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Pub Trivia Knowledge
For thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers, the Dhudhuroa and Yaitmathang Aboriginal clans roamed the Kiewa and Mitta valleys, hunting and gathering along the pristine mountain waters of the Kiewa River. The river was given the indigenous name 'Kiewa', meaning 'sweet water' (which also happen to be the name of the Brewery in Mount Beauty). Clans would travel great distances during the summer months to gather up on the Bogong Ranges where they would hunt the Bogong Moth, hold ceremonies and settle disputes.
Mount Bogong towers above the Kiewa River valley and is of great significance to the traditional landowners. Taking its name from the Dhudhuroa word for 'big moth' it was an important part of the summertime gathering of the local clans. From the nearby town of Mount Beauty to its summit, Mount Bogong rises more than 1,600 metres – making it one of the highest peaks in Australia. Not only in terms of its elevation above sea level, at 1984 metres, but also in terms of actual base-to-summit prominence.
The first known European visitors to the Kiewa Valley were explorers Hume and Hovell in November 1824. Following the drought of 1838-44, pastoralists sought out the rich pastures in the fertile Kiewa Valley. For the remainder of the 19th century the major industries of the Valley were cattle grazing, dairy farming, tobacco growing, timber harvesting and milling.
The Bogong High Plains became a popular summer grazing destination for many local cattlemen and women. Cows would be taken up to the high plains for the summer and then mustered together at the end of the season, before being herded back down to the valley. In winter this area is one of the largest snow-covered areas in Australia and can be easily accessed from the Hotham Alpine Resort and Falls Creek ski resort. This latter became our home base for this bike adventure.
Alpine huts in the area provide accommodation for ski touring, as well as hikers in the summertime. There are tens of huts in the area, each equipped for different purposes. Located along the Fainter Fire Trail are the Tawonga Huts. The first of these was built pre-1888, only to be eventually pulled down by a tethered horse. While unable to survive a bolting horse, the later-built huts were, thankfully, able to survive the 2003 fires.
Also located along the Fainter Fire Trail is Bogong Jacks Saddle. An old, disused cattle yard named after the area's own bushranger – Bogong Jack. You can read more about this rather infamous fellow in Part I of our Fainter Freezer bike adventure.