first words upon stepping on the moon 'That's one small step for a man, and one giant leap for mankind' (Fabricius 1995, 13-4 in Truscott et al 2006).
Results from grazing exclosures after several decades of vegetation monitoring confirmed the need to return environments to their pre-grazing state. Tighter controls over grazing occurred over the following decades from the 1940s in all alpine and sub-alpine areas to manage soil erosion and flora damage in all the alpine areas, eventually leading to the exclusion of grazing by 1961 in Namadgi and by 1972 in Kosciuszko. Grazing was removed from additional areas in Victoria in the 1990s (Macdonald and Haiblen 2001) and more recently from the Alpine National Park from 2005.
The Piccadilly Fire Ecology Plots in the Australian Capital Territory were established in 1973 by Phil Cheney of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), to investigate effects of fire on sub-alpine vegetation. Together with a sister study in the Top End of the Northern Territory the plots are the longest running fire ecology experiments in Australia, and possibly the world (Macdonald and Haiblen 2001a). Results from such fire plots and experiments indicate the possibility that fire was rare before European settlement, suggesting that fire was essentially absent from alpine and sub-alpine wetlands for 10,000 years. In 2000 further research at the Piccadilly Fire Ecology Plots and elsewhere in the Brindabella Range showed that the vast majority of low intensity fires leave fire scars on snow gums, concluding there is no evidence of Aboriginal burning in that area (Macdonald and Haiblen 2001a, 41-3 in Truscott et al 2006).
Bird banding commenced in the Brindabella Range in the 1960s, making it the longest continuous bird banding site in Australia. The area has yielded much information on avian migration patterns. Comprehensive research into alpine flora and fauna in the latter part of the twentieth century has yielded information about ecological processes as a result of changing climates. Research of note has includes population studies on the endemic mountain pygmy possum and the corroboree frog, which continue today.
Many of the early explorers, surveyors and scientists have their names remembered in features in the alpine landscape: Mount Townsend, Mount Clarke, Mueller's Peak, Mount Howitt, Mount Stirling, Wragges Creek, Helm's Moraine, David Moraine, Spencers Creek, and Hedley Tarn below Blue Lake.
Myles Dunphy was an intrepid bushwalker and important figure in the early conservation movement, with close association with the Blue Mountains surrounding Sydney. In 1933 Dunphy called for volunteers to establish a National Parks and Primitive Areas Council in New South Wales, and in 1935 one of the areas identified was the Snowy-Indi Primitive Area. The proposed reserve of 400,000 hectares included land on both sides of the New South Wales/Victorian border.
In the 1970s there was heightened public consciousness about the impacts of human activity on the natural environment. This concern contributed to the declaration of a number of national parks across the AANP. These reserves were declared after much historical research and conservation efforts; many were set aside to conserve water catchments. The declaration dates of these national parks and reserves span almost a century. Mount Buffalo National Park was declared in 1898 and the National Chase Snowy Mountains was declared in 1906 and later extended to 10,518 hectares in 1908, before the area was formally gazetted as Kosciusko State Park in 1944 covering 528,646 hectares (Mosley 1991). Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve was established in 1962, Snowy River National Park and Baw Baw National Park in 1979, Scabby Range in 1982, Namadgi National Park in 1984, Bimberi Nature Reserve in 1985, Avon Wilderness Park in 1987 and in 1989 the Cobberas, Tingaringy, Wonanngatta-Moroka and Bogong national parks were extended and combined to create the Alpine National Park (Cameron-Smith 1999).
In 1986 the Federal, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victorian governments agreed to a cooperative management program for the AANP. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed to protect the landscape, water catchments, plants, animals and cultural heritage of the Australian Alps as a whole ecosystem while providing opportunities for public appreciation and sustainable enjoyment. This MoU spans more than 20 years and is acknowledged internationally as an example of best practice cross-jurisdictional and trans-border protected area management.
The first written works on the scenic beauty of the Alps were written by many of the explorers and early settlers in the early nineteenth century. Hume and Hovell wrote about their aesthetic appreciation of the region in 1824 as did Strzelecki in 1845, Alfred Howitt in 1866, Joseph Maiden in 1898, and the W B Clarke in 1860 (Gare 1992). It is possible that popular verse, as well as the writings of the explorers, allowed these 'invented landscapes' to be possessed (Lennon 1992, 151), at least regarded as 'icons' whether known and experienced or not (Context 2003, 10).
The painters Eugene von Guérard and Nicholas Chevalier accompanied Howitt to the Alps in 1858. Guérard's paintings View of the snowy bluff on the Wonnangatta River 1864, North East View from the Northern Top of Mount Kosciuszko, 1864 and Mount Kosciuszko seen from the Victorian border (Mount Hope Ranges) are regarded as classic Australian masterpieces. Chevalier's 1864 painting The Buffalo Ranges, Victoria won the Trustees prize that year on the opening of the National Gallery of Victoria (Truscott et al. 2006). These paintings were reproduced in Australian art history from the 1960s and since in post-card reproductions. More recent critical analysis of art recognises again these influences of European ideas of travel, nature and art on the Australian landscape (Bonyhady 1985; Horne 2005). Later era artists continued to paint the Alps landscape such as the post-modern artist Imant Tillers who painted Mount Analogue in 1985.
A popular and potent image of the Alps is evoked by The Man from Snowy River, which has entered Australian consciousness as an image of national identity reinforcing the notion of the larrikin bushman. The ballad by Andrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson, written in 1895, is now central to Australian folklore, resulting in two films, a television series, a replica 'mountain hut' that is more widely known than many genuine huts, and festivals based on the myth of 'the Man', included in the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and 'the Man's' appearance on the Australian $10 note (Truscott 2003; Truscott et al. 2006).
Noted poets and writers such as Paterson, Marie Pitt, Albert Bartlett, Sidney Jephcott, Henry Kingsley, Rolf Boldrewood, Edward Harrington, Barcroft Boake, Henry Kendall, David Campbell and Sidney Porteus have referred to the mountain landscapes. Campbell's poems on the alps are included in the Speak with the Sun collection, Winter Stock Route, The Miracle of Mullion Hill, The End of Exploring, Windy gap, Snow-Gums, Ariel, The High Plains, The Monaro. A number of films use the landscape as settings such as The Plains of Heaven (1982), The Far Country (1987), The Man from Snowy River (1982), Snow: the Movie (1982), Cool Change (1986) as well as, The Man from Snowy River II (1988), and The Silver Brumby (1993) (Crocker 2005). The mountains and mountain way of life have inspired folk music and the Numeralla and Narial folk festivals are associated with the Alps.
Nicholas Caire photographed in the high country from the 1870s and photographs of the Alps were increasingly seen in magazines. These magazines brought remote Australia into everyday homes and were more widely accessible than paintings in galleries. After World War I, poster images of the Alps became prevalent. Mountain destinations and alpine recreation, notably skiing, walking, fishing and horse-riding were shown along with scenic mountain vistas, as well as flora and fauna in the Take a Kodak campaign. The Mount Buffalo Chalet was advertised in a huge banner across the front of Melbourne's Flinders Street Station circa 1920, and in posters such as Visit the Victorian Alps showing skiers at Mount Buffalo, or Summer is always Spring at Mt Buffalo National Park Victoria (Truscott et al. 2006).
Many books were written recounting adventurous experiences in the Alps, such as Robert Croll's The Open Road in Victoria (1928) and Elyne Mitchell's Australia's Alps (1942). Alpine themes were further popularised from 1958 in Mitchell's Silver Brumby series of books. Romantic images of alpine scenery are perpetuated today by photographers such as Harry Nankin and David Tatnall. In comparing the Alps to Australia's World Heritage places, Kirkpatrick (1994, 37) asserts that ‘the aesthetic aspect of the Australian Alps that stands out…is the outstanding wildflower display in the alpine environment’.
It is the social importance of a place or landscape that is valued by the community. Social values are expressed and conserved through tangible and intangible elements of a place or landscape. Community heritage studies considering the social values of the Alps were conducted as part of the comprehensive regional assessments for the Regional Forest Agreements in North East Victoria, Gippsland, East Gippsland and the Central Highlands (Johnston and Lewis 1993a; Johnston and Lewis 1993b). The results show a high degree of correlation between social and aesthetic values, and between social and historic values
Aboriginal and other groups express an important attachment to the Alps giving the region significant social value. This is recognised in the plans of management for the various national parks within the AANP, particularly the Alpine National Park, Mount Buffalo National Park. The Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management explicitly acknowledges the cultural heritage of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and the cultural heritage management partnerships with communities and families.
