Question Is This Feathertop?

CaptainC

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Is that a cairn on top of Mt Feathertop on the cover of Harry Stephenson's book, Skiing the High Plains? Looks like one to me.
IMG_0523.jpg
 

Pink

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Third, is Harry Power suggesting he camped on Feathertop or in the vicinity / valley? Sounds like the latter
From one of the articles @Chaeron posted, on reaching the summit of Feathertop, “we were glad to shelter ourselves behind the surveyors' cairn, which marks the extreme point of the lofty peak. A sort of wall formed of the stones lying about is standing a little way off, and is said to be the ruins of the hut Power, the bushranger, lived in while following his lawless career.”
 
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Tanuki

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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?
It doesn't look like the summit though?
 
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Chaeron

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Friday night. I have to deliver my James Niehues book to my stack of skiing coffee table books :D
@CarveMan When are you, @Richard and @D-eye publishing the definitive Australian skiing coffee table photo-book to complement Patrick Thorne’s text? I’m sure ski-com.ers would contribute photos and you could crowdfund it - make it a bushfire hut rebuild fund-raising initiative- get an ‘intern’ to do the hard yards...

4ABCFCF2-5532-4C38-A5D5-E1BC040B0786.jpeg
 

Bogong

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That view's gonna look a bit different this winter!

img_8.jpg
Wow, it looks like a sunken footy oval with earth banks to give spectators a good view or perhaps a velodrome for push bikes. Buller is really going all the way to maximise its summer tourist trade.

Then again, it might just be a dam built on the fresh corpse of Boggy Creek T-bar and the site of a 1934 ski lodge.
 

Chaeron

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Time for AGL to build the originally planned Pretty Valley hydro dam at Falls... can’t have these upstart Loch and Buller dams stealing the Rocky Valley Dam thunder...

As an aside, touring out of Guthega towards Whites River and also visiting Opera house hut from Geehi dam it really struck me exactly how much of the Main Range’s water is captured by the Snowy Scheme... I can envisage an upgrade of existing Vic. Hydro assets - the new McKay tunnel might only be the start...
 
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Bogong

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Great thread, I love the history of the Vic alps. @Bogong, hit me up if you need a researcher, never done it before but am moderately well read on the subject. Happy to give it a crack.
Thanks, it's feedback and encouragement like that which keeps me motivated.

At this stage I'll be devoting the next few months to tidying up the Feathertop history and completing it, then I'll review my Donna Buang ski resort history and I'm getting a lot of feedback and requests to finish a very rough unfinished draft of the history of ski clubs in Victoria that is on my website, although I haven't mentioned it on this forum. People are pressuring me to have a go at completing it, but I probably won't.

Then, if I ever all get that done, I will go back to writing the history of hydro-electricty in Victoria, which is when an occasional offsider might be useful, but that sort of thing is mostly outside the scope of people interested in skiing.

However if anyone wants help with any ski history project, no matter how small, I'm happy to point them to the best sources and help with context and background info. I'm doing that for someone who is writing the history of a mid sized ski club at the moment and I enjoy that sort of thing as there's not too much hard research and writing involved for me and it helps to get more mountain history out there.
 

Total Whiteout

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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?

Bogong Hut cairn has been there since 1880s. This photo is dated 1886.
BogongCairn1886.jpg
 
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D-eye

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Total Whiteout

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Earliest clear reference I can find to a cairn on Mt Feathertop is 27 June 1874, 'A Holiday Trip to Mount Feathertop', Leader (Melbourne).

'How we relished our salt beef and block-coffee during this excursion in the bush I need not say. We then tramped on, singing, shouting, and laughing, until we reached the dividing range, and were delighted to see perched on it the hospitable roof of "Mother Morrell", about ten. miles distant from Harrietville, and about twelve from the cairn on the top of 'Mount Feathertop.

Source: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/198499114?searchTerm="feathertop", "cairn"&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc

Beyond that, potentially was built in 1869 by Mr. A Black, a surveyor who is reported camping 'for some time' (a week?) on the summit of Feathertop.

'Mr. A. Black, of the geodetic survey, who has for some time been camped on the top of Mount Feathertop, at a height of from 5,500 to 60,000 feet above sea level, writes to a Beechworth paper to show that within a day's ride of that town it is possible to celebrate Christmas, or the advent of the New Year under conditions not very dissimilar to those which prevail in England at the same period of the year. The record of meteorological observations taken on the mountain-top from December 15 to 22, as given in Mr. Black's letter, shows an extraordinary state of weather, the most violently opposed conditions succeeding each other within the space of two or three days.'

