The meeting started with Rhonda’s acknowledgement of country.

Next Derek Sandow spoke about his experiences working on the Yorke peninsular and about cats.

We then discussed the challenges facing the park; both short term – especially politics – but also long term eg climate change, the fact that DELWP funding is only 1 year at a time which makes research projects etc difficult. Should we contact PV Board? How?

GPT update: They are still airlifting materials into the campgrounds. The trail from the North to Hg is nearly finished, needs more work on Bugiga campground (about 1 month’s work). 4 new staff have been appointed. Several day walks now open: Cascades, Lake Wartook LO to HG. Stony Ck campground nearly finished. Lots of work being done at Mt Sturgeon; some bits being re-aligned to save money.

Opening date is set for Spring 2021. Still working on signage for the trail. One problem is that this work is not being done by the local staff but in Melbourne. Next task is to get it up on the website which local staff are doing and then the marketing department have to approve. The website is planned to be up by end May, and bookings will be available via the website. How to manage relationships with licensed tour operators? Eg use of huts. Problems with funding for carparking spots. Happy with quality of track.

Lessons learnt: would have been good to have someone qualified in project management, not enough opportunity for public comment, local shire participation.

Fire update: DELWP have got quite a bit of burning done, though the Serra range area is hard. Rhonda gave us a diagram of how the different teams work together. It is good that rangers are gaining more understanding of fire. When and how often to burn is a DELWP decision, and they are now also using cultural burns.

Management Plan. Work is continuing on how to implement it. How many staff are needed? Cost?

Topics that received the most public comments were dingoes, camping and rock climbing  and PV will offer some options. This needs to be done by the end of May, then more discussion with traditional owners, then to the PV Board by late July, then the final draft plan in August.

Some issues are: camping, hiking, really popular sites, rock climbing & scrambling, rewilding.

Camping, hiking: Fire rules, hiking and camping off tracks – should this be forbidden in some areas, with fines? eg areas listed as remote& natural, areas close to rock wallaby sites. Use group size as limit? Eg 4 OK , 16 not? Dispersed camping: vehicle based will be done slowly, walk in: Jimmy’s Ck stays as is.

Really popular sites (McKenzie falls, Balconies, Boroka ): parking, rubbish, selfies outside fences, illegal swimming.

Rock climbing & scrambling: A big problem. All rocks close to the Venus Baths track have all undergrowth close by badly damaged. What can be done about it?

Staffing: So many vacancies and difficulties advertising positions where staff are on longterm health leave. Rhonda gave us a diagram.

Stimulus Projects: Brambuk repairs and  re-opening will be done by the Commercial team. McKenzie Falls we’ll discuss at next meeting. GPT trail heads in progress. Ararat mountain bike trails.

Environment: The planned poisoning of cats is slow. Hope to send some staff to French island to watch them (but couldn’t after all). Will explore using a helicopter to drop a fake poison to see how cats react. Deer shooting is happening at the moment. Attacking Sallow wattle difficult with less visiting school etc groups due to Covid. Deakin Uni continuing monitoring with both Elliott traps and camera monitoring.

Traditional owners: A few weeks ago 25 members were here and also met with the PV CEO and some board members. Talked re challenges particularly w Management plan. Time pressures, funding for their staff to respond to so many questions and meetings. All local PV staff are going to do a Cultural awareness course here, and another may be held at Budja Budja.

Possible FOGG actions: write to our local state member re staff shortages, particularly indigenous staff, that the PV and DELWP contracts are far too short (eg only 3 months for indigenous).

ADVISORY GROUP MEETING – JUNE 29, 2021 Peaks Trail and McKenzie Falls

Present: Eight AG members plus quite a few park staff in addition to the GPT staff. We went in mixed groups of AG members and staff in each car.

The morning was very cold, heavy mist. First stop was the group camp site on Stony Ck Rd which is still under construction but close to finished. We first looked at the platforms erected for the tent sites. Rather different to the ones I had seen at the Bugiga camp site. They have a new arrangement to assist in tying the tents down. Also a metal plate so a fuel stove is not on the wooden base. Next the outdoor sitting are with a long table and seats, designed to make removing them very difficult. Then we went on to the large group meeting spot. It has large perspex windows (we were told there is a good view from the end one but all we could see was grey cloud), tables, seats, a food preparation area, a solar powered battery so people can recharge their phones and 4 plug in spots. It is not intended as a place to sleep but it is inevitable that it will be used in wet weather. They talked about lessons they had learnt from mistakes with the first one at the Bugiga camp site (not far from the Mt Rosea car park), also how to make repairs and changes easier. Eg the perspex is in a few pieces rather than just one big sheet so that if initials get carved just that sheet can be replaced. There’s a pin up board for messages etc.

Next stop was Mckenzie Falls. We saw the new tower to enable Telstra connectivity. But it will only work close to the toilets, but a great improvement nevertheless. We discussed the pros and cons of having a cafe plus information kiosk. Pros: such a popular spot and can get info to users who won’t go into Brambuk; cons: people will stay longer and that means more parking spaces needed – how much forest should be cleared just so people can have a coffee? There is money available to spend here, but what on? We will have another meeting to discuss this.

Next stop was Troopers Ck campground where we ate lunch, inspected the toilets, discussed that although the tank is just rainwater it’s labelled “non-potable”. To be able to call it potable requires regular checks and tests which are just not worth it. From where we were we could see the next camp site way up above us and the helicopter going back and forth bringing in construction materials. Then we set off on the Gar waterfall walk, 2 ½ km each way. Beautiful waterfalls at the moment, and although there won’t be much water much of the year the wildflowers will be great. The GPT staff were noting our feedback and taking notes of where they have to improve the track to minimise damage, and which signs need work. They plan to use indigenous names for each camp site and feature.

Back where the cars were parked we continued the GPT discussion. The AG members from Laharum and Horsham commented that as the day walks on the GPT get better known there will be an increase to visitors to their end of the Park. We all agreed that is very likely. (Personally I find myself rather confused about the whole GPT thing. Conflicting opinions. This walk was so beautiful that I took my daughter on it the very next day, and I know there are other sections of the GPT I will explore. I do want people to appreciate what a beautiful park this is. At the same time I worry about too many visitors and the damage that may do to the environment, I worry about creeping commercialism of the GPT, I worry about the rest of the park suffering neglect and low budgets.) I asked about what was happening with the plan to have indigenous ranger tours of parts of the trail. Rhonda replied that the plan had changed somewhat, that rather than PV employing indigenous guides, a contract would be drawn up with an indigenