Red Gum Walk Working Bee – May 12

A moist but not quite drizzly day saw a group of us doing our annual maintenance work on this track down in the Victoria Valley. The weather meant we could do weeding and pruning quite easily, but replacing worn out signs proved difficult and we had to give up on this planned task. Once we reached the remains of what used to be the huge drive- through tree we decided to see whether we could find where the track used to continue before the 2006 fire. with not too much difficulty we could, and made our way back to our picnic table to discuss what we saw as the future of the walk.

It was extremely useful to have both longterm members and more recent folk there. For longterm members like myself, there is so much sentiment attached to the walk that we see it quite differently to those who don’t know the history. For us oldies, it was one of the earliest of our projects. Sue McInnes loved the Victoria valley and its red gum forests. She saw that all the walking tracks were on the ranges, and so involved climbing and that we could build an interesting flat walk for the disabled which would also highlight this special environment. So we set to work clearing the barbed wire fences remaining from the pastoral leases, we built a track through the huge tree for my husband Kees to ride through in his wheelchair, we designed and erected explanatory signage, Bill Neve constructed  a huge red gum wheelchair accessible picnic table. It was a truly beautiful much loved place.

But then came the fire on the 23 January 2006. It swept through killing almost every tree, most of them fell. Our table survived, only to be stolen soon after. Fire recovery money enabled us to re-open the track as far as the tree, and to put in some fire related interpretive signage, and Bill built us a new picnic table but with the charm gone we have done very little work since then, and it will be many years before the seedlings are fully mature. It is of concern that so far there is little sign of the hakeas and banksias regrowing, probably due to deer, but no shortage of titree.

 

We were interested in what the newer members thought. The consensus was that we should continue to maintain the track as far as the tree, but not to ask that the longer track be re-opened. There was some thought that it would not be too difficult to make it a bike track for children to explore and learn, as there are still quite a few signs that could interest them.

Rain brought an abrupt end to our discussions. When the forest dries out later in the year, a couple of us plan to return to finish the repairs to the signage.

Fungi Frolic

On July 15th a group of 10 Foggies met at Jimmy’s Creek for our Fungi day. Those who arrived early shared a classic FOGGs picnic in the carpark. After all it was actually a beautiful sunny winter’s afternoon.

Historically this site has been a winner for us. This year things are a bit dry compared to past fungi days. The constant frosts in recent weeks have also taken their toll on the fruiting bodies we were searching for. We were pleased to have Dave and Lynn Munroe in attendance as members, offering us their extraordinary knowledge. Over the years they spent much time with the great Ian McCann looking at fungi. And Dave is a Fungi (fun guy) to hang out with!

The first thing you learn is that many fungi species do not have a common name. Latin is all you get!

We had barely crossed the bridge to hit the track when we found our first fungi. A calsera sp. commonly known as Pretty Horns. They looked like tiny yellow deer antlers and were growing in a miniature garden- like plot along a rotting log. The first of many wood digesters we found. I tried my best to photograph with my phone camera, but sometimes you just can’t do justice out in the field, no matter the camera. We also started to see bums from this point!! If you haven’t been looking at fungi with Dave, bum doesn’t refer to the derrières on view as we bend over to look, it’s a specialised acronym for mushrooms and toadstools that are much harder to differentiate in the field, particularly when age and weather conditions have caused them to become degraded and hard to key out. Brown Ubiquitous Mushroom. BUM.

We wandered along the track for a while finding various fungi. We also found several lichens that seemed to be fruiting well. Lichen is a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and an algae and can be found on rocks, logs and leaf litter. The two work together in a colony and some of the fruiting bodies look like something drawn by Dr Zeus, you just have to get close to see them.

We found White jelly fungus (fusiformis sp.), white punk (laetiporous portentosus), various licaria sp., crepidotus, mycena, Lilac Shelf Fungus (fanitopsis lilacinogilva) and many more. Even the lyrically named omphalina chromacea, the Belly-button fungus.

