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Culture and heritage

Aboriginal people went to and through the Alpine area over thousands of years, and knew its flora, fauna, geography and seasonal changes intimately. Groups visited the Alps in summer to hold ceremonies and gather the nutritious Bogong Moths that shelter there.

Today, Aboriginal communities in Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory take a particular interest in the management and heritage of the high country. Much more of the Alps’ Aboriginal heritage was revealed by the fires of 2003 and archaeological surveys were carried out in the following year.

European pastoralists from New South Wales started moving south into the Alps in the 1830s. Grazing began around Omeo in 1836, and runs were taken up in the foothills. Summer grazing soon extended to the higher country, and huts were built there for shelter and storage during stock mustering.

You can experience this history by visiting the cattlemen's huts dotted along the high plains or the ruins of Wonnangatta Station (home of the pioneer Bryce family for many years). Wallaces Hut near Falls Creek, built in 1889, is one of the oldest surviving huts in the area. Sadly many huts and other heritage sites were burnt in the fires of 2003.

From the 1850s to around 1900, gold lured many people to the Alps. Relics can still be seen in historic areas adjacent to the park, and towns like Dargo, Harrietville, Mitta Mitta, Omeo and Bright have strong links to the gold era.

The 1939 bushfires in the forests around Melbourne and the boom in house-building after World War II led to an increased demand for timber from the Alps. This resulted in the building of a network of roads that helped open the Alps to visitors. Today tourism is one of the most important activities in the Alpine area.