Bandicoots

In view of the results of Mike Stevens research into the survival of small mammals in the fire affected part of the Park, it is good to hear that Project Platypus (a federation of several local Landcare groups) has received a grant under the Threatened Species programme to work to preserve Southern Brown Bandicoot habitat in the Black Ranges near Stawell, on private and public land. A survey by the Field Naturalist Mammal Survey Group in 2002 managed to trap three bandicoots.

This project will undertake further surveys, initiate long term feral animal control plan, and work to link, protect and revegetate habitats.

Frogs

The WCMA is conducting a Wimmera wide Finding Frogs Census.

Initial results from October suggest that rare Growling Grass Frogs continue to survive in the region as are several other species. Researchers are still busy analysing the information from the November survey but have been pleased with preliminary results.

The next census will be in March and will target frog species which normally call in autumn. People seeking information, or wanting to take part in the census can call Bronwyn on 5382 1544.

(From the WCMA newsletter.)

Platypus

The Wimmera Catchment Management Authority conducts regular surveys of the platypus population in McKenzie creek just outside the Park. There has been a sharp decline in numbers, so there is to be an environmental water release from Lake Wartook to an 18km stretch of the river. “The authority has identified this stretch of the river as relatively healthy but fragile and crucial for maintaining a struggling ecosystem …The release strategy is designed to mimic a summer-autumn flow pattern and involves a 490 megalitre release from November until May.”

(From the WCMA newsletter.)

Cats

The Park staff are working hard on foxes, goats and rabbits. But cats are much harder to deal with.

Kathy found 4 kittens in a shed at the back of her place at Halls Gap. I have seen the mother but we haven’t managed to catch her yet. The shopkeepers in Halls Gap are constantly catching cats around the shop, despite it being a “cat free zone”.

Please, if you live near the Park and have a cat, make sure it is secured at night. The Catnip cat park was invented locally as a way of humanely confining cats to protect local wildlife. My daughter has had hers now for eight years in Alice Springs, Denver USA and Canberra and her two cats are very content. The Catnip factory is in Stawell.

Our small mammals are struggling. Don’t help breed feral cats to kill them off. Also you can report sightings of feral cats within the Park to the Park office.

Name change for Mackey’s Peak?

The children of Halls Gap Primary School have started a campaign to change the name of Mackey’s Peak back to the previous name of Cherub Peak.

For many years the children have taken responsibility for maintenance of the child’s grave which sits below the peak as one leaves the camping area. The child, Agnes Folkes, died aged three months in 1870 when her sawmilling parents were unable to get her to a doctor in Stawell because of flooding in the valley. Soon the cliff top was named Cherub Peak by the small community in the valley. However some 50 years later the name was officially changed following a visit to the Grampians by the then Minister for Lands, Mr Mackey.

Now the children are agitating for a return to the early settlers’ name, with a petition and letter to the minister.

SNIPPETS FROM HERE AND THERE MARCH 2008

from the editor.

As I write, Late Summer (KOOYONG – season of eels) is merging into Autumn (GWANGEL MORRON – season of honeybees ) and it is just so scarily hot and dry. December was very hot – particularly from Christmas to New Year, but then we had some beautiful heavy showers and a cool January & February and thus an uneventful fire season, But the last couple of weeks it is back to hot and so dry. It’s not too late for lightning strikes. Much of the bush is looking stressed. The summer flowers continued their dramatic display until late February, but there’s less to see now.

Any of you who have photos to go up on the web site, we have unlimited space. Just email them to me – hooray for broadband! – and I’ll upload them if you haven’t access. And a gentle reminder to those who did the training with Frank, you need some practice before you forget.

FOGGS HISTORY
We are still looking for a volunteer to help us with our archives.

DONATIONS
We are grateful for the donations we receive from members and friends and don’t normally acknowledge them in the newsletter. However I make an exception for this one:
Hi Stan,
I got your contact details from Graham Parkes in Halls Gap. I have produced a CD of natural soundscapes from the Grampians, and each CD that sells I have pledged $1 to non profit organizations that work with flora fauna and environment in the areas where I recorded the cd. I have sold 80 so far and would like to donate $80 dollars to FOGGS. The CD is called “gariwerd six seasons” -It is purely natural sounds from the Grampians that are mixed to give an indication of the flora fauna and environment based around the six different aboriginal seasons. The CD’s wholesale for $15 and retail for between $25 and $30
Would you send me the details and I will forward on the cheque. Graham mentioned you were planning to support the purchase of a microscope for the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby program.
I hope this little bit will help.
Bryce Grunden

GRAMPIANS WILDFLOWER SHOW
October 2 to 5, 2008.