After an hour and a half of slowly meandering along the path we turned back to see what we could see from the opposite angle. At this point the sun had dropped behind the mountain and it was cold. I think we were all pleased to head back down and out into the sun still shining in the carpark for a coffee, cakes and a debrief.

It was not the long list that we had found in the past, but considering the season it was a good day out.

  • Calocera sp.Gymnopilus sp.
  • Trumella Fusiformis (white jelly)
  • Laetiporus portentosus (white punk)
  • Laccaria sp.
  • Lichen
  • Crepidotus variabilis
  • Mycena sp.
  • Crepidotus sp.
  • Fomitopsis lilacinoglivia
  • Hypholoma sp.
  • Inocybe sp. (silky head)
  • Rameria sp. (coral fungus)
  • Omphalina chromacea. (Bellybutton fungus)
  • Courtinarius sp.

Rodney


Editor’s note:

It is a delight to inform you that Andy McCann has donated FOGGS a box of his late father Ian’s book “Australian Fungi Illustrated”. We will be able to share them around at future fungi frolics. Thank you Andy.

Not able to be taken into the bush but useful at home is http://www.fncv.org.au/fungi-in-australia/

This freely downloadable e-book (PDF format), from the Field Naturalists of Victoria , consists of 9 parts, and is intended to serve as a resource to assist in the identification of some fungi that may be encountered in our native forests. It contains 340 species and over 1700 photographs of fungi, plus references for further study.

Clean Up Australia Day – 3 March 2018

FOGG has been involved with cleaning up around the Grampians for over 30 years.

On Saturday, the 24th of March, seven FOGG members met with Parks Victoria staff in the Halls Gap picnic area. We were provided with gloves, rubbish bags and rubbish grabbers, and allocated two target areas to clean; Silverband Falls and the picnic grounds adjacent to Lake Bellfield.

There was very little rubbish found at Silverband Falls, however we did collect a number of bags of Scotch Thistle from the creek banks, most not far off seeding. We found quite a lot of rubbish at the picnic grounds next to Lake Bellfield including litter, rusted posts and bits of metal, and bird wire. All up, we collected more than 15 bags of rubbish weighing approximately 60kg. Overall, it was a very successful day.

Our thanks to Parks Victoria staff for providing our gear, and more importantly, a bbq lunch. Thanks also to Rodney and Judith for having lunch cooked and ready for us.

Grasses Day

Leigh Douglas

SEDGES HAVE EDGES
RUSHES ARE ROUND
GRASSES HAVE KNEES (nodes) THAT POINT TO THE GROUND

Grasses Day

Amphibromus, Lachnagrostis, Austrostipa, Chloris, Themeda, Neurachne ….. or, Wallaby Grass, Blown Grass, Spear Grass, Windmill Grass, Kangaroo Grass, Fox-tailed Mulga Grass – just some of the native grasses identified by Alan Bedggood at our home near Lake Lonsdale, as he led about 20 of us on a fascinating tour of discovery on our November activity. Ask Alan if you think I’ve got some names wrong …. because it’s quite likely ….. a new learning curve, and definitely a new passion.

Alan brought along samples of grass for us to handle and look at closely, with and without using little powerful illuminated magnifiers for studying the finer points of grasses, such as their awns, lemmas, and glumes, the only way in which to speciate many grasses; the more closely we could look, the more interesting it all became (and becomes).

Out on the grasslands

A great memory tool Alan suggested was the use of comparative imagery: e.g., a wallaby grass floret looks like a unicorn’s head; some have moustaches, beards and fringes ….. Ask Alan …..

It’s amazing how knowing more about the grasses has deepened our understanding of ecosystems and habitats around the area. [Being at our place made it doubly beneficial to us]. It was a great relief to me to find that my favourite grass at home is native, Swamp Wallaby Grass, and not an introduced feral. It makes a beautiful sight, tall and graceful in winter-wet areas.

Wallaby Grass

It was not only native grasses, however, so I’d better mention that there were a lot of weeds he identified here too! In addition to identifying weeds, Alan and Wendy discussed different ways to control them, and the pros and cons of each; also valuable was learning more about the degrees of threat posed by different species: e.g. African Veldt Grass is pretty scary, rampant along roadsides since the 2006 fires.

