From the Editor

Welcome to this issue of the FOGG newsletter. An unusual one in unusual times. No reports on excursions, no photos of us out in the Park, but plenty of reports on meetings held mainly online. I don’t know about the rest of you but I find they work alright, if not brilliantly, for small groups who know each other, but are most frustrating for larger groups.

One positive result of being in lockdown is that both Leigh and I have been able to look back at history and the contributions to the environment of some of our quiet members. I hope you enjoy these.

What activities we’ll be able to do over the next few months is hard to forecast. We will need to have an AGM in November but it may have to be on Zoom. There will be another newsletter before then.

At the very last minute of putting this newsletter together there is an announcement of temporary changes to access to several rockclimbing sites in the Park and near Arapiles, due to new discoveries of important cultural sites. These are causing quite heated discussions and there will be more on them in our next issue. The PV announcement can be found on https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/-/media/project/pv/main/parks/documents/plans-and-projects/gariwerd-protections-information-sheet—aug2020.pdf

From The Editor

Welcome to our Autumn issue.

Despite the Covid 19 lockdown we have been able to get you quite a bit of news and interesting reading. Those of you who get the newsletter by email will have already received two quite lengthy articles, one on art sites by Ben Gunn, Jake Goodes and Leigh Douglas, and one on gnammas by Prof Brian Timms. If you are getting only a hard copy of this newsletter and would like to read either or both of these, do let us know and we can mail them out to you. But be aware they are both quite long. But most interesting.

Just today we learnt that the Park is now open -sort of. We have no idea of course when normal activities will be able to be restarted, but we will let you know as soon as we can. In the meantime, why not do some reading about our Park? Buy one of the new books which are mentioned in the newsletter, reread stuff you already have, research the internet for interesting stuff. For example, the journals of the Field Naturalist Society are online and I can recommend say Dec 1969 which has a description of an August visit to the Roses Gap area, or January 1973 “the Wildflowers of the Flat Rock area” covering a whole year of visits.

Keep safe and we hope we can see some of you in the not too distant future.

Margo Sietsma

From the Editor

Welcome to our late summer bulletin. And apologies for the long break between newsletters. It has been such an incredible summer and although we have had no serious fires here, many of us have been affected. I myself got caught up in Kosciusko National Park, evacuated in plenty of time, but ended up spending much longer in Canberra than I had planned.

Our Park staff have been, and still are, flat out. They are in turns working in the fire affected areas, which means those left in the office are taking their roles as well as their own. So you will understand that there is nothing from either Rhonda or Hannah this time. We need to give them some time to relax, as there are still some difficult months ahead with the ongoing rock climbing issues and the Peaks Trail nearing completion. However we do have the general community update from the team and will be incorporating some of that into this newsletter.

I have a problem. I have far too many photos to use in this newsletter, I will send more to our patient website manager Frank van der Peet, but we do also have a barely updated Facebook page. I am currently the person supposed to be doing that, but it would be great if I could hand that over to someone else.

Editor’s Piece

Once again there’s been no shortage of contributions to the newsletter, which is good news to an editor. But unfortunately there’s little room for the many photos which came with them. So there are just a few here, but we’ll get more up on our web page and our Facebook.

I myself am just recently home from visiting family in England and the Netherlands and had an interesting day in the World Heritage National Park in the extremely shallow Wadden Sea, puddling in the mud flats with a volunteer guide. She gave me a copy of their magazine (48 pages, out four times a year) and even with my rusty Dutch it was clear that her group was the equivalent of our Friends Group, and that we face some very similar challenges particularly “how to make tourism a blessing not a curse”.  They state their aim as:

“to protect the area and keep it for future generations. We do this by political lobbying, influencing businesses, using the law, and educating the public.”

Here are some of what they want to lessen the impact of tourism on their precious environment.

  1. The whole package needs to be considered (transport to get here, where people stay, what activities are offered).
  2. Tourism businesses primarily look to attract visitors wanting peace and space.
  3. Activities offered should strengthen the central qualities of the area: quiet, space, dark nights, rich biology.
  4. Noisy activities should be kept to a minimum.
  5. Travel to the islands should be sustainable, not disruptive and match the core qualities of the area.
  6. Continuing monitoring of the impact of tourism and recreation activities on the core qualities.
  7. No buildings for tourism in protected areas.
  8. Buildings etc for tourism to be sustainable, energy and water efficient, and produce a minimum of rubbish.

