Tourism Update

Visitor numbers in the Grampians continue to increase, for better and for worse. 

The number of visitors visiting the Grampians increased in the past year by 15.7 per cent, with 931,000 visitors travelling to the Grampians between March 2017 and March 2018. 

The amount of expenditure in the Grampians has also significantly increased in the past year. 

Visitors spent 2,367,000 nights in the Grampians from March 2017 to March 2018 – a 26.6 per cent increase from 2016 to 2017. 

Grampians Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman said the growth in tourist numbers and expenditure was ahead of both state and national averages. 

“It’s an amazing result for our region,” he said. 

“Our new multi-tactical marketing campaigns are working to increase visitor numbers, dispersing visitors across our entire region and importantly they are staying longer and spending more.” 

The marketing campaign includes promoting the Grampians region all year, as well as advertising specific areas such as Dunkeld and Halls Gap. 


As reported in the last newsletter, Parks Vic is encouraging us all to  register to become an official Parks Victoria volunteer by creating a user account and volunteer profile with details about your interests, skills, and contact information.

It is a way of registering special skills, interests and qualifications so they can contact us for activities etc and keeps track of paperwork such as accredited chainsaw training and working with children checks.

We can use it too to look for volunteer activities in other parks. Should be useful when on holidays.

It’s quite easy to register. You need to create a profile and a password of course.

Register now at Parks Victoria

Golton Gorge Project

After the fires of 2014 PV decided to close the picnic area and the track up the gorge. However this met with much opposition from many people who loved the spot. Now  a new track will be built by mainly volunteers. It won’t cross the main creek but take walkers up the left hand side. The volunteer work is being led by the Walking Track Support Group under David Witham and Graham Parkes using funds from the donation boxes spread through the park. They are being supported by various bushwalking groups and FOGG has agreed to join in. So as dates of working bees are settled we will let you know.

Snippets from Here and There

Cavendish RED GUM Festival

Three of us manned a stand at the festival featuring our FOGG Red Gum walk in the Victoria valley with posters, an A3 book on the history of our walk, and copies of the new Park booklet on walks for the less-abled . Despite the appalling weather and our subsequent relocation to the fringe of town we had quite a bit of interest. There were quite a few other environmental groups also involved and the day was a real success. Fogg member Jacqueline Ridler performed a poem celebrating red gums which I have permission to show.

Brothers in Arms

Old Man Redgum, if tales that you could tell,
Of a time before the white man, where thousands of you dwelled,

When your limbs reached out beside you and caressed your brothers’ hands.

Now you look so lonely, yet still strong, robust and grand,
The story tells that this spirit, of our Koori people past,
That the energy of their spirits, into you they would pass.

And I feel it in my soma, this awesome power that you know,
When I stand beneath your sheltering arms and feel the energy you bestow
And although you had to witness your family picked like weeds,
In a day of insatiable hunger, the clearing, the milling, the greed.

I offer a humbling offering for our generations past
To gather your seed and give it back to you, a token of my heart
To help your family grow again, so once again your limbs may meet
And when I pass I offer you, my spirit to yours to keep.

WAMA update

The feral proof fence around the Pomonal property is very soon to be constructed so that some trial reintroductions of threatened species can be undertaken.

Grassland Restoration Projects

There are at least two ambitious restoration projects underway close to the Grampians, one at Woorndoo and one with Jalluka Landcare near Pomonal. Both welcome volunteers who can learn species identification, seed production and harvesting techniques, propagation and direct-sowing methods.  Woorndoo has a facebook page, for Jalluka contact Neil Marriott

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo Count 2018.

This year’s annual count for the nationally endangered South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo will be held on Saturday the 5th of May. The count takes place at 60 sites in South Australia and south west Victoria, mostly in stringy bark forest.

To register your interest or secure a search area, please contact the Project Coordinator, Bronwyn Perryman on 1800 262 062, email , or fill out the registration form found at

Spiders in the Grampians

Did you see the articles in the Age and on ABC on new spider finds in the Grampians? With the exquisite photos by our ranger Dave Handscombe? Here’s part of The Age article…

Peacock spiders, which are only a few millimetres long, have captured the public imagination recently due to their colour and ceremony.
And thanks to a recent discovery, Victorian spider enthusiasts no longer have to go far to find them.

Five species have been discovered in the Grampians, one of which had never been observed in Victoria and one that had never been observed outside Tasmania, making the find quite a coup.

“These spiders, they’ve got to put on a really good display – because if they are not happy with it, the females will go and eat them,” says Grampians park ranger Dave Handscombe, who found the species in October.

Mr Handscombe has worked as a ranger for more than 30 years, “and I’m looking forward to retirement”, he says.

Mr Handscombe decided to see if he could find one in his ranges. He and two friends picked a few likely spots in the Grampians National Park – places where the vegetation wasn’t too thick and where there had been no recent bushfires – and went spider hunting.

“What you’ve got to do, is really concentrate on the ground,” he says. “The trick is moving your foot and trying to detect any movement on the ground. And because they are jumping spiders, they tend to jump out of the way of your boot.”