We helped Judith Thompson celebrate a very special birthday (Happy Birthday Judith!) over lunch, which we had under the verandah to keep us out of the sun…although the sun was more than welcome after our prolonged cold weather. Thank you Alan ….. both for the weather ….. and for sharing your passion.

Mt Difficult Drive and Walk (14 Oct 2017)

Geoff Stratford

As members gathered at the Boroka Lookout mid-morning in mid-October the lookout was shrouded in cloud giving very limited possibility of catching a glimpse of a view. No matter to FOGG’s, a dozen of us pooled vehicles to tackle the gravel road which had claimed a Parks vehicle, bogged, earlier in the week.

With some hastily arranged road repairs by Parks Vic our group encountered no hint of a problem. In fact the amount of interesting plants and interactions between those present meant we travelled only a small distance compared to that which had potentially been planned. Rodney and Margo had mapped out perhaps five to seven locations which we might stop and observe the flora and environment.

Our first stop seemed less than two kilometres along the Mt Difficult track and it became obvious that we were blessed to have the company of Neil Marriot for this day. While many in the group have great knowledge of the plants of the Grampians, Neil was just so spontaneous in his identification of species and forth coming with extra information he could share with us. ‘this specimen differs from the described species and is pending reclassification and naming as a new variety/species’ he explained to us on a couple of occasions. The range of plants observed and flowering at the time was so extensive and discussion so keen it became obvious that the number of stops was going to have to be limited. The sun was also breaking through making it a classic day to be in the Gramps!

Finally back into vehicles and a kilometre or so further on and it was coffee time before another look through vegetation at the side of the track. Large dense patches of Boronia in flower caught the attention of all of us.

Rodney and his flock

Again the detail of observations and discussions led by Neil captured us all. We also ventured onto some rocky ledges which hosted some different plants but also exposed us to the resting places of a range of animals. Speculation, via scats, was that wallabies and possums frequented these ledges but disappointingly goats probably camped here as well.

Acacia aculeatissima hybridising

This confirmed some observations we had made of preferential grazing of some species by most likely the goats and possibly deer. Along with us humans these ferals pose a threat to our special place.
With time passing rapidly we resolved to head for the start of the Wartook Lookout track and have lunch. The view to the east from the roadside was spectacular to observe while we ate and the plants no less diverse than our previous stops. To our benefit the day had turned into a classic bright sunny one with a cooling southerly breeze to maximise our experience.

Mabel and Neil

Before we set off up the lookout track it was explained that it was being upgraded with rock from the immediate surrounds so that it would not suffer damage or start washaways with the expected increase of foot traffic when the peaks trail passes close by. While not completed, the path was of a very high standard and the walk was well defined and quite easy. More new plants observed along the way as well, which slowed our progress.

Two forms of Epacris impressa

Nearing the top it became obvious why this is such a special location. Lakes Bellfield, Fyans, Lonsdale and Wartook are all in the vista, in fact a unique view of Wartook. Because you are higher than Boroka the scope of the Pyrenees to the east and the plains to the north are more striking. We could also see past Mt Difficult in places to the plains of the west. And of course the ranges to the south basked in the sunshine. To me it was a location that gave me the best impression of the extent of the Grampians that I have observed. Maybe only an aeroplane flight could be more complete.

Check the view

By the time we returned to our vehicles it was agreed we had packed so much into a couple of stops and we were well satisfied to turn for home. A quick count of the species recording list showed more than seventy species had been observed without including the trees and larger shrubs and perhaps some of the smaller ones that were not in flower.

Sharing a laugh

It was most appropriate as we departed that a wedge tailed eagle did some circles overhead to just check we had left his/her place as we found it.

