Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing project

Project status

October 2022: Community consultation feedback being compiled, planning and draft design work continuing

August/September: Community consultation open on draft designs. Provide your feedback

August 2022: Draft design work initiated

July 2022: Experienced architects K2LD Architects appointed to create design

 

 

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The project

The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing is a proposed extended multi-day 57-kilometre walk through the spectacular Alpine region from Falls Creek to Mt Hotham. It will be one of Australia’s outstanding alpine walking experiences that will aim to support more people with varying hiking ability, interest and experience to walk in this iconic and special place

The current Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing is a 37-kilometre track. To create the proposed extended 57-kilometre route, existing tracks will be used for most of the walk. Up to just 3 kilometres of new track will be built to connect existing tracks and new overnight campgrounds and protect sensitive areas. The facilities created as part of the five-day, four-night route may also provide options for shorter overnight walks. 

The extended route will take in Diamantina Spur and Razorback with an optional ascent of Mount Feathertop, Victoria’s second-highest peak. 

Stage 1 of the project involves doing track upgrades and creating up to two overnight campgrounds. Each will include small basic huts that blend in with the environment, camping platforms, communal shelter, a toilet and water storage.

This longer route will avoid new facilities from being established within a designated ‘remote and natural area’ of the national park, which the current route passes through.

Traditional Owner groups have been involved in the development of the Master Plan and will be engaged throughout the project to ensure cultural heritage is protected. 

Community consultation was undertaken was undertaken between 2016 and 2018 to create the Master Plan. Further community consultation is being undertaken as the project progresses. 

The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing is identified as one of Victoria’s key long-distance walks, which also includes the Great Ocean Walk, the Grampians Peaks Trail and the Coastal Wilderness Walk.  

Project benefits

Environment: By consolidating and upgrading the walking track it will reduce the environmental impacts by keeping walkers on the track and off sensitive vegetation areas. The new longer route will avoid new facilities from being established within a designated ‘remote and natural area’ of the national park, which the current route passes through. Tent platforms and low impact small huts that blend in with the environment will also minimise the impact of visitors.

Community: The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing will add to the tourism offer in Victoria’s High Country and be a key drawcard for domestic and international visitors. It will bring tangible economic benefits to the alpine resorts and towns in all seasons, as well as other local businesses and tour operators. It will also engage a new generation of advocates who appreciate and value the unique alpine environment.

Visitors: the track will increase the accessibility of walking in the alps for more walkers by providing facilities such as roofed accommodation for people who may not be able to, or may not wish to, carry a full pack with tent, sleeping and cooking equipment. It will also allow well-managed access to some of the most spectacular views in the alps. 

 

Project timeline

Draft designs have been developed and community consultation on the designs is now open. Find out more and provide your feedback.

Initial planning work is complete. This included an Environmental Values Assessment, mapping out the planning and legislative considerations required, developing a Business Case, research into operating models, and a Visual Landscape Assessment. As a result of this work, the final proposed trail, overnight sites and huts could differ from those shown in the original Master Plan to ensure all environmental and landscape aspects have been appropriately considered.

Subject to on-ground and construction industry conditions, Stage 1 of the project is expected to be completed in 2024. Completing the final parts of the crossing will be subject to future government investment. 

Who we are working with

Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions (DJPR) is the main partner.

Parks Victoria is working with the Traditional Owners for the area.

The Strategic Advisory Committee advising the project includes DJPR, Alpine Shire Council, Falls Creek Resort and Mount Hotham Resort, Tourism North East, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Visit Victoria, Bushwalking Victoria and Victorian National Parks Association.

Project funding

$2 million from the Victorian State Government to do the detailed planning and business case. 

$15 million from the Victorian State Government to implement Stage 1 of the project. 

Related information

Documents and information:

Business Case for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing

This Business Case is an independent in-depth analysis of the project and investigates its viability, implementation, operating costs and benefits. It analyses several project alternatives and proposes a solution that is viable from a user experience and economic standpoint.

The Business Case does not assess the project in terms of values impacted – such as environmental or cultural heritage. Other independent assessments have been done are underway on these matters. Further approvals will be sought from relevant Government departments before implementation begins. 

Some information in the document has been redacted for privacy and commercial reasons. We have left in as much information as possible to show the decision-making criteria and process undertaken. Information that has been redacted includes: commercial information that may influence procurement and operational processes; personal information such as names, and; internal working documents.

 

Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment 

The Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment is a detailed independent assessment of the visual impacts of the project on the landscape. In particular, it considers impacts of roofed accommodation.

This preliminary report has been completed to inform site planning and design of infrastructure for the implementation of the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing.

The report concludes... “Importantly, the photomontages demonstrate that the magnitude of visibility of proposed structures at each of the four overnight node locations associated with the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing is very low. The photomontages demonstrate that whilst proposed structures may be visible, they will in all likelihood be barely perceptible given the visual scale of the landscape within which they sit, the small scale of the structures themselves and the use of building materials which adopt a recessive colour palette which complements (rather than contrasts) the surrounds.”

