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Mount Beauty, VIC

Historic hydro electricity town now a gateway to the ski slopes of Falls Creek.

There can't be many towns located in a valley and named Mount. Mount Beauty is one of them. It is a located in the rich, fertile Kiewa Valley at the foot of Victoria's highest mountain, Mt Bogong (1986 m) on the edge of the Alpine National Park. Although the area had been occupied by Europeans for over 100 years it wasn't until 1946 that this hydro-electricity purpose-built town to house the workers and their families was constructed. As a result it is a very neat, modern town which in recent times has become an ideal destination for visitors wanting to admire the flora in the spring and summer, wanting to bushwalk in summer and wanting to ski in winter. The area has extensive alpine vegetation with more than 300 plant species (some rare), snow-gum woodlands and an alpine herb field with vibrant wildflower displays in spring. It is also home to such rarities as the mountain pygmy possum, broad-toothed rat and alpine water skink as well as wombats and impressive varieties of birdlife.

Location

Mount Beauty is 366 metres above sea-level and 361 km north-east of Melbourne via the Hume Highway and Great Alpine Road.

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Origin of Name

It is claimed that Mount Beauty was named by a local farmer, Charles Richardson, who had a 320 acre (130 ha) property and was known as Crankie Charlie. It is claimed that while building a fence he stopped, looked at the view, and remarked on its beauty. The name was adopted by the State Electricity Authority and hence Mount Beauty.

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Things to See and Do

History of Mount Beauty
The local Visitor Information Centre has an exhibition, and a video, which recounts the history of the area. This is particularly interesting as it offers an insight into the lives of the early graziers and the people who came, from all over the world, to work on the hydro-electricity scheme. A visit to the display is a sensible starting point for anyone interested in the area.

Six Brochures
The Visitor Information Centre has six brochures outlining activities in the district.

(1) Mountain Creek Walks in the Alpine National Park - this brochure provides a map outlining four walks - the Shady Gully Walk (500 metres, 15 minutes), Tree Fern Walk (2 km, 1 hour return), Black Cockatoo Walk (2.5 km, 90 minutes) and Peppermint Walk (2.5 km, 90 minutes) all of which are connected to the Mountain Creek Picnic Area east of Tawonga.

(2) Bogong High Plains Road - Mount Beauty to Bogong Village - this is a drive to Bogong Village and a journey around Lake Guy which includes the Clover Arboretum, the impressive remnants of Bogong Alpine Village (http://www.bogongvillage.com/), the Junction Dam, the Bogong Power Station and superb views of both Mount Bogong and Lake Guy.

(3) Mount Beauty, Tawonga and Tawonga South - includes information about bike riding and fishing in the area and identifies the most impressive lookouts on the road between Bright and Mount Beauty.

(4) Bogong High Plains Road - From Bogong Village to Wallace's Hut - is a drive which is an extension of (2) and includes Fainter Falls, Falls Creek Alpine Village and Howman's Gap Alpine Centre.

(5) Mount Bogong Alpine Park - provides instructions on how and when to climb Mount Bogong via both The Staircase and Eskdale Spur.

(6) Mount Beauty Walks - provides details of four walks around Mount Beauty township ranging from a short 45 minute walk to a 4-5 hour walk around Mount Beauty Pondage and up Mount Beauty.

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History

*Prior to European settlement the local Aborigines (possibly the Jaitmathang - sometimes spelt Ya-itma-thang - people) came through the valley heading for the high plains in springtime where they would meet other groups, perform ceremonies and gorge on the Bogong moths which they cooked and ground into a paste. It is said the bogong moth tastes a little like prawns.

* The first Europeans through the area were Hume and Hovell who camped on the banks of the Kiewa River in 1824.

* Recognising the richness of the valley pastoralists moved into the area around 1835.

* By the 1850s stock was being brought to the valley and the high plains during the summer months. Much of this was  pioneered in the 1850s by George Gray and his stockmen who occupied a station near Wangaratta.

* By the 1880s there were a number of the stockmen's huts for the summer pastures. These huts still exist and are used by bushwalkers and cross country skiers.

* The township of Mt Beauty was built in 1947 by the State Electricity Commission (SEC) after the township at Bogong Alpine Village (which was started in 1938) became too small. It was created specifically as accommodation for workers on the Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme which was developed between 1939 and 1961.

* By 1950 there were 484 houses and 4,000 workers living in Mount Beauty. As construction was completed the workers moved away and the houses were sold to private individuals. Now Bogong Alpine Village is holiday accommodation for people heading to the snowfields and Mount Beauty is a thriving township.

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Visitor Information

The Alpine Visitor Information Centre is located at 31 Bogong High Plains Road, Mount Beauty. For general information ring (03) 5755 0596.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful local website. Check out http://www.mtbeauty.com/

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