From Our Park Rangers

Ranger Tammy Schoo  has sent us a detailed Grampians National Park Community Update and we have more from other staff. Thank you Tammy, Mike and Tracey. Our readers from afar really appreciate learning more about our great Park from those who work in it.

Update from Tammy:

With winter officially over and Spring (or Petyan) finally here, the Grampians National Park is starting to put on its annual wildflower show. Here’s a few finds from the Northern Grampians recently.

 

Flood recovery

Works were recently completed on the Stapylton and Asses Ears Flood Recovery Packages. Cultural heritage inspections and preservation works have been an important part of the process. After final inspections and gate removals, Asses Ears, along with a number of other roads in the north, will open mid-September.

This means that the only roads that will remain closed (pending further culvert and crossing works) are Redman and Mitchell roads and the annual seasonal closures (until Nov long weekend). Four Wheel Drive Victoria and local 4×4 clubs will be assisting with track clearing prior to these seasonal tracks reopening.

Fire Recovery

The Zumsteins cottage interpretation project is in progress with consultants undertaking background research to gather themes and local stories. Contractors removed a small amount of asbestos from the site which means repair and conservation works will start on ground at the beginning of October.

The Sallow Wattle management program continues in the northern Grampians with the assistance of contractors and volunteer school groups. We’ve seen a fantastic recovery of the Large Leaf Ray Flower in areas where the wattle has been removed.

Environment and Heritage Team

Heathland ‘small patch’ mosaic burning has continued along the Wannon River in the Southern Grampians this winter. Deakin University students are using images captured from the ‘supergrid’ of 170 cameras to monitor habitat and predators of the Long Nosed Potoroo and Southern Brown Bandicoot. It is hoped that over time the mosaic of small burns of varying age classes will support healthy populations that are protected from the impacts of fire in what is a very fiery landscape.

Parks Victoria, Monash University researchers and Traditional Owners met recently to establish a project to undertake a ‘palaeo-environmental’ reconstruction of vegetation and fire history of the Grampians landscape. This research will help inform bushfire history and human use of fire in the Grampians landscape.

Grampians Peaks Trail (GPT)

Spare a thought for the contractors who have been working in freezing conditions on the Major Mitchell Plateau recently. Battling through rain, sleet, sub-zero temperatures and snow falls, the team has moved over one kilometre of locally made steel boardwalk panels and other materials ready for installation over the coming months, as well as completing a huge amount of stone work.

Stage two track upgrades continue at Mt Sturgeon and Lake Wartook and further track upgrades will begin in Spring on the Flat Rock section to the Mt. Staplyton Summit, Mt Difficult Eastern escarpment, Chatauqua Peak near Halls Gap and Mt Abrupt track at Dunkeld.

Parks staff have been working with Gariwerd Traditional Owners to complete cultural heritage assessments along the GPT trail. These assessments have been searching for artefacts and scatter sites along with testing for pathogen spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi.

SPRING SCHOOL HOLIDAY PROGRAM

September is Biodiversity month – come join Park Rangers for some fun and educational Citizen Science activities in the Grampians National Park.

These holidays, Parks Victoria is running ‘BioQuests’ throughout our parks. For gamers that like nature, this activity is for you! Download ‘Questagame’ onto a smartphone, create an identity, join the Parks Victoria Junior Ranger Clan, grab your ’supplies’ and you’ll be on your way… searching for cool plants and animals. Go head to head with park rangers to find the most species in your area and go in the running to win all sorts of cool prizes!!

Did you know the Grampians National Park has its very own Earthwatch Institute Climate Watch Trail? As a citizen scientist you can help us monitor our local species, and the climate over time. The Venus Baths ClimateWatch Trail begins at the Halls Gap Botanic Gardens and makes its way along the Northern side of Stony Creek to Venus Baths. Prior to beginning the walk, visitors are encouraged to download the ClimateWatch app or print off a recording sheet. While on the walk visitors can record the species they see in the app or on the recording sheet. If using the app, the data can be submitted in real-time, and if using the paper-based recording sheet the data can be submitted after your walk on the ClimateWatch website.