Here is Wendy’s list of plants seen:

  • Acacia acinacea
  • Acacia aculeatissima
  • Acacia obliquinerva
  • Acacia oxycedrus
  • Acacia verniciflua
  • Amperea xiphoclada
  • Banksia saxicola
  • Boronia nana
  • Boronia pilosa
  • Caladenia fuscata
  • Calytrix sullivanii
  • Chrysocephalum baxteri
  • Conospermum mitchellii
  • Coronidium scorpioides
  • Correa aemula
  • Correa reflexa
  • Crassula decumbens
  • Crassula sieberiana
  • Dillwynia sericea
  • Dodonaea viscosa
  • Drosera aberrans
  • Epacris grandiflora
  • Epacris impressa
  • Eucalyptus
  • Gahnia radula
  • Glossodia major
  • Gonocarpus sp
  • Goodenia geniculata
  • Grevillea aquifolium
  • Hibbertia cistiflora
  • Hibbertia fasciculata
  • Hibbertia humifusa
  • Hydrocotyle laxiflora
  • Hydrocotyle sp
  • Hypochaeris radicata*
  • Leptospermum scoparium
  • Leptospermum turbinatum
  • Leucopogon ericoides
  • Leucopogon glacialis
  • Leucopogon rufus
  • Leucopogon thymifolius
  • Lindsaea linearis
  • Lomandra filiformis
  • Luzula meridionalis
  • Melaleuca decussate
  • Olearia myrsinoides
  • Ozothamnus obcordatus
  • Pelargonium rodneyanum
  • Phebalium sp aff bilobum
  • Philotheca verrucosa
  • Phyllanthus hirtellus
  • Pimelea flava
  • Pimelea linifolia
  • Platysace lanceolata
  • Pultenaea mollis
  • Pultenaea scabra
  • Rhytidosporum procumbens
  • Senecio hispidulus
  • Spyridium parvifolium
  • Stellaria pungens
  • Stypandra glauca
  • Styphelia adscendens
  • Tetratheca ciliata
  • Thelionema caespitosum
  • Thryptomene calycina
  • Viola cleistogamoides
  • Xanthosia

Annual General Meeting

We were lucky to have nice weather for our AGM on Saturday 16th September.

Thirteen members attended and we covered all the usual business, the president gave his report and it is covered elsewhere in this bulletin.

Our committee for the next twelve months was elected and is:

  • President – Rodney Thompson
  • Vice President – Leigh Douglas
  • Secretary – jointly Bill and Judy Gardner
  • Treasurer – Judith Thompson
  • Committee Members:
    • David Steane
    • Mabel Brouwer
    • Charles Kerr
    • Wendy Bedggood
  • Newsletter Editor – Margo Sietsm

Activities for the coming year were discussed and the new committee will work towards organising many of the good suggestions.

We had lunch then went for a walk to Fish Falls, along the way we checked out some potential spots to install a seat. Some time ago it was decided to have a seat installed along the walk to recognise the Friends of Zumsteins who folded some years ago but passed their remaining finances to FOGGs. Having decided on a couple of suitable spots these have been given to Parks and the process of getting a seat installed can now happen.

We had hoped to see more wild flowers on our walk but this cold weather has made them late, although the sunny day and splashes of yellow from the wattle made us all feel like spring has arrived.

Deer in the Grampians

Daryl Panther

There were 16 people in attendance, including a few who were interested in learning more for the purpose of hunting, not our usual audience but welcome all the same.

Daryl explained his background and how he has farmed Deer in the past and now being a contractor to Parks Vic. helping with the control of feral animals. He continued by describing the different  species of deer found in Victoria.

