The Great Alpine Road weaves in and out of villages, past wineries and country pubs, near orchards and through Victoria's largest park, the Alpine National Park. At 646,000 hectares the Alpine National Park contains 10 of the 11 highest mountains in the State. With adjoining National Parks in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory it forms a protected area that covers almost all of Australia's mainland high country.

Ecologically diverse, more than 1100 native plant species are found in the Alpine National Park, many of these have adapted to survive the severe winter climate. Twelve species, including the Bogong Daisy-bush and Silky Daisy, are found nowhere else in the world. The park also supports a wide variety of animals, including the rare Mountain Pygmy-possum, the world's only exclusively alpine marsupial and the only marsupial that stores food to last throughout the winter.

As well as natural beauty, the park has a wonderful history dating back to indigenous occupation. For thousands of years, Aboriginal groups occupied the Alpine area, holding ceremonies and gathering the nutritious Bogong Moths for food.

In the 1830s European pastoralists started moving south into the Alps from New South Wales. Cattle runs were taken up in the foothills and grazing was extended into the high country. This history can be experienced by visiting the cattlemen's huts which are dotted along the high plains including Wallace Hut near Falls Creek or the ruins of Wonnangatta Station. Wallace Hut is a time-worn cattleman's hut built in 1889 from Snow Gum slabs and woolybutt shingles and is thought to be the oldest on the high plains.

The iconic Australian image and tradition of the ‘Man from Snowy River' is strong in this area and has been the inspiration for many stories, songs and poems. To protect the alpine environment and ecosystem, cattle grazing has been discontinued in the park; however the tradition continues in the many high country State Forests which surround the park. To experience the high country's rugged beauty on horseback, visitors can join a horse trail riding adventure.

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- Falls Creek is just one of the ski resorts you will pass through

From the 1850s to around 1900 there was a new chapter in the history of the Alps. As in other parts of Victoria and Australia, the Alps lured people in search of the elusive precious metal, gold. Relics from this gold mining period can be seen in historic areas adjacent to the park including the towns of Dargo, Harrietville, Mitta Mitta, Omeo and Bright.

The nearby ski resorts of Falls Creek, Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain abut the park and whilst accommodation is available all year, they come alive in winter when the mountains are covered in snow. Snowboarding, down-hill and cross-country skiing attract visitors to the slopes during the day, and a vibrant nightlife lures people out at night. Non-skiers can experience the excitement of the snow with snow biking, snow shoeing, snow tubing, tobogganing and snow mobile rides.

Today, the extensive snowfields are the primary winter attraction; however the warmer months bring stunning wildflower displays and opportunities for bushwalking. The walking season is from early November until late May. The park has a range of walks, from easy short walks to challenging day and overnight hikes. There are also assisted long-distance walks, for those who wish to focus on the scenery, rather than carry a pack.

At 1986 metres Mount Bogong is a strenuous climb requiring a high level of fitness. To attempt it you must be prepared for unexpected changes in weather, including snow, even in mid-summer. To experience spectacular 360° views of the park, hike the 11 kilometres to the exposed summit of Mt Feathertop. At twilight the blue hues of distant mountains contrast with pink clouds and the setting sun reflects off nearby rocks. It is stunning.

While views are not hard to find and visitors may self-guide using the variety of information available; many more locations and activities are accessible with the assistance of a knowledgeable tour guide. Visitors can choose from a whole host of tours including four-wheel driving, bushwalking, bird watching, horse riding, canoeing, white water rafting, fly-fishing, rock climbing, caving and bike riding. With lots to see and do, a visit to Victoria's Alpine National Park is not to be missed.

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- Hike to the top of Mount Feathertop for some stunning views

 

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