Baw Baw is a national park in Victoria, Australia, 111 km east of Melbourne. It contains the Baw-Baw Plateau and Mount Baw Baw, a small ski resort, including nearby town, technically outside the national park.
Geographically, Baw-Baw plateau is a plateau of several peaks (Mount Baw Baw, Mount Saint Gwinear, Mount Saint Phillack, Mount Erica and Mount Whitelaw) of largely subalpine terrane outcrops of weathered granite boulders dot the plateau with alpine meadows punctuated by stands of snow-gum.
It is reported that Baw Baw is Aboriginal for 'echo' but the name could also come from 'Bo Bo', a name used on early maps meaning Big.
The area was first explored in 1860 by botanist Ferdinand von Mueller. The area was settled in the 1880s and 1890s, after the discovery of gold in the area. Baw Baw National Park was declared in April 1979. On 7 November 2008 the park was added to the Australian National Heritage List as one of eleven areas constituting the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves.
The typical vegetation in the park is low-lying grasses, heathlands and snow gums, this is typically described as sub-alpine. Fauna abounds on the foothills to the major plateau (Baw Baw Plateau), including Leadbeater's Possum, which is highly endangered and Victoria's state fauna emblem.
Nowadays the major uses of the park are skiing in winter and bushwalking in summer. It is popular for cross country skiing, downhill skiing, summer bushwalking, hunting, rafting and canoeing, fishing, scenic drives and picnics. The Australian Alps Walking Track traverses its entire length, starting at Walhalla and continuing north towards the Alpine National Park. The Baw Baw section takes a bit less than three days to walk.
There is also plenty to see for those interested in botany or geology. The highest peak in the park is Mount St Phillack, a granite plateau standing at 1566 metres.
There is popular ski touring along the Baw Baw Plateau between Mount Baw Baw, past Mount St Phillack to Mount St Gwinear. There is even a volunteer ski patrol group, the St Gwinear Ski Patrol. They run on weekends and patrol around the St Gwinear portion of the national park. They access the park from the opposite side of the Plateau to the ski resort at Mount Baw Baw. Other popular skiing is Nordic skiing at Mount Baw Baw. This was introduced in 1972, including championship races and a ski school.
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