Parks News from the Chief Ranger

From Rhonda McNeil M 0498 441 433   E

It is with great sadness that last week saw the passing of Graeme  “Shonky”  Sherger.  Shonky was a long standing member of the Halls Gap team as was his father before him. He was involved in many aspects of park management but in particular he was involved in machinery use in the park, whether building campgrounds, grading roads or incredible work on the fireline.  Our thoughts are with Danielle and family at this time.

Work on the Grampians Peaks Trail is continuing as we get closer to a Spring opening and it was great to have the Grampians Advisory Group out on site at one of the new day walks and to a campground to share what really was part of their vision for this park.

The management plan is in finally stages of reviewing all the feedback and providing a final version for the Project Control Group which includes our traditional owner partners before it is presented to the Parks Victoria Board. We do not have a launch date as yet due to so many other things happening in the government and parks worlds but hopefully by the end of this year we will have a new plan to guide us for the next 15 years. Thank you to everyone who has provided comments and discussions and I am hopefully we have developed a plan for the future that will protect this amazing place for generations to enjoy well into the future.

More bits from Rhonda:

Some great news to share with you all during these challenging times. We had an amazing capture on site 28 . A southern brown bandicoo.t.   This is the first one we have caught since 2013 on any of our sites.  So over 56,000 trap nights since the last one we have caught.  Also, due to fires etc, this is the first time we have ever caught one  on site 28. The resilience of our small mammal population never ceases to amaze me.  This highlights once again the importance of these long term research programs which are coordinated and support at the local level.

More good news Marlenne Rodriguez Malagon has accepted the Team Leader Environment position until end of August 2021 which is great as she brings a large amount of environmental work experience from across the world and a great personality as well. Hopefully during this time we can advertise the position ongoing as we absolutely need it as the success of the research below is due to having this position in the park.

Grampians Ark position: we hope to advertise this shortly as an ongoing position after so many years of short term contracts so very exciting, Dylan Sortino will continue to act in the position until we have this position filled.

Biodiversity Response Program Coordinator we hope to advertise shortly to back fill for Marlenne, Kailee Savoia is currently acting in this role.

Feral cat program: unfortunately we were unable to get a permit to undertake this years aerial baiting program so we are working on our permit application for next year based on the feedback from DELWP. We were hoping to have two of our staff down on French Island this week to offside their aerial baiting program ( first in the state) but unfortunately due to covid they will be monitoring remotely. This will also help us deliver our own program  next year.

Sallow Wattle program: we are lucky enough to have three staff with us Dianna, Kristina and Tom who will be with us until September this year which is a great help to truly determine a program for ongoing sallow wattle removal.

We have been told we will get further funding for the Biodiversity Response Programs and the Grampians Ark so Marlenne and I will be busy just making sure we have all the paperwork in order so we can focus on getting the great work on the ground undertaken.

As always the whole team are doing an incredible job across the park , grading roads, cleaning facilities, signage , maps and onground works to be ready for the Grampians Peaks Trail opening later this year and working with our amazing volunteers. We couldn’t believe it but in  we had the Golton Gorge opening all planned for the fourth time and had to postpone once again. We hope we will soon get to recognise and thank the amazing volunteers for this work.

Gariwerd Black Range News

From Hannah, Community Engagement Ranger

Parks Victoria has shortlisted the Black Range Conservation Survey, led by the Black Range Land Management Group and NGT, for the funding through the Volunteer Innovation Fund.  The votes of the Victorian public will decide which projects are successful, so read on for more info!