Source: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/5835909?searchTerm="feathertop", "cairn"&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc
 

Chaeron

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Earliest clear reference to a cairn on Mt Feathertop is 27 June 1874, 'A Holiday Trip to Mount Feathertop', Leader (Melbourne).

'How we relished our salt beef and block-coffee during this excursion in the bush I need not say. We then tramped on, singing, shouting, and laughing, until we reached the dividing range, and were delighted to see perched - on
it the hospitable roof of "Mother Morrell", about ten. miles distant from Harrietville, and about twelve from the cairn on the top of 'Mount Feathertop.

Source: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/198499114?searchTerm="feathertop", "cairn"&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc

Beyond that, potentially was built in 1869 by Mr. A Black, a weather surveyor is is reported camping 'for some time' on the summit pf Feathertop.

'Mr. A. Black, of the geodetic survey, who has for some time been camped on the top of Mount Feathertop, at a height of from 5,500 to 60,000 feet above sea level, writes to a Beechworth paper to show that within a day's ride of that town it is possible to celebrate Christmas, or the advent of the New Year under conditions not very dissimilar to those which prevail in England at the same period of the year. The record of meteorological observations taken on the mountain-top from December 15 to 22, as given in Mr. Black's letter, shows an extraordinary state of
weather, the most violently opposed conditions succeeding each other within the space of two or three days.'

Source: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/5835909?searchTerm="feathertop", "cairn"&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc
Amazing how we’ve managed to push it back and verify it - I reckon Black’s Da man - they would have needed a surveyor to situate the cairn and surveying requirements are a logical reason for building a substantial cairn - 1869 is only 18 years after the first European descent.... there might be governmental records for Black’s surveying activities...
 

Total Whiteout

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Amazing how we’ve managed to push it back and verify it - I reckon Black’s Da man - they would have needed a surveyor to situate the cairn and surveying requirements are a logical reason for building a substantial cairn - 1869 is only 18 years after the first European descent.... there might be governmental records for Black’s surveying activities...

Agreed! (unless a certain H Power got bored up there?)

Trove just makes things far too easy!
 

Chaeron

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Earliest clear reference I can find to a cairn on Mt Feathertop is 27 June 1874, 'A Holiday Trip to Mount Feathertop', Leader (Melbourne).

'How we relished our salt beef and block-coffee during this excursion in the bush I need not say. We then tramped on, singing, shouting, and laughing, until we reached the dividing range, and were delighted to see perched on it the hospitable roof of "Mother Morrell", about ten. miles distant from Harrietville, and about twelve from the cairn on the top of 'Mount Feathertop.

Source: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/198499114?searchTerm="feathertop", "cairn"&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc

Beyond that, potentially was built in 1869 by Mr. A Black, a surveyor who is reported camping 'for some time' (a week?) on the summit of Feathertop.

'Mr. A. Black, of the geodetic survey, who has for some time been camped on the top of Mount Feathertop, at a height of from 5,500 to 60,000 feet above sea level, writes to a Beechworth paper to show that within a day's ride of that town it is possible to celebrate Christmas, or the advent of the New Year under conditions not very dissimilar to those which prevail in England at the same period of the year. The record of meteorological observations taken on the mountain-top from December 15 to 22, as given in Mr. Black's letter, shows an extraordinary state of weather, the most violently opposed conditions succeeding each other within the space of two or three days.'

Source: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/5835909?searchTerm="feathertop", "cairn"&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc

Significant bushfire smoke on 21 December is part of the 1863 observation...
 
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Bogong

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... Trove just makes things far too easy!
Too right! ... to use a slightly archaic phrase of the time. Every year they add even more stuff to Trove.

In the 1800s the surveyors did amazing things that not even the toughest people of today would consider doing. But they only did what was necessary. That might be epic projects like chopping down vast numbers of trees to erect the huge cairn on top of the insanely steep Mt Juliet or marking the seemingly impossible Black-Allen Line that @CaptainC referred to.

But it could also be minimal work if a summit was easily identified and sufficiently sharp that it didn't need a cairn for their purposes. So quite a few prominent hills that were used as reference points by surveyors didn't get a cairn (or later on, a trig point). I guess I always assumed that Feathertop was one of those.
 