  • Rusa Deer are found mainly around Sydney and NSW. They have 3 points on each antler. They will breed with Sambar, but as there are only isolated populations of Rusa in Victoria and we don’t have them in the Grampians they are not an issue.
  • Sambar Deer are one of the heaviest species of deer. They are found around Mt Cole, in South Australia and also in the Otways, with a few in the Grampians area. They have 3 points on each antler and a bib around their neck. Samba deer don’t mix with red deer so they tend to occur in different parts of the Park to Reds.
  • Hog Deer are similar to Rusa and Samba but only grow about as big as a lab dog, there are very few around, none in the Grampians. They have established populations mostly in Gippsland.
  • Chital or Axis Deer are found in Queensland around Charters Towers, there are some isolated populations in Victoria, but not within the Grampians.
  • Fallow Deer are grazers rather than browsers. They have distinctive palmate antlers, although when young can look like those of Red deer. There are four colour variations, black, red, white and menil, they all have spots throughout adulthood, unlike others that only exhibit spots as juveniles. They are commonly found around Pomonal, but do occur in other areas of the park.
  • Red deer, along with Fallow, are the most common species found within the park, (although Sambar sightings are expanding).They are a larger animal and have antlers with many points. There is open hunting season on Red and Fallow deer all year round.

Deer have their fawns in December and usually only have one young. The fawns stay with their mothers till April. March, April and May and into June is the rutting season at this time you can call animals in. Daryl demonstrated this mating call. Red deer males look for females while Fallow deer females do the searching. During the rut males hate each other and fight but at other times of the year can be found in bachelor herds. In June males and females congregate into herds.  Come November/December they spread out into the bush while the females have their fawns. The males drop their antlers at this time, possibly to prevent them from injuring the young, but mostly it is a response to nutritional needs. It is easier to move through the bush in leaner times searching for food if you don’t have an anchor either side of your head.

Deer were introduced into Australia 160 years ago and were brought to Longeronong and Hamilton where they were released around the 1860’s in order to have animals to hunt in the future. In 1918 they were declared a protected animal.

About ten years ago a study on the deer in the Grampians estimated there were more than 1100. Since then there have been several severe fires, pushing the deer out to the edges of the park for food and some were shot as a result of this. Numbers did drop, however now that the bush has recovered the animals have come back into the shelter of the Park and it is difficult to get an accurate estimate of numbers without doing an extensive survey.  Some estimates have them around 550 while others say there are over 1100. Some of our group members think this estimate is too low.

There is currently a program with the sporting shooters association to try to reduce their numbers but so far not many have been shot. This is taking place as ecologists have identified a problem with over grazing in the park, and you cannot begin culling native wildlife while there are introduced species grazing the same areas.

After Daryl’s talk we got a chance to examine some skulls and antlers Daryl had brought with him. Those antlers are HEAVY! We then went for a walk behind Brambuk looking for deer sign. We saw a small group of Reds, along with trees they have rubbed on, scats and footprints. Not surprising really as Daryl estimates there are 50 or more resident in Halls Gap. They are safe from hunters, and have well watered gardens and fields of green grass all year round.

Daryl also shared some stories of his work in pest control for Parks Vic. He showed us radio collars for tracking programs and the judas goat program that allows tracking of feral goat herds to enable removal. He is even having to deal with feral pigs not too far from the park as rogue hunters are trying to introduce populations for their own hunting purposes. There is a possibility this is also being done with deer species too.

Editor’s note

This time last year I reported on a presentation to the park Advisory Group by Mike Stevens on the issue of deer in the Park, including the proposal to use the sporting shooters group as had been done in Wilson’s Promontory. You can read it on our website but here is his proposed action list.

  • Control red deer particularly in high priority herb-rich woodland areas.
  • Zero tolerance, opportunistic control of Fallow and samba deer to prevent population establishment.

Insects of the Grampians

Dennis Crawford

Dennis brought along some brilliant photos he has taken over the years, just a small selection of the ones that have fascinated him the most. With each insect he described, Dennis projected up a larger than life closeup picture to show off the best features. He is very passionate and moved from one to the other very quickly, sharing snippets of information as he went. I have done the best I can to string his information into a report for everyone who missed his brilliant presentation.

Insects occur on every continent in the world, including Antarctica!

Current estimates suggest there are 70,000 insect species in Australia, 20-30 million worldwide. But most are yet to be classified. Of this total less than 1% are pests. Their bad reputation comes because most people only notice them when they are a problem.

3/4 of all species on earth are insects. They have been around for longer than most other species.

Insects are incredibly important to the environment. They are responsible for pollination, seed dispersal, dung burial, recycling and even as food to plants.

