Work in remote areas the old-fashioned way

Tuesday 11 May, 2021

Over three days in March 2021, bushwalkers, horse riders and rangers worked together to clear nine kilometres of walking tracks and horse trails in remote areas of the Southern Alps on Gunaikurnai Country. 

These remote areas pose a real challenge to Parks Victoria, with tracks and facilities in near-inaccessible places that need to be maintained for park users. 

Luckily, we have the help of volunteers from the Ben Cruachan Walking Club, Bushwalking Victoria, members of the National Trail and their four-legged friends.  

A group of Parks Victoria rangers and volunteers with pack horses in a bush setting

Volunteers and rangers on the Howitt Plains, Alpine National Park


The Howitt Plains sit on the edge of the Great Dividing Range, several hours' journey away from Gippsland communities such as Sale and Heyfield, and Mansfield in Victoria's North East. This part of the Alpine National Park is an unforgiving landscape of dense bush, tall grass, rocky outcrops and steep climbs. The only way to get gear from Howitt Hut to Dry River is the old-fashioned way - by packhorse and mule.

“To get the job done a camp was set up at the junction of the Dry River and the National Trail,” said Joe Van Beek, committee member and volunteer with the Bushwalking Tracks and Conservation (BTAC) a standing committee of Bushwalking Victoria. 

“Invaluable support was provided by members of the National Trail Association who used their horses and mules to cart equipment, supplies and camping gear for the volunteers and Parks Victoria rangers down into the Dry River.” 

A scenic photo of Victoria's Southern Alps, showing rolling green hills that fade into blue, and a patchwork of white and grey clouds.

The remote Southern Alps


“It was extremely rewarding to see our Remote Area Rangers working with horse and bushwalking groups to deliver this work,” said Mike Dower, Area Chief Ranger for the Southern Alps at Parks Victoria. 

“The track from Howitt Hut into the Dry River Valley is part of the National Trail – a 5,330 kilometre trail that stretches from Cooktown in north Queensland to Healesville in Victoria. It is a remarkable trek through some of Australia’s wildest, most inaccessible country and it’s important we help to do our bit for that internationally-recognised experience.” 

“Sometimes the mountain landscape doesn’t call out for technology but needs an old-fashioned approach to get the job done.” 

This challenging work has resulted in a high standard of maintenance of remote area walking tracks and horse trails, only made possible thanks to volunteer group’s collaboration with Parks Victoria.  

If you would like to get involved in Parks Victoria’s volunteer programs, visit www.parkconnect.vic.gov.au.

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