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?

Thelma Argall

Dave Munro

The Grampians region has lost another long time, strong supporter of the natural environment.

Thelma and Win with “message” fungus

Thelma Argall was farewelled at a graveside service at Redbank Cemetery on Monday 29 December. She died a few months after being diagnosed with cancer. Typically she refused to have any treatment and stoically faced her fate.

Thelma gave truth to the adage that behind every successful man is a woman. While Ian McCann, her partner of many years, was highly regarded as a nature photographer, author and field naturalist, it was Thelma who performed the role of manager and field assistant. She was proficient at finding that elusive orchid or fungus and there is no doubt that her powers of observation matched Ian’s. They were a true partnership. They were both selfless in their willingness to share their knowledge and passion for the bush.

Her life-long love of nature started as a young girl while attending the Redbank State School. She often spoke of being late home from school as she was diverted by some aspect of the world around her. It might have been a butterfly, a flower or, very often, watching the behaviour of birds. She built on these interests throughout her life and developed a friendship with some members of the Maryborough Field Naturalists Club. Shortly after joining a field naturalists bus tour to inland Australia organised by Ian McCann she moved to Stawell and joined the Stawell Field Naturalists Club.

Fungus with a Message

Many FOGG’s will have met Thelma on excursions,  fungi forays and other activities over the years. She loved the Grampians as passionately as she did the Box-Ironbarks, a landscape which she knew intimately.

 Thelma was an avid contributor to the Bird Atlas of Australia an activity she continued till very recently. Fungi sightings were also contributed to the Fungimap project at the Melbourne Herbarium.



General Meeting Minutes(shortened)

  • Minutes from the meeting at the Parks Office on 24th April were accepted.
  • Treasurer Mabel that in August we donated $3000 to Museum Victoria to help travel costs for two of their post graduate students who are working on projects in the Park.

Business arising

  • Bioscan final report still not out.
  • The Grampians Peak Trail so far has had preliminary approval for camping sites along the way consisting of a pad for a tent, a 3 sided shelter for bad weather and toilets. More luxurious accommodation so far has not been proposed.
  • The proposal to put a chair lift to the top of the Pinnacle has been dropped.
  • Membership forms need to be redone.


  • Wendy has checked on what we need to do re the changes to model rules. We have no need for action at the moment, just to remember that our committee should be Pres, VP, Treas, Sec and at least two ordinary members. We need 3 committee meetings a year and the quorum is 4 members.

  • FOGGs applied for a Healthy Parks Healthy People grant last December to do a planting at McKenzie Falls. We asked for $2800 and we were given $425. After discussions with Parks staff we decided to see if the money can be used to do some planting at a camp ground where sallow wattle has been removed or if it has to be used at McKenzie Falls we may just plant some trees in the car park.
  • Katherine Dyson the Parks volunteers co-ordinator hurt her ankle while out in the field requiring an operation and she will be away from work for several months. FOGGs will send a get well card.
  • Wendy passed round a draft letter to be sent to politicians, from FOGGs expressing our concern at the environmental impacts the burn targets will have on the biodiversity of our Park. Some small suggestions were made and this letter will be sent out shortly.
  • Proo moved that Margo be made a life member, all were in agreement. Mabel suggested that a certificate be made and presented to Margo.
  • Proposed activities for next year, were a meeting in February (probably 3rd weekend), March Cleanup Australia day, April meeting with Dave Roberts July an evening talk at Parks Office, other months to be decided.
  • The meeting was closed and six of us set of to do the new Zumsteins to McKenzie Falls walk