Chaeron

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It WAS the surveyors:

“geodetio 'surveyors
have, lately been erecting landmarks on Mount
Feathertop, and also on the mount known as the
Twins ; but it is supposed that their operations
have nothing to dp with the formation of tho road
from Harrietville, and it is to be hoped that the
Government will yet expedite , the making of this
road, now..”

Melbourne Leader Saturday 24 March 1866.

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/196562024?searchTerm="feathertop",&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc

Furthermore, the purpose of this was a geodetic survey for mapmaking, as outlined in the proceedings of the Royal Society as reported on 09 March 1867 in The Australasian.

“The geological survey has steadily
advanced with its work, and several more of
these beautiful and complete geological maps
have been issued during the year. In the
geodetic survey, the principal point , of interest is the extension of the primary triangulation into , the outlying districts in
the north-east, Mount Feathertop, Mount
Gibbo, the Buffalo and Bogong ranges being
the last connected; while, in the east of
Gipps Land, Mount Baldhead and Mtwint
Taylor mark the progress in that direction.”

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/138052468/11276516

Additionally, surveyor Black was indisputably in charge of this.

This initial survey was later then linked to subsequent surveying marking the NSW/ Vic border, with each state government paying half for this second set of surveying work.

More details of his team are also included in the reference below.

Page 2 Mount Alexander Mail Saturday 13 November 1869.

[URL]https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/197313923?searchTerm=%22feathertop%22%2C&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc
[/URL]
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/...erm="feathertop",&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/...erm="feathertop",&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc
 

Total Whiteout

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I'm not really into the criminal history of the mountains, but I assume Total Whiteout knows about these books. If he ever returns to Melbourne and wants to have a look at them, I can lend them to him as they're not overly rare or valuable.

cdfedc595c9523659674a526767434f414f4141.jpg
52aa98ebaf34d9e593363716167434f414f4141.jpg

Haven't read the Passey and Dean book but do have one of Gary Dean's books on the Kelly gang (somewhere). Interestingly, Gary is probably the most high profile backer of the 'Dan Kelly & Steve Hart survived Glenrowan' theory.

Have read Harding's book on Bogong Jack though. Borrowed it from the Monash Uni library (I think). Even better though is the 2010 'Who Was Bogong Jack?' article in Quadrant by Patrick Morgan (though it feels odd praising anything in Quadrant).

Potentially will take you up on borrowing the Power book one day!
 
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Total Whiteout

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It WAS the surveyors:

“geodetio 'surveyors
have, lately been erecting landmarks on Mount
Feathertop, and also on the mount known as the
Twins ; but it is supposed that their operations
have nothing to dp with the formation of tho road
from Harrietville, and it is to be hoped that the
Government will yet expedite , the making of this
road, now..”

Melbourne Leader Saturday 24 March 1866.

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/196562024?searchTerm="feathertop",&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc

Furthermore, the purpose of this was a geodetic survey for mapmaking, as outlined in the proceedings of the Royal Society as reported on 09 March 1867 in The Australasian.

“The geological survey has steadily
advanced with its work, and several more of
these beautiful and complete geological maps
have been issued during the year. In the
geodetic survey, the principal point , of interest is the extension of the primary triangulation into , the outlying districts in
the north-east, Mount Feathertop, Mount
Gibbo, the Buffalo and Bogong ranges being
the last connected; while, in the east of
Gipps Land, Mount Baldhead and Mtwint
Taylor mark the progress in that direction.”

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/138052468/11276516

Additionally, surveyor Black was indisputably in charge of this.

This initial survey was later then linked to subsequent surveying marking the NSW/ Vic border, with each state government paying half for this second set of surveying work.

More details of his team are also included in the reference below.

Page 2 Mount Alexander Mail Saturday 13 November 1869.

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/197313923?searchTerm="feathertop",&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/197313923?searchTerm="feathertop",&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc

Great breakthrough. Of course, Black is the Alexander Black from the Black-Allan Line!

So next thing we need to find is the last reference to the Feathertop cairn. Currently its c 1866 to 1928-31? But still looking very intact in late 20s / early 30s...
 

Bogong

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Great breakthrough. Of course, Black is the Alexander Black from the Black-Allan Line!

