Australian Walks: High Coun­try walks - Aus tralian style

Sil­very ghost gums, cush­ions of wild­flow­ers and his­toric cat­tle­men’s huts – our 3-hour walk in Victoria’s Bo­gong High Plains was a de­light.

Walking New Zealand - - Contents -

Its pleas­ant sum­mer tem­per­a­tures were a de­light too, af­ter the heat in coun­try Victoria where tem­per­a­tures were not too far off 40deg and bush­fires had come scar­ily close.

Not that the High Coun­try’s al­ti­tude makes the area im­mune to bush­fires. Driv­ing above Falls Creek where we’re stay­ing, we ap­proach Wal­lace Hut (1650m above sea level) and walk through a for­est of sil­very trees.

This area was at­tacked by bush­fires in the sum­mer of 2003 and again in 2006. The burnt branches rise sil­ver against the blue sky like an en­chanted for­est. Clumps of new growth at their base show that these snowgums are far from dead, de­spite their sil­very branches still stand­ing erect. These trees look de­cid­edly ghostly.

We’re planning to walk the Wal­lace Her­itage Cir­cuit which is 6kms in length. It starts at Wal­lace Hut; me- an­ders past Bo­gong Rover Chalet, then Cope Hut and ends with the Wal­lace Her­itage Trail back to the hut.

Wal­lace Hut is the old­est of the huts still stand­ing in the Alpine Na­tional Park. It was built in 1889 by the Wal­lace brothers who grazed cat­tle here­abouts be­tween 1869 and 1914. They cut slabs of snowgum by hand for the walls and used woolly­butt (a type of eu­ca­lyp­tus) for the roof shin­gles.

Each year, the Wal­laces would drive the cat­tle up for four days to reach this pre­cious sum­mer feed. In the 1930s the hut was used by em­ploy­ees of the State Elec­tric­ity Com­mis­sion while they built weather sta­tions and took ob­ser­va­tions. In the 1940s a new iron roof was added over the wooden shin­gles.

Noone stays in it now. The old hut re­mains as an evoca­tive relic of times gone by. It’s sur­rounded by some se­ri­ously an­cient snow gums which hap- pily es­caped the bush­fires. Nearby is a stretch of white wild­flow­ers.

We pass the hut and make for the Aqueduct Track. Here we turn right. The aqueduct is mainly piped un­der­ground on this stretch which is flat and grassy. There’s a great sense of space in this Australian High Coun­try. Hills, yes, but far away in a blue dis­tance.

Soon we’re at Bo­gong Rover Chalet, a sub­stan­tial build­ing which rover scouts from Victoria have used from the 1930s. It is still owned and op­er­ated by the Vic­to­rian branch of Rover Coun­cil and

Left: Jamie at McNa­mara’s Hut. Above right: Walk­ing along­side the aqueduct near the Wal­lace Hut.

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