Editor’s and President’s Piece

Welcome to our Petyan edition of our newsletter. My apologies for a late and rather brief newsletter. Time has run away from me yet again and you need to get it in time. Between going to England for my son’s wedding , having the newlyweds here on a visit and preparing for the Wildflower Walkabout in Halls gap this weekend this newsletter has had little priority. Better luck next time.

We have had three group activities since the last newsletter, and the committee made a submission to Ararat Council on an application for a commercial helipad in Pomonal.

Our next activity is coming up very soon, October 17 is our AGM. Details are on the calendar page, but I do want to reiterate the importance of electing officebearers, mixing newcomers with the longer term members. FOGG has been in existence for 30 years by now and some of our committee members have been with us for much of that time. It has been good to have new members, but we could do with more. It is vital that we ensure that we remain relevant to both our longterm members and newcomers.

Please note that if you have not renewed your membership your period of grace has expired and this will be your last newsletter. Our Park needs Friends in so many areas. We always have advocated on behalf of the Park, we have given feedback to management, we have sought to educate the public. But there are always new challenges and new opportunities and your membership is important in our advocacy role.

President’s Piece

Welcome to our Petyan edition of our newsletter, and apologies for the late arrival. In fact it feels as if summer is already here and the Grampians, like most of the Wimmera, are scarily dry and the flower season is almost over already.

I hope you all have already sent back the questionnaire we sent by snailmail to get some feedback to help with planning activities. Of course you can also email your thoughts to Wendy or myself.

FOGG has been in existence for 30 years now and quite a few of our members have been with us for much of that time. It is vital that we ensure that we remain relevant to both our longterm members and newcomers. Those of you who get this by post will find a membership form attached. Please use it to recruit someone new to join us.

Actually activities are only part of what FOGG is about. Our Park needs Friends in so many areas. We continue to advocate on behalf of the Park, we give feedback to management, we have sought to educate the public. But there are always new challenges and new opportunities.

As you will read in the report on our AGM, over the last year we have been concerned about quite a few moves which we believe are detrimental to our Park, such as aspects of the Long Distance Walk particularly the possibility of commercial lodges, and we made extensive submissions to the draft plan. The final plan is due any time, probably as an election announcement. Unfortunately both parties in Victoria have said very little positive about environmental policies and we need to get some discussion going.

It is particularly troubling that our Park, and all parks, are so short of funds. Groups like ours are being asked to apply for funds for things PV should be able to fund, such as Zumsteins restoration and Heatherlie interpretation. I suspect that grant writing will be a core role of our group for some years.

It is very encouraging that quite a few of our members give us donations in addition to the membership fee. This has enabled us to support students doing important research in our Park. Thanks to the solid work of local staff Mike Stevens and Ryan Duffy co-operation between the Park and universities is so much better than a few years ago. I see our support for this, both monetary and by publicising it, as one of the most important things we can do for our Park.

Through the Advisory Group we have been looking at some way a tax deductible fund could be set up to support projects in the Park, but it’s far from easy. In the meantime we will continue to use our FOGG funds where we can.

Finally, a big welcome to Caity O’Reilly who has taken over from Catherine Dyson as volunteer co-ordinator. Having this position is so good for both other park staff and for volunteers.

PRESIDENT’S PIECE DECEMBER 2011

After drought, fire, flood and locust plague, many of us have been wondering what 2012 will bring. The spring of 2011 has been spectacular in the Grampians with many roadsides a blaze of colour. The response of insects, birds and frogs was also wonderful with many starting to regain their numbers from pre-drought times.

The last few months however, have seen the bush really start to dry out and when I consulted our rainfall chart I realised that when I removed the 200mm rainfall we received in January, this was our second driest year for many years. So I was just starting to settle for a hot dry summer when in the last 24 hours we received over 70 mm rain and by reports on the news Halls Gap has received even more with minor flooding occurring, and renewed road closures in the Park. So I guess what I can say about 2012 is that it will be as unpredictable as any year on this continent of drought and flooding rains.

It is wonderful news that all the major roads through the Grampians and most of the walking tracks are now open thanks to the hard work of park staff and others.

In 2012 we will need to be alert that some of the current attacks on the environment do not adversely affect the Grampians. It has to be a concern that the government is still pushing to introduce cattle into the Alpine National Park, that wood collecting is being encouraged with no concern for the potential damage to biodiversity as well as our continuing concern at the 5% target for planned burning regardless of other events in the landscape including wildfire.

Wishing all members of FOGGs a very happy Christmas and I hope to catch up with many of you at our activities in 2012.

Proo Pyke.

PRESIDENT’S PIECE SPRING 2011 Proo Pyke

This last week has felt as if Spring has arrived with warm still days and the wattles in glorious profusion. The creeks are running and the lakes and water holes full and the nights full of the sounds of frogs.

It should be a glorious spring in the Grampians and with the road recently opened from Halls Gap to Dunkeld much more of the Grampians is open to visitors.

Our AGM is on Saturday the 10 September and is to be combined with an interesting investigation in to water bugs and what they can tell us of the quality of water. I do hope to see many of you there.

There are many Threatened Species activities throughout September October and November. So for those of you who enjoy exploring the bush feel free to join us, we always find something interesting if not often the species we are after.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT June 2011

guess most members have heard by now that the Premier did visit and promise $5.5 million to the Grampians. This, with the money to be paid by insurance should help to cover much of the cost of rehabilitation of the Park.