The Black Range is a granite uprising east of Gariwerd/The Grampians near Ararat that formed 400 million years ago. The Range is of cultural significance to its Traditional Owners, and includes Bunjil’s Shelter. Following recent poor land management and significantly reduced annual rainfall, the Black Range Land Management Group is working to increase habitat and biodiversity, control invasive species and erosion, and to conserve more areas of the dry and rocky Range. We have partnered with the Land Management Group to support this project which aims to engage our local community in actions that learn about and address climate change, including re-establishing habitat for southern brown bandicoots and more. If successful, the funding will allow the Black Range Land Management Group to:

  • Develop and deliver a free BIRD, FLORA AND FAUNA ECOLOGY COURSE (10 weeks x 4 hrs p/w) within the Black Range Scenic Reserves, in partnership with Nature Glenelg Trust. The course will develop 20 volunteers’ capabilities in identification and conducting surveys, whilst developing understanding for and love of the Black Range ecology.
  • Convene a half-day CONSERVATION DIGITAL TOOLS WORKSHOP that establishes how survey data will be contributed and used by volunteers via existing mobile apps, identifies gaps in available tools, and plans integration with data management systems preferred by other land management & conservation agencies.
  • Convene an autumn and spring WEEKEND BIRD, FLORA AND FAUNA SURVEY, conducted by volunteers who completed the 10-week course, across designated sites in Black Range.
  • Commission a Black Range CONSERVATION REPORT to be compiled by ecologists from Nature Glenelg Trust, to develop strategic priorities and coordinated land management in Black Range.

Funding for this project has been sought from the Volunteer Innovation Fund and we could use your help! Projects will be awarded funding based on community members voting for their favourite ideas.
Voting is now open. To have your say, visit

Online voting closes at 5pm on Thursday 12 August 2021 so be quick!

Two local groups were successful in the last round.

Nature Glenelg Trust New Tech Volunteering: Novel citizen science for Grampians wetlands $19,997.00
Friends of Lake Modewarre Planting the seeds of environmental passion in young school children $2,100.00

UPDATE from the Parks Victoria Grampians Team


What a different Easter from last year back to full capacity so a busy time for all our team. One of our growing issues is waste management and this has unfortunately increased we believe over Covid due to the feeling of safety that comes with disposable items. But where to dispose of them. This Easter we placed a skip bin at Plantation Campground as in past years this is the campground where we have had the most rubbish left in bags at trees. Well, it certainly worked as the photo shows with the entire skip bin full and three large tandem trailer loads all around it. What to do is our next question as this is not sustainable with our budget.

Last week saw the departure of Derek Sandow. Derek was acting in the Team Leader Environment position and prior to this was our Grampians Ark Coordinator. Derek will be greatly missed by the team and the park as his work over the last two years to reinvigorate the Grampians Ark program by bringing the resources inhouse rather than contractor delivery and his work on the Brushtailed Rock Wallabies was amazing. Derek and his family are moving to the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia where he will take up a role rewilding the Yorke Peninsula. We are working hard on getting this team leader position filled as it is so vital to many aspects of our work here but there are many pressures on us at the moment regarding resources.

Hope you are all enjoying the crisper mornings

Rhonda McNeil

From Hannah, Our Community Ranger

This week concludes the first ever Great Grampians Bird Survey – The GGBS! It has been an almighty 10 weeks delivering the Bird Ecology Course with Greg Kerr and a hugely successful weekend with Volunteers coming home with many beautiful bird stories. Volunteers completed 144 bird surveys this weekend at 36 remote sites across Gariwerd, the same sites from which Deakin University collect mammal data from each year. The data collected from Volunteers was entered into Birddata which is now accessible to the public. The aim of this project is to determine how effective the Grampians Ark project has been at controlling foxes and feral cats. Cat baiting began last year, however before this occurred, we contacted Dr Greg Kerr to collect base line bird data at the 36 mammal sites – which we can now call the mammal and bird sites. Greg returned to the same sites after the baiting had occurred and will be writing a report on his findings. This will be an ongoing project for the park, much like the mammal surveying that occurs each year.