I’ll try to remember to bring it along to our next meeting. Some fascinating activities on their programme. In the meantime, relax and enjoy our Grampians Gariwerd news.

From The Editor

Welcome to our summer newsletter.  Please note that our first activity for the year is on Sunday March 3, We are having our annual cleanup activity followed by a BBQ lunch. See the poster.

We have a mix of familiar and new faces on our committee which is very healthy. A big welcome particularly to our new President Catherine Pye, and thanks to Rodney for his work over the last couple of years.

Some years back our dedicated volunteer webmaster set up a system that allowed us to have email addresses for President, Secretary, Treasurer, Editor etc @friendsofgrampiansgariwerd. We are finally starting to adopt them and as Rodney wrote last year “The legitimacy it lends us as an organisation when communicating with government departments, filing grant applications, and press releases etc is useful. It also is helpful for continuity when people change roles.”

After a quiet few weeks over the Christmas break I am being bombarded with emails and newsletters, and I’ve selected some to share with you. Then, just as I was trying to get the newsletter finished, comes a media storm over planned restrictions on rock climbing in the Grampians. This had been discussed at the Advisory Group meeting last week (see the Advisory Group Report), It was good to see in PV’s response in this statement by the CEO Simon Talbot.

“Our main priority is protecting the natural and cultural values of this precious landscape that is the Grampians National Park. We are working to support climbers and other park users to find alternate locations in the Grampians to climb. We’ll also work with local businesses and Licensed Tour Operators over the coming months to clearly identify where climbing can continue.”

Enough of my soapbox. I have run out of space.

Editor’s Piece

Welcome to our late late Spring edition. The last couple of months have been a very busy time for many of us, and I do apologise for the lateness of this issue. There’s only one important date as we head towards the summer period and that is our AGM on Friday November 30. We won’t have a December meeting, but will let you know in plenty of time how we will start the 2019 programme. I do want to emphasise the importance of our AGM where we will be electing office bearers, hoping to continue with mixing newcomers and longer term members. It is vital that we ensure that we remain relevant to both our long-term members and newcomers.

We have good news about Park staff, and funding, as you will read further in. We particularly welcome our new Ranger in Charge, Rhonda McNeil, and our new Volunteer Co-ordinator Hannah Auld. We look forward to continuing our good relationship with our staff as we work together to look after and protect our Park.

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, even if you find it difficult to come to our activities.

From The Editor

Welcome to the newsletter, whether you are receiving it in the post or by email. Remember that you can also access previous newsletters via our website . https://friendsofgrampiansgariwerd.org.au

First of all I need to let you know that our Ranger in Chief Dave Roberts has resigned from Parks Victoria to work for DELWP in the Otways area. We all want to thank him for his leadership and vision over the last very challenging eight years. At this stage there is no news of who will replace him – or when. His farewell letter can be found here.

Next, an apology and an explanation: We have disappointed some of our members by not sticking firmly to a regular monthly time for activities, which has made it hard for some of you to get to things they would have liked to join in with. We’ve also had a request for some Sunday activities, particularly when we join with other groups, but this in turn inconveniences those of us who are churchgoers. Decisions, decisions. Plus we have been late telling you the dates and putting them up on the website. Some of this has been due to negotiating with outside speakers, such as Dr Nick Clemann, as to when they could come to the Grampians; some where we want to combine with other groups, and some just poor organisation.  Your editor has been over-committed and our webmaster has had a couple of operations. We will try to improve, we promise.

When I was visiting family in England and Germany in July, I visited several nature reserves with Friends Groups. I didn’t actually get to join in any friends’ activities but I’ll put a couple of photos up here if there’s room. Once again there are interesting articles I want to make room for.

Finally, please note that it’s time to renew your membership, via the form here.

Please check if we have your correct email address so we can contact you with late news.

From the Editor

Welcome to our slightly late April newsletter. Some of you shouldn’t be receiving it because you are unfinancial but we have decided to be kind and give you a last free copy. Please fix before the New Year starts. Not sure? Contact our treasurer Judith on 53836247.

