Fire Recovery And Related Issues

Management of grazing animals in the burnt areas is a problem (goats and deer). They are using Judas goats, but would prefer to be able to shoot from helicopters. Deer management remains a real difficulty because of their protected status still.

Several research agreements are in place to study fire and fauna relationships, and sallow wattle is part of this.

Both the Stapylton campground repair and the work at Zumsteins are expected to be complete by the end of June. McKenzie falls is on track but won’t be complete until next year. The picnic area and bridge at Golton Gorge may not be repaired, as the Peaks trail in that area is likely to open up other beauty spots. They plan to close the existing Troopers creek campground and move it to dead Bullock Creek, but the Management plan would need adjustment.

New cultural heritage sites found after the fires are being registered, but a long term strategy will be needed here too. Redoing the Management plan is becoming urgent.

It was a good meeting, well attended and thoughtful. There was more on the agenda, but I feel we covered the more important issues. The next meeting is scheduled for July, with a focus on Fire Management. We did touch on this, particularly some of the outcomes after the Lancefield fire. The new paperwork involved is massive. One consequence is the delay between requesting a fire and getting permission to do it. This means that the opportunity to do a small mosaic burn in midwinter when the weather is favourable just got much harder.

Honour For Ranger Pru Daley

In the Australia Day honours list, Pru Daley was awarded the Australian Fires Services  medal, and received it in person at Government House in Melbourne this week.

Quoting from the nomination: “Ms Daley has devoted 22 years of service with Parks Victoria, and its former agencies, working as a Park Information Officer, Ranger, Team Leader and Program Coordinator Tourism. She has participated in numerous incident management teams for major bushfires and demonstrated exceptional liaison and communications skills in dealing with the community, both during the bushfire and recovery stages…….Additionally she has contributed to training course content and supported delivery of training. She is known for building strong, mutually beneficial relationships with local media organisations which have resulted in more accurate and timely information on incidents being transmitted. Ms Daley has also been involved in the development and delivery of the Halls Gap Community Safety Project which has championed the importance of community preparation and bushfire safety.”

Well done Pru!

Grampians Wildflower Walkabout News

Plans are well under way for Halls Gap’s wildflower weekend in October (1st and 2nd). This year again we will be having a smallish display in the foyer of the hub, and take people across to the Botanic Garden to look at the flowers growing there, plus two tag-along driving tours on Saturday and one on Sunday. We will also once again have self-drive/ walk notes for sale on several flowery routes. We are delighted that the Wimmera CMA have decided to sponsor us and are providing a lot of inkind help.

But an event like this needs volunteers,and you don’t need to be locals. There are jobs for people with knowledge of our flora, but plenty of opportunity to help even if you know nothing! Putting flowers in vases, serving tea, selling tickets, topping up vases …..Contact Margo if you can assist.

Zumsteins: A Century Of Memories

From a crossing of the Mackenzie River to a popular tourist spot downstream from Lake Wartook.

Compiled by Rod Jenkinson for the Horsham Historical Society.

Book Review by Margo Sietsma

A huge amount of work has been done to produce this 322 page book. It starts with an extensive  selection of articles published in all sorts of newspapers, from 1913, through the debate in the 80s on whether the area should become a national park or remain under the Forests Commission , the heated arguments in the 1990s, through fire and floods right up to 2015. These written documents are then followed by many people’s memories, mostly taken from oral interviews with Horsham people who were regular visitors as well as local residents. There’s also a well chosen selection of old photos, together with a sprinkling of recent photos, both of the Zumsteins area and of the wider Grampians area.

Information on Walter Zumsteins himself has mostly come from previous books published by the Horsham Historical Society, but searching out the many newspaper articles must have been a mammoth task, providing much useful background to the history of the whole Park.

This is a passionate book. That much is clear from the bold text in the preface “….. Zumsteins was one of the most popular areas in the Grampians until government departments ended holiday home leases and occupancy, removed non- indigenous trees and plants, stopped camping and filled in the swimming pool under National Park policy, ignoring the wishes of locals and visitors alike.”

That passion shines through the extensive Horsham newspaper reporting in the 1980s, and the  1990s and again in so many of the individual memories and stories. The years of suspicion and scepticism of National Park policies held by many of the local residents and regular visitors is well documented, and clearly there were faults in the way the department acted at the time. But it is good to see entries that show that the relationship is healing. My hope is that the publication of this book will clear the air and allow a new start in this important relationship.

So do go ahead and read this book, enjoy the stories and the memories, take home some lessons for the inevitable next time there is community division. I expect most FOGG members will have their own happy memories of picnics at Zumsteins. I found myself wishing that I had contributed my own stories; the time in the 80’s when the kiosk owners comforted my friend when our husbands were overdue on a walk on Mt Difficult, the time my daughter and I had to stand on top of the picnic tables to eat our chocolate and dried apricots to be safe from the ravenous roos …..

There’s one important omission from the book, which is implied from the title, but does deserve some acknowledgement.  The book covers only a century of memories, it starts in 1913. However we know from other sources that the area has been lived in for many thousands of years. It would have been good to have seen some reference to the indigenous groups, who lived on the edge of what was then a swamp at Lake Wartook, and who fished for blackfish in the Mckenzie river. That criticism aside, congratulations to the Horsham Historical Society  for preserving this slice of history for us and for the future.

New Tourist Loop?

Northern Grampians, Southern Grampians, Horsham and Ararat councils are looking at developing a tourist ring route encircling the Grampians. It would be all bitumen, and allow visitors to enjoy views of the Grampians from across the plains as well as from nearby, as well as enabling local producers to showcase their products. Planning is still in the early stages and would involve sealing part of Winfields Rd and Flat Rock Rd.


Petition Call From The VNPA (Victorian National Parks Association)

We are asking members to please sign this petition, share it with your friends, and mail it to the VNPA or, preferably, go online to their website and sign there.

If Victoria’s national parks do not get the resources they need, our natural areas will continue to decline and recovery will be difficult.

If they are well resourced, nature has a very good chance for the future. And we’ll all benefit from a healthy environment.

Therefore, I call on the Victorian Government to:

  • Immediately return Parks Victoria funding to at least 2010-11 levels (an increase of at least $30 million a year).
  • Develop a future funding plan ensuring substantial increases to build the resources and expertise to fix up our parks, and address the many threats including weeds, pests and the pressures of climate change.
  • Make parks special places with appropriate tracks, signs and facilities so they are welcoming to all Victorians.

This petition will be delivered to:

  • Victorian Premier
    Daniel Andrews
  • Victorian Environment Minister
    Lisa Neville