North East - Heritage
The Upper Murray and Ovens Valley areas have a significant Indigenous heritage that was largely unknown until the Alpine fires of 2003. The usually dense undergrowth was burnt, allowing archaeologists and Aboriginal community representatives to locate many artefacts that showed Aboriginal people had occupied campsites and travelled along ridge-top and valley pathways for many hundreds of years. Artefacts found include stone flakes from tool manufacture, stone axes, rock shelters, stone grinding grooves and scarred trees. On your travels keep an eye out for such things, but remember that they are protected by law and must be left where they lie.
The gold rush came to Beechworth in the 1850's, and is reflected in the wealth of the historic stone buildings in the town, as well as the remains of mine shafts and miners' water races in the forest. Historic mining machinery such as the stamping battery at the Wallaby Mine near Beechworth, managed by Parks Victoria, is definitely worth a visit.
Surrounding areas such as Yackandandah and Bright experienced the gold rush about the same time. The Buckland Valley, south of Porepunkah is famous as the site of the Buckland Riots, where European miners vented their anger at the success of the hard-working Chinese miners recovering gold from the mullock that they had rejected, by attacking the Chinese miners. Robert O'Hara Burke, Sargeant of Police at Beechworth, led the constabulary that quelled the riot. Burke later teamed up with the young surveyor Wills to mount a massive expedition to cross the continent from south to north.
The forests around Corryong and Mt Wills contain later goldfields, which were mostly worked in the 1880's. Before roads existed, pack horse trails were constructed into the area from Mitta Mitta and Corryong. All requirements were transported by wheelbarrow and packhorse. Steam engines and stamping batteries were taken into remote country by bullock teams, and lowered into gullies using block and tackle. Some of this historic mining machinery remains today. It is probably most easily seen by those with a 4WD vehicle and experienced in driving on rough bush tracks by a visit to the Glendart Historic Area and Green Creek Battery, areas managed by Parks Victoria and accessed off the Benambra-Corryong Road.
State Forest huts are another aspect of heritage of interest to visitors. While the oldest and most signficant huts are found in the Alpine National Park, there are a number of forest huts that provide an interesting destination to visit. They were established by graziers, miners, road maintenance crews, logging contractors, anglers and early cross country skiers. Most survivied the Alpine fires of 2003, and can be accessed by 4WD vehicle. Because of the seasonal road closures in some areas between June and October, the warmer months are probably the best time to visit the huts. There are books and maps showing high country huts in bookshops and information centres, the Victorian High Country Huts Association also has information.