Mountain cattlemen ignore history in claiming their place in the Alps

Sunset from The Bluff, VIC

With all the debate about whether cows should be allowed to graze in the Alpine National Park as part of a ‘trial’ to test whether grazing reduces fire risk, there has been some hyperventilating by the mountain cattleman’s association, with a bit of nationalist tub thumping (“It’s like spitting on the Australian flag”, said Charlie Lovick) but one statement especially disturbed me.

Association president Mark Coleman, while describing his belief that Mr Burke had made his decision to “appease the Greens”, said “there is nothing more historical about the alps than the mountain cattlemen.”

There are so many aspects to the human story of the Alps: Indigenous people, settlers, loggers, graziers, the Anglo and Chinese people who worked the high country mines, the women who kept rural families together, the posties who crossed the alps on skis, the European workers who provided much of the labor for the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme and so on. Yet we fixate on one group.

In the current debate we need to remember that traditional owners of the High Country have been largely ‘liquid papered’ out of the story.

Maybe it’s time to acknowledge some of the other stories that come to us from the mountains?

There is a bit of a longer ramble on this topic here.

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