Book News

There’s quite a bit happening with new books. We still have copies of our reprint of Ian McCann’s wildflower book available to members at $10 plus postage if needed.

Also available at various local stores is an excellent new fold-out leaflet by Joy O’Brien, “Wildflowers of the Grampians: A Guide to Common and Notable Species” which has photos of 111 local flowers with a great deal of information on flower and leaf characteristics, flowering time and more.

And FOGG member Judy has sent in a review of the book I have recently written and published with Anthea Nicholls of Pomonal Publishing.

Book Review: “Grampians to Gariwerd” written by Margo Sietsma, publ. 2020. (Available through the author, and at Halls Gap News Agency and Pomonal store)

This is an interesting collation of diary entries from early trips to a family holiday house in Halls Gap in 1986. The author has added comments 30 years later when it was her permanent home.

 I found the anecdotes charming and also they brought back memories of our own walks and adventures in the Grampians, comparing the experiences we had when our children were small, to the ones we have now as senior walkers!
  I can recommend this book as an absorbing read.

Judy Gardner

Ian McCann book news

I am very pleased to report that “Grampians Wildflowers” is now available and we are very happy with it. David and Bruce Welsch have done an excellent job in scanning the original photos, choosing the paper etc, Neil and Wendy Marriott have updated the Botanical information (which is in an appendix with the original name still under each photo), Andy McCann has contributed a tribute to Ian, and together with VNPA I have reworded the preface. The FOGG name now appears on the spine. FOGGS have so far received one box of books and are awaiting another delivery. When we have that, the committee will decide how best to use our copies, so watch for that next issue. In the meantime it is already for sale in Halls Gap for $20.

Book Review: Gariwerd – An Environmental History Of The Grampians

“Gariwerd” is a new book from CSIRO Publishing, written by Benjamin Wilkie, an area local from just outside Hamilton.

The author has certainly done reams of research in the archives for this.
The text is packed with information, from the geological formation of the mountains, significance to the indigenous people, the coming of white explorers, settlement and the introduction of feral animals. It continues through to the declaration of the Grampians National Park, controversy over indigenous place names, and ongoing management. The Acclimatisation Society has a lot to answer for with the introduction of hares, foxes, deer and even pigs. He also discusses the impacts and damage done by cattle and sheep grazing too.

Our group even gets a mention in that we added Gariwerd to our name and maintained that change, despite the Kennet Government’s reversal of the use of indigenous names after the process was gazetted and approved by the Place Names Commission.

Much of the information on the interactions between the indigenous tribes and the settlers is described through the filter of the settlers perspective as there are numerous references and journals to provide that side of the story, but less information about how the local tribes viewed the same events. Perhaps more conversation with the traditional owner groups of the region might have given a little more balance. But it does include some information about tribal life, so it is not completely one sided.

I didn’t find it an easy read as there was so many footnotes, quotes and references that I felt I needed to flip forward to the end notes and back to the text constantly (80 times in one particular chapter alone!).

But it is full of information and is a good overview of the Grampains/Gariwerd region and its history both recent and ancient. I feel it is a reference worth having in the collection, but not definitive.

Book Review by Judith Thompson

Book News

There’s quite a bit happening with new books. Progress is continuing with our reprint of Ian McCann’s wildflower book. David Welch is very soon getting a full colour-proof, so he can check each page, before the final printing. However even if it is OK to go, it will still take about 2-3 months before it gets printed and shipped to Darwin. So we hope by the end of the year it should be available here.

There are two more books fresh on the market. Available locally is “Best Walks of the Gariwerd/ Grampians National Park”, and available online is “Gariwerd, an environmental history of the Grampians” by Benjamin Wilkie. Would any of you who have ordered it like to review it for our next issue? We would love to have more of your voices in our newsletter.

“Best Walks of the Gariwerd/ Grampians National Park” is by Debra Heyes and Julie Mundy and published by Australian Geographic. There are 25 walks described, from 1km to 49km long and they are listed as North, South and Central. Each walk has an excellent map, description and photos. But before you come to the walks, there is advice about topics such as what to take with you, caring for the environment, guided walks and bushwalking clubs, and a brief introduction to the importance of this place to the traditional owners. And then, after the walk descriptions, there’s more information on the traditional owners, the birds, the flora etc.

So all in all an excellent and comprehensive book. After many years of exploring the Grampians I am going to find it useful when revisiting places I’ve neglected, and when discovering walks which I haven’t yet done. My only criticism is: why don’t they mention FOGGS? We are not there even under “Useful Contacts”. Something we’ll have to follow up if there’s a call for a second edition.

