Zumsteins: A Century Of Memories

From a crossing of the Mackenzie River to a popular tourist spot downstream from Lake Wartook.

Compiled by Rod Jenkinson for the Horsham Historical Society.

Book Review by Margo Sietsma

A huge amount of work has been done to produce this 322 page book. It starts with an extensive  selection of articles published in all sorts of newspapers, from 1913, through the debate in the 80s on whether the area should become a national park or remain under the Forests Commission , the heated arguments in the 1990s, through fire and floods right up to 2015. These written documents are then followed by many people’s memories, mostly taken from oral interviews with Horsham people who were regular visitors as well as local residents. There’s also a well chosen selection of old photos, together with a sprinkling of recent photos, both of the Zumsteins area and of the wider Grampians area.

Information on Walter Zumsteins himself has mostly come from previous books published by the Horsham Historical Society, but searching out the many newspaper articles must have been a mammoth task, providing much useful background to the history of the whole Park.

This is a passionate book. That much is clear from the bold text in the preface “….. Zumsteins was one of the most popular areas in the Grampians until government departments ended holiday home leases and occupancy, removed non- indigenous trees and plants, stopped camping and filled in the swimming pool under National Park policy, ignoring the wishes of locals and visitors alike.”

That passion shines through the extensive Horsham newspaper reporting in the 1980s, and the  1990s and again in so many of the individual memories and stories. The years of suspicion and scepticism of National Park policies held by many of the local residents and regular visitors is well documented, and clearly there were faults in the way the department acted at the time. But it is good to see entries that show that the relationship is healing. My hope is that the publication of this book will clear the air and allow a new start in this important relationship.

So do go ahead and read this book, enjoy the stories and the memories, take home some lessons for the inevitable next time there is community division. I expect most FOGG members will have their own happy memories of picnics at Zumsteins. I found myself wishing that I had contributed my own stories; the time in the 80’s when the kiosk owners comforted my friend when our husbands were overdue on a walk on Mt Difficult, the time my daughter and I had to stand on top of the picnic tables to eat our chocolate and dried apricots to be safe from the ravenous roos …..

There’s one important omission from the book, which is implied from the title, but does deserve some acknowledgement.  The book covers only a century of memories, it starts in 1913. However we know from other sources that the area has been lived in for many thousands of years. It would have been good to have seen some reference to the indigenous groups, who lived on the edge of what was then a swamp at Lake Wartook, and who fished for blackfish in the Mckenzie river. That criticism aside, congratulations to the Horsham Historical Society  for preserving this slice of history for us and for the future.

Book News and Reviews

As reported previously, we have been discussing the resources available to the public about our park. The VNPA asked us to make some comments on their 2005 publication “Discovering the Grampians-Gariwerd”. It has some really good information, but unfortunately so much has changed here with fires and floods since then. We have given a fairly detailed response for them to chew over. We also passed on the comment that Ian McCanns wildflower book, now out of print, was really missed.

Out next week is a publication by Horsham Historical Society “ Zumsteins – A Century of Memories”. It is big – 322 pages and over 200 photographs. The cost is $50. I have ordered one and will write a review next issue.

In the meantime, online resources and apps continue to be developed. I haven’t had a chance to have a close look but here are two of local interest.

Biodiversity of the Western Volcanic Plains

This site has been developed as an online outreach curriculum program for primary and secondary students and community members, focusing on the biodiversity of the Western Volcanic Plains. The site will eventually contain seven online learning objects. Each learning object will focus on a specific aspect of biodiversity including plant and animal identification, grassland foodwebs, mapping of species, assessment and mapping of plant quadrats and an investigation of the ongoing threats to species by managing grassland ecosystems, consulting with experts, undertaking real and virtual grassland excursions and completing an interactive quiz. Each learning object will be accompanied by comprehensive student and teacher resources. http://www.ecolinc.vic.edu.au/programs/footprints-western-volcanic-plains


The flora and fauna of the Western Volcanic Plains, Victoria, Australia is unique with many species endemic to ecosystems within this bioregion. Over 160 animals and over 250 plant species are comprehensively described, most with multiple images taken within the natural habitat of the species. Identifying animal calls are provided with distribution maps including both past and current sightings recorded by the Atlas of Living Australia.