We have made a couple of changes this year. The show is now a four day event, Thursday to Sunday. There will not be any art for sale, though we may have good art on exhibition. We will still be selling cards, books etc.
The layout was due for a change and will be totally different.
We need more volunteers, particularly orchid enthusiasts, as several of our regulars will be away.
Please contact Anne Dempster 5356 4426 or

HALLS GAP BOTANIC GARDEN OF GRAMPIANS FLORA.

A lot has been happening in the gardens of late. I know it is not a FOGG initiative, but almost all the committee are FOGGs and the aim is in line with that of FOGG i.e. to promote an appreciation of the flora of the Grampians and help to preserve and protect it.
Money has been committed and plans are underway to fence the area. A work – for – the dole team has been engaged to help erect the fence and do general maintenance, locals are being encouraged to adopt a bed, and plans are being drawn up to get it back to a sustainable project.
We were delighted and encouraged by a visit from the Friends of Cranbourne Botanic Gardens, who assisted in bracken removal, tidying of fallen branches, plant ID and layout ideas. All very useful.
More information is available from Margo.

BEYOND THE SMOKE BOOK

As stated last issue, the project is now in profit, which is wonderful. The committee decided at the beginning that should we make a profit – which depended on whether we could sell enough books – then we would divide it between the non-government agencies who had contributed to it. 70% would go to the SHARE Appeal of the Uniting Church who gave $8,000 towards the book and more to the activities, and 30% to FOGG who instigated the project and provided much of the labour force.
I am pleased to report that so far we have sent $3,500 to Share who have put it towards their Disaster Relief fund and $1500 to FOGG who have used some for the BTRW microscope and some will probably go for the Red Gum Walk interpretation material. Money is still trickling in so there will be further distributions. Copies of the book are still available, either over the counter at Brambuk, or direct by mail as a special offer to FOGG members for $20 or $27 including postage charges. Please phone Margo direct on 5356 4524.

WIMMERA MALLEE PIPELINE

Work on the pipeline continues. Currently they are concluding the placement of pipe sections under the Halls Gap bridge. Other teams are working near Mt Dryden and further north. There has been extensive planting of local species between the bridge and Camp Acacia, and seedlings will be available for other locations in autumn. (One of the conditions for removal of mature trees is replanting tenfold). Who pays for what is still a matter of contention. Many costs could not be accurately assessed beforehand, so the dollar cost is continually creeping up. The latest problem is who pays for the connections for fire fighting pumps when there are so few dams. Yet all agree on the vital importance of the pipeline in alleviating the squandering of our precious water.

SNIPPETS FROM HERE AND THERE

FOGGS HISTORY
Together with the Halls Gap Historical Society we received a grant to help us store our archival material. So we have some good boxes etc. But the idea of getting a work for the dole person to organise it all is proving difficult. Also we have been given all the original submissions re the creation of the GNP, which make fascinating reading. Any volunteers?

GRAMPFIRE Wimmera Catchment Management Authority are using volunteers to assist in monitoring the water that runs from areas burnt in the 2006 fires. Many of these volunteers are FOGG members. The sites being monitored are: Barney’s Creek, Upper Fyans Creek, Mt William Creek, Stony Creek and Pleasant Creek. Results so far show that the pH of the water has been generally decreasing since the fires, except for after wet weather when it rises temporarily. Salinity is generally low, but is higher in dry months than wetter ones. It is lower than last year – maybe because of it being wetter, or from the bush regrowing. This is intended to be a long term project, and more information can be had from Leigh Blackmore 5356 6162 or .

CANOPY (Parks Victoria’s newsletter) features a photograph of indigenous staff at a conference at Wilson’s Prom. Among them are our own Susie Skurrie and Jake Goodes, and previous locals Damian Skurrie and Levi Lovett. There are 60 indigenous folk working for PV, just under 7% of the total staff and up from none ten years ago. Well done! And our best wishes for Susie as she comes back to work after serious health problems.