Unable to get to any of our activities but would like to help us? We welcome contributions from members- articles, poems, memories, art, photos …. This is your newsletter.

Last issue I mentioned the rising number of tourists and the official numbers have just been announced.  In 2017 Grampians received over 53,000 international overnight visitors – up 3.5% on the YE 16 and visitors stayed 352,200 nights in our region – up 22.9% on YE 16.

And finally do remember we have a website, administered by our very reliable Frank van der Peet down in Apollo Bay. This newsletter will shortly be up there for anyone to see and remember, you can access articles from previous newsletters there as well.  And there’s our Facebook page as well.  Both Rodney and I are administrators but both of us find it hard to make time to update it so please add your photos and comments as a guest or if you are more interested, contact either of us for the password to act as an administrator.

Margo

From the Editor

Welcome to our summer newsletter.

Please note that our first activity for the year is on February 24th at 4pm in the Mural Room in the Parks Office at Brambuk. Hear about the research done by two of our members Ben Gunn and Bill Gardner.

Then on Saturday March 3 we are having our annual cleanup activity followed by a BBQ lunch. Because a replacement for Caity has not yet been appointed we have been asked to take on more responsibility. If you are able to help please contact us asap so we can work out sites and activities. See below.

April 13 Friday at 5pm Mike Stevens will catch us up to date on what is happening re environmental issues in our park. Some of us will then be heading to Cavendish’s Red Gum Festival the next morning to put up a display on the history of our Red Gum Walk in Victoria Valley.

You will notice a couple of references to the rapidly increasing number of tourists coming to the area to the joy of the tourism folk and the local councils. Dave has commented on the increase in rubbish, but there has also been an increase in rescues of lost and injured hikers. And then the drowning at McKenzie Falls. We are not alone of course, the Twelve Apostles area has the same situation and I have been reading articles on how overcrowded USA parks are and the problems this causes. Incredible photos of human traffic jams at Zion canyon, which I remember visiting peacefully not that many years ago. We as individuals and as a group are not anti-tourism. We boast about the place to our friends and we want to see it loved and appreciated. But how do we prevent people loving a place to death? How do our hard working park staff keep stupid people safe? They either don’t read signs, or ignore them anyway. And expect mobile phone coverage everywhere. Only a minority of visitors of course, but they do waste so much time and some cause so much damage to fragile environments.

Enough of my soapbox. I have run out of space!

Editor’s Piece

Please note that if you have not renewed your membership your period of grace has expired and this will be your last newsletter.

There are always new challenges and new opportunities and your membership is important in our advocacy role, even if you find it difficult to come to our activities.

A sad piece of news is that we have probably lost all the work that the three RMIT students did on researching the heritage of the Stawell Field Naturalists. The computer and backups were stolen from Sophie’s car, along with her cameras and other valuables. The computer was found but badly damaged. We still are holding out faint hopes that experts may be able to retrieve something, but nothing so far. All that work, not just the student work, but that of the field naturalists and others who gave up their time to talk to them.

 And a bit of good news. Congratulations to our member Ben Gunn who can now add the letters Ph.D after his name. The title of his thesis is “Art of the Ancestors” We look forward to hearing more about it from him soon. We have learnt so much from Ben about the Grampians art sites, but much of his work has also  been in the north of the country.

This newsletter is becoming so full that I am going to have to omit some interesting pieces I had intended to include. I made a submission to the Inquiry into the control of invasive animals on Crown land and have received the Summary Booklet. It will come up for discussion at the end of the year so I’ll report further then.

Three of us attended a training session by Parks on their new Volunteer site “Park Connect” and it looks as if it could be useful to us. More next time but take a look at it. But it won’t replace having a real live person on the ground. Check it out www.parkconnect.vic.gov.au

Our most recent activity was our AGM and Wendy’s AGM report will come later. The good news is we have some new faces on our committee which is really good. The sad bit is farewelling two hard working members, our treasurer Mabel and our secretary Wendy are both heading for a rest. Hard acts to follow.

I have been doing this role for quite a few years now, and have accepted to continue. I do enjoy it, but would love someone to volunteer to assist and maybe take over slowly. You don’t have to live anywhere close by. I recently discovered that the media person for Wimmera CMA lives in southern NSW. If she can do it, so can one of you city members!

Margo