Only a single species of Maratus had ever been spotted in the Grampians, Mr Handscombe says. But as soon as his team started looking, they found dozens of the creatures. “They are not rare, but they are tiny – three to five millimetres in size – and so most people don’t notice them. You can find them pretty well anywhere in the Grampians.”

Other than boot-detecting, the best way to find Maratus is to look for long strands of web attached to plants. The spider is a bungee-jump hunter; it uses silk to attach a safety line to a tree before leaping at moving prey, catching unlucky victims mid-air.

Mr Handscombe advises anyone hoping to see the spider to head to the Grampians between September and December, when the spiders moult and the males reveal their colourful plumages.

Red Gum Festival

The Cavendish Community are very excited to be hosting the inaugural Red Gum Festival from the 13th -15th April 2018. As part of the event, they are aiming to provide the local community and visitors with a broad range of red gum and environmental related information, advice, opportunities and the chance to connect with relevant groups and organisations.

They have invited FOGG to participate and we will be contributing something about the history of our Red Gum Walk.

Changes Coming to Halls Gap

The Northern Grampians Shire Council has adopted the Halls Gap Master Plan “to help lift the tourist town into world class tourist village status and to ensure Halls Gap was prepared for the completion of the Grampians Peaks Trail”.

The plan will also ensure that the best location for the Grampians Peak Trail head is chosen and will address car parking needs associated with the GPT.

The Halls Gap Action Plan also recommended improvements to the Stoney Creek Boardwalk, the Central Park Raised Pedestrian Crossing, the Gateway Enhancement project and improvements to School Road.

Visitor numbers reached a 10-year high this year. Expenditure in the region more than doubled from last year, with overnight tourists spending $270 million – up 58.8 per cent from $170 million in 2016

Update from Grampians National Park Walking Track Support Group

Who we are

The Grampians Walking Track Support Group was formed by our convenor, David Witham, in 2003 to attract and coordinate volunteer interest in maintaining and improving walking tracks within the Grampians National Park.

We operate under the broad umbrella of the Community Association of Halls Gap which also undertakes other activities such as the Wildflower Show and Halls Gap Botanic Garden and provides support for Run the Gap, Halls Gap Landcare Group and the Jazz Festival.

What do we do?

In partnership with Parks Victoria, we carry out vital maintenance on popular walking tracks, such as trimming vegetation, cleaning water runoffs and clearing fallen timber.

Most of our works are carried out through the efforts of walking clubs:

  • Grampians Bushwalking Club – Heatherlie and Beehive Falls Walking Tracks
  • Warrnambool Bushwalking Club – Mount Abrupt and Chimney Pots Walking Tracks
  • Melbourne Bushwalkers – various tracks
  • Victorian Mountain Tramping Club – various tracks

Over the last two years these clubs have contributed 61 person days to our program.

Recently the Wimmera Bushwalking Club has joined our program and will undertake works on the Mount Zero and Mackenzie River Walking Tracks over the next few months.

It is a simple model and works extremely well.

Caladenia audasii Update

The Caladenia audasii near Stawell is well protected with a fence which was erected with a Communities for Nature Grant we got back in 2015.

This plant was pollinated and some seed was obtained last spring. Also last Spring another plant was found in the Ararat area and so another Grant application has been submitted to get funding to protect this plant. It is also hoped the grant will allow seed to be collected from these plants which will allow propagation of this plant at Cranbourne Botanic Gardens with the intent of planting them back into protected areas.

There are currently only around ten wild plants known in Victoria. The population in central Victoria was able to be hand pollinated several years ago and plants propagated from these plants have been successfully re-introduced back into the wild. It is hoped we can do the same with our local Stawell/ Ararat plants to insure its existence into the future.

Red Gum Festival in Cavendish

We were recently contacted  by the committee organising a red gum festival  in Cavendish next year. FOGGS of course have the red gum walk in the Victoria valley, and many of us have a love affair with this iconic tree.

Following a couple of very successful community meetings where the festival concept was enthusiastically explored, the township of Cavendish, a small community in Victoria’s Western District, nestled on the Wannon River in the heart of the Red Gum Country, undertook to host an inaugural celebration.

The Red Gum Festival Development Group are currently working toward a unique festival in 2018, and would be delighted to hear from any individuals, groups, clubs or organisations
who are potentially interested in participating.

Please contact the Secretary, Nathan Bastock, via email,

The festival is but one of a number of exciting proposals within the ‘Celebrating Red Gums’ initiative. Community members have put forward some wonderfully creative ideas, including the  establishment of a ‘Friends of the Red Gums’ Group.

They publish a newsletter with articles by Neil Murray, Rob Youl and our own Neil Marriott, and also have a facebook page.

I enjoyed this quote of theirs from Murray Bail – Eucalyptus (1998)  :

Over time the River Red Gum (E. camaldulensis) has become barnacled with legends… there’s always a bulky Red Gum here or somewhere else in the wide world, muscling into the eye, as it were: and by following the course of rivers in our particular continent they don’t merely imprint their fuzzy shape but actually worm their way greenly into the mind, giving some hope against the collective crow-croaking dryness. And if that’s not enough the massive individual squatness of these trees, ancient, stained and warty, has a grandfatherly aspect; that is, a long life of incidents, seasons, stories.