Update on Ian McCann’s Book – “The Grampians in Flower”

It’s pleasing to report that the book is almost ready to go to the printer, so it should be available by the middle of the year. The photos have been scanned and improved, the index gives current names, we’ve added a tribute to Ian, and updated the information on the VNPA and FOGGS. Proofreading is almost complete.

David Welch who has done most of this work has also been hard at work on a few other books which will also be on the market soon.  One is on Western Victorian aborigines and several are children’s books. We’ll let you know more when they become available.

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.

Book News and Reviews

As reported previously, we have been discussing the resources available to the public about our park. The VNPA asked us to make some comments on their 2005 publication “Discovering the Grampians-Gariwerd”. It has some really good information, but unfortunately so much has changed here with fires and floods since then. We have given a fairly detailed response for them to chew over. We also passed on the comment that Ian McCanns wildflower book, now out of print, was really missed.

Out next week is a publication by Horsham Historical Society “ Zumsteins – A Century of Memories”. It is big – 322 pages and over 200 photographs. The cost is $50. I have ordered one and will write a review next issue.

In the meantime, online resources and apps continue to be developed. I haven’t had a chance to have a close look but here are two of local interest.

Biodiversity of the Western Volcanic Plains

This site has been developed as an online outreach curriculum program for primary and secondary students and community members, focusing on the biodiversity of the Western Volcanic Plains. The site will eventually contain seven online learning objects. Each learning object will focus on a specific aspect of biodiversity including plant and animal identification, grassland foodwebs, mapping of species, assessment and mapping of plant quadrats and an investigation of the ongoing threats to species by managing grassland ecosystems, consulting with experts, undertaking real and virtual grassland excursions and completing an interactive quiz. Each learning object will be accompanied by comprehensive student and teacher resources.


The flora and fauna of the Western Volcanic Plains, Victoria, Australia is unique with many species endemic to ecosystems within this bioregion. Over 160 animals and over 250 plant species are comprehensively described, most with multiple images taken within the natural habitat of the species. Identifying animal calls are provided with distribution maps including both past and current sightings recorded by the Atlas of Living Australia.

This Field Guide app provides the opportunity for users to map and upload sightings of any of the listed species within the Western Volcanic Plains, to contribute to a growing database of sightings of both common and threatened grassland species. Sightings are mapped and displayed on the Ecolinc Biodiversity of the Western Volcanic Plains website, which provides additional resources and learning objects relevant to the biodiversity of grassland ecosystems within this region. These are designed to be used by school students and community members.
Ecolinc is a Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) Science Specialist Centre. This Field Guide app is a component of an educational online outreach program entitled Biodiversity of the Western Volcanic Plains.

There’s also a Field Guide to Victorian Fauna by Museum Victoria available as an app for Iphones.

“The animals found in the south eastern Australian State of Victoria are unique and diverse. Detailed descriptions of animals, maps of distribution, and endangered species status combine with stunning imagery and sounds to provide a valuable reference that can be used in urban, bush and coastal environments.” The content has been developed by scientists at Museum Victoria, Australia’s largest public museum organisation.
The app holds descriptions of over 950 species encompassing birds, fishes, frogs, lizards, snakes, mammals, freshwater, terrestrial and marine invertebrates, spiders, and insects including butterflies. From animals found in rockpools, minibeasts in your garden, to wildlife you might see in the bush. We’ve put in a lot of species, but it’s still a fraction of the complete fauna of Victoria. Our scientists will continue to add additional species and refine descriptions over time.

This app is one of a suite of field guides for each state and territory, developed by Australia’s leading natural history museums.

Getting Kids into National Parks

Apropos of the Advisory Group discussion on the topic of children and National Parks, National Parks Association of Queensland Inc (NPAQ) has recently launched a free guide booklet called Getting Kids into National Parks to help us get our youth connected to the natural world.  The booklet can be downloaded at

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?

Book Review: Hamilton Region Nature Guide

At the recent most interesting Eel Festival at Lake Bolac I got talking with the representative of the Brolga Recovery Group, and the nearby representative of the Hamilton Field Naturalists. They have published a “Hamilton Region Nature Guide” and I highly recommend it. It is of course centred on Hamilton, but it covers the area from Harrow in the north to Heywood in the south, from Dergholm in the west to Lake Bolac in the west. Naturally it deals only with the southern end of the National Park, but what I found most useful is the information on the Black Range  and the various wetlands and grasslands in and around the Park. The maps are clear and the birdlists extensive. Well done Hamilton Field Nats!

Address: PO Box 591. Hamilton 3300.