From The Editor

Welcome to our Autumn issue. As you will read, we have made a good start to the year, and have some good things planned to follow. But FOGG  is not just about activities. We also need to be active in protecting and looking after our park. That’s why we are enclosing the petition from the Victorian National Parks Association calling for far better funding for our National Parks.  Some of you may have seen the front page article of the Age back in January, pointing out just how small the budget of Parks Victoria is. So do please sign, either online or by putting it in the mail.

In his piece president Rod discusses the problem of the cairns that continue to be rebuilt, and what can be done about them. There are similar issues in each of the towns surrounding the GNP. How are we going to ensure that the tourism sector cares for the precious values of the Park? Yes, we want people to love the Park and enjoy their time in the area, but how do we stop the Park being loved to death? Here in Halls Gap where I live we thought we had had a small win over the helicopter rides over the Park when the owners were forced to move their base to Stawell rather than Pomonal, and promised not to fly over our townships and our valley. But last week they actually landed in Halls Gap, before heading up the valley and over Lake Bellfield, and their flight path was right over the territory of a pair of wedge-tail eagles, as well as other raptors, which are very sensitive to intruders on their patch. A heated discussion then arose on social media, some strongly objecting to the helicopters, but others just as loud saying that the whole tourist industry would shut down if people weren’t allowed to do this sort of thing. Now I believe that shouting achieves very little, that some tourism actually benefits the Park, some is benign. But some tourism threatens everything the Park stands for. The tourists we want to attract are those who come here to enjoy the beauty and richness of our environment, but how do we educate those business owners (not all, thankfully)  who can only see the immediate cash benefits to themselves?  I don’t see how we as an organisation can do this, but those of us who live in the area must try to have our say when we have the opportunity. Tourism, particularly overseas tourism, is expected to continue to increase, so this is so important, not just in Halls Gap but also Dunkeld and the Wartook valley.

Remember that Joni Mitchell song?

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

From the Editor

Welcome to our summer newsletter, again a little late. First the Christmas rush, then the January hibernation. Please note that our first activity for the year is on Friday 19th February 5.30 pm in the Mural room Brambuk, where we will hear some really interesting results from research in the park, followed by the opportunity to have a meal together.

The report on our AGM is well buried in this newsletter, so I will break the news here: we have a new president! Welcome to Rodney, who has been on our committee for the past year. FOGGS, like quite a few similar groups, needs to look at its role into the future and it is good to have the next generation leading us.

Editor’s and President’s Piece

Welcome to our Petyan edition of our newsletter. My apologies for a late and rather brief newsletter. Time has run away from me yet again and you need to get it in time. Between going to England for my son’s wedding , having the newlyweds here on a visit and preparing for the Wildflower Walkabout in Halls gap this weekend this newsletter has had little priority. Better luck next time.

We have had three group activities since the last newsletter, and the committee made a submission to Ararat Council on an application for a commercial helipad in Pomonal.

Our next activity is coming up very soon, October 17 is our AGM. Details are on the calendar page, but I do want to reiterate the importance of electing officebearers, mixing newcomers with the longer term members. FOGG has been in existence for 30 years by now and some of our committee members have been with us for much of that time. It has been good to have new members, but we could do with more. It is vital that we ensure that we remain relevant to both our longterm members and newcomers.

Please note that if you have not renewed your membership your period of grace has expired and this will be your last newsletter. Our Park needs Friends in so many areas. We always have advocated on behalf of the Park, we have given feedback to management, we have sought to educate the public. But there are always new challenges and new opportunities and your membership is important in our advocacy role.

From the Editor

Editor - CockatooWelcome to the winter newsletter, whether you are receiving it in the post or by email. Remember that you can also access  previous newsletters via our website, together with various photos .

Please remember that it’s time to renew your membership, via the form included.

Also please check if we have your correct email address so we can contact you with late news.

Editor - FungiThis issue is missing a report from our Ranger in Charge, Dave Roberts, who is just so busy at the moment filling in for Graham Parkes who has not yet been replaced. But  we do have a report from our meeting with him in May and will be having a further meeting in July. In the meantime we are not short of interesting articles, both about our own Park and wider issues that affect it.

From the Editor

Welcome to the Autumn newsletter. We seem to have collected a variety of items of interest once again. Unfortunately we are missing an article from Dave Roberts. He is taking a break with his family over the school holidays after a hectic time juggling two roles with Graham Parkes retirement (see below). I’m sure he’ll have plenty for us next issue!

From the Editor (also From the President)

Welcome to the Summer edition of the newsletter. Once again I am writing this summer newsletter with worrying news coming in of fires in our neighbourhood, including in our park yet again. The Moyston fire was scary with quite a lot of farmland burnt.  And the Rocklands/ Black Range fire was in that most important state park, under the management of our Grampians team and containing quite a few important cultural heritage sites. The change brought lightning strikes within our park, and a few small but worrying fires, but also rain. It has been a torrid start for the year for our Park staff and still several months of fire weather to go. For Stawell, the whole year was the fifth driest on record,and was the third successive year of below average rainfall, with a particularly dry Spring .

However visitor numbers have improved, and it is good to see how the vast majority are respecting the environment they have come to see. I am not a user of instagram – a social media photo sharing site – but Grampians Tourism set up a Spring Break competition on it which attracted an amazing 350,000 likes to over 4,000 photos, which all had to be of the region’s natural beauty. If only that translated into more money to resource the park.

Since the last newsletter we have had an election and now a new government. It was depressing to see how little both parties promised for the environment. Tourism such as the Peaks Trail yes, but silence on staffing of Parks Vic and DEPI. We will have to keep up the pressure on our politicians.

