From Parks Victoria

OUR VERY BUSY RANGER IN CHIEF is seconded to the North East at the moment. Thank you Tammy Schoo for a comprehensive update, which I have unfortunately needed to shorten for the printed version.

It was all hands-on deck over the busy Easter and Victorian and South Australian School holiday period in the Grampians. High visitor numbers saw every campsite booked out weeks in advance and popular day visitor areas were brimming with families and international visitors.

Luckily there were minimal callouts for emergencies and antisocial visitor behaviour. Unfortunately however there were a higher than usual amount of campfires left unattended, rubbish left behind and  people ignoring signage – such as ‘no dogs permitted in National Parks’, ‘no entering the Balconies and Boroka lookout rock platforms’ and ‘no swimming at Mackenzie Falls’.  Interviews were conducted at the Balconies for visitors climbing over barriers and fines may be issued.

The Grampians National Park is a National heritage listed area – all visitors are asked to respect the law and any park regulations that apply in order to ensure visitors remain safe and so the Grampians National Park is protected for the future.

STAFF MOVEMENTS:

We’ve had a few team members step up and undertake short team backfills of the Assets and Infrastructure team leader position. Thanks to Ian Hanson, Joshua Brown and Emily Scott for keeping the park facilities, roads and recovery projects rolling.

Next week we welcome Chris Washusen to the Visitor and Community Team as Grampians Peaks Trail Walking Track Ranger. Originally from Victoria, Chris has been working as a Ranger in the Northern Territory for the past few years .

Dave Roberts is still working in the Alpine region which has seen Tammy Schoo and Mike Stevens step in to the Acting Area Chief Ranger Role.

FIRE AND EMERGENCY:

Project Fire Fighters have seen their contracts extended through to early May to assist with the Autumn burning season. Over the coming weeks the Autumn burning program will continue throughout the park so keep your eyes peeled for any closures.

The team are also undertaking and increased amount of Non-burn-fuel-treatments (NBFT) around the township of Moyston. This project has primarily treated the Acacia paradoxa which poses an extreme fire risk to the community. It is difficult to get the right conditions to burn it and mulching has provided positive results in previous trials. The NBFT took place in asset protection zones around communities.

ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE:

As part of the Gariwerd Caring for Country project, rangers and traditional owners recently carried out vegetation removal from a number of rock art sites in the Victoria and Mt Difficult ranges. Impacted by the 203/14 bushfires, vegetation had grown back thickly and increased both fire risk and potential damage to rock art panels. Impacts by feral goats and rock climbing are also being managed as part of this project. 

While the broader Sallow Wattle Management project continues to research and trial best practice control techniques, recently ground crews were engaged to undertake hand removal of satellite populations throughout the park. 

The Parks Conservation Action Plan is in the final stages of approvals. This plan will identify the key environmental threats, goals and strategies to manage the park throughout the future.

E & H Ranger Dave Handscombe has moved into a short-term secondment position as Environmental Project Coordinator to deliver the herbivore management project.

ASSETS AND INFRASTRUCTURE:

Telstra is trialling a reception tower at Mackenzie Falls which is increasing reception in zones around the popular visitor site. A landline will also be trialled. A decision will be made in the coming months as to which option is the most appropriate for safety and emergency communication. The toilets will also see a new solar pump installed to replace the old water powered Glockemann pump, which should mean less breakdowns in peak periods.

Mt Zero Road will be closed for resurfacing works on May 21st for two weeks. A closure will be in place from Red Gum Lease track through to Plantation campground. The works will be completed to improve poor areas of the road which have been caused by ongoing dry conditions. Please see the park website for further details including detour options to access the Plantation Campground and the Northern Grampians.

Fire access road repairs will be undertaken in the coming months on key access roads and once the rain begins to fall, grading is scheduled to continue. Be aware of heavy machinery operating throughout the park. Check for road access on our website.

A number of fire and flood recovery projects are scheduled to begin once the combined GPT/Grampians Recovery Cultural Heritage Management plan is approved – hopefully by the end of May.  This will include Coppermine bush camp redevelopment, Golton Gorge walking track redevelopment, the new Dead Bullock Creek campground, Longpoint west bush camp, Briggs Bluff realignment and Ngamadjidj Art shelter redevelopment.

VISITORS AND COMMUNITY:

Throughout the peak visitation period the Grampians had 3 volunteer camp ground hosts who assisted with the delivery of key park information at Smiths Mill, Borough Huts and Stapylton Campground.  We also had 3 Volunteer walking track rangers assist with safety and visitor information along the Grampians Peaks Trail and Northern Grampians walks. If anyone is interested in volunteering for these or other popular programs sign up to ‘ParkConnect’ via our website: The next Volunteer program will be rolled out over the June Long weekend. 

In partnership with the Northern Grampians Shire, the Grampians Summer Rangers ran a number of activities that were linked to the Premiers Active April program. The team also ran Six Junior Ranger activities throughout the park with great success. The Fire and Emergency team worked alongside Seasonal Rangers for an ‘All Fired Up’ program which allowed Junior Rangers to dress up as fire crew members and learn about fire safety within National Parks. There were bush detectives galore, guided nature walks and a very popular bike scavenger hunt.

The team are in the middle of assessing all visitor sites within the park for the rollout of the Visitor Experience Framework (VEF). This will provide information for future management of visitor sites as well as activities and interests available within the park.  The VEF will also contribute significantly to the provision of better visitor information .

Outside the Grampians but in our Reserves management area, the Ararat Trails project is nearing completion of Stage 1 with contractors finalising the environmental, cultural and detailed planning assessments for the existing but illegally built mountain bike trails in Ararat Regional Park. Concept trails, walking tracks, trailheads, car parks and connections to Ararat will be considered as part of the proposal.  This along with a number of other cycling projects will be considered as part of the Regional Cycling trails strategy currently being developed for the Central and West Victorian area.

GRAMPIANS PEAK TRAIL

Contractors have been working hard at the south end of the Grampians Peak Trail (GPT). Mt Abrupt and Major Mitchell plateau works are still underway as we see upgrading of rock steps, track stabilisation, drainage and surfacing completed.

April saw Chatuaqua Peak walking track re-open and again, old timber steps have been removed and replaced with stone. From all accounts the daily walkers on this track are enjoying the more level step platforms and quicker walk times.

Works for the upper and lower track of the Mt Staplyton area will commence soon. including vegetation removal along the new trail alignments, works in Dunkeld community along Salt Creek, Mt Christabel revegetation and building removal and interpretation and experience planning with traditional owners.

For further GPT project information you can read the latest GPT community update at:

https://www.visitgrampians.com.au/what-to-do/grampians-peaks-trail

There are a number of projects being planned or delivered as stage two of the Peaks trail ramps up

IN OTHER PARK NEWS…

A recent report of animal cruelty in Halls Gap is being investigated. Witnesses reported a kangaroo being fed something inappropriate south of Lake Bellfield township. With the ongoing concerns of wildlife being fed in and around Halls Gap, this is a reminder that Halls Gap has a Wildlife Action Group to tackle the issue on private and council land within the township.  Within the National Park and on other land tenure, significant fines can be imposed if anyone is found to be undertaking these or other wildlife related offences.

Seasonal Road closures will come into effect after the June Long weekend. Some Recovery Closures may also still be in place.