From Rhonda, Our Chief Ranger

Surprisingly things are still very busy in the park and assisting staff including myself juggle the home schooling thing.

The whole of the Grampians National Park is closed to all people, including not being available for locals to undertake exercise within. These closures are very different to anything we have had in place before as they are under the public health act which is administered by Victoria Police not by my staff. There were a number of stages to this full closures with us first closing campgrounds, then a week later closing picnic tables & BBQ’s and then a week later full closure. All this caused some confusion to locals, understandably.

We did have discussions regarding a potential part closure of the park eg allowing locals to exercise but with a park with 55 entrances and numerous communities who believe that the Grampians is their back yard including Ararat, Stawell, Horsham, Hamilton it was deemed as too difficult to enforce and be fair. Also the aim of the closure was to reinforce that staying at home is what we have to do and taking a drive to go for a hike is not what is considered exercise.

We know that is a very challenging time and hope that people can understand that the decision was not made lightly and was taken to protect the whole of the community.

We do not know when this closure will be lifted as it will be determine by the chief health officer. We are, though, in the park required to undertake a full patrol of the park daily and report our findings and I know that Victoria Police are also do regular patrols and providing information. At this stage our patrols are indicating a high level of compliance however this week we have had a number of incidents of our signage being removed that we have to replace.

If there is any silver lining to this tough time is that we are still able to work in the park and with this closure in place we are taking the opportunity to do as much maintenance work as possible in high visitor sites, in particular hazardous tree work in our campgrounds and a full walking track maintenance program at MacKenzie Falls and Balconies as examples. We are hoping to complete the burn between Boroka Lookout and Halls Gap which is such an important strategic burn whilst the park is closed, having significantly less impact that it would if the park was open.

Our new District Manger Jamey Staples has started and I have had him out into the park a number of times already showing him the range of amazing things that this park encompasses. I will start to briefing him on our challenges over the next few weeks.

Hope you are all doing ok and looking after yourself and we can all get back out and enjoy the park soon.