So next thing we need to find is the last reference to the Feathertop cairn. Currently its c 1866 to 1928-31? But still looking very intact in late 20s / early 30s...
Excellent. I have persuaded other people to do my work for me. :evil:

All I have to do now is sit back until they've finished the work and then I can take the credit for it. (Not really.) o_O
 

Total Whiteout

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Just found another photo titled 'Last Lap to Feathertop' which appears to be from same trip / series and it is more precisely dated to 1929 (though could still be wrong I guess).

https://viewer.slv.vic.gov.au/?entity=IE34762&mode=browse

However, there is another photo in series which suggests photo is 1928.

Notes for the photo stated: 'Inscribed on original box containing slides: Summit Mt. Feathertop, the Knob Mt. Wellington, High plains, Trentham, 1928, Ben Cairn, 1931, Cumberland Valley, 1929?'

https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/16752...",+"feathertop"&c=picture&versionId=182585384
 

Xplora

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The original surveyor Neumäyer wrongly believed Feathertop to be the highest mountain in Vic.

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/13072376?searchTerm="feathertop", "survey”&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc
I had to do a bit of digging on this as I thought there may have been some error in the reporting. The expedition started late 1862 and finished late January 1863. This article was published about the time the party were back on the Murray floodplains, possibly near Albury so it was not from Neumayer's official report. I have a hard copy of Neumayer's journal (photographed from the journal in the library) but it has also been transcribed (quite poorly) and available on google books https://books.google.com.au/books?id=aLFXAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA86&focus=viewport&output=html_text#c_top
There is no mention that I can find about the height of Feathertop. I know the party did not visit Mt. Bogong as it moved from Beechworth to Mitta Mitta and then mistakenly up the Gibbo, thinking it was still the Mitta (but also questioning) then down to Benambra before heading north. Von Guerard has sketches of Mt. Bogong from the Mitta valley. I am wondering if there was some error in the reporting or maybe there is something more to be discovered. It may be that Neumayer reported the highest peak they traversed in Victoria was Feathertop and the reporter misinterpreted that.
 

Total Whiteout

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I do not think it is Bogong summit west. Yes there is big cairn up there but the ridge drops away steeply from Bogong West peak towards Mt.Beauty and Mtn. Creek. It is in the Mt.Feathertop area or the top of Bon Accord Spur or Molly Hill.

We’re confident now it’s Feathertop Summit c 1928/29 and that there was originally a cairn there built in 1860s.
 
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

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If @Bogong needs anymore decent photos of the area including relatively recent pictures of Champion Spur and Stoney Tops etc. then he only needs to ask me.
I seem to go up there to the Mt. FT area for bushwalking at least twice a year .As I improve at XC skiing I will hopefully one season make an attempt to XC ski along the Razorback before I become too clapped out .If / when that happens then I will have the chance to take some good photos as a result.
 

Bogong

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If @Bogong needs anymore decent photos of the area including relatively recent pictures of Champion Spur and Stoney Tops etc. then he only needs to ask me.
I seem to go up there to the Mt. FT area for bushwalking at least twice a year .As I improve at XC skiing I will hopefully one season make an attempt to XC ski along the Razorback before I become too clapped out .If / when that happens then I will have the chance to take some good photos as result.
What I'd most like are photos of particular locations mentioned in the text of the Feathertop history (including the very brief walking notes towards the end) and pics that evoke the "feeling" and atmosphere of the mountain. I liked Richard Courtney's 91 year old photo, not only because it showed a cairn I didn't know about, but also because it was both historic and evocative of the mountain's vibe. When I write something about the newly discovered summit cairn in the next few months, I may ask Only Back Scratchers if I can use the recent photo to provide a modern comparison of the same scene.

While I can research fairly well and write okay, I'm not too flash at photo composition. So when I see another persons well composed photo of the same thing I took a happy-snap of, I marvel at the difference a decent eye for photography can make. When I last revised the Feathertop history four years ago, I was able to replace some of my rather basic photos with nicer looking ones, but there are a few of mine left, and some of them just show a basic location, but aren't terribly attractive or evocative.

So if anyone has a good photo of the sort of thing I'm looking for, post it here in the next few weeks and I may ask permission to use it, if I get around to it and if there's space for more photos in that section or if it's better than an existing photo.

EDIT. Oh, and I'm thinking of adding a map of locations mentioned in the text, but it will be very rough as doing a good one is beyond my skill level. So it's probably unlikely that someone has the skills and has lots of time and would like to do the work for nothing. But if there is someone like that who could do a map for the Feathertop history, I'd be vastly grateful.
 
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