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.