To download the app, recording sheets or find out more information visit http://climatewatch.org.au/trails/grampians-national-park-venus-baths or you can join our Rangers on a guided Climate watch discovery walk. Visit Brambuk the National Park and Cultural Centre for further information, check our website or go to www.juniorrangers.com.au  to book in for activities.

Getting out in nature is good for body mind and soul…Recently, in partnership with the Wimmera Regional Sports Authority, Friends of Grampians Gariwerd and Grampians Walking Track Support Group we reproduced the “Grampians All Abilities Walking Guide”. This time round, we have included detailed information on the all-terrain TrailRider and Volunteer Sherpa program in the park; there’s really clear maps and grade descriptions for a variety of accessible walking tracks, including those for prams.

Purchase your copy at Brambuk the National Park and Cultural Centre or download a digital version from our website.
Grampians Peak Trail

Tracey Milne

In her article Tammy said “Spare a thought for the contractors”. Tracey has sent us some photos which show just what it has been like.

She told us that the latest Grampians Peaks Trail Community Update will be available soon.

Eco-Burning In Winter

The Grampians National Park’s winter heathland burning program aims to provide small patches of diverse, new habitat for some of the parks most threatened small mammals whilst leaving large areas of long unburnt habitat that are important refuges from predators. This program targets heathlands throughout the park with a particular focus on areas of long unburnt heath.

Capitalising on clear, calm and dry winter weather days, for the past five years the Grampians team have been burning small patches bordering the Wannon River stretching from Yarram Gap Road to Lynches Crossing Track. The team is working to provide a mosaic of habitat for the nationally threatened long nosed potoroo and southern brown bandicoot. Using only matches to ignite the fiery grasses, in August this year the team burnt a total of five patches covering 18Ha of the 900ha burn unit; the largest being 11ha and the smallest 1ha.

To complement the burning program, a research partnership has been established with Deakin University to camera monitor small mammal populations, foxes and feral cats. One hundred and seventy camera stations have been set up 400m apart and is colloquially known as the Wannon River “supa-grid” for pre and post-burn monitoring. Deakin have recently completed the second year of monitoring and we are eagerly waiting to receive the results – standby!

Mike Stevens

FOGGS have a policy of financially supporting students doing research in the Park, and of inviting them to share their knowledge with us and the public. It is so good that this kind of longitudinal study is happening, and that such a good partnership is in place between our rangers and the Universities.

From Our (Very Busy) Ranger In Chief

David Roberts, Area Chief Ranger, Grampians Gariwerd

We would like to publicly acknowledge the contribution of Ryan Duffy, outgoing Ranger Team Leader Environment & Heritage, as he moves to NSW Parks & Wildlife to take on a new career challenge. Ryan has been a strong member of the Grampians Parks Victoria Team for 7years, and has played a stable and level headed role during times of change. Of note, the Bioscan in 2012, the ongoing commitment to the Brushtail Rock wallabies, the refinement of the Grampians Ark, the initiation of Sallow Wattle control and the relationships established and progressed with research institutions has been outstanding.

Of most significance however, has been Ryan’s dedication to the area of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage. Previously a minor part of the program, Ryan has grown the knowledge and effort of Rockart management and Traditional Owner engagement to a point where we are now actively conserving, cataloguing and evolving our knowledge of management techniques around cultural site management in Gariwerd. Thank you Ryan.

In other Grampians News,

  1. Works are progressing on the stabilisation and conservation of the Zumsteins Pise cottages post the 2014 fires following the receipt of a permit from Heritage Victoria on the 17 January 2017.
  2. Recent media about the rock wallaby colony has been pleasing as we celebrate some small successes, while highlighting the overall challenges of the program
  3. The production of an accessibility guide for the Grampians National Park is nearing completion which will aid people with mobility issues, wheelchairs, prams/pushers and specialist equipment like the Trailrider. Keep any eye out for it over the coming months.

Regards David Roberts

Bon Voyage Ryan Duffy

Email  received from Ryan.