This Field Guide app provides the opportunity for users to map and upload sightings of any of the listed species within the Western Volcanic Plains, to contribute to a growing database of sightings of both common and threatened grassland species. Sightings are mapped and displayed on the Ecolinc Biodiversity of the Western Volcanic Plains website, which provides additional resources and learning objects relevant to the biodiversity of grassland ecosystems within this region. These are designed to be used by school students and community members.
Ecolinc is a Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) Science Specialist Centre. This Field Guide app is a component of an educational online outreach program entitled Biodiversity of the Western Volcanic Plains.

There’s also a Field Guide to Victorian Fauna by Museum Victoria available as an app for Iphones.

“The animals found in the south eastern Australian State of Victoria are unique and diverse. Detailed descriptions of animals, maps of distribution, and endangered species status combine with stunning imagery and sounds to provide a valuable reference that can be used in urban, bush and coastal environments.” The content has been developed by scientists at Museum Victoria, Australia’s largest public museum organisation.
The app holds descriptions of over 950 species encompassing birds, fishes, frogs, lizards, snakes, mammals, freshwater, terrestrial and marine invertebrates, spiders, and insects including butterflies. From animals found in rockpools, minibeasts in your garden, to wildlife you might see in the bush. We’ve put in a lot of species, but it’s still a fraction of the complete fauna of Victoria. Our scientists will continue to add additional species and refine descriptions over time.

This app is one of a suite of field guides for each state and territory, developed by Australia’s leading natural history museums.

Getting Kids into National Parks

Apropos of the Advisory Group discussion on the topic of children and National Parks, National Parks Association of Queensland Inc (NPAQ) has recently launched a free guide booklet called Getting Kids into National Parks to help us get our youth connected to the natural world.  The booklet can be downloaded at


Guides To The Grampians: What New Ones Are Needed?

As you probably will have read in Rodney’s account of our walk and cleanup day in the Wonderland area, we started to discuss whether there was a need for a new book on the Grampians, and if so what format, what would it encompass, and whether a book is now old hat and we need to look at tablet or phone appliances. The discussion emerged out of frustration some of us had in what books we use when out walking; there are several backpack size books but all are quite old, and each has its strengths and shortcomings. But it is also true that no comprehensive book on the Grampians has appeared since Jane Calder’s “The Grampians: A Noble Range” was published in 1987 but long out of print. Clearly before we start thinking whether we, together with other local interested groups, could seek funding  to produce a new resource, we need to have a clear picture of what we want to do.

I thought I would start off by making a list here of what is generally available for general information and for plants. Please contact me with information about things I have inevitably missed. And if anyone wanted to do a follow up on birds, please do so.

General Books on the Grampians:

Jane Calder: “The Grampians: A Noble Range” 1987 VNPA

Geology, climate, soils, plants and animals, history, suggested activities. Excellent, superb pen illustrations, but 30 years old, out of print  and I’m told very daunting to revise due to changes in print technology.

Gib Wettenhall & Alison Pouliot: “Gariwerd: Reflecting on the Grampians” 2006 EM Press.

Superb photos by Alison, five interesting essays by Gib, briefly exploring Aboriginal creation views, the botanical richness, European history, and issues in park management – particularly fire.

 A & B Paton: “Discovering Grampians-Gariwerd”  2005 VNPA

A small pocket book mainly on walks and drives, but starting with a brief introduction to the Park – some history, some on where to stay, the different habitats, some of the common animals. Interesting to see how quickly a book like this gets dated – the 2006 fires and the 2011 landslides have affected some of the suggested walks.

Print Based Plant Guides:

A: large read -at – home books (Grampians and all Victoria)

Corrick & Fuhrer: Wildflowers of Victoria: 2002? Bloomings Books

Clear photographs, mostly including the leaves, short clear descriptions. Easy to see whether it is found in the Grampians, but not to any detail.

Jeanes & Backhouse: “Wild Orchids of Victoria Australia” Aquatic Photographics 2006.

1400 excellent photographs of 362 species plus 45 naturally occurring hybrids, together with detailed descriptions.