It is still difficult to access many places in the Park, but members of FOGG’s have been lucky to walk into Venus Baths with Dave Roberts and see the very damaging land slips from the Northern Grampians Road. This gave us a sense of the amazing water flows down the creek.

We also had a fascinating talk and walk with Ross Cayley and learnt more about the processes involved in land slips. There may be a chance of a second visit from Ross and I highly recommend it to members as his enthusiasm for geology is really infectious.

Vic Roads also organised bus tours so the community would have the opportunity to see the damage they were faced with and the different techniques they are using to rectify the damage. It was easy to see why it is still going to take some time before all their roads can be opened again.

We are hoping to start working on our program of activities for next year shortly and would be very interested in hearing of any ideas of activities that members would be interested in being involved with.

Proo Pyke

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

While the National Park staff have been working hard to open up as much of the Grampians as quickly as possible the news is not good.
The discovery of another land slip above Zumsteins has meant the Northern Grampians Road even as far as MacKenzie Falls will not be open for Easter.
The road and track to Silverband falls is planned to be open and will give people an excellent opportunity to see the extent of the damage to the park.
It was disturbing to see how quickly money could be found to help Wilson’s Promontory when no extra help had been given to the Grampians. Money was not even offered to fill the three permanent staff positions which are currently vacant. Our concerns e-mailed to the Premier (see p5) did result in a phone call from the Premier and a commitment to come and look at the difficulties that the Park is facing. So we will keep our fingers crossed that further support will be on its way.
The closure of so much of the Park is making planning of activities difficult this year so we are currently only looking a few months ahead.
NEWS FLASH
On Friday 15th, as I was about to print this, the Premier came here to announce some funding. See last page.

PRESIDENT’S PIECE

After drought, fire, plague locusts the Grampians now has to recover
from flooding rains.

While it isn’t possible to venture far into the park, I think all of us
who live near the Grampians have stories of the destruction caused by
the large volumes of rapidly moving water. It is going to take another
concerted effort to reopen many of the roads and walking tracks in the
park. Those of us that love the park may have to help ensure that the
money needed is made available by the government.

The new head ranger David Roberts has agreed to meet with FOGG at
10:30am Fri 11 Feb at the Park Headquarters where we will be able to
discuss the plans for the recovery and ideas for the future role of
FOGG. After our meeting with David we shall have a working lunch at
Brambuk to discuss among other things our calendar for the year.

I hope to see many of you there with lots of ideas for activities for 2011.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

May all FOGG’s members join with me in congratulating Graham on his recent promotion as well as his upgrades in qualifications especially Grade 3 Fire Incident Controller. A big responsibility under the present climate.

Not so good is my concern re Fire Management and my concern that undue pressure is being placed on the District’s Fire Management Teams by the upper Political Management personnel who want to hood-wink the public into believing that they are doing something to reduce the fire dangers, – “the Public Must See Smoke” to prove that something is being done.
Local Managers State-wide are being pushed to light protective, fuel reduction and regeneration burns even when there is a very high likelihood that there could be ember escapes over the control lines.
When these escapes happen (three so far this season) it is the local DSE managers and crew that take the flack and blame, not those who push for the burns to commence early. Let them stand up and be a man and take responsibility.
Last week, a lady who I did not think was conservation – minded said to me “Victoria will no longer be the Garden Sate but the Ashened State”.
I believe in a controlled burn programme but with logical purposes not whims.

Stan Parfett

PRESIDENTS MUTTERINGS December 2009

Regards to all, Trusting that you all have a Merry & Joyful Christmas time and look forward to a productive New Year.
 
The Ptilotus erubescens count of flowerheads on the 9th of January may be a good result due to the late November rains and so far a cooler December. I could do with a little assistance the days before in setting up the 3 Zones of the count and the exclusion plots.
 In mid March I hope to have another look for / at the local colony of the little known Grampians Monotoca which was badly effected by the heat wave in late January / February 2009. The number of plants had increased since the first encounter in 1987. Now it is to see how many survived that heatwave.
Margo has written to Graham Parkes, Ranger in Charge of the GNP with six questions relating to activities and research ongoing in the Park that are of great interest to us members of FOGG’s and we are looking forward to his reply.
 
Please play it safe in forthcoming Fire Season and not be panicked, stay cool.
 
Stan Parfett.

PRESIDENT’S MUTTERINGS – Stan

The FOGG’s activities attendances have not fully recovered since the 2006 “Mt Lubra Fire” . I feel that this is due to FOGG’s being restricted in the activities that could be undertaken in the two years post the the fire. Another factor could be that “The Threatened Species Group” have not been conducting their searches on a weekend and only on a mid week day.
To improve the numbers of members being able to attend we should try and get back to setting our activities to the old practice of being conducted on the second Saturday of the month, and advertise that this will be the practice where possible. Also really encourage members to notify the event co-ordinator of their intentions of attend in advance.
 
BURNS or NOT TO BURN.
Since the “BLACK SATURDAY FIRES” on the 7th February this year and the Royal Commission into them there has been a lot of discussion about the do’s and don’ts on the subject.  As our members views on this subject seem to vary from “no burning at all” to “ total burns, not mosaic burns” it is difficult to give or to express the views of FOGG’s members to the the Wimmera fire management group. Since the Mt Lubra fire several members have been invited to attend several fire discussion / planning days, which have been beneficial to their understand of the problems face by DSE and Parks Vic.
We all must keep an open mind on this subject and listen to the other people’s and departments’ views and reasonings and obtain a balanced outlook on the subject.