Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Western Alps Link - Connecting the Alpine National Park with Mt Baw Baw National Park

Dr Geoff Mosley reports:

The concept of a continuous alpine national park stretching from the Great Divide west of Canberra all the way to Victoria’s Baw Baw Plateau was first outlined nearly forty years ago when the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) produced its viewpoint publication on the High Country. Unfortunately, while this vision has mainly been realised, there still exists a major gap in the west with the alpine reserves of the Mt Baw Baw National Park and the Mt Skene Natural Features and Scenic Reserve being isolated from the Alpine National Park to the east.

The scheme was further developed in the 1974 Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) 1974 publication The Alps at the Crossroads written by Dick Johnson and by the ACF again in its 1983 book Victoria’s Alps An Australian Endangered Heritage by Harry Nankin. Significantly, the Australian Academy of Science joined the call in September, 1977. The Academy argued that the Alpine National Park should link with the Baw Baw National Park. It regarded contiguity of land area (especially of the main sub-alpine areas and their intervening valley systems) as being an essential part of the Alpine National Park proposal.

The time is now ripe for the grand project of a continuous alpine park to be resurrected and completed. Not only could this extended Alpine National Park incorporate Mt Skene and Baw Baw and two other scenic reserves at Mt Useful and Macalister Gorge but it could also link up with the Yarra Ranges National Park. A continuous protected area all the way from the Brindabella National Park west of the capital to the Kinglake National Park north of Melbourne is now within grasp.

The boundaries for this extension latter proposal are tentative. The idea does, however, build upon earlier proposals of the VNPA and the ACF with the aim of creating a park worthy of the area’s outstanding scenery and environment which includes the major valleys of the Barkly, Black, Jordan and Thomson Rivers .

The national park extension would also provide increased protection for the catchment of the Lake Thomson, Melbourne’s main water storage, and for the route of the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) which already connects these isolated alpine areas with the Alpine National Park to the east. The land is mainly State Forest containing many Special Protection Zones (SPZs) free from logging but without the security of a national parks reservation. The elimination of logging from throughout the proposed park extension would bring many public benefits, including increased water yield.

As a first step the core of this proposed park extension including the route of the AAWT and the associated SPZs has been nominated for the National Heritage List. The area rightfully belongs in the Alpine National Park and in the meantime should be managed to that standard.