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recreation and tourism

horse tracks to car parks

Until relatively recent times, movement around the Alps was slow and limited as there were few roads and tracks. People went to towns near the Alps by railway, and consequently were restricted to certain routes and particular destinations. Once they got there, the main means of getting around were via walking and horseriding. Today, a large range of vehicles

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    from skis and snow mobiles to four-wheel-drives and even helicopters - is available.

Growth of car ownership and the development of roads have brought about the greatest change in access to and mobility in the Australian Alps. Infrastructure for recreation originated from other land uses. The network of walking tracks is partly a legacy from the gold rush days. Roads were first constructed for logging operations, and many of the huts in the Alps were initially built by stockmen tending cattle and sheep. These huts are now used by trailriders, bushwalkers and skiers.

The development of facilities specifically for recreation probably began with the construction of government accommodation chalets in popular areas. In 1909, the NSW Government built the Kosciuszko Hotel at Diggers Creek and the Government Chalet at Yarrangobilly Caves. Later, in 1930, a chalet was built at Charlotte Pass. The Government Chalet at Mount Buffalo in Victoria was built in 1910.

Mt Buffalo Chalet.

These chalets provided their visitors with an opulent lifestyle, restful days, reading, walking, extensive organised entertainment and formal meals, a marked contrast to the quick visits and takeaway food more common today. The number of beds and style of accommodation remained limited until after World War II, when a growth in tourism led to an expansion in the amount and range of accommodation. In 1952, The Australian Snow Pictorial described accommodation at Kosciuszko as consisting of one large hotel, a camp site and several small huts.

In NSW, the growing interest in skiing became the basis for a tourist industry in the Snowy Mountains. This, and the establishment of a State Tourist Committee in Victoria, spurred on recreational development in the alpine region.

Construction on the Snowy Mountain Hydro-Electric Scheme, which began in 1949 and was completed in 1974, fast-tracked access to the mountains and surrounding districts. Roads were cut though previously inaccessible terrain and dams constructed on all the major rivers. Migrants working on the scheme were proficient skiers and remained to help establish Australia’s ski industry.


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