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 B-CSC 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 B-CSC 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 B-CSC is situated at the newly restored old school at Bogong Alpine Village located 350 kilometres from Melbourne in North East Victoria.
Acknowledgment of Country
The B-CSC acknowledge the Dhudhuroa, Gunai, Taungurung, Waywurru and Yaitmathang peoples as the First Nations and Traditional Owners of the land upon which the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture is located. We pay our respects to the Elders, past, present and future for they hold the knowledge and traditions of the land and waterways upon which we depend.
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
Today we travelled to Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga to record sheep and cattle grazing on the lush plateau located 2000 metres above sea level. Along the way we pass through several medieval towns sitting precariously atop rocky outcrops. Their stone facades blending seamlessly into the eroded limestone mountainside where they are vertically situated. Many of the buildings are either abandoned or for sale. The remote location, harsh climate, and history of earthquakes seem to have taken their toll on these regional communities. The rutted roads continue to be challenging as we precariously wind through the mountain range towards Gran Sasso. We stop several times to record the sound of wind blowing across the grassy valley. Along the way we meet a shepherd with several dogs in tow. He kindly guides the grazing sheep in and around my microphones while large white sheep dogs watch on suspiciously. Further on we come across a dispersed herd of cattle, their bells gently ringing through the valley. At times the collective interplay of the strangely dissonant ringing reminds me of the overtones generated by a gamelan. After some hours we finally reach the Campo Imperatore plateau situated at an elevation of 2200 metres near the massif of Gran Sasso, which is dramatically shrouded in cloud. Overlooking the impressive scenery is L ' Hotel Campo Imperatore, which was Benito Mussolini’s prison between 28 August and 12 September 1943. This inhospitable location really is a perfect place of exile. The depressed and suicidal Il Duce was rescued by German paratroopers during Operation Oak, and eventually settled in the Republic of Salò in northern Italy where he established the short lived Italian Social Republic. The decrepit hotel façade provides an apt reminder of the sordid history of this place. While taking in the scenary I think about Pier Paolo Pasolini and his acerbic observations of Italian society.
Open Field is a collaboration between Liminaria, Pollinaria and the B-CSC and is supported by the School of Art – RMIT University.