There's something very special about an alpine environment in summer. In the absence of a white blanket of fluffy snow, the unique wildlife and incredible flora are able to take centre stage amongst, what I consider, some of the most spectacular scenery featured on planet earth. On previous occasions I had comprehensively hiked through the NSW alpine region, so it was with great excitement that I headed to Falls Creek - and it did not disappoint. This is the Victorian High Country at its most spectacular; the land that inspired the legend of the Man from Snowy River.
After a satisfying day trekking along the Historic Huts Run, where I not only admired the stunning terrain but appreciated exploring inside historic alpine huts, I managed to catch up with the Falls Creek Chamber of Commerce President Graham Parker who, together with his wife Roz, owns and runs Nelse Lodge in the heart of the Falls Creek village.
"We've had the Lodge for nearly 11 years. We started the process to take over the Lodge in January 2002 but we had an apartment on the mountain before that. I've been involved with Falls Creek for about 44 years in some capacity - starting out as a skier in my early twenties," said Graham.
"We decided some years ago that we'd stay open in the summer and we'd operate as an all year round alpine lodge. Our rules are that we light the fire, we heat the pool and we do a full cooked breakfast for everyday that we're open. There's a commitment to promote Falls Creek as an all-season resort."
Indeed Falls Creek, located around five hours drive north-east of Melbourne, is a hive of activity during summer. Many athletes relocate to the higher altitude of 1600 metres to push their bodies further than simply training at sea level. There are also quite a few cyclists who enjoy the challenge of peddling along these brilliant mountain roads and many families come to the alpine region to give their kids a different type of summer holiday away from the traditional beach break.
Interestingly, it was the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme that began just after World War 2, which first focused attention onto the region. Also of note, Australia's first chairlift was constructed at Falls Creek in 1957. Today there are 14 lifts that serve the one hundred runs open during the winter months with slopes that cater to all ski levels.
"One of the fabulous things about Falls Creek is that virtually every lodge is door-to-door skiing. And certainly that is the case with my lodge, Nelse."
Graham explains that guests can head to the drying room at the entrance of the lodge to grab their skis, put their skis on and traverse down and around the road to pick up the lifts. Alpine enthusiasts can then go two different ways - direct to the express lift or to the gully chair. And, at the end of an exhilarating day, skiers can take the home trail that brings them past the property's wood pile and to the front door.
"As far as skiing, I recommend that skiers pick where they want to go on the day. You could start off at Drover's Dream, which has a gentle undulating slope - it's really good for beginners, a great teaching slope. A little further across is Towers - that's slightly steeper but still considered a beginners run and then you have Scotty's and Ruined Castle - that's over the backside. If everything was running, probably International would be my favourite run," said Graham.
The winter alpine pursuits sound so enticing that I will have to return in July. For the moment though, I seek Graham's recommendations for other hiking trails so I can appreciate this mesmerising terrain during the warmer months.