Question Is This Feathertop?

Bogong

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Jun 16, 2005
12,782
4,455
813
More woke than thou.
www.australianmountains.com
I need help locating this old photo, it has a caption, but I'm not sure it is accurate, so does anyone think they know where it might have been taken?
Feathertop+summit+Richard+Courtney+1928-31.png
 
Last edited:

Bogong

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Jun 16, 2005
12,782
4,455
813
More woke than thou.
www.australianmountains.com
The photo is captioned "Two men approaching Mount Feathertop Summit" and dated between 1928 and 1931.
But:
  • There's a cairn in the photo and as far as I know, there's never been a cairn on the Feathertop summit.
  • The craggier bits on the approach to the summit are mostly on the east side, so if it's the Feathertop summit, they're likely to be heading north, so the range in the background can't be Hotham, but I guess it could be The Fainters???
Despite those quibbles, I reckon it's probably Feathertop, although it could also be Bogong. The photographer, a bloke called Richard Courtney, hiked all over the mountains, so it might be anywhere, even NSW.
 

Bogong

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Jun 16, 2005
12,782
4,455
813
More woke than thou.
www.australianmountains.com
This photo certainly has a Feathertop "vibe", but I just can't quite orient it and place it a particular location looking in a particular direction, that's why I'm not sure it's Feathertop, although it sort of looks like heading south towards the summit with Hotham in the distance.

I don't know anything about cairns on Mt Bogong other than summit cairn and the Gadsden memorial. I have a fuzzy memory of there being a cairn on the West Peak as well, but it's been a long time since I've been out there, so I'm not sure.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Total Whiteout

Tanuki

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Sep 29, 2010
12,380
8,751
813
The range to the left does not look right. If it's looking south Hotham is further away. Looking North approaching the summit the ridge to left drops dramatically.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chaeron

Bogong

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Jun 16, 2005
12,782
4,455
813
More woke than thou.
www.australianmountains.com
The range to the left does not look right. If it's looking south Hotham is further away. Looking North approaching the summit the ridge to left drops dramatically.
Yep and this photo was taken between 1928 and 1931, so while it's sharp and good quality, they didn't have things like zoom lenses that could distort things back then.
Is it possible that it's printed back to front?
 

Tanuki

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Sep 29, 2010
12,380
8,751
813
Yep and this photo was taken between 1928 and 1931, so while it's sharp and good quality, they didn't have things like zoom lenses that could distort things back then.
Is it possible that it's printed back to front?
Even then The Fainters are farther away and have a different profile (IMO).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chaeron and Bogong
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

Bogong

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Jun 16, 2005
12,782
4,455
813
More woke than thou.
www.australianmountains.com
Still doesn't explain the cairn
The sides of the Feathertop summit ridge are so steep that a few good kicks at any time in the last 90 years could have sent that cairn down the ridge and no trace would be left. I guess collectively we know a fair bit about the mountain, but just because we haven't heard of a cairn on top of Feathertop doesn't mean that there never was one.

I was sort of hoping that someone would say something like "That isn't Feathertop, it's Mt Xxxxx in NSW". But the consensus seems to be that it can't be anywhere else.
 
  • Like
Reactions: teckel

art

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 24, 2004
564
1,140
263
playing with google earth is very good for recreating distant perspectives just have to remember that elevation model errors make the foreground less reliable. The distant terrain shape representation is very close to how it would look in real life.

From northern approach to Feathertop looking towards Hotham. Its hard to find a spot that works perfectly with the distant terrain but it is plausible.
upload_2020-1-21_10-11-37.png


or for the flipped photo towards the Fainters. I think they are too close and not the right shape but maybe i just haven't quite got the perspective right.
upload_2020-1-21_10-19-22.png
 

Chaeron

Ski-Hike-Blade-Bike-Kayak
Ski Pass
Jun 24, 2014
7,668
14,661
563
Dandenong Ranges
It looks more like looking towards Hotham - the higher ridgeline in the distance is more in line with the Hotham ridge-line - if it was viewed from the other side the Fanters ridgeline would be lower and you’d see the Northwestern ridge too
 

Bogong

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Jun 16, 2005
12,782
4,455
813
More woke than thou.
www.australianmountains.com
Bingo, I think Onlybackscratchers has it. That distinctive rocky outcrop on the right is the key.

So the circa 1929 photo is of people walking north (from the Hotham side) to the summit. Thanks.

That provides fairly solid evidence that Feathertop once had a summit cairn.
 
Last edited:

Bogong

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Jun 16, 2005
12,782
4,455
813
More woke than thou.
www.australianmountains.com
Molly Hill only had the cairn erected circa 1932, so that would be after this photo was taken.