“I recently accepted a job with NSW Parks and Wildlife to assist with a threatened species reintroduction project – http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/SavingOurSpecies/extinct.htm. Not only is the job pretty cool, my wife (May) and I have chosen to move near a larger population centre (Halls Gap is pretty small for a lady from Bangkok) and closer to my parents and sister. We will be moving to Coffs Harbour.

My last workday at PV will be the 24th March. I will be leaving PV with a heavy heart as I have really enjoyed working on some amazing projects, with amazing partners, in an amazing landscape. Highlights include seeing recent rock-wallaby pouch young persisting to adulthood, working with Ben Gunn and ranger Jake Goodes to record 36 new rock-art sites that have been re-discovered in the last 5 years, detecting a quoll on remote camera. In all honesty the greatest highlight has been to work alongside the awesome Parks Victoria crew and volunteers who help us manage this amazing landscape.”

Ryan, we in FOGGS will miss you greatly and wish you and May well as you leave us for Coffs Harbour. We have greatly appreciated the way you have encouraged co-operation with Universities so that learning about the natural values of our Park is so much more available than it used to be.  And as Dave has said, it has been so good to see your work with Jake and our member Ben Gunn on our cultural heritage.

World Ranger Congress 2016

Mark Whyte, Team Leader Assets and Services Grampians Gariwerd  

In May 2016 I was lucky enough to represent Parks Victoria at the 8th World Ranger Congress in Colorado. This tour included a shadow assignment in Yellowstone National Park and recreational visits to Zion and Grand Canyon.

I spent 4 days on a Shadow Assignment in Yellowstone NP and was blown away by the sheer scale of the operation, Yellowstone NP has nearly the equivalent number of employees during the summer months as the whole of Parks Victoria.

The World Ranger Congress was an amazing week, set in Rocky Mountain NP and featuring delegates from 68 countries. On the first morning I had breakfast with Rangers from Finland, Belize, India and a Masai Warrior from Kenya, quite a cultural experience.

It was humbling to hear stories from African, Asian and South American Rangers about the work they do counteracting poaching. Many Rangers act as paramilitary with inadequate training and equipment to undertake their roles, a Congolese Ranger described to me that ‘they were fighting a war on poaching’; the poachers use proceeds to fund weapons and terrorist activities. The International Ranger Federation and the Thin Green Line are doing fantastic work supporting Rangers on the front line.

After the congress I visited Zion NP on the Memorial Day long weekend along with 60,000 other visitors, while hiking the narrows (hiking through a slot canyon) felt like a trip on the subway rather than the awesome adventure that it was, the park coped fantastically well with the record visitation numbers due to a shuttle service. Zion has one road in and out that joins the main visitor sites, this is closed to traffic over the summer months and a shuttle service operates from the local town outside the park. The Grand Canyon also runs a shuttle service to many lookouts on the south rim with access roads closed to traffic.

Visitation management is a challenge for park managers across the world, while the Shuttle Service worked well in Zion and Grand Canyon it is not a feasible option in Yellowstone due to multiple entry points and distances between key features (Yellowstone was originally planned for horse and cart with key visitor sites 30 miles apart or a day’s travel).

A shuttle service could be one method of improving peak visitation management in the Grampians National Park (central corridor), however requires further investigation and planning. The Friends of Grampians Gariwerd were instrumental in assisting with interpretation during the Parks Victoria Wonderland Eco-Shuttle trial that ran in the Park during the early 2000’s. This was a voluntary shuttle and most visitors opted to continue to drive their vehicle. For a shuttle service to be successful in the Grampians NP it would require closing access to traffic at popular visitor sites, providing timely shuttle bus access and appropriate parking options, while working extensively with tourism organisations, local tourism operators, visitors and the local community.

From Our Rangers

The last few weeks have been so frantic for our ranger staff. The very welcome rain has also brought with it many road closures and delays to planned works due to open for the school holidays. So I haven’t been game to ask Dave Roberts to write something this time, but I do have reports from Tammy and Ryan.

