Guides To The Grampians: What New Ones Are Needed?

As you probably will have read in Rodney’s account of our walk and cleanup day in the Wonderland area, we started to discuss whether there was a need for a new book on the Grampians, and if so what format, what would it encompass, and whether a book is now old hat and we need to look at tablet or phone appliances. The discussion emerged out of frustration some of us had in what books we use when out walking; there are several backpack size books but all are quite old, and each has its strengths and shortcomings. But it is also true that no comprehensive book on the Grampians has appeared since Jane Calder’s “The Grampians: A Noble Range” was published in 1987 but long out of print. Clearly before we start thinking whether we, together with other local interested groups, could seek funding  to produce a new resource, we need to have a clear picture of what we want to do.

I thought I would start off by making a list here of what is generally available for general information and for plants. Please contact me with information about things I have inevitably missed. And if anyone wanted to do a follow up on birds, please do so.

General Books on the Grampians:

Jane Calder: “The Grampians: A Noble Range” 1987 VNPA

Geology, climate, soils, plants and animals, history, suggested activities. Excellent, superb pen illustrations, but 30 years old, out of print  and I’m told very daunting to revise due to changes in print technology.

Gib Wettenhall & Alison Pouliot: “Gariwerd: Reflecting on the Grampians” 2006 EM Press.

Superb photos by Alison, five interesting essays by Gib, briefly exploring Aboriginal creation views, the botanical richness, European history, and issues in park management – particularly fire.

 A & B Paton: “Discovering Grampians-Gariwerd”  2005 VNPA

A small pocket book mainly on walks and drives, but starting with a brief introduction to the Park – some history, some on where to stay, the different habitats, some of the common animals. Interesting to see how quickly a book like this gets dated – the 2006 fires and the 2011 landslides have affected some of the suggested walks.

Print Based Plant Guides:

A: large read -at – home books (Grampians and all Victoria)

Corrick & Fuhrer: Wildflowers of Victoria: 2002? Bloomings Books

Clear photographs, mostly including the leaves, short clear descriptions. Easy to see whether it is found in the Grampians, but not to any detail.

Jeanes & Backhouse: “Wild Orchids of Victoria Australia” Aquatic Photographics 2006.

1400 excellent photographs of 362 species plus 45 naturally occurring hybrids, together with detailed descriptions.

There are older books too, such as Galbraith: Wildflowers of South- east Australia.1977 Collins and other earlier orchid guides. But the names have changed so much, and the photos back then were grouped together in the centre of the book. However the pen sketches can be useful for distinguishing difficult species.

B: Field Guide size

Elliott: R  A Field Guide to the Grampians Flora. Algona Press 1984. 

This book covers trees, shrubs,climbers, lilies, grasses, orchids, ferns. My well worn copy attests to how useful this has been to me. Many species, not just the ones with colourful flowers. Easy alphabetical order by scientific name, almost always a pen drawing of the leaf, an indication of the habitat, and a useful guide by colour and size. But again the names have changed so much, and the photos back then were grouped together There is also a mini version Plant Identikit with just the most common plants.

McCann I: The Grampians in Flower VNPA 1994 

400 flowers photographed – mainly life size, common and scientific names, family, size of plant, season of flowering, conservation status.

Woodcock K: “How to identify the wildflowers of the Grampians” and  “How to identify the      Native Orchids of the Grampians”  Community Association of Halls Gap. (Another FOGG member).

Eschewing photos, Ken has used colour pencil to illustrate the flowers, (138 flowers and 70 orchids). The advantage of this method is that size and distinguishing features can be easily indicated.

Marriott N. via Grampians Tourism 2013

A double-sided A4 sheet folded in 3 with photos of the most common flowers.

Computer based Plant Guides  (Grampians and all Victoria)

Viridans Databases of the plants of Victoria.

The company was established in December 1990 when it began development of the Victorian Flora Information System (FIS) series of botanical databases. Initially these databases were written for the sole use of the botanical survey team within the Department of Conservation and Environment (DCE) but over time they became the principal source of information on plants for a much wider range of users, inside and outside of government.

I have owned a copy of the Viridans database  Wild Plants of Victoria for some years now and use it extensively for the Wildflower show each year. Well, you don’t actually own it. You buy a licence to use it for 3 years. My version is on a USB stick with a password and whenever the USB stick is in any windows based computer and the correct password is used it is accessible. It is for the whole of Victoria, but you can set just a region to look in. You can also subscribe to a web-based version to use via broadband. Or you can have the windows version plus an ipad/ tablet version (which I only learnt this morning while researching this). “The packages show, at a glance, the names, classification and conservation status of all 5000 vascular plant species  recorded for Victoria.  Each species has a plain English description and most are represented by one or more colour photographs.  You can find the names by typing in a scientific name or a common name, you can even enter an old out of date name and there is a good chance the correct species will be found.” There is also another more detailed and more expensive version (Just-a-Minute Victorian Plants).  I have once or twice tried to use the database on my laptop while out in the car, but it hasn’t coped with outdoors light. I haven’t tried the tablet app yet. Has anyone else?

Viridans also has some useful free products such as a guide to Victoria’s rare plants, and one on introduced plants and a plant index. They also have a similar range of resources for Victoria’s birds.


And that’s without starting on fungi, mammals, reptiles, insects and more! Or guides to habitats, such as grasslands, box- ironbark forests etc.

We are lucky in FOGGS to have many really knowledgeable folk and many very able nature photographers, some of whom are quite keen to get to work. But we need to know what we want to achieve. So please help your committee think this through. Can you add to the above list, can you give us a brief review of how useful you find any of the above resources? What kind of new resource would you like to see us help produce? Or do you think we would be biting off more than we can chew?