It's been ages since I've been on Bon Accord Spur heading towards Big Dipper Hill, so that possibility never occurred to me. :confused: But from memory, the top Big Dipper is sufficiently rocky so it should have been a candidate location before Onlybackscratchers found a modern photo of the exact location.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chaeron

Onlybackscratchers

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 7, 2017
1,098
3,280
363
Bingo, I think Onlybackscratchers has it. That distinctive rocky outcrop on the left is the key.

So the circa 1929 photo is of people walking north (from the Hotham side) to the summit. Thanks.

So that's fairly solid evidence that Feathertop once had a summit cairn.
So now to find the story of the Cairn and how long it existed for. They did seem to like building them in the olden days.

Edit: Actually want to do the Razorback next Monday but waiting for the reopening. Also trying to convince the other half!
 

Bogong

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Jun 16, 2005
12,782
4,455
813
More woke than thou.
www.australianmountains.com
So now to find the story of the Cairn and how long it existed for. They did seem to like building them in the olden days.
Yeah I know. More work for me. :(

I'm supposed to be revising the Feathertop history in the next week or two. I will add more photos, reword parts to make it read more betterer and I have some new information to add.

But I have no idea where to find out more about our newly confirmed summit cairn. Perhaps I'll just mention that it once existed and leave a more thorough investigation until the next revision (if there is one)... or perhaps I could delegate it to someone with more enthusiasm and initiative than me like Total Whiteout who managed to track down the origin of The Feathertop Cross when I was totally stumped and looking in the wrong areas.
 

Chaeron

Ski-Hike-Blade-Bike-Kayak
Ski Pass
Jun 24, 2014
7,668
14,661
563
Dandenong Ranges
Yeah I know. More work for me. :(

I'm supposed to be revising the Feathertop history in the next week or two. I will add more photos, reword parts to make it read more betterer and I have some new information to add.

But I have no idea where to find out more about our newly confirmed summit cairn. Perhaps I'll just mention that it once existed and leave a more thorough investigation until the next revision (if there is one)... or perhaps I could delegate it to someone with more enthusiasm and initiative than me like Total Whiteout who managed to track down the origin of The Feathertop Cross when I was totally stumped and looking in the wrong areas.
I’ll see what I can find.... :) - it’s about the journey, not the destination after all.

@Total Whiteout ....
 
  • Like
Reactions: skifree

Chaeron

Ski-Hike-Blade-Bike-Kayak
Ski Pass
Jun 24, 2014
7,668
14,661
563
Dandenong Ranges
Sure the cairn would predate 1889 as regular ascents were already being made then.... and be after about 1850 given first European ascent.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tanuki

Chaeron

Ski-Hike-Blade-Bike-Kayak
Ski Pass
Jun 24, 2014
7,668
14,661
563
Dandenong Ranges
  • Like
Reactions: Ziggy and Tanuki

Bogong

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Jun 16, 2005
12,782
4,455
813
More woke than thou.
www.australianmountains.com
Sure the cairn would predate 1906.... and be after
While the railways were advertising Feathertop as a tourist destination to be climbed with guides as early as 1889, the first mention of tourist activity that I've found is from about 1912 and I think interest in the mountain only took off after a "Snow carnival" held in about 1923~ish.

I doubt that cattlemen or miners who were on the mountain in the mid to late 1800s would have bothered to build the cairn, so if I had to take a guess, I'd say it was most likely built around 1925 when a hotel was erected on Feathertop and people had a reason to build a cairn to symbolise the summit.

Although Mt Bogong had a huge cairn from at least the early 1930s (probably much earlier) and no one had a commercial reason to build that... unless it was surveyors?
 

skifree

A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe
Moderator
Ski Pass
Jul 13, 1998
33,280
34,167
1,063
Middle Oz
unless it was surveyors
That would be my first guess. In the days prior to trig points with poles and circles. Feathertop is visible for a long way and would be a good point to triangulate off a large area.

There is a set of stone survey cairns running for a stretch up the Flinders, all distinctively built. At each one with careful looking you can pick up at least 2 more and follow the surveyors triangulation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bogong and Chaeron

Total Whiteout

One of Us
Sep 6, 2016
426
536
263
Canberra
https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/18465074?selectedversion=NBD4370912

JF Wilkinson 1929 talk (Buffalo)

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/199667783/21821113 25 May 1889 Alpine Observer article- quotes Harry Power bushranger on Feathertop name derivation.

February 1896 - Feathertop environs description:

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/197057901?searchTerm=Alpine observer Feathertop&searchLimits=l-availability=y

And by the Vagabond!

https://insidestory.org.au/the-man-who-called-himself-the-vagabond/

Fascinating article by the Vagabond, a few tangential thoughts come to mind.

First, is the brick Joss house still in Germantown?