Many Aboriginal people from the Alps now live throughout most of Victoria, the New South Wales south coast, Canberra and the Snowy Mountains region and beyond. The spiritual attachments, surviving traditional knowledge, and family stories and memories demonstrate the ongoing cultural connection that these people have with the Alps. Places associated with the pastoral and mining history are of historic and social significance to local Aboriginal people because of their involvement within these industries (DECC 2006).
The Australian Polish community (the Cultural Foundation of Puls Polonii) have a strong association with Mount Kosciuszko, named after the Polish hero General Tadeusz Kosciuszko (Lang et al 2008). Strzelecki wrote 'amongst a free people, who appreciate freedom and its votaries, I could not refrain from giving it the name of Mount Kosciuszko' (Andrews 1991, 24). The association is celebrated by an annual festival in Cooma and Jindabyne that includes poetry and singing about Kosciuszko, as well as a community pilgrimage to the summit along with traditional dancing and music on the summit (Lang et al 2008).
Other communities holding associations with the Alps include groups based on historical economic activity (such as the Mountain Cattlemen Association Victoria) to caretaker and friends’ groups for individual huts, homesteads and mining fields. Two major hut caretaker groups are the Kosciuszko Huts Association formed in 1970 and the Victorian High Country Huts Association formed in 2003. The heritage significance of huts has been the subject of several detailed studies in New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory (GBA 1996; 2005). In Namadgi National Park, a number of huts and homesteads have been included in the Australian Capital Territory Heritage Register. A comprehensive cultural heritage assessment of all huts in Kosciuszko National Park was commissioned by the NPWS following the 2003 fires (GML 2005). The social values assessment was conducted to a considerable extent according to the method established for the RFA processes.
Others groups such as field naturalist clubs focus on caring for the natural environment. Recreational user groups and clubs such as bushwalking, skiing, horse riding, fishing, hunting, 4-wheel driving and mountain biking, are permitted to enjoy these activities in the Alps according to zoning and permit arrangements.
Each of the major parks comprising the Australian Alps has a history of community esteem, and often community-based campaigns to protect these areas from perceived threats or changes in land use. The actions of the National Parks Association of New South Wales, the Victorian National Parks Association, the National Parks Association of the Australian Capital Territory and the Colong Foundation for Wilderness have driven the formation of the parks themselves, and the progressive withdrawal of grazing.
The associated community debate about the loss of important traditions provides a strong indicator of social values and connections to the AANP, as demonstrated by the intense sense of loss following the 1939 and 2003 bushfires.
|Condition and Integrity|
The AANP has been
subject to a range of land uses and environmental conditions throughout
history, all of which have had a degree of impact on its natural and cultural
values. Subsequently, the AANP constitutes a mosaic of natural and cultural
environments that span the full condition spectrum, from localities that have
been degraded and are in poor condition through to localities that exhibit
integrity and intactness. The bushfires in 2003 damaged and burnt an extensive
proportion of the natural and cultural assets of the AANP, such as bogs and
fens as well as many historic huts.|
Today, the condition of natural and cultural National Heritage values is influenced by a range of land uses within the boundary, such as recreation activities in summer and winter seasons, feral species and extreme weather such as bushfires and floods, as well as by the broader incidence of global climate change (DEC 2006; AALC 2006b).
Condition statement as at May 2008.
About 1,653,180ha, comprising the following national parks
and reserves located in the Australian Alps:|
Brindabella National Park, about 12050ha, 35km south-south-west of Yass, NSW;
Namadgi National Park, about 105900ha, 35km south-west of Canberra, ACT;
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, about 5500ha, 25km south-west of Canberra, ACT;
Bimberi Nature Reserve, about 7100ha, 55km east-south-east of Tumut, NSW;
Scabby Range Nature Reserve, about 3400ha, 25km north of Adaminaby, NSW;
Kosciuszko National Park, about 690000ha, 10km west of Jindabyne, NSW;
Alpine National Park, about 646000ha, 5km south-east of Mount Beauty, VIC;
Snowy River National Park, about 98700ha, 25km north-north-west of Orbost, VIC;
Avon Wilderness Park, about 40000ha, 30km north-north-west of Maffra, VIC.
Mount Buffalo National Park, about 31000ha, Mount Buffalo Road, Mount Buffalo, VIC; and
Baw Baw National Park , about 13530ha, 5km north of Erica, VIC.
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