Advisory Group – Oct 2016 and Nov 2016

The AG has met twice since our last newsletter.

20 October

Well, not really an AG meeting, but we were part of the annual fire conference. The main theme of the presentations was the ten years since the Mt Lubra fire: what had been learnt, what was different now, new challenges. Then we went out to look at some of the challenges surrounding the current fire plan. Some of the same material was presented at the Roundtable meeting that Wendy reports on in this newsletter, so I’ll try to be brief.

Police Superintendent Paul Margetts, who was stationed in Halls Gap in 2006 but has since been promoted to a senior position in Horsham, gave us a most appropriate quote from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also unique for their apparent disinclination to do so.”, but then proceeded to show how some things have indeed been learnt from both our fires and those in other locations.

Dave Roberts then gave us his Top Ten observations:

  1. The increase in large landscape size fires: from a previous history of an average of once in 35 years, to 3 here in the last 10 years; Why? Climate? Fire regimes? Other? Where are we heading?
  2.  A new emphasis on community engagement: AG, Round Table, motto of Safer Together.
  3. More use of Risk Analysis tools.
  4. But also higher levels of risk: more people, more often, in more areas of the Park and closeby.
  5. I’ve mislaid!
  6. I’ve mislaid!
  7. Incident management is a profession now, with its own team within Parks.
  8. The Park is a huge economic driver for the region ($430 million annually). When it shuts down it hurts.
  9. The resilience of both the environment and the communities living here.
  10. New technologies coming in: smart phones, drones and more.

After lunch we inspected a private property where the owners have agreed to have it burnt as part of a wider planned burn near Pomonal. Then we drove to Lake Bellfield to have a look at the same burn plan from the other side. It’s desirable to break up the regenerating forest (burnt in 2006), to get a patchy age distribution and slow down any wildfire. But that’s not easy, especially so close to popular tourist areas. See Wendy’s Round Table article for more on this challenge.

November 8

Saw our final meeting for the year and it was a field trip. First to Mckenzie Falls to discuss options for parking within the limits of available funds. There is no intention at the moment to rebuild the house or the kiosk. Having a mobile coffee van seems to be working well. The parking plan is to move it further uphill leaving an open green area near the river.

Then we went to inspect where the Peaks Trail will travel along the escarpment approaching the Boroka Lookout area. Very close to the proposed track they have come across an unrecorded art site. We agreed that the site was too vulnerable and the track would have to be rerouted. (photo).

Our final stop had us again looking at the area near Halls Gap planned to be burnt in stages. Dave informed us that weatherwise, it would be best to burn at Easter, but for some reason that isn’t their planned date!