 

Preliminary Environmental Values Assessment

Protecting the environment is a guiding principle of all the work that will be done as part of the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing project. An independent Preliminary Environmental Values Assessment was undertaken for the project to ensure potential environmental impacts are identified and that appropriate consideration is given for how to minimise, or where possible avoid, such impacts. 

To keep the community informed of progress on the project, the full Preliminary Environmental Values Assessment is being proactively released with personal information redacted under Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic). Sharing this report allows the community to better understand how the project will be designed to minimise impact on the environment. 

The Preliminary Environmental Values Assessment provides a great resource of comprehensive information on current park values and condition, as well as an overview of the regulatory environment. It provides detailed considerations to take into account when finalising the scope of the project and preparing the Final Environmental Values Assessment.  

The Final Environmental Values Assessment will be produced following additional flora and fauna surveys, along with the cultural heritage and visual landscape assessments that are currently in early stages.  

Community update - Winter 2022

Questions and Answers - May 2022 information session

Community update - Autumn 2022

Community update - Spring 2021

Falls-Hotham-Alpine-Crossing-Master-Plan

Falls-Hotham-Alpine-Crossing-Master-Plan-Summary

 

Stay up to date

Parks Victoria will provide updates and information as the project progresses. To stay up to date please register your interest to receive community updates via this link. You can also email us at engage@parks.vic.gov.au. As the project progresses, information on this page will be updated regularly.

 

Frequently asked questions

 Why is the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing being developed?
The existing walk between Falls Creek and Mount Hotham follows a 37-kilometre, three-day and two-night route as part of the long Australian Alps Walking Track. The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing Master Plan outlines an improved 57-kilometre, five-day and four-night route which will take in the Diamantina Spur and Razorback with an optional ascent of Mount Feathertop.

The proposed extended track will take in the most scenic parts of the nearby landscape, create a more accessible experience, and help to manage walker impacts.

A crucial element to the success of the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing is that different experience options should be available to walkers. These include a choice of tents or basic huts, experiences both guided and independent, and having access to high quality information and interpretation. 

This longer route is planned to support more walkers but avoid new facilities from being established within a designated ‘remote and natural area’ of the national park, which the current route passes through.

When will the project be complete?
Subject to on-ground assessments and construction industry conditions, construction will begin in 2023 and is expected to be completed in 2024.

Will there be significant environmental impacts because of the project? 
Minimising environmental impacts is a guiding principle of all the work as part of this project. An independent Environmental Values Assessment was undertaken to ensure potential impacts are identified and that the appropriate avoidance and mitigation measures are put in place. You can find the full assessment further up this page.

What is this next phase for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing project?
The Business Case has been completed as well as the Preliminary Environmental Assessment and Landscape Visual Impact Assessment. Cultural Heritage Assessments are underway, and the project is in the draft design phase. Community engagement is being undertaken in August and September of 2022. Targeted Environmental Surveys will be conducted early 2023.

As a result of this work, the final proposed trail, overnight sites and accommodation could differ from those shown in the original Master Plan. This will ensure all environmental and landscape aspects have been appropriately considered.

Will helicopters regularly fly in to service the huts?
Any increase in helicopter flights will be minimal. Helicopters already fly into Alpine campgrounds to service them on an infrequent basis. 

Three of the four new proposed campgrounds on the Crossing will be accessible via management vehicles. The one proposed campground not accessible by road will need to be serviced by helicopter. This may require a small number of flights per year to remove wastewater and service any other elements of the overnight site. 

Will people be able to fly into the overnight sites without walking to them?
No, flying into the overnight sites will not be possible. Bookings will only be accessible for people who walk to them.

Is the walking track going to be turned into a wide smooth ‘superhighway’? 
No, the upgrades planned to the track are minor and are aimed at making the track clear and defined to improve safety and reduce off-track impacts. In some areas, upgrades will incorporate design features that manage drainage and erosion. Upgrades are also being planned to improve the track resilience to cope with current and projected increased demand.

How are Aboriginal cultural heritage values being considered? 
Traditional Owner groups have been involved in the development of the Master Plan and are being engaged on Stage One of implementation as well as via the Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) process. The planning process will also seek to further understand the cultural landscape, which values need protection, and what aspects of culture may be shared with people undertaking the walk. 

How was the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing Master Plan developed?
The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing Master Plan development was led by Parks Victoria in partnership with Tourism North East, Regional Development Victoria, Visit Victoria and the (then) Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. 

There have been three previous rounds of engagement for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing:
1. A preliminary concept was released in early 2016 which outlined the preferred route and conceptual approach for the walk. Feedback from this stakeholder and community engagement informed the development of a draft Master Plan. 
2. The draft Master Plan was made available for public comment between 28 November 2016 and 27 January 2017. 
3. Follow up stakeholder and community engagement sessions were held in both Bright and Melbourne in May 2018 following the Ministerial release of the finalised Master Plan.

 
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