If vertebrates disappeared overnight the world would continue on. If insects disappear the ecosystem collapse. They are of incredible importance to our everyday lives!

Meganeura monyi, the forerunner of dragonfly had a wingspan of nearly a metre! This was in the Carboniferous era, an  oxygen rich time in which it was far easier to survive with a more primitive respiratory system without lung structures. In fact it was the presence of a diverse range of insects that drove the diversification of flowering plants. They fall into 6 major categories

  • Orthoptera– grasshoppers katydids locusts. They appeared 300 million years ago. A local example is the Raspy Cricket in the Grampians. It  produces silk from its mouth to join leaves, has long antenna and curved ovipositor as a nymph. But after maturity does not have the long ovipositor.
  • Coleoptera– beetles, these were the first important pollinators. Approximately 30,000 species occur in Australia. 1/3 of these are weevils. Botany Bay weevil is present in the Grampians and endemic to large areas across the rest of Australia. It is so named for the area where it was first identified. Not surprising as it was the first place European biologists saw of Australia.
  • Lepidoptera– moths and butterflies developed sucking mouthparts and became nectar and pollen feeders. Approximately 20,000 moths (450 of these are butterflies) in Australia. Butterflies fold their wings back behind them, moths lay them flat along their body like a carapace. The Mistletoe moth only feeds on mistletoe, the Crexa moth only feeds on cherry Ballart trees. If these plants are removed from the environment, so are the insects. Is it possible this relationship works the other way? It’s not yet known as there are so many to study, and funding goes towards looking at pest insects mostly.
  • Neuroptera are the Lacewings. Antlion lacewings myrmeleontidae, create a cone shaped trap in the ground to capture their prey, usually ants. They flick sand at the ants on the side of the trap so they fall down into the centre where they can be eaten. This flick is one of the fastest actions in the natural world.
  • Isoptera includes termites and ants/wasps
    • termites deadwood feeders/recyclers 350 species replace large herbivores in Australia, breaking down plant material. They also replace earthworms in dry northern climates. Termites fly, but discard wings when they land. Some termite soldiers have a  “glue gun head” to squirt at ants that enter the mound.
    • Ants evolved 100 million years ago, with an incredibly complex social structure to their colony. There are 3,000 species identified in Australia. But it could be double that. The  workers are sterile females, the highest numbers within the colony. Then there are the breeding male drones, and the smallest number are fertile queens that do all the reproduction. Nuptial flights take place where a complete new colony moves all at once. Males are twice as big as female workers, the queens are twice as big again. Workers don’t fly, but they do get carried sometimes. Ants use a chemical based communication, when they are agitated or injured you can sometimes smell this yourself. A Formic acid smell.  They are the first colonisers after bushfires, and a great indicator of environment health. Some ants eat insects, some are herbivores, and some feed on sugars produced by other insects, so they farm them but do not kill them, just consuming their discharge.
      • Myrmecia species are the bull ants. Scavengers but will also kill other organisms to eat.
      • Funnel ants build the funnel shaped sand castles on entrance of hole, to prevent water entry.
      • Inqualine ants live in termite nests and cooperate to gain the benefit of the shelter provided by the mound in a very harsh hot dry climate.
    • The Flower Wasps are the ultimate romantic. Males have wings but females don’t. (However the ladies do have a bad sting.) They burrow under ground to lay eggs in living beetle larvae. Males are attracted by the female pheromone and they will carry a female to a flower to mate and gorge on nectar. Instead of taking her flowers, they carry her to the florist! But they are competing with the Scorpion fly, which have incredibly dextrous legs. The male will feed other flies to the  female during mating!
      • Diamma bicolour, the Blue Ant is actually a wasp. The female sting is intensely painful. They are parasitic on mole crickets, males are too small to carry the female, so they mate on the ground.
      • A Spider Hunting Wasp will grip the fangs of a huntsman, hold on tight, and inject a sting to paralyse the spider. It then lays eggs in the living spider in her nest, as a natural nursery with food built in! They are bigger and stronger than huntsman.
      • Cuckoo wasps have an armour plated schlerotised carapace. They curl up as a defence from the wasps they invade to lay eggs in their nests. Th Cuckoo wasp larvae hatch first and eat the other wasp larvae. The adults are then providing food to raise the cuckoo wasp and not realising it!
  • Diptera are Flies.
    • Eucalyptus sawfly species are also known as spitfires. Pergagrapta polita is the common spitfire. The name comes from their defence of vomiting concentrated eucalyptus oil. If this gets into your eyes it creates a strong burning sensation.
    • Some flies parasitic on spiders, eat them from inside out. Mantispidae, the mantis fly have parasitic larvae that eat spiders. Bladder flies in Grampians do this
    • Chrysopidae, larvae have a jaw looking device that is actually straws for sucking the fluids from their insect prey. They collect the bodies of their food on their back, along with lichen as camouflage.

