From the Parks Desk

It has been a busy summer holiday period in Grampians National Park. According to the latest figures the Halls Gap area saw a 1774% increase in population – from 316 permanent residents to a peak of 5500 people! This was the largest percentage increase across the state of Victoria and evident by the sheer volume of people visiting the national park.
However, the impact on the park has been both positive and negative. It is fantastic seeing so many people out enjoying this landscape, however disappointingly we have noticed an increasing number of people failing to take responsibility for their own rubbish. Please help spread the message of taking your rubbish with you. The photo below was taken by one of our rangers at Silverband Falls Carpark.

Rubbish at Silverband Falls Carpark

STAFF MOVEMENTS: After 3 years in the Grampians as a Volunteer Coordinator and Project Firefighter, Caity O’Reilly has accepted a new marine focused role with Parks Victoria at Queenscliff. Caity will be greatly missed and we wish her all the best in her new position.

Ian Hanson has returned to the team as acting Ranger Team Leader for Park Operations. With over 10 years of experience in the park, Ian will help guide the team responsible for roads and visitor site infrastructure and maintenance.

In the middle of this month we will also see the addition of Jessica Sharp as Grampians Ark Coordinator. Jessica will bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to the role of protecting native small mammals and managing introduced predators.

FIRE AND EMERGENCY: The F&E team have spent the last month completing a range of activities and works. They have responded to several fires, including a large plantation fire at Mooralla on the western side of the park. The team also played a key role in the successful search and rescue operation for missing bushwalker Julio ‘Lester’ Ascui. Looking forward, the team will continue to work on maintaining access to waterpoints and clearing strategic firelines.

This season be sure to keep an eye out for the team in the new Mercedes Unimog fire tanker. This tanker provides increased capability on the fireline and significant improvements in firefighter protection.

ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE: The E&H team have been busy with several projects. These have included deploying fox and feral cat remote sensor monitoring cameras throughout the park, searching for new Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby release locations, clearing of vegetation regrowth impacting significant rock art sites, successful funding bids for goat and deer control programs in Autumn, and working with the Catchment Management Authorities on National Landcare phase 2 grants for Sallow Wattle and feral animals.

2016 FLOOD RECOVERY: Key recent works have seen Redman Road reopened. See our weekly road report for further detail on what is open and closed in the national park.

2014 FIRE RECOVERY: At Zumsteins the roof on the middle cottage has been replaced and expert stone masons have completed restoration works to the walls. Contractors are continuing to develop new interpretive signage for the area.

VISITORS AND COMMUNITY: The V&C team have been making the most of the increase in visitors. With two enthusiastic seasonal rangers on board, the team has facilitated four Ranger guided walks, five Junior Ranger kid’s activities and a series of information “pop-up’s” at Mackenzie Falls, Wonderland Carpark and Halls Gap Visitor Information Centre to help visitors better prepare for their visit, provide park specific information and promote the Survive the Heat campaign.

The Grampians Peaks Trail (GPT) continues to evolve and take shape. Contractors have completed work on over 1.5km of steel walkway on the remote Major Mitchell Plateau. This was achieved in challenging conditions over a winter that involved rain, hail and snow.

As a result, First Wannon Hiker Camp has reopened, however access is only from Mt William or Mafeking. The walking track between Stockyard Saddle and Jimmy Creek Campground remains closed for extensive stonework.

Major Mitchell Plateau Walkway

Works on Chatauqua Peak remain on track for completion by the end of March. Visitors are reminded that Chatuaqua Peak remains open via the Bullaces Glen Walking Track.