This is the closest alpine park to Melbourne. At 180km east of the city, it is close enough for a day visit, although a longer visit is justified.
Dispersed camping for hikers is allowed, but remember, this is a fuel stove only area, so no camp fires. There is a camping area on the Aberfeldy River north of Walhalla. Accommodation is available at Baw Baw village during the snow season. Hotel, motel and camping is also available in the nearby small towns of Erica, Walhalla, Rawson and Noojee.
About the park
The Baw Baw Plateau may not have been used extensively by the Aborigines, who were apparently fearful of this area.
The mountains were a barrier to early miners trying to reach the alpine goldfields to the east. Gold mining took place at Walhalla on the southern boundary of the park and at nearby Matlock.
During the early years of settlement, timber was cut from the area including from places now within the national park. Forestry continues to this day in areas outside the park boundary.
Sheep and cattle grazing were carried out on the plateau between 1860 and 1975. The removal of cattle in 1975 made this one of the first alpine areas in Victoria where this damaging activity was discontinued.
The recreation potential of the park was recognised in the early 1900s with the construction of the Baw Baw Track between Warburton and Walhalla. Part of this track has now been integrated into the Alpine Walking Track, which stretches from Walhalla to Canberra.
Cross country skiing is a popular winter activity when snow conditions are suitable. There is also downhill skiing at Baw Baw Village within an alpine resorts area near Mt Baw Baw. The relatively low altitude of the plateau means snow cover has always been unreliable compared to the higher- altitude areas to the north-east. Climate change is having a major impact on snow cover, with the snow season becoming noticeably shorter in recent decades.
The lower slopes of the Baw Baw Plateau are clad in ash forests, most of which are outside the national park. Higher slopes within the park have snow gum forests with rainforest species, such as myrtle beech, in the wet gullies. Forests in the eastern extension of the park are in a rain shadow and much drier, more typical of forests further west in the state.
The plateau itself is a sub-alpine area with a mix of snow gums, open grassy flats and bogs in the frost hollows. Three alpine plant communities on the Baw Baw Plateau are listed as threatened. The Baw Baw snow gentian is found only on the plateau, while other alpine species are of limited extent outside this park.
The critically endangered Baw Baw frog has only ever been recorded from the Baw Baw Range. Its current population is estimated at less than 500 individuals. The spotted tree frog, also critically endangered, has been recorded in the park.
Several significant mammals including Leadbeater’s possum, the broad-toothed rat and smoky mouse have been recorded in the park, and its tall forests are home to sooty and powerful owls along with around one hundred other types of bird.
All alpine species on the Baw Baw Plateau are threatened by climate change. They are already at the low-altitude limit of their range with no higher areas to where they could migrate. Any increase in temperature will result in the loss of their habitat.
Friends of Baw Baw National Park
Contact: Eileen Laidlaw
Email: [email protected]
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