ARTY STUFF If you are going to be in Horsham over the next couple of months pop into the Art gallery to see ”WALK”. Eight artists spent three weeks exploring the coastal and forested landscape of Victoria’s Great South West Walk. Gaining insights from each other, traditional owners and resident experts, they produced exquisite jewellery, textiles, prints, paintings, sculpture, video and sound works. Until Feb 3.
Also, from Feb 23 to 28 there’s a series of two and four day workshops in Halls Gap and Wartook called Grampians Textures. Choose from crayon drawing, felting, knitting, quilting, sculpture , bead making, collage, arts therapy …… all inspired by our amazing landscapes. More information from the Halls Gap Tourist Information Centre Ph 5356 4576

Winter 2007

What a busy quarter it was! We had the launch of our book
“Beyond the Smoke”:http://www.foggs-online.org/articles/activity-report-1 and the associated events; there were a number of TSG(Threatened Species Group) activities, plus our own activities, and we had quite a lot of correspondence on fire related issues. The FOGG committee has seen a need to make a number of “submissions”:http://www.foggs-online.org/articles/?c=Submission-Letters relating to fire in the Grampians National Park.

As stated in Stan’s “Red-gum Walk Inspection”:http://www.foggs-online.org/articles/Red-gum+Walk+Inspection we decided to apply for a PV Community Grant to restore the Red Gum (McInnes) Walks.

We also combined with the Halls Gap Historical Society to apply to the Federal Department of the Environment and Heritage for money for archival storage and administrative assistance. We have just heard that we received some money, but we do not yet have the details.

We have received a flyer for a Box Ironbark Ecology Course at Nagambie in October. Cost $1200.

We are still planning activities quarter by quarter, as the impact of the fires still needs to be taken into account, particularly in monitoring and recovery activities.

_Please note that all Threatened Species Group (TSG) activities require RSVP to Sylvia on 5361 4001. Other activities do not require an RSVP but it is helpful for planning. Unless otherwise indicated, activities are cancelled on days of total fire ban._

_Planning to come to an event from Melbourne?_ Ring the contact person re potential for a car pool.

*ADVISORY GROUP REPORT*

The AG met on May 25. We were given updates on the fire recovery works and re – affirmed our desire for an emphasis on environmental monitoring. We expressed our admiration for the new Pinnacle track, the stone work and particularly the new loop track, and heard of preliminary investigations into a long North to South walk. This is only a suggestion at this stage, there are no funds committed to it. We also discussed whether there are better ways for the AG to increase the flow of information both ways between park management and the public. The next meeting will be on the Fire Operations Plan in early August, but I will be an apology.

*NEW WEB PAGE*
www.foggs-online.org

After too long in limbo, we finally have a web presence, or will have within days. Frank van der Peet has very kindly offered to set it up for us. On his advice we have started afresh completely, with pages that will be much more easy to update. The old one could only be updated by someone who had the special software installed. This time only knowledge of the password is needed, so any of the committee will be able to edit material. Which means that it can become a way of communicating information between newsletters, or even in place of snail mail newsletters.

*NEW BROCHURE*

Another overdue project comes to fruition. FOGGS members David Fletcher and Miriam Gunn have put their talents to work to produce a “new brochure”:http://www.foggs-online.org/articles/foggs-brochure and membership application form. One copy is included, and more are available from our secretary. Please help us extend our membership.

There are many people who love our Park and want to see it protected, who have not joined us yet.

The Spring newsletter will still go out in the mail to everyone, but thereafter you should be able to choose how you receive it.
Please check if your membership expires this month. Some of you may have paid already until June 08, some of you are behind, but most of you are due to renew your membership.

Membership Entitlements

Membership of FOGG entitles you to:

  • Receive a newsletter 4 times a year keeping you up to date with FOGG activities and developments in the Park.
  • Join in a wide range of activities, including:
    • Field days to improve your knowledge of the park – its flora, fauna, geology, indigenous culture, history etc.
    • Guided Nature walks
    • Assist with research in the Park
    • Meetings with Park Management
    • Information evenings to improve your understanding of the park
    • Monitoring endangered species in the park
    • Social get-togethers
    • Monitoring of and removal of weeds in the park
    • Track maintenance and development.