Great Dividing Range and Foothills


The Great Dividing Range and Foothills local area includes the Country of the Gunaikurnai and the Wurundjeri peoples. At present, there are also parts of the local area where formal recognition is not in place. Traditional Owners have a deep and continuing connection to the land and waters of the area and have an ongoing role in caring for Country.

The Gunaikurnai creation story began in the mountains: “The story of our creation starts with Borun, the pelican, who traversed our Country from the mountains in the north to the place called Tarra Warackel in the south. As Borun travelled down the mountains, he could hear a constant tapping sound, but he couldn’t identify the sound or where it was coming from. Tap tap tap. He traversed the cliffs and mountains and forged his way through the forests. Tap tap tap. He followed the river systems across our Country and created songlines and storylines as he went. Tap tap tap12.

For the Wurundjeri community the natural world is also a cultural world; therefore, the Wurundjeri people have a special interest in preserving not just their cultural objects, but the natural landscapes of cultural importance. The acknowledgement of broader attributes of the landscape as cultural values that require protection (encompassing, among other things, a variety of landforms, ecological niches and habitats as well as continuing cultural practices and archaeological material) is essential to the identity and wellbeing of the Wurundjeri people13.

The Great Dividing Range and Foothills make up an important part of Victoria’s alpine and mountain environments. The local area includes the communities of Noojee, Erica, Licola, Walhalla and the Baw Baw Mountain village and are important gateways to the parks and reserves.

Approximately one quarter of the local area is permanently protected in public conservation reserves including the Baw Baw National Park, Moondarra State Park, Alpine National Park and the Avon Wilderness area. There are also large areas of public land reserved as State Forest.

The parks and reserves offer recreational, social and economic benefits to the whole of Victoria, whilst the foothills support agriculture and horticultural landuses as well as utilisation of forest resources for timber production and apiary1.  Native forest and plantation forestry supports the timber, pulp and paper manufacturing sector. Timber harvesting is undergoing a major transition to plantation with the phase out of native forest timber harvesting by 20302

The local area is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. This includes several species found nowhere else, such as the Mountain Pygmy-Possum.  The alpine peatlands are the focus of a multi-regional activity that extends across four Catchment Management Authority regions.

In broad terms, the vegetation communities and habitat in this area are in good condition, with over 94% of the local area covered by native vegetation6. Much of the area is isolated with limited access and disturbance; however, there are significant current and potential threats.

The historic sequence of fires, flood and drought has had a significant impact on the landscape to date and there are combined effects from weeds like willows and from deer that are well established in the mountains and foothills. 

The soils form part of the eastern Victorian uplands land system. Granites and sedimentary rock dominate this area and many of the soils are coarse and medium textured. They support high ecological values and tourism associated with public land and the extensive scenic geography3;4.

Rivers that flow through the local area include the upper reaches of the Latrobe, Thomson, Macalister and Avon Rivers and their wild headwater tributaries. There are four major reservoirs within the local area: Blue Rock, Moondarra, Thomson and Lake Glenmaggie. The Thomson Reservoir is an extremely important source of water for Melbourne, making up about 60% of Melbourne’s total storage capacity.

Tourism and recreation are important economic activities in this local area with the natural assets attracting visitors for both summer and winter activities including four-wheel driving, camping, snow sports, walking and kayaking.

Landcare volunteers and groups in the local area are supported by the Latrobe Catchment Landcare Network and Maffra and District Landcare Network.

Collaborative action for Biodiversity

The local area incorporates the Upper Latrobe Foothills, Macalister Foothills, Baw Baw and Snowy Range landscapes of interest for Biodiversity Response Planning.

Baw Baw and the Snowy Range are focus areas due to the high biodiversity values and the potential to effectively address threats to flora and fauna.

Important vegetation communities include the Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens ecological community* (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Federal), Cool Temperate Rainforest (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victorian)), Montane Riparian Thicket (Leadbeater’s possum habitat), and associated threatened flora and fauna.

The Baw Baw landscape supports one of the few large areas of forest in the eastern central highlands to have escaped the impact of large bushfires over the last 20 years (most of this area burnt in 1939), making this area a significant fire refuge for forest species11.

*Two components of the ecological community have been listed as threatened under the FFG Act 1988, these are the Alpine Bog Community and Fen (Bog Pool) Community.