From Tammy Schoo: 

Well its certainly been a wet Spring! Parks Staff have been busy throughout the past few weeks assessing impacts from heavy rainfall, ensuring closures are in place for public safety, repairing immediate safety issues and working to pull together timely information updates for communities and businesses. At this stage the rain is set to continue so we would ask all locals and visitors to be aware of the following:

The parks unsealed road network is very soft. In some areas heavy rain and fast flowing water has caused washouts, impacted drains and culverts and removed surface gravel. While we wait for the land to begin to dry out, there are some road closures are in place. These are there to protect your safety—please do not drive around them. Culverts, floodways and creek crossings may be damaged and roadsides are so soft that attempting to turn around could mean you get bogged. Also, sodden soils have increased the risk of tree fall, especially during excessive winds. Be mindful of this when setting up camp or while out visiting the park. Ongoing rainfall may see temporary closures of roads and walking tracks, however most popular sites are currently open. For the latest list of what’s open and closed in the park please visit :
http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/grampians-nationalpark

In Other News…

This week we welcome a new member to the team. Rick Shiner will commence as a member of the roading crew (couldn’t start at a better time really!!) Rick has a great deal of experience working with plant and machinery and if you see him out on the roads in the tractor or grader please give him a wave.

All this rainfall has helped with the movement of aquatic animals. Mark Backman from Nature Glenelg Trust has reported a new Platypus sighting just inside the National Park at Gooseneck swamp. Rainfall events can assist animals to discover new territories.

We are currently surveying for threatened species in the Ararat Hills. If you are interested in assisting please contact Caity OReilly on 0428 553 040 or email

Parks Victoria, with the help of the Friends of Grampians Gariwerd recently participated in the Spring Park BioBlitz. This state-wide activity saw junior ranger members, local community and holiday makers sign up with the Inaturalist App on their smartphones then record and upload sightings of native species at particular locations throughout their local parks. The Grampians designated walk was Venus Baths and there were a number of interesting species found. You can still utilise the app at any time when out and about. All you do is upload a photo and specialists will help I.D. what you have found. Search for the inaturalist app in your app store.

FIRE RECOVERY
In exciting news, Stapylton campground reopened for the school holidays! Always popular with
schools and families, the new campground has sites that cater for groups of up to 16 (or more) at a time, vehicle based camper trailer and campervan sites, standard tent sites and also provides three wheelchair accessible sites.

Works continue to stabilise the walls of the Zumsteins cottages while the protective roof structure is being built off-site. Mackenzie Falls redevelopment plans will be available for community feedback in the coming weeks.

Walking track crews are about to start on the Briggs Bluff walking track.

Reeds Lookout carpark will be closed for resurfacing works during the last week of October.

The Balconies Walking track will be closed for three weeks from October 11th.

Goat control activities (using firearms) will continue throughout the Park.

Grampians Peak Trail

Planning continues to forge ahead particularly around trailhead locations. The next phase of
works will be along existing track footprints. Earmarked for temporary closures in the coming
months whilst upgrades are completed are the Major Mitchell Plateau and Stapylton Loop walks. Further information will be available closer to the date.

 

Closed walking tracks/visitor sites
? Western half of the Mt Stapylton Loop walking track
? Ngamadjidj Shelter
? Gulgurn Manja Art Shelter
? Mt Difcult overnight walks
? Briggs Blu?
? Golton Gorge

Closed campgrounds
? Boreang Campground
? Kalymna Campground and Waterfall
? Troopers Creek Campground
? All bush camps in the Northern Grampians
fire a?ected area, including the Mt Difficult
Hiker Camps.

 

Closed rock climbing areas
Due to the fire closure in the Mt Difcult Range
there are a number of sites currently not accessible. Please see the Rock Climbing and Bouldering Update Sheet for details.
Further Information: Please note – this guide
will be updated regularly, ensure you have the
most recent version by visiting
www.parks.vic.gov.au or by calling into Brambuk
the Natonal Park and Cultural Centre in Halls
Gap, or a local Visitor Information Centre.

 

Grampians NP Community July Update

Tammy Schoo, Team Leader – Visitors and Community Grampians Gariwerd National Park has sent out a comprehensive report to the local community, and I am sure it is of real interest to those of you living further afield.