Aphids are  introduced to Australia. This could be why they have become such a garden pest.

There are even some insects who’s larvae produce potassium cyanide as a defence mechanism.

 

Mount Abrupt Walk – 9th April

This activity was aborted early due to unforeseen circumstances. I need to share what transpired with members.

Six of us met at 10.30 am at the Mount Abrupt car park. A new member joined up, and a couple of our committee arrived with four guests to join us for a pleasant walk up the mountain on a cold grey, drizzly day.

After completing our normal pre-activity procedures and a weather discussion we agreed to set off. (If conditions worsened, or became unsafe in anyway, we could cut short and find a hot coffee in Dunkeld)

We had only travelled about 400 metres up the track, we were not on a difficult part of the track, our pace was reasonable and measured. No one was being pushed beyond their abilities. At this point one of our guests collapsed and stopped breathing.

One of our attending members is a doctor and she went into action taking charge of CPR. Another member got straight on his phone and called 000. Our newest member is part of the Dunkeld SES, and he got in touch with his SES captain to organise a stretcher carry out. (We were lucky to have mobile service). In short we were doing everything we could. I can see no way we could have improved our response. Perhaps an EPIRB beacon could have pinpointed us for emergency services a little quicker, but really it turned out to be a moot point. Our guest had suffered a major heart attack.

His wife told us he loved to play golf alone. He was fit for his age and quite active. He was currently filming a new TV series. He took great delight in walking in the natural environment, photographing nature, and spending time in the natural world with like minded people. In short, if it was his time, she was pleased it happened with nice people around him. People who enjoyed the same interests, and did everything they could to save him.

After ambulance staff arrived and ran basic tests of heart function and body temperature, he was pronounced deceased. The required processes for an unexpected death were then followed. This included waiting for police, and undertaker. We called off our walk and abandoned the activity. After the police arrived we aided the SES with the stretcher procedure.

The guest who sadly passed was John Clarke. Comedian, actor and all round good bloke. One of my heroes and some one I respected greatly. He is missed by everyone who met him.

Vale John Clarke

I hope anyone who has been affected by events at the activity has sought help, if not please contact us. I know I struggled with a feeling of responsibility for depriving the world of a beloved comedian. Every news broadcast that mentioned his death was a bit of a knife twist, as I had been organiser and coordinator for the activity. Counselling and peer support has been offered by Parks Victoria.

Working Bee at the Brouwers

On a sunny Autumn day in late April, 14 of us gathered at the Brouwers new house.

JanBert and Mabel had been purchasing hundreds of native plants to plant in the garden around their new house. Unfortunately with JanBert’s sudden passing this was going to be a huge job for Mabel. Several working bees were organised and most of the plants were put in the ground before Mabel headed off overseas.

Our FOGGs working bee got over 150 plants planted, fertilised, watered in, mulched and a dripper watering system in place. A garden bed planted by an earlier working bee had already started growing and looking really good. In a year or two there will be a spectacular garden to look out onto from the house and it will attract many birds. We will have to include some pictures in a year or two.

We were treated to hot soup for lunch and sat round having a very sociable time in the sun as well as getting a good job done which was very much appreciated by Mabel.