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The Bogong Centre for Sound Culture is a remote-regional cultural initiative situated in the foothills of Victoria’s Alpine National Park. Established by Philip Samartzis and Madelynne Cornish the Centre supports projects focusing on the processes and impacts of sustainable energy production; effects of climate change in wilderness areas; ethnographic studies of remote communities; the chronicling of vanishing industrial procedures; and systems of representation used to render natural and built environments.
Additionally, the BCSC facilitates a broad cultural program comprising, festivals, exhibitions, publications, master classes and artists’ talks focusing on site-specific art practices. These programs establish a connection with place, its inhabitants, geographic space and memory. They engage a wide range of audiences, bringing together local, interstate and international artists across multiple disciplines and fields to realise ambitious works.
The BCSC is situated at the newly restored old school at Bogong Alpine Village located 350 kilometres from Melbourne in North East Victoria.
About Bogong Village
Bogong Alpine Village is 325 kilometres North-East of Melbourne situated at an altitude of 800 meters in the Alpine National Park between Mount Beauty and Falls Creek. The village was established in the late 1930s to service the first hydroelectric scheme in mainland Australia. More recently it has become a popular site for alpine sports, recreation and ecotourism. Click here for directions.
A Short History
Work on the Kiewa Scheme commenced in 1938 with the construction of a road from Tawonga to the High Plains. Previously the only access was by foot or horseback along tracks that had been forged by cattlemen of a bygone era. Bogong Village was established once the road from Junction Camp was trafficable (March 1939); this paved the way for the construction of permanent buildings. Prior to that life was tough; large canvas tents and flies were used for sleeping quarters and smaller tents were set up to house the kitchens. By 1940 Bogong Township had grown considerably with a general store, staff offices, recreational mess, police station, and a variety of accommodation such as single men’s quarters and residences for married staff and families.
Bogong State School
In 1941 the Primary School at Bogong Village enrolled its first intake of students comprising nine pupils. Initially the school consisted of a large classroom, storeroom and boys and girls toilets. Extensions were carried out in 1944, which expanded the capabilities of the school. A library, storeroom, pupil’s lunchroom and shelter shed were added and rock gardens were established. By 1947 the number of students had grown to 46 all of whom were children of local SEC workers. Over the years class sizes fluctuated and the building remained unchanged. In 1980 it ceased to operate as a school and sat idle, eventually falling into disrepair. In 2004 it was sold along with many other buildings in the village.
Madelynne Cornish and Philip Samartzis bought the Old School and set about restoring it to its former glory. The rotting weatherboards and floorboards, smashed windows and flaking paint are now a distant memory. The newly refurbished building occupies it’s original footprint and bares a strong resemblance to it’s former self. Although the internals have been modernized remnants of it’s past history remain. The Old School once played a significant role in the fabric of village life. It inspired the community and helped shape the minds of those who studied there. It is our intention as custodians that the School once again functions as a place of inspiration.
Reference: Kiewa Kids School Days at Bogong & Mount Beauty by Graham Gardner
A last weekend at B–CSC and a trip to Mt Bogong seemed almost to be a requirement. While it’s hard to make out the actual mountain from the village due to the peaks in between, its presence is a felt one in the region. I packed my gear and, with Madelynne’s well wishes, headed off to the Staircase Spur. The trip would have to be a bit heavier than normal, with a few extra kilos of gear for shooting the Pollux Outcropping and the doubly reflected light of the day-old Supermoon.
While waiting for the clouds to pass at the outcropping, I was again reminded of the need for flexibility in planning (refer back to things I’ve learned from the river). My quick lunch on the ledge turned into a long lunch due to the overcast conditions, and to bury the time into the past I fiddled with tripods and dusted lenses. After an hour and a bit I moved on to Big Fellah’s summit and then past it to Cleve Cole Hut, where I pitched, threw down dinner and set my alarms to correspond with the moon’s zenith.
That night, I awoke in the dark of night inside a tent inside a drizzling cloud. The velvet foggy blackness was powerful and humbling, but—as with the outcropping—was not particularly photogenic. Two other alarm bells that night ended in a similar slippery haze. Mockingly the rains slithered into the valleys with the sunrise.
But with coffee comes a renewed perspective. And so—on my second to last morning at B–CSC—I changed tack from moonlight to sunlight: chasing the glimmering iridescent crystals of dew as they slid off and evaporated from the tall matted grasses in front of the hut.
Now I sit, a week later, looking forward to the arrival of some new hard drives (refer back to my previous post re: failing and filling technology) which will finally let me have a closer look at the successes and failures of a slower time on the top of Victoria.