The post-settlement, or European, cultural heritage of the Australian Alps consists of a wide range of elements. Each of them has something to tell us about the mountains’ past since the early nineteenth century.
Many Alps visitors will be familiar with the stockmen’s huts and other shelters that dot the high country. Indeed these are then most obvious manifestations of cultural heritage. But this heritage can be found in other forms too, like rough-built stockyards, early ski runs, the remains of old sawmills and stamper batteries, overgrown tracks, brumby trapyards, survey marks defining State boundaries, arboreta and other types of sites.
The primary themes in the mountains’ post-settlement history – grazing, mining, forestry, hydro-electrical engineering, skiing and bushwalking, and others – have in many cases left sites which can reveal fascinating and valuable information about how people lived in and used the high country before the birth of the parks.
It is only comparatively recently that the real value and significance of this cultural heritage has been recognised, as is indicated by earlier destruction of some huts, the loss of historic Kiandra, and other events. Happily, the way in which cultural heritage can complement natural heritage qualities in the Australian Alps national parks is now better understood, and cultural sites are seen as the special assets that they really are.
More information can be found in the Australian Alps education kit.