Stretching from Wangaratta through to Bairnsdale is the Great Alpine Road, a 300
km driving and touring experience of valleys, mountains, forests, rivers and
ocean. This drive takes you through Victorias largest national park, the
Alpine National Park, which contains
10 of the 11 highest mountains in the state. Its highest point, 1,750 metres,
is at Mount Hotham.
This great touring experience will take you through a
journey of time, where you can come face-to-face with a heritage encompassing
the Aboriginal culture, European settlement, gold fever, winter wonderlands and
the legends of the mountain cattlemen.
Check out our range of
Great Alpine Road accommodation.
In addition to our listed online travel guide information, contact the local
tourism visitor centre for your destination for more attractions, tours, local
maps and other information.
An Alpine Cathedral Picnic Area
Located on the Great
Alpine Road, just over the midway point from Bright to Mount Hotham is this
delightful picnic area, surrounded by Alpine Ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis) or Woollybutt
that grows only between between heights of 900 and 1,450 metres, where the
ground is cold enough from weeks of snow to allow its seeds to germinate.
The Alpine Ash is one of the tallest flowering plants in Australia and one of
Victorias high quality timber species. The vast Alpine Ash forest of the alps
came under intense pressure during the 1950s and 1960s, when demand for home
building materials rose dramatically.
Carefully managed, sustainable harvesting continues in areas of State Forest to
provide timber products which are not available from other sources. Much of the
demand for home building materials is met by quickly maturing plantation pine,
which can be seen in the valleys surrounding the alps.
Fire plays a natural role in the Australian forest. A high intensity fire
(usually between mid summer and autumn), although destructive, also heats the
soil and canopy, encouraging seed drop, germination and subsequent dense
Each plant species has it s own survival features, which assist in recovery
after fire. The Alpine Ash, for example, is destroyed by severe fire and
regenerates only from seed.
Wildfires caused by lightning strikes cause about a quarter of the 600 fires
that occur on average in Victoria each year, but they account for about half of
the area burnt.
Fires such as those of Black Friday, January 13, 1939 and the more recent 2003
fires are well remembered in the high country. In 1939, throughout Victoria, the
fires destroyed 1.6 million hectares of forest and grazing country and claimed
71 lives. The alps were ablaze and many of Omeos grand gold era buildings were
lost. In 2003 vast tracts of the Alpine National Park were burned as well as
extensive grazing land, fences and some buildings.
Information and image from park signage.
Image Latrobe Picture Collection, State
Library of Victoria