Once again in this newsletter you’ll find reports from Wendy and myself on the wider committees we are part  of, and reports on our our recent activities. We also have a tribute to Thelma Argall and some notes from the records of the Stawell Field naturalists. Plus an article from Mike Stevens as he tells us about the long-nosed poteroo and encourages those of us who live on the edge of the Park to help conserve them.

To finish, I join with Dave Roberts to commend our local team here. It is good to be reminded of the work of the unsung workers, those he has focused on and the other admin staff. Such a good bunch.

From the Editor

Welcome to another full newsletter, whether you are receiving it in the post or by email. You can also access it via our website, together with various photos .

Please remember that it’s time to renew your membership, via the form included.

Also please check if we have your correct email address so we can contact you with late news.

Our AGM is in September and will creep up on us quickly. All office positions will be open for election. It would be really good to involve new folk as we look to the future of our group. Do let us know if you are interested.  You don’t need to live locally as much can be done by email these days.


From the Editor – September 2013

David Thompson - Opening of Red Gum Walk, 1993
David Thompson – Opening of Red Gum Walk, 1993

First of all: the sad news. Our long term member and ex-president David Thompson has died from complications after a battle with cancer. He will be greatly missed. Our park has lost one of its most passionate and zealous advocates.  There will be tributes and memories from several of us in this issue.

One issue that was close to David’s heart was opposition to private development within National Parks. He led our successful campaign back in 1996 against a resort on Lake Wartook, and now we are facing similar issues again. FOGGS have been writing letters to newspapers since late last year, signed petitions and will be making a submission to the ecotourism enquiry. But that’s not enough. If every member of FOGGS wrote an individual letter to their local member of Parliament it would be ever so much stronger. You can find ideas on the VNPA’s website ( )

It’s been a quiet few months for FOGGS, with only one members’ activity since the last newsletter. Unfortunately our fungi frolic had to be postponed due to illness and may not go ahead.  But you will see from the calendar that we will make up for it in the next few weeks.

The committee has had both face to face meetings and consultations by email.  One big decision we have made was to financially support the work of research in the Park. The project via Museum Victoria to do follow up surveys on birds and aquatic animals was facing a massive shortfall and we decided to use some of our accumulated funds to help the two students involved. In turn they will make presentations to us on their work. We may well have further requests following on from the work of Ballarat University, which is reported on  p 5.

Promoting research, and in particular ensuring that this knowledge is shared publicly has been an ongoing aim of FOGGS, fitting into our aims:

As Friends of Grampians Gariwerd (FOGG) we aim to:

  • Promote the conservation, protection and restoration of the Grampians National Park;
  • Increase the community’s involvement, knowledge and enjoyment of the Grampians National Park;
  • Assist with projects selected by FOGG and Grampians National Park;
  • Provide a community voice in support of the Grampians National Park.

It is in  pursuing this last aim that we have been so busy campaigning against commercialisation of our Park. And there will be a motion at our next meeting to donate to the VNPA’s campaign against private development in national parks.

Our finances have been healthy (our books are at the auditor as I write this), but we are running funds down at the moment. If you would like to donate to FOGGS towards supporting research activities or lobbying activities, we would receive it happily!

So much time spent on phone calls and emails and so cold and wet that I’ve not actually got out and enjoyed this place we love as much as I would like.  When I have, it has been looking lovely with all wetland areas full.  But with all the field activities planned for the next few months, I hope that I and many of you will get to at least some of them as we enjoy, as well as fight for, this very special place.

Lobbying Continues

Unfortunately, as Proo and I have said above, there’s a real need at present for us to lobby politicians at all levels to protect our park from various threats, and not just our park here but the world wide environment.

The committee have endorsed letters, and signed petitions on the two pressing local issues of burning regimes and commercial development. We have encouraged you before, and now again, to write your own letters, and to donate to the VNPA’s campaign. We have protested about the cuts in biodiversity staff.

Who knows what further cuts will be mooted at both state and federal levels in the next year, as governments seem to have decided that climate change is too hard, and protection of natural values too expensive? It is depressing, but we mustn’t give up.

David Thompson Tribute

David Thompson

We wish to pay tribute to David’s passionate commitment and contribution to FOGGs, of which he and Judith have been members for nearly 30 years, although this was only one of many conservation groups he was dynamically involved in during this period.

David saw FOGG as an active player in the Park’s management; he was instrumental in giving a local voice to the bureaucracy beyond our Park staff, both as a supporter and, at times, opponent of directions he considered inappropriate from his strong environmentalist position.

After the incorporation of FOGG, David became our first president, a position he held for eight years.  He was our one and only ‘political’ President and a formidable adversary.  Over this time he was involved in many projects to protect the Park from exclusive group use and privatisation.  In addition, he gave his wholehearted support to positive developments such as the Red Gum Walk, revegetation projects and all research within the Park.  He was also involved with the local Brambuk Community and strongly supported the preservation of their Gariwerd heritage.

Most immediate to us, however, was his personal warmth, his ever-ready smile and exuberant greetings.  His enthusiasm was infectious to us all, particularly in his encouragement for the younger FOGGies; – which my own, now grown and flown, daughters still remember very fondly.

When going through my memories of the many days we spent together at FOGGs and at his dream (but still under-construction) straw house, the adjective that stands out overwhelmingly is ‘passionate’.

His indeed was a passionate life that we are all the better for being a part of.

Thanks David

‘ben’ Gunn, Leigh Douglas, Miriam Straub and Johanna Gunn.