Culture and history

The traditional owners ‘were the first conservationists.
They understood biodiversity and sustainability, flora and fauna, geology and fire management – all in caring for country’
Uncle Ernie, Taungurung Clan

The Alps reflects a history of diverse uses and connections. Retaining links with this past is an important part of management across the Australian Alps national parks.

The Australian Alps were home to Aboriginal people for thousands of years before the early 1800s when European pioneers and explorers moved in to the Alps. Although the alpine landscape can appear rugged and at times hostile, it is actually very fragile and sensitive to disturbance. For thousands of years Aboriginal people passed through leaving little obvious evidence of their presence in the landscape.

After the first European settlement in the early 1800s, graziers arrived in the 1820s and 30s, gold miners in the 1850s and saw millers soon after. Skiing was introduced to Australia at Kiandra gold fields in NSW in the 1860s. The past 60 years has seen the development of large hydro-electric and water supply schemes, extensive road networks, ski resorts and tourist facilities.

In little more than 200 years of European occupation, the Alps have witnessed remarkable changes, as well as achievements in exploration, engineering, recreation and farming. Although the human impact on the Alps has been great, the people who have passed through have left a rich, varied and fascinating heritage.

Photo: Australian Alps collectionAboriginal heritage

Aboriginal people lived in the alpine region for thousands of year, and many from other regions came for inter-tribal corroborees, settling of disputes, trading, marriages and the initiation of young men. Find out about the Aboriginal people of the Alps.
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Billy canEuropean exploration

European exploration of the Australian Alps began in the early 1800s. Their  extensive exploratory work opened the way for farming and colonisation of these fertile, but often harsh lands. Learn about European exploration of the area.
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Photo: Klaus HuenekeEuropean settlement

The settlement of europeans can be seen throughout the alps today. Early huts, rough-built stockyards and other industrial relics are dotted throughout the high country. Find out about early European settlement.
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Cattle grazing near Cope hutGrazing

Mountain graziers developed a seasonal rhythm of taking stock into the mountains each summer, in order to rest the home property and take advantage of the high pastures. Find out about grazing history in the Alps.
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Photo: Parks AustraliaMining

The gold rush of the early nineteenth century brought many prospectors to the Alpine regions. Copper and tin were also mined. Find out about mining history in the Alps.
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Photo: Klaus HuenekeThe snowy hydro scheme

Federal and state governments recognised the potential of the Alps to provide both water for irrigation and hydro-electricity. Learn about the snowy hydro scheme.
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