Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing project planning

Background

The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing is a proposed 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 captures the essence of the Australian Alps – the solitude, the seasons, the breathtaking beauty and the stories of the High Country. 

The Master Plan for the project outlines the proposed route, combining and upgrading an existing track network and adding up to 3 kilometres of new track.  The facilities created as part of the five-day, four-night route may also provide options for shorter overnight walks. 

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.  

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

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. Low impact accommodation that blends 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. 

The project

 The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing Master Plan outlines the proposed 57-kilometre, multi-day route, which will take in the Diamantina Spur and Razorback with an optional ascent of Mount Feathertop, Victoria’s second-highest peak.  

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.

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.

Stage 1 of the project involves doing track upgrades and creating up to two overnight campgrounds including roofed accommodation options.
Traditional Owner groups have been involved in the development of the Master Plan and will be engaged throughout the next stages to ensure cultural heritage is protected. 

Project timeline

Planning work is currently underway and expected to be completed in early 2022.

This includes 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 accommodation could differ from those shown in the original Master Plan to ensure all environmental and landscape aspects have been appropriately considered.

Stage 1 of the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2023. 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 is the main partner. 

The Strategic Partnership Committee advising the project includes this partner, as well as Traditional Owners, Alpine Shire Council, Falls Creek Resort and Mount Hotham Resorts, 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:

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 - 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 FHAC@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 655-kilometre long Australian Alps Walking Track, which takes hikers through the alpine areas of Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. 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.
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 tented or roofed accommodation, 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.


Will there be significant environmental impacts because of the project? 

Protecting the environment is a guiding principle of all the work that will be done as part of this project. An independent Environmental Values Assessment is currently underway to ensure potential impacts are identified and that the appropriate avoidance and mitigation measures are put in place. The planning process is aimed at reducing current and future impacts on the values of the national park. Once this is complete the results will be shared with the community. 


What is this next phase for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing project?
Planning work is currently underway and expected to be completed in early 2022. This includes 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 accommodation could differ from those shown in the original Master Plan to ensure all environmental and landscape aspects have been appropriately considered.


Will people be able to stay in luxury accommodation on the Crossing?

No. The accommodation planned for the Crossing is small huts only. They will provide protection from the elements to allow sleeping and appreciating the landscape. The Master Plan outlines the two overnight elements of the walk experience - camping or sleeping in a purpose-built hut. It is important to note that independent hikers can continue to self-select places to camp along the route for free (dispersed camping).    
The specific designs of the huts are not yet decided. They will be small and designed to blend into the environments they are placed in, with the aim being that they will be as unobtrusive as possible. 


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’?

This is not the case. 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. 


How are Aboriginal cultural heritage values being considered? 

Traditional Owner groups have been involved in the development of the Master Plan and will be engaged throughout the next stages. 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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