Great Alpine Road Visitor Guide

PAGE 42 | GREAT ALPINE ROAD VISITOR GUIDE MT BUFFALO A track for sturdy shoes and good fitness leads you to The Horn for a view across Mount Buffalo National Park. Photo: David Kirkland Mount Buffalo National Park has sheer cliffs, imposing granite tors, tumbling waterfalls, snow gums and stunning wildflowers and it makes the perfect all-seasons day trip from the Bright area, turning off at Porepunkah. First reserved in 1898, the now 31,000-hectare park contains vegetation and fauna adapted to extremes of weather as a result of its sub-alpine location. Explorers Hume and Hovel named the mountain in 1824 from its supposed resemblance to a buffalo. Gold miners and botanists later began to find routes up to the plateau. With the beginning of tourism in the 1880s, an area around the spectacular gorge was reserved as a national park in 1898. The park has been enlarged several times since, and now takes in all the plateau and surrounding slopes. The Mount Buffalo Chalet was built in 1910, soon after the first road to the plateau was constructed, replacing some earlier more rustic accommodation. The park became a popular holiday destination for succeeding generations and a place for early skiing and ice-skating ventures. In fact, Buffalo had the first ski tow in Australia. Explore the network of walking tracks that lead to spectacular waterfalls, great lookouts and amazing granite formations. Take in the fantastic views of the Australian Alps, camp at Lake Catani and enjoy swimming or canoeing or, for the more adventurous, try hang gliding or rock climbing. Due to the range in altitude in the park, there are a variety of fauna habitats. The foothill forests contain kangaroos, wallabies, and several species of possums and gliders. Smaller mammals such as native rats and mice inhabit the plateau. Wombats occur in all habitats. The alpine silver xenica is a species of butterfly found only on the plateau of Mount Buffalo. Bogong moths shelter in rock crevices at The Horn, and it’s common to see birds darting in and out of the cracks to feed on them. Peregrine Falcons sometimes nest in the granite rock faces, and crimson rosellas are abundant throughout the park. The park protects a diverse array of vegetation types and plant species with more than 550 native species occurring. Massive bluffs and near-vertical granite rock faces soar a thousand metres above the Ovens River valley and are typified by ridges heavily forested with alpine ash and snow gums. At the highest points, trees become sparse, and extensive granite outcrops are linked by expanses of sub-alpine grasslands and herb fields spotted with patches of stunted snow gum. Buffalo sallee, an endemic eucalypt found only in the park, occurs predominantly around the edges of the plateau. The foothills below consist of undulating dissected terrain, with valleys and low hills clothed mainly with peppermints and gums. Mountains of granite magnificence