Personally, it has been a great learning opportunity to deliver such a program for Gariwerd. I have been astounded by the passion and commitment each of the 40 Volunteers brought to class each week and their willingness to support an important project for the park. Creating an opportunity like this for the community to connect to this landscape has been the highlight. Volunteers are invaluable at assisting us as land managers to protect, manage and advocate for Gariwerd, I would like to thank each of them for their passion and dedication in assisting us to collect bird data that will contribute to the bigger picture of conservation.

Below are a few details about the program:

Facts & Figures

Volunteer hours for 10 week bird ecology program 1,520
Volunteer hours for Autumn survey weekend 608
Total Volunteer Hours 2,128
TOTAL GNP Volunteer hours for 2019-2020 (All volunteer programs contribution) 3,159
Work Days Contributed  (7.6 hours per day) 266
Bird Species Surveyed by Greg 93
Bird Species Surveyed by Volunteers 40+
Total Bird Surveys entered into Birdata at the 36 sites (Not including Greg’s 2020 and 2021 data) 171
Total Species surveyed (Not including Greg’s 2020 and 2021 data) 84


This project received grant funding from the Australian Government through the Australian Heritage Grants Program – Nature Glenelg Trust were fortunate to receive $88,000 for this project which allowed us to deliver the 10 week bird ecology course to the 40 volunteers. Gariwerd was in the same bucket of money as Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage property, Kakadu National Park – just to name a few. This project was funded with the support of the Victorian Governments Weeds and Pests on Public Land program and is helping to ensure that Victoria’s natural environment is healthy, valued and actively cared for.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Han Auld,  Community Engagement Ranger  – Visitors and Community, Grampians National Park

E:      P: 8427 2787 M: 0498 777 615

conservation program in the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park and Black Range State Park between March and October 2021


This is to inform you of a conservation program in the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park and Black Range State Park between March and October 2021.

Heritage listed for its biodiversity and cultural values, the Grampians landscape is home to more than 800 indigenous plant species, a wide range of wildlife and the majority of Aboriginal rock art sites in south-east Australia.

To help protect this unique landscape, Parks Victoria regularly undertakes conservation programs to control invasive animals, including feral goats.

On a few days each month from 29 March until late October, a crew of qualified and experienced volunteer shooters will target these pest animals in remote sections of the parks.

During the operation, access to some sections of the parks will be temporarily restricted and people may be able to hear gunshots. Key visitor areas will not be affected

Han Auld – Community Engagement Ranger

(Editor’s note: Han has been our main contact all year, but the Covid rules have meant that she has met very few of us. I decided it was time we started to get to know her, so asked her to introduce herself to us.)

My name is Hannah (or Han as most people call me) and I am the Community Engagement Ranger for the Grampians. I started as a volunteer here almost 5 years ago with Caity O’Reilly, I applied to be a Seasonal Ranger which fortunately turned into a full time position. My role is quite diverse as I manage volunteers and community groups ‘Get Into Nature’ and assist with activities throughout the park. I also assist with the Environmental Education activities including Bush Kinder and Junior Ranger. I feel quite privileged to meet so many people who visit or call the Grampians home because I have the opportunity to educate them about this landscape and just how special it is.

I moved here four years ago after spending four years studying Environmental Science in Melbourne. Previous to that I was in Geelong studying Sustainable Tourism however I didn’t enjoy learning about how to exploit the environment which is why I moved over into Science. I’ve found my passion in Environmental Education and would some day like to study my Masters in Education and work to educate people about the environment and how to protect it. I come from a large family with three brothers and two sisters who all have children or partners so I think that we would need to hire the MCG for the next family Christmas. They all adore coming to visit because we have a deep respect for the environment. We grew up next to Tower Hill State Game Reserve and were taught about snakes, spiders, kangaroos, koalas and weeds by my Dad. I couldn’t begin to count the amount of hours I have spent there during my childhood with my family.

If COVID didn’t find it’s way into 2020 I would have spent my holidays in Ireland, Italy and Scotland – however I chose to buy a house in Halls Gap which has turned out to be a lot of fun! I’ve travelled to pockets of the globe but my favourite time was when I worked as a Turtle Conservationist in Costa Rica, months before I volunteered here in the Grampians. It was a change of scenery however it certainly was an adventure I won’t forget.

COVID-19 hasn’t made it easy for anyone to complete volunteer activities but I would like to announce that I have found two new activities you can complete whilst at home!

Digitising Grampians Herbarium  You would have read Leigh’s interview in the last newsletter with one of your incredible naturalist members Win, who was a large contributor to the Grampians Herbarium donated to Parks Victoria many moons ago. This is an undeniable, incredible resource for the Grampians that needs to be shared! Leigh mentioned the potential of digitising this resource and Parks Victoria would like to support this project.

Updating the Visitor Information sheets

Parks Victoria are updating current fact sheets and guides for Grampians National Park. The wealth of knowledge that is within the Friends of Grampians Gariwerd (FOGGs) has been identified as an important resource that can greatly assist Parks Victoria complete accurate records for the local and visiting community. Parks Victoria would like to invite Friends of Grampians Gariwerd to assist with this task as a volunteer activity. Please see the link to the drop box folder which has all the previous visitor information fact sheets, guides etc.

What will the final product look like? A Parks Victoria designed document with the FOGGs logo alongside the Parks Victoria logo. Recognition of the work that was contributed by FOGGS will be outlined in the final document. This document will be widely accessible on the Parks Victoria Website, in Information Centers and Brambuk. These will provide accurate information for visitors when in the National Park.

 I am available for a chat if you would like to discuss the above projects.


Han Auld Community Engagement Ranger

Editor note: FOGGS are now working on both these projects.

From Our Chief Ranger

As always life in this landscape is forever changing and surprising us all with it beauty and hidden treasures. Recent rediscovers of cultural artefacts at the Bundlaeer and Taipan wall have lead Parks Victoria to implement Temporary Protection zones. These zone request all visitor to not enter these areas as we do not want anyone to inadvertently harm these artefacts. Parks Victoria are working with traditional owners groups and affected recreational users such as rock climbing to determine longer term management of these sites. As I discussed with the team this is an exciting time in land management with rediscoveries but it comes with its challenges as we ask people to change their actions for the future protection of these sites.

Many of the team have also been involved in providing information for the draft Landscape Management Plan which is hoped to be out for public comment by the end of this year. As you can imagine this is a significant amount of work checking, tracks, roads, names and working through strategy development. We are though confident that we will have a plan that provides for this landscape into the future and has was for us to work through the current concerns.

As well as this we have had to close the park again to visitors due to the ongoing Covid19 pandemic.  We have closed all campgrounds and major carparks. This time though we were able to keep the park open for local communities to undertake their daily exercise. I know that this has still caused some confusion as to who is local and how close is local. Working with Victoria Police though we have not had any significant breaches of this and no large parties or gatherings which is what we all really want to stop. Behind these “closed doors” though, the team is still working away on roads, walking tracks, pest animal control and a range of other topics to make sure when we can open again the park is ready for what we expect will be an influx of people wanting to enjoy this amazing landscape.

Rhonda McNeil
Area Chief Ranger Grampians (Gariwerd)

Report from Hannah: Community Engagement Ranger, Gariwerd

I asked Hannah if she could give us a report on what it’s like at this Covid time in her role as Community Engagement Ranger. I know from casual conversations with her that it’s far from easy, with having to tell disappointed groups (not just FOGGS) that their activities can’t proceed, while working from home in rented cold accommodation. Unfortunately she can’t write something for us this time and I quote “All of our communications need to be approved by our corporate office at the moment. The only thing I could suggest is I forward you a media release about the Rock wallaby work and you promote that?” So that’s what I’ll do.

One of the longest running conservation programs in Grampians National Park is marking its 25th year with an expansion into protecting wildlife from feral cats. Established in 1996, the Grampians Ark program is one of a family of ‘Arks’ in operation across Victoria that use baiting programs to control populations of foxes. Foxes are highly efficient hunters that can kill a large number and variety of mammals, birds and reptiles, as well as preying on livestock on neighbouring properties. Large-scale baiting has proven an effective control method for foxes. The Grampians Ark program has assisted in re-establishing a population of critically endangered brush-tailed rock wallabies. This year, Parks Victoria is aiming to expand the Grampians Ark program to include feral cats, which are being detected more frequently on the park’s surveillance and monitoring cameras in many remote areas of the park.

Feral cats are a declared pest animal that exist over much of Australia and have colonised many habitats. They are skilled hunters and a threat to the survival of many native species including small mammals, birds and reptiles.

During the second half of the year, Parks Victoria is planning to bait areas that are known to be frequented by feral cats, with results monitored through a partnership with Deakin University. The Grampians Ark is one of a number of conservation programs being delivered in the Grampians National Park this year. Other activities include aerial and on-ground operations to control populations of deer and feral goats; control of the invasive Sallow Wattle; and ecological burns designed to create a diversity of habitats for wildlife while contributing to management of bushfires and fuel loads. Data provided by Deakin University and a new citizen science bird monitoring program will help us understand how the wildlife responds to protections from both foxes and feral cats.

To recognise the 25th year of the Grampians Ark, Parks Victoria has produced a video of this important conservation program. I (Margo) am honoured that I appear towards the end of the video, wearing my FOGG badge, First being filmed releasing a new male, brought up from Serendip that morning, then talking about deer and goats.

Biodiversity Response Planning (BRP) Update

In the past 12 months the team has removed 188 red deer and 254 goats. The program is heading into Autumn deer control with ground shooting crews and aerial shooting planned to occur in late-April to Mid-May.

Sallow wattle mulching has been completed, however we still need to calculate the number of hectares treated.

Planning is full steam ahead for feral cat trapping and baiting hopefully kicking off in late July.

Grampians Ark

Fox baiting and fox leg-hold trapping is currently occurring.

Since two male Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies were released in spring our cameras have detected 1200 images of wallabies interacting and mating. Hopefully we will see some pouch young soon!

Matt White

Other Park News

Parks staff produce a community newsletter,and here are some pieces from the recent Kooyang one.

Summer Education and Interpretation Program

During January a successful program of education and interpretation activities was delivered to almost 150 kids and adults by the parks Seasonal Rangers. Two guided walks for adults and families were also undertaken. Education and interpretation programs are run in Grampians National Park and surrounding reserves every Summer, Autumn and Spring School Holidays.

Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies

Recent scat analysis from areas around the main Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby population has revealed that four of the colonies offspring have ‘grown-up’ and moved into their own territories. Additionally, two new males have been introduced into the colony to diversify the breeding gene pool. This exciting news provides clarification that young are surviving and predator control is being effective.

Increase in Graffiti

Unfortunately, there has been a steep rise in paint and scratch graffiti within the park. In response, rangers have been removing graffiti and compiling information for follow up compliance. Please report any people undertaking graffiti to Brambuk on (03) 8427 2258.

Report an Issue:  Noticed an issue such as fallen tree, damaged road or sign? Report it to Parks Victoria via the Snap Send Solve phone app.

Visit to find out more and download it to your phone.

Deer control

From the 29th February – 5th March, Parks Victoria is working with professional contractors to control populations of deer in some sections of the Grampians National Park. Deer are impacting the park by rubbing, trampling and eating saplings, ringbarking trees, and wallowing in wetland areas, impacting ecosystems and competing for food against native animals. Deer can also degrade water and soil quality, and carry diseases.

Signage will be in place in the areas of control to notify the public and operations will occur overnight.  Given the locations of these operations, there is not expected to be any impact on park access, although park visitors may hear gunshots. Major visitor sites in the Grampians will also not be impacted.