There are older books too, such as Galbraith: Wildflowers of South- east Australia.1977 Collins and other earlier orchid guides. But the names have changed so much, and the photos back then were grouped together in the centre of the book. However the pen sketches can be useful for distinguishing difficult species.

B: Field Guide size

Elliott: R  A Field Guide to the Grampians Flora. Algona Press 1984. 

This book covers trees, shrubs,climbers, lilies, grasses, orchids, ferns. My well worn copy attests to how useful this has been to me. Many species, not just the ones with colourful flowers. Easy alphabetical order by scientific name, almost always a pen drawing of the leaf, an indication of the habitat, and a useful guide by colour and size. But again the names have changed so much, and the photos back then were grouped together There is also a mini version Plant Identikit with just the most common plants.

McCann I: The Grampians in Flower VNPA 1994 

400 flowers photographed – mainly life size, common and scientific names, family, size of plant, season of flowering, conservation status.

Woodcock K: “How to identify the wildflowers of the Grampians” and  “How to identify the      Native Orchids of the Grampians”  Community Association of Halls Gap. (Another FOGG member).

Eschewing photos, Ken has used colour pencil to illustrate the flowers, (138 flowers and 70 orchids). The advantage of this method is that size and distinguishing features can be easily indicated.

Marriott N. via Grampians Tourism 2013

A double-sided A4 sheet folded in 3 with photos of the most common flowers.

Computer based Plant Guides  (Grampians and all Victoria)

Viridans Databases of the plants of Victoria.

The company was established in December 1990 when it began development of the Victorian Flora Information System (FIS) series of botanical databases. Initially these databases were written for the sole use of the botanical survey team within the Department of Conservation and Environment (DCE) but over time they became the principal source of information on plants for a much wider range of users, inside and outside of government.

I have owned a copy of the Viridans database  Wild Plants of Victoria for some years now and use it extensively for the Wildflower show each year. Well, you don’t actually own it. You buy a licence to use it for 3 years. My version is on a USB stick with a password and whenever the USB stick is in any windows based computer and the correct password is used it is accessible. It is for the whole of Victoria, but you can set just a region to look in. You can also subscribe to a web-based version to use via broadband. Or you can have the windows version plus an ipad/ tablet version (which I only learnt this morning while researching this). “The packages show, at a glance, the names, classification and conservation status of all 5000 vascular plant species  recorded for Victoria.  Each species has a plain English description and most are represented by one or more colour photographs.  You can find the names by typing in a scientific name or a common name, you can even enter an old out of date name and there is a good chance the correct species will be found.” There is also another more detailed and more expensive version (Just-a-Minute Victorian Plants).  I have once or twice tried to use the database on my laptop while out in the car, but it hasn’t coped with outdoors light. I haven’t tried the tablet app yet. Has anyone else?

Viridans also has some useful free products such as a guide to Victoria’s rare plants, and one on introduced plants and a plant index. They also have a similar range of resources for Victoria’s birds.


And that’s without starting on fungi, mammals, reptiles, insects and more! Or guides to habitats, such as grasslands, box- ironbark forests etc.

We are lucky in FOGGS to have many really knowledgeable folk and many very able nature photographers, some of whom are quite keen to get to work. But we need to know what we want to achieve. So please help your committee think this through. Can you add to the above list, can you give us a brief review of how useful you find any of the above resources? What kind of new resource would you like to see us help produce? Or do you think we would be biting off more than we can chew?

Book Review: Hamilton Region Nature Guide

At the recent most interesting Eel Festival at Lake Bolac I got talking with the representative of the Brolga Recovery Group, and the nearby representative of the Hamilton Field Naturalists. They have published a “Hamilton Region Nature Guide” and I highly recommend it. It is of course centred on Hamilton, but it covers the area from Harrow in the north to Heywood in the south, from Dergholm in the west to Lake Bolac in the west. Naturally it deals only with the southern end of the National Park, but what I found most useful is the information on the Black Range  and the various wetlands and grasslands in and around the Park. The maps are clear and the birdlists extensive. Well done Hamilton Field Nats!

Address: PO Box 591. Hamilton 3300.