June 27, 1983
As with a ski enthusiast or a deep sea diver, a person who flies a light plane explains his passion for his sport as a drug or an intoxication.
The mild manner of Myrtleford sheep and cattle farmer Donald Walpole changes into lively enthusiasm as he talks about his love of the surrounding countryside and of flying.
He believes the magnificent Bogong High Plains, Mt Buffalo and the quiet valleys nestled between the mountains are something people should see from the air to really appreciate.
A couple of months ago he established Mountain Air, a venture which will take visitors into the areas that usually mean many hours of driving, then beyond, into the vastness of the Victorian Alps where the only access is by walking or skiing in the winter.
Mr Walpole operates the flights from the tiny grassy airfield at Porepunkah — a strip which has one of the best settings in the country.
On one side the massive granite walls of Mt Buffalo loom dauntingly and on the other the pine plantations of the Forests Commission line the walls of the Buckland Valley.
The schedule contains five flights taking in some of Victoria's most majestic scenery.
The huge granite massif of Mt Buffalo, with its beautiful waterfalls and breathtaking views of the gorge and sheer cliffs that challenge the best rock climbers, is seen in a 20-minute flight from the base.
Another flight takes visitors over the picturesque Ovens Valley and the town of Bright, named as the gateway to the Alps.
Australia's largest earth-fill dam, Dartmouth, is seen in another flight which returns via the Bogong High Plains if weather conditions are suitable.
A flight Mr Walpole describes as a photographer's special is the Bogong Tour, over the Ovens Valley and Harrietville to Mt Hotham, Australia's highest resort.
The added beauty of seeing the snow-capped mountains from the air is a highlight that opens the eye to the magnificence of our mountains.
The flights over the fertile valleys show the diverse agriculture in the area — chestnut and apple orchards, a brown patch of raspberries as well as the tobacco and hop farms.