President’s Piece

Welcome to our Petyan edition of our newsletter, and apologies for the late arrival. In fact it feels as if summer is already here and the Grampians, like most of the Wimmera, are scarily dry and the flower season is almost over already.

I hope you all have already sent back the questionnaire we sent by snailmail to get some feedback to help with planning activities. Of course you can also email your thoughts to Wendy or myself.

FOGG has been in existence for 30 years now and quite a few of our members have been with us for much of that time. It is vital that we ensure that we remain relevant to both our longterm members and newcomers. Those of you who get this by post will find a membership form attached. Please use it to recruit someone new to join us.

Actually activities are only part of … Read the rest

Posted in 2014 Spring Newsletter, President's Report

From Our Ranger In Charge – David Roberts

A busy few months in the park as we hit some critical milestones with the fire recovery program, completed some important strategic fuel reduction burns, ramped up the spring fox baiting program and commenced grazer control in the form of removing goats from the Mt Difficult range.

Caitlyn O’Reilly, our conservation volunteer coordinator has hit the ground running and quickly established partnerships and programs in all areas of our business. I can’t overstate how much we value this role and how much potential it has to assist us and communities get good outcomes on park.

The Walking track support group, under the leadership of David Witham have been active with works in and around the Heatherlie Quarry tracks. This site is in store for a spruce up as we invest in new signs and investigate a possible trail realignment.

It is amazing to reflect on the number of groups actively … Read the rest

Posted in 2014 Spring Newsletter, Ranger In Charge

AGM and Heatherlie Walk

We have had only one activity since our last newsletter, and that was our AGM and walk in the Heatherlie area on September 27. Our August walk had to be cancelled due to low numbers.

The weather for our Heatherlie explore was delightful and the flower display fascinating. We walked through a mix of unburnt and burnt areas. The burnt areas were burnt as part of a backburn lit during the horrid fires of January to stop the fire racing towards Halls Gap. But above us on the ridge we could see the ravaged bare slopes of the extremely hot burn.

Tiny bladderwarts: K.Wakefield

Tiny bladderwarts: K.Wakefield

In the burnt area the grass trees and redbeak orchids were in full flower, along with various other orchids, lilies and more. In the unburnt areas there was a good display of isopogon, tinsel lilies, daisies and spider orchids. Some of us were down on our … Read the rest

Posted in 2014 Spring Newsletter, Meeting reports

Field Naturalist Survey

Searching for the Squirrel Glider

On the Queen’s Birthday weekend, this year, the Fauna Survey Group (FSG) of the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria (FNCV) visited the Grampians to survey for arboreal mammals, in particular the Squirrel Glider. The group carries out fauna surveys on private and public land in accordance with its Department of Environment and Primary Industries research permit.

Eleven members travelled west and camped at the Plantation Camping Ground, where they were hosted by Ryan Duffy and Dave Handscombe from Parks Victoria. By and large the weather was very kind to us. On Sunday we were joined by Margo Sietsma and some of her family for some

Seven survey areas were identified by Parks Victoria – the Dadswell’s Bridge, Golton, Silverband Falls and Heatherlie areas within the Grampians National Park (NP), Deep Lead and Lonsdale Nature Conservation Reserves (NCR) as well as the Ledcourt State Forest (SF). … Read the rest

Posted in 2014 Spring Newsletter, Activity Reports

Biodiversity Seminar

The 17th Wimmera Biodiversity Seminar was held on Thursday the 4th of September in Pomonal. This year’s theme was “Fired Up” – looking at all things to do with fire and biodiversity in our landscape. Quite a few of local FOGG members were able to attend and it was a really excellent day. Unfortunately we do not have space to do justice to all the speakers had to offer.

Speakers this year included:

Bill Gammage – adjunct professor at the Australian National University (ANU) and author of The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia. The book describes how Aboriginal Australians were actively using fire to cultivate the Australian landscape prior to European settlement. Bill expanded on his further research and learning, discussing the importance of the totem bond between people and animals, the fact that there were so many different words for “fire” – a … Read the rest

Posted in 2014 Spring Newsletter, Meeting reports

Threatened Species – Hunting Orchids and Pollinators

As mentioned in the report on our AGM, we were successful in our application for a grant to protect an orchid area in the Ironbarks State park. Noushke and I went there in September with ranger Dave Handscombe to plan where the fence should go. The lack of rainfall was so evident; the ground was dusty dry and the usual orchids were so scarce. Scary.

Marking the fence corner

Marking the fence corner

Some of us joined a search with the native Orchid Society in October looking for some rare Prasophyllum, Caladenia and Thelymitra off Harrops Track in the vicinity of Camp Creek. We failed to find the target species but saw many other orchids. Gail and I spent a peaceful hour sitting in the warm sun beside a rare orchid in a pot, with a butterfly net in our hands, hoping to catch a wasp or other pollinator, but alas no success. Nobody … Read the rest

Posted in 2014 Spring Newsletter, Threatened Species Group

Wildflower Show

The Grampians Wildflower Show in Halls Gap would be impossible to present without the support of FOGG members from outside town. We introduced a lot of changes this year, with very mixed success. The main setting, in the Botanic Garden, looked beautiful, but proved challenging to our older visitors. There was a communication failure re the PV display for the hall, but the banner from the Hamilton Field naturalists was superb. And we didn’t explain well enough our decision to name less of our flowers and encourage folk to look them up in our resources. On the other hand, many visitors welcomed the changes

We still struggle for people with enough time to manage the event, so whether the show continues is still in doubt.… Read the rest

Posted in 2014 Spring Newsletter, Activity Reports

Committee Report – Advisory Group

I was an apology due to illness but here are some items from the minutes.

Grampians Peaks Trail Master Plan

Key discussion points: Summary of consultation process and feedback. Around 90 responses. Major points of issue included: On Park Accommodation, Maintenance/management responsibility, environmental and cultural values.

Discussion: The Advisory Group believes it is critical that the issue of a fully resourced operation is investigated and recommended as a matter of priority, so the Park and PV isn’t left with a liability and therefore the reputation is damaged and the park resources drained. A world class Trail and infrastructure needs world class customer service and management/maintenance.

Question: When, who and how do the AG advocate and lobby for (PV to undertake) a business operations plan?

Action: We will write to Dr Bill Jackson and Minister Ryan Smith to emphasis the need for proper, objective and well researched operations … Read the rest

Posted in 2014 Spring Newsletter, Advisory Group

Committee Report – Round Table

Margo attended the last Round table on 15th July at Mirranatwa Hall, but Wendy was unable to. This report was supplied by the organisers. A presentation was given on the ‘South Western Bushfire Landscape’ project. Andrew Govanston, Jill Read, Evelyn Nicholson and Steve Balharrie outlined the project. The project came out of the Black Saturday Bushfire Royal Commission and their recommendation that planning to reduce impacts of major bushfires, needed to be more strategic, be landscape-focused, and provide regular opportunities for community involvement and feedback opportunities.

The four key steps of the project were outlined. Step 1; Establish the Environmental Context (Enviro Scan); Step2; Identify Assets and Risk in the landscape; Step 3; Analyse the Risk; Step 4; Monitor implementation of the project and feedback to stakeholders and communities.

Steve informed the group on the Bushfire risk modelling undertaken across the state, and tabled the Victorian Risk profiles, before … Read the rest

Posted in 2014 Spring Newsletter, Meeting reports