Second, Harry Power was actually released in 1877 after several women (inc. Lady Jane Clarke - wife of Sir William Clarke) called for his release after accounts of Power's ill health by the 'Vagabond' in the Argus (who was also the 'assistant dispenser' at Pentridge at the time). From then Power worked on the Clarke property at Sunbury until he became a guide of the hulk Success in 1891 until he drowned fishing on the murray near Swan Hill in 1891. You can read the Vagabond's article on Power here below.

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/146439807

The Clarkes were also given one of the Kelly gang's suits of armour (Joe Byrne's) by Superintendent Francis Hare (who also captured Power - Kelly's teenage mentor).

https://guides.slv.vic.gov.au/velvet/kelly

Third, is Harry Power suggesting he camped on Feathertop or in the vicinity / valley? Sounds like the latter to me.

Fourth, cool to see a reference to Trooper Dungey!
 

Bogong

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Jun 16, 2005
12,782
4,455
813
More woke than thou.
www.australianmountains.com
Thanks to everyone for all the help and ideas on the photo. That is the sort of collective insight that no one can really get on their own, so it has been really helpful. :)

I've spent the last 25 years reading every book on Victorian mountain history, all ski magazines and annuals up to the 1960s, mining publications, lots of hydro and forestry stuff as well as heaps of other things like the Cattlemen's Assoc annual Voice of the Mountains and walking club annuals. I've dug out things from archives and corresponded with lots of old timers. So I felt I had absorbed sufficient background info and understood enough varied viewpoints to start writing histories of mountain subjects that hadn't been properly covered. Then Trove uploaded lots of magazines, local newspapers and one Melbourne daily newspaper, The Argus. That meant I could uncover new information on things that previously weren't well documented.

But recently, Trove has uploaded two more daily Melbourne newspapers The Age and The Herald as well as a heap of other stuff and I'm having the opposite problem to the one I had a few years ago. I'm now swamped with too many sources, it's very time consuming to check every available reference to a subject and digest those varied insights into a cohesive narrative. So now, rather than getting excited about the chance to chase down any new lead, I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed and get a slight feeling of dread about having to poke around more ancient newspapers and the like. That new knowledge probably means I'll need to spend a few more days in the Public Records Office (state govt archives) going through dusty old files to discover the bureaucratic angle on the subject.

I'll get around to doing a good job of it in the next few months, but I'm not OCD enough to check out every one the newly available sources and cross reference that information with government records for all the subjects I've written about in the past, or the stuff I'm still writing up. So I may end up fudging a few things.

When I've finished writing the Victorian hydro history and a couple of other projects, I may just retire from researching long form histories and become a middle aged version of those jaded old farts who dispense 'wisdom' and gratuitous advice to others, but who no longer produce much themselves.
 

CaptainC

Addicted
Jun 15, 2005
170
136
113
64
Melbourne
In the old days surveyors regularly erected cairns. The Black Allen line, marking the straight bit of the NSW - Victoria, had cairns erected at regular intervals. although I can't find details at the moment. Erecting a cairn on Mt Feathertop would have been logical. It would be interesting to know why it was removed as that must have been a bit of work and must have been do
ne a long time ago.
 

skifree

A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe
Moderator
Ski Pass
Jul 13, 1998
33,280
34,167
1,063
Middle Oz
I think you should keep up the pursuit of perfection.

The Yin to so much Yang of bullshit.

You’ve just found some more collaborators, embrace & nurture them.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bogong and Chaeron

Chaeron

Ski-Hike-Blade-Bike-Kayak
Ski Pass
Jun 24, 2014
7,668
14,661
563
Dandenong Ranges
What you’ve done ALREADY is the most definitive and comprehensive work on the subject, and you’re already 95% of the way there!

The essentials you’ve got are the core of a great story and the basis of an enjoyable read.

So even if there could be additions, modifications and even small corrections, it would be still be awesome to get the imperfect complete piece out there. There’s this thing called revised editions....

Agreed, one has to leave something for the next generation to pick up... and there is some value to being the dispenser of advice rather than a primary researcher. However, it is my observation that the holistic insights from long term familiarity with material isn’t easily eclipsed by a better search engine on a faster processor - knowing the territory gives one a sense of what to look for...

I don’t reckon one has to worry too much about the verification aspect - after all, one is reflecting on what has been provided by primary sources, and one intrinsically inherits their shortcomings.
 

Tanuki

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Sep 29, 2010
12,380
8,751
813
So now to find the story of the Cairn and how long it existed for. They did seem to like building them in the olden days.

Edit: Actually want to do the Razorback next Monday but waiting for the reopening. Also trying to convince the other half!
Is it burnt?
 
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

Log in

or Log in using
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass