From Remote Origins

Felix Wilson, Bogong Village, 2019

Who We Are

The Bogong Centre for Sound Culture is an independent remote-regional cultural initiative situated in the foothills of Victoria’s Alpine National Park. Established by Philip Samartzis and Madelynne Cornish in 2010, the B–CSC supports projects focusing on the alpine environment; sustainable energy; climate change; remote communities; recreation; fieldwork; and new systems and processes of art making.

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.

A Brief History

Bogong Village is 325 kilometres north-east of Melbourne in Victoria’s High Country, situated at an altitude of 800 meters in Alpine National Park between Mount Beauty and Falls Creek.

The village takes its name from Mount Bogong, which towers above the Kiewa Valley and the High Plains. The area is of great significance to both locals and traditional owners. For the Aboriginal people the region holds great spiritual significance, as they believe that the landscape was created by their ancestors. The mountains and other features of the topography and fauna are part of a cultural landscape of stories, language and travel routes.

In the Indigenous Waywurru and Dhudhuroa languages, Mount Bogong is named Warkwoolowler, meaning ‘the mountain where people collected the Bogong moth’. Additionally, in the Dhudhuroa language the word Bugung means ‘brown moth’. Throughout the many seasons, Indigenous groups crossed tribal boundaries and travelled hundreds of kilometres to meet on the highest peaks of the alpine region. They came from as far away as the coast and south-west slopes of the mountains for intertribal corroborees, settling of disputes, trading, marriages, the initiation of young men and to feast on the Bogong moths.

The advent of squatters looking for land with agricultural potential in the mid to late 1830’s heralded the rapid and total displacement of Aboriginal people from the valleys and mountains. Routes once travelled by the Aboriginals became cattle routes for drovers taking stock onto the High Plains for summer grazing, or to access the mountains.

The indigenous landscape and culture were invisible to many settlers. Mountain Dreamtime stories were replaced by colonial folklore that celebrated pastoral traditions. The tales that echoed across the valleys and High Plains were now of cattle rustlers, wild horses, and the stock routes that criss-crossed the Alps. The heroic deeds of cattlemen in a formidable landscape became immortalised, and new legends arose.

The Village

Located at the confluence of the Rocky and Pretty Valley branches of the East Kiewa River, the area now known, as Bogong Village was initially a strip of dense bushland wedged between two mountains. The only tangible evidence of colonial intervention was a stable located upstream, and a packhorse trail that was used to transport supplies from the valley to surveyors and diamond drillers working in remote areas of the alpine region.

Bogong Village was established in 1939 as field headquarters for the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme. In the 1940s, it was a thriving town with facilities to support 300 workers and their families. Over ensuing decades, the town’s dynamics shifted from an industrial hub to a holiday destination for State Electricity workers. By the late 1990s, the leasehold had passed into private hands. Today, Bogong is a remote community comprising of a few permanent residents and limited infrastructure.