THAT is how Rob Atkins describes the high country of the Great Western Tiers, also known by the Aboriginal name Kooparoona Niara.
Behind him, the rolling farmland of Caveside, near Deloraine, nudges steep forest which rises to the range's bluey-grey crags.
Standing in the dominating shadow of The Mountain, as it is simply known, it is easy to see why it has had such a profound effect on those at its feet.
That effect couldn't be more evident than in The Mountain Huts Preservation Society, the group formed to protect the highland way of life forged over generations.
Pioneers from families such as Higgs and Parsons scoured the seemingly impregnable walls of the Tiers during the 1900s, blazing tracks to the top and building shelter to graze cattle or simply escape from the real world so far away down the valley.
Since its formation in 1988, the volunteers of the MHPS have worked tirelessly to maintain and reconstruct those mountain huts.
"It is about preserving our history," Mr Atkins, a founding member and society vice-president, said.
"The connection to the mountain is pretty much the same for all our members - I know at Ironstone Hut there is an old photo of my uncle standing there holding a fish taken in 1930 and that was one of the reasons I thought it should be rebuilt again." Ironstone Hut was reopened in 1996 after being rebuilt from rubble by the MHPS.
Since 1988, the society has reconstructed Trappers Hut on the track to the Walls of Jerusalem, Ironstone, the recently- reopened Lady Lake Hut, and re-roofed the Lake Meston and Junction Lake huts.
Another founding member, Kelvin Howe, brings out a map pinned with all the known hut sites in the Central Highlands, stretching as far south as Lake St Clair and east to west from Pelion Plains to Lake Augusta.
There are about 47 pins, the majority of them either hut ruins or sites that have fallen into disrepair.
Many have been forgotten or are now hidden in the overgrown wilderness, their location known by only a relative few.
"When we were young, we spent a couple of summers up there, exploring the highlands, and that's how we came across a lot of these sites," he said.
"It is the same thing our fathers and grandfathers were doing before us.
"We were up there a while ago and we managed to find the spot in the rocks behind Ironstone where my dad and his brother stashed their axes for chopping a bit of firewood - they hadn't been touched in 50 years."
Mr Howe's love for the mountains almost cost him his life when he was involved in a helicopter crash flying in supplies for the Lady Lake project in May, 2002.
While the physical and emotional scars from that accident may never heal, Mr Howe's enthusiasm continues, and he would love to see another project completed before the society's 20th anniversary in 2008.
Each project must be carefully planned and negotiated with Parks and Wildlife, the Aboriginal Land Council and the Heritage Council.
The red tape means it can take years for a project to get off the ground, with some sites completely untouchable.
"It would be a real shame if we didn't get another project because the amount of enthusiasm that comes across from a couple of generations beneath us is just so good to see," Mr Howe said.
Mr Atkins said legislation protecting ruins that predated 1850 was understandable because or their historical significance.
"On those sites you would feel a bit of an intruder, but the ones that were built by our forefathers not that long ago are a bit different," he said.
The catalyst for the society's formation was the controversial removal of Tiger Hut, near Lake Adelaide, in 1988.
Mr Howe, Mr Atkins and four others stayed in the impressive six bedroom hut and had what is now referred to as The Last Supper just days before Parks and Wildlife removed it.
Then Parks and Wildlife Minister John Bennett claimed the hut had fallen into disrepair.
That did not wash with the group and they decided something needed to be done to prevent other huts from meeting a similar fate. "The feeling was Tiger Hut was the first to go and Parks was going to do the same with all the others to return the land to its original condition when there weren't any huts at all," Mr Atkins said.
"But I reckon they are part of our history anyway, our father and grandfathers used to go up and use them and history has got to start somewhere."
After the first meeting of the MHPS, volunteers went about re- constructing the shingled Trappers Hut, perched on the steep climb to the Walls of Jerusalem.
Employing the expertise of one of the hut's original builders, Dick Miles, volunteers set about building the hut using traditional methods.
For 18 months, they worked on every third Saturday, all the while sparking the enthusiasm of a growing number of people.
"There was 3800 man hours put in and we cut the slabs on site, they weighed about 60kg each and we carried them 800 metres to the site," Mr Howe said.
Mr Miles and another pioneer, Dick Reid, 92, were brought up on horse- back to witness the opening of the completed hut.
"That is probably one of the most memorable days I have had - it was the last time horses have been up that track, Parks gave permission so both Dick Miles and Dick Reid could go up that day and it was very special," he said.
Those scenes were repeated last year with the opening of Lady Lake Hut.
The new hut sits sheltered from the elements under a rocky outcrop and provides dry shelter and comfy arm chairs for the visiting fisherman or bushwalker.
The society choppered in old men and women who had spent their youth exploring the region around the famous Chudleigh Lakes.
"These were people who had dealings with the mountain 50-to-60 years ago, but for the last 20-to-30 years they have been too old to walk up," Mr Atkins said.
"To see their eyes when they eventually get back to this mountain that they spent so much time on in their youth, that was pretty special.
"We were putting them on the chopper to fly them out from Lady Lake and one of the old ladies turned around to have one last look and said `well I will never see this again - not unless you rebuild another hut'," he said.
Mr Howe's wife Margaret said the society would have little trouble raising the finance or finding the volunteers for a new project.
"Such is the enthusiasm of other people, even away from the mountain and outside the mountain, they have been infected with our enthusiasm and they can see it is going to a good cause."
Unlike other community organisations that seem to have trouble drawing younger members, Mrs Howe said the MHPS was still growing.
The society has about 35-to-40 active members.
"We have only gained numbers, not lost them, and we have gained a whole new generation since we started nearly 20 years ago," he said.
The MHPS will hold its annual meeting on October 12, with the aim to decide on its next project.
"I guess the older of us have probably achieved what we first set out to and now we are at the crossroads, looking for a bit of direction," Mr Atkins said.
Mr Howe added that was not an indication that the old-guard was ready to hand on the baton.
"The thing that will keep us alive and enthusiastic is another project somewhere on the mountain and if we could decide at our AGM that we could have a new project completed in three year's time, the enthusiasm would be unreal," he said.