News in General July 2016
We welcome Ben Thomas to our team in the Role of Grampians Ark Coordinator. Ben brings a wealth of knowledge to the role after holding numerous biodiversity roles with organisations such as DELWP and CVA. The ‘new Ben’ replaces Ben Holmes who has moved to take on a rewilding project in the Little Desert National Park with Conservation Volunteers Australia.

Snow! Yes, we certainly know it’s winter. While it’s not completely uncommon, snow usually falls when the state is at its coldest. The Grampians are certainly very pretty covered in snow and it is a spectacle that many local residents love to see. We do ask that anyone visiting to see the snow comes prepared as conditions on the summit of Mt William can get very cold and windy and roads can be extremely slippery – particularly early in the morning after frosty overnight conditions.

Roads Management

As of the June Long weekend all seasonal track closures have been put in place.

Northern Grampians Fire Recovery Program

A massive recovery program continues in the park, with a few key projects beginning to roll out on ground. Here’s a brief update on all that’s going on…

  • Mackenzie Falls redesign and development: Consultants have been engaged for the Detailed Design and Documentation for the site and the project should begin in the new few weeks.
  • Zumsteins Pise Cottages: Heritage Victoria have issued a permit exemption for critical stabilisation and restoration works on the Orange Cottage. This will see the installation of a galvanised steel protective roof over the Orange Cottage. Other works will be carried out particularly to the blue cottage once the final heritage Victoria permit is finalised for all three cottages.
  • Stapylton Campground Redesign and Rebuild: Works continue on infrastructure installation with completion dates getting closer. Parks Victoria staff recently completed a successful (but wet) Thryptomene transplanting working bee across the site. Mapping of campsites and online booking information is being planned in the background, ready for a reopening in the coming months.
  • Mt Difficult Precinct Works are underway to upgrade the existing track to the summit of Briggs Bluff. A staged implementation of campground and walking track upgrades and realignments will integrate the Mt Difficult area offer with the GPT and support an improved visitor experience in an area of the park that was previously suffering from excessive over-visitation.
  • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Work to catalogue and register newly discovered and existing cultural heritage sites continues along with conservation works that are planned to commence in July at several sites in the park.
  • Sallow Wattle Action Plan Implementation You may come across large areas of mulched scrub around the Roses Gap area, this is all part of the sallow wattle control mechanical mulching trial. This program is designed to evaluate the most effective control methods for the containment of the invasive weed. Planning for the Sallow Wattle extent mapping (aerial weed mapping) has also commenced to determine the best delivery method.
  • Deakin University Grampians Fire and Fauna Research Project  A paper has been submitted for publication documenting the past 8 years of fire research. The project has reached an amazing 80,000 trap night milestone. Researchers have walked over 3,500km checking and setting traps … that’s the equivalent of walking from Darwin to Melbourne!
  • Goat management activities (using firearms) will continue throughout the Mt Difficult Range over the coming months. The program is all located within the closed fire affected area of the Mt Difficult Range however, we would like to remind all locals and visitors to remain clear of this operational area at all times until safely reopened. Information and maps detailing the
    program is available by calling Brambuk the National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap Phone 5361 4000.
  • Grampians Peaks Trail Plenty of work is progressing both out in the field and behind the scenes as the team continues to deliver construction works and firm-up trail design details on this exciting project. Piccaninny Walk near Dunkeld is expected to be reopened in coming weeks, under suitable weather conditions, as upgrades to the track near completion. Crews have finished a 66-metre long section of 101 steps, carefully placing interlocking stones together by hand from nearby the track.
    Works are now focused on finishing upgrades to key sections of the track and improving drainage to ensure the track is sustainable, caters for more walkers and needs less maintenance. This involves airlifting in specialised small earthmoving machinery. When the Grampians Peaks Trail is completed in late 2019, this section of Piccaninny Walk will join into other new sections of track to link in to the overall Trail. While wet and wintery conditions will slow construction works over the next couple of months, more action will be happening on site over Spring and Summer. We will continue to keep you updated on the latest track openings and closures associated with building the Trail.

Editor’s Note: We also have a separate update with more information on the Peaks trail, which I think I will send out separately, to keep the files a manageable size. Also Brambuk have produced an excellent new brochure on the Park’s cultural heritage.

Meeting at Parks Office with Parks Representatives – 24/06/16

Rod Thompson

On the last Friday in June 2016, FOGG’s members had their annual catch up with Park Management. It was attended by 8 members and 3 rangers, Dave Roberts, Tammy and Ryan.

We were given a basic rundown of the structure of the management of the park, consisting of 2 teams. A park management team which includes Tammy, Ryan, Mark who have all been involved with FOGGs and our activities over the course of the last year. The park team has a total of 14 people under Dave himself. This is complemented by a Fire Management team of 13 staff. The two teams try to work together to manage various impacts, but have to diverge in some areas too. Caity will most likely be continuing in her position as the volunteer coordinator. This is 97% sure but Conservation Volunteers Australia need funding to match Parks Vic. who have funding locked in. The park and the Halls Gap office could easily use 3 or 4 Caity’s (volunteer coordinators).

The discussions went on to cover topics such as fire management and recovery, resourcing of the park and funding of staff.

We had the opportunity to raise topics that concerned us as well as hearing about the things that Dave wanted to inform us of.

These topics included,

  • Funding,
  • Fire management, and trialling of new regimes of control and fuel reduction.
  • Disaster recovery, after all our park has been hammered in recent years.
  • Peaks trail planning and construction, there is only 18 months left to spend the funding that has been set out.
  • Helicopter  flights were raised by the group, but the response from Dave indicated it was more an issue for community patience than environment at this stage as impacts appear to be minimal due to regulations imposed. Hopefully they stick to planning requirements and it’s not a big issue, only the same level of concern as B-double trucks, motorcycles or noisy school groups.
  • Phytothera (cinnamon fungu) impacts were raised by another member of the group. It was noted that water dispersal could be a concern with a wetter season setting in, after many years of dry, but not an increasing issue as impacts have not been noticed yet. Anything off track is high risk for contamination, and if working in areas known to be impacted hygiene is essential.
  • Rock Wallaby reintroduction programs,
  • Sallow Wattle control and eradication.
  • Options for seats or signage at Zumsteins with the funding we have available. With plans afoot to do other works on cottages etc, we can contribute, but delayed until it can be combined with those plans. Anything we contribute needs to fit with the current standards, whether it be signage, or a seat. It was suggested that we could also  put that contribution towards the Wartook/Zumsteins trail. A heavy hardwood or even a stone seat could be done with the use or parks equipment.
  • Signs to discourage stone cairn construction by visitors. It is possible these signs might even cause a resurgence in something they believe is declining.

In other news shared with us, Mark Whyte has just returned from the International Rangers Conference. Its an asset to our park having someone like Mark, young and enthusiastic about the future, especially after the conference that has brought him in contact with staff from parks management world wide. Those of you who have met Mark know what I mean

The new CEO of Parks Victoria is passionate about conservation and scientific studies, using knowledge and evidence to determine the future of National Parks in our state. He has been to the Grampians  three times since appointment (6 months), which bodes well for our park and the support it needs from the seat of decision making at head office.

We finished off the evening with a convivial meal at the hotel chatting about the topics discussed with the staff, and others of our own choosing.

From Our Very Busy Ranger In Chief

David Roberts, Area Chief Ranger, Grampians Gariwerd

Over the past 6-8 weeks, there have been many activities undertaken that have been very important to the Grampians National Park now and into the future.

Cleanup Australia Day Week – Grampians Style

A full week of activities was planned and undertaken by over 200+ volunteers, community members and Parks Victoria staff across the Grampians National Park and surrounding Reserves. The intent of the activities was to focus on the high visitor use areas and really promote the right behaviours expected when visitors visit our natural areas. There is a need to reinvigorate the message “leave no Trace” and we’d welcome any opportunity for FoGGS, and other volunteer forums to spread the message through all available forums.

Sallow Wattle “Mechanical Control”

The next phase of our Sallow Wattle control has been underway with the use of a mulching machine grooming semi mature wattle in the Rose’s Gap Area. The trial of different control techniques has included various chemical controls, manual cut & paste techniques and now mechanical. In the coming months we will also trial brushcutters with blades.

Nature Play Week  

Parks Victoria partnered with Victorian National Parks Association to run an activity in the School Holidays as part of Nature Play week. The activity centred around primary school aged kids and was well received. It is something we want to build on as we reinvigorate the Education Program in the Grampians.

Rock Cataloguing and Registration 

Parks Staff have been working with Ben Gunn (Cultural Heritage Consultant) to record and catalogue recently discovered Art sites across the Park. It is incredibly important to know what we have and where it is located so that our management decision are informed. These sites once recorded sit on the State-wide register that ensures future land managers have access to the information.

Fuel Reduction Burning 

There has been a concerted effort placed on preparing the nominated burn areas for treatment during Autumn and Winter 2016. As it stands, much of the forest fuels are still too dry to initiate our burn program. Some smaller burns will be undertaken around Stawell & Ararat where there are Asset and community protection objectives. We will continue to implement an expanded Winter burning program which allows us to run fire in the cooler conditions and achieve a greater mosaic of fuels across broad areas. This year we are also fortunate to be undertaking research and monitoring around Small Mammal presence with the Wannon River Catchment, Burning Prescription development for the western slopes of the Serra Range and the development of Key Fauna management tools for the Grampians with the Geometric Means of Abundance measure – a project which I’ll describe in more detail in the coming months.

 Grampians Peaks Trail  Alignment Planning

Has been progressing across the entire length of trail by Parks project officer and contractors. The scale and complexity of the task shouldn’t be underestimated as we transition from concept phase to feasibility to delivery.

Grazing Management 

A project has commenced in the Grampians assessing the impacts and populations dynamics of Goats as we move towards initiating a control program in the future. Monitoring of goat populations is 2/3 complete with the early data indicating that numbers are steadily increasing from previous counts in the late 2000’s. Our ultimate aim will be to establish partnerships with community based hunting groups (SSAA or Field & Game) to assist us in targeted control programs. Once a management program has been planned and implemented for Goats, our attention will move towards Deer.

Stapylton Camp Ground 

Post fire recovery works continue at the camp ground with all the road and track work complete. A contractor has been engaged to install all the fencing and park furniture with an objective to reopen the site ASAP upon completion.

From Our Ranger In Charge

Spring has sprung in the Grampians following a cold but surprising dry period. The Parks Staff have been steadily working on a number of initiatives that are worth updating you on:

  1. Fire recovery projects continue to be rolled out, with works complete and openings occurring at Smiths Mill camp ground and the day visitor site at Hollow Mountain. Both sites bore the full brunt of the Northern Grampians fire in January 2014 and following a period of asset renewal and environmental recovery, the areas are now accessible to visitors once again.
  1. Goat Control. The environmental team have been placing some priority on targeting goats along the Mt Difficult Range, Mt William Range and Black Range State Park. Remote cameras have been deployed along with increased surveillance which targets the shooting program and creates efficiency. The program will continue for the next 4 months.
  1. Asset improvement program. Capital upgrades to Lakeview and Sundial lookouts along with major upgrades in the Grand Canyon are nearing completion with an improved and long term outcome in place. The use of Stone has dominated all works complimented by stainless steel barriers at the Lookouts. It is great that we can get these jobs completed predominately using local skilled contractors and construction firms.
  1. Conservation Volunteers successfully managed the Grampians GreenArmy project finishing up in early September. The team of 10 young people capably worked throughout the Winter controlling Sallow Wattle, Boneseed and assisting in other Land Management activities over 22 weeks.

The Grampians National Park continues to provide plenty of challenges and rewards. We once again have a bigger than ever program which we will look to achieve with our committed team and passionate volunteer groups.

We welcome John Nankervis to the area as District Manager, replacing Graham Parkes after his retirement in February. John has 20+ years of Park management experience and is quickly getting to know the district, staff and stakeholders.

Regards,
David Roberts.