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.
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.