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Around the Alpine High Country

The Trip
This trip takes us from Bright, over the Tawonga Gap past the Tawonga Lookout (providing brilliant views of Mt Bogong and the Kiewa Valley) to Mount Beauty. We then venture up the Bogong High Plains Road via Bogong Village to Falls Creek (one of Victoria’s major alpine resorts). From here we travel across the Bogong High Plains, gaining access to historic huts like Wallace’s Hut, Cope Hut, McNamara’s Buckety Plain Hut and many scenic walks. The road descends from the high plains to the Omeo Highway at Shannonvale. A left turn here will provide a detour north to the historic settlements of Glen Wills & Sunnyside.

Returning to the junction of the Bogong High Plains Road and the Omeo, we continue south with the Mitta Mitta River flowing south on our left. Next stop is Angler’s Rest and the famous Blue Duck Inn beside the Cobungra River.

From here the road winds out of the hills and descends in to Omeo, in its hey-day, one of the toughest gold-fields in the state. At this point we join the Great Alpine Road and climb steadily North West, passing Cobungra and Victoria Falls Historic area (site of the first Hydro-electric power station in the state) before reaching Dinner Plain, a modern resort village.

Continuing on our journey, we then reach Mt Hotham, a major alpine resort that provides excellent scenery and divine skiing.
Just beyond Hotham village we reach the highest point of the road at ‘The Cross’ providing un-paralleled views of the Razorback and Mt Feathertop. Our trip then takes us on a gradual descent to the scenic village of Harrietville at the junction of the West Ovens and East Ovens branches of the Ovens River.

Continuing in a north westerly direction we travel along the floor of the Ovens Valley through wonderful gourmet food producing areas like Smoko, Freeburgh and into Bright.

This trip is just on 240km and should take around five hours driving time – but to do it properly a holiday maker could spend five days easily.

The Great Alpine Road over Mt Hotham is kept open all year round, but it should be noted that wheel chains must be carried (and fitted where directed) during the winter season.

The Bogong High Plains Road from Falls Creek to Shannonvale is closed to all traffic in winter.

Sealing the Bogong High Plains Road

The Bogong High Plains Road from Falls Creek to the Omeo Highway at Shannonvale was first opened as a touring route on December 3rd 1966 by the then Minister for Fuel & Power, the Hon G.O. Reed MP.

A cairn at Strawberry Saddle commemorates the opening of the road by the Country Roads Board, in conjunction with the State Electricity Commission, The Tourist Development Authority and the Forests Commission.

Prior to this, the Bogong High Plains Road was simply another of the tracks that interspersed the high plains, all of which had been created by miners (in search of wealth), farmers and graziers and SEC personnel as they investigated the potential of the area for hydro generation.

From 1966 until recently, the road was used by more intrepid travellers as they accessed the wonderful walking to be enjoyed and visited historic cattlemen’s huts.

Many visionary locals had often discussed how good it would be to see that road sealed. Various contacts and enquiries were made, with the usual answer from Vic Roads being “the Bogong High Plains Road, as a local road is the responsibility of the Alpine and East Gippsland Shires. If any road in the area were to be sealed, it would be the Omeo Highway between Mitta Mitta and Shannonvale because it is a state highway.”

In 2005 AGL Energy announced that they would build a new hydro-electric power station at Bogong Village. This would require the boring of two tunnels to carry water. The major tunnel would be 5 metres in diameter and 6.5km in length. The second, the High pressure headrace tunnel would be 3 metres diameter and 1km in length. This would require the removal of approximately 300,000 cubic metres of rock.

These visionaries and local tourism operators, in conjunction with the Alpine Shire and the East Gippsland Shire, recognised this as the opportunity to seal the 37km of the Bogong High Plains Road and create a touring route of national significance.

Both Shires were involved, as was Falls Creek, both Resort Management and Falls Creek Ski Lifts. Positive works with AGL ensured that the rock from the tunnels would be suitable to form up a base on the existing surface that could then be sealed. Because both projects are in the National Park, Parks Vic came on board and the project began to roll. All that was needed was money. Applications were prepared and sent; deputations made and finally the Federal Government, The State Government, Parks Vic and everyone concerned had chipped in their bit to give a total of $10 million which would see the project through to fruition.

Thanks to the vision, dedication and cooperation of the local communities, departments and businesses, we now have a world class touring route. The sealing of the road was finalised at midday on Tuesday April 7th 2009. The official opening took place at Falls Creek on Friday 24th April, 2009 where the mayor of the Alpine Shire, Cr Nino Mautone, with Chris Rose, head Ranger with Parks Victoria performed the official opening.



 

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