Victoria’s largest national park, containing 10 of the 11 highest mountains in the state. The Alps occupy less than 1% of Australia, but they form the most important water catchment in eastern Australia. The Murray, Murrumbidgee and Snowy Rivers provide water for drinking, electric power and irrigation.
Recognizing the importance and vulnerability of the Alps, the New South Wales, Victorian, ACT and Federal governments have agreed to co-operate in managing the Australian Alps National Parks – Namadgi, Kosciuszko, Alpine and others. This co-operation was set up by a Memorandum of Understanding, signed in 1986.
The Australian Alps include the high peaks of Mount Bogong (1,986 m), Mount Cobberas (1,830 m), Mount Feathertop (1,922 m) and Mount Hotham (1,868 m). Many of the other mountains are, in fact, plateaux or flat eroded plains bounded by steep cliffs or escarpments.
The formation of the alps started more than 500 million years ago when Australia was joined to Antarctica, India, South America, Africa and New Zealand in the super-continent Gondwana. However, the shape of the mountains you see today were created only about 10,000 years ago.
These old mountains, were once low land plains. As the earth moved upwards along large fault lines, the low lying plains became alpine plateaus… or highland plains. Rivers and streams, such as Mountain Creek, cut their way through the rock leaving steep valleys and gorges.
Ferns thrive in the gullies, surrounded by tall forests of Alpine Ash, Peppermint and Blue Gum, that covered the lower slopes.
As you go up the mountain, these are replaced by Snow Gum woodlands, which in turn give way to alpine grasslands and heathlands at an altitude of about 1,600 metres. Here the snow stays longer and the average temperature is low – less than 10ºC.
The high country is home to many creatures.
The Flame Robins migrate here each summer to breed, whilst Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and Currawongs stay for much of the winter. The Mountain Pygmy Possum lives only in the alpine and sub-alpine regions. It hibernates through the winter, stirring occasionally to feed.
For thousands of years, Aboriginal people came to the high plains each summer for the annual Bogong Moth harvest, with the associated ceremonies and trade. The protein rich moths were collected and roasted, that is said to taste a bit like roast chestnuts.
With the coming of Europeans, cattle were brought up to the high plains each summer, with cattlemen building small huts to protect themselves from the elements. Many of these huts still exist and are historically significant.
The water that flows down from the high plains and mountains, such as Mountain Creek which starts at the base of Mt Bogong, eventually flows to the sea. Whilst on-route it provides an important water supply for homes, farms, industry and the generation of electricity.
Source: Parks Victoria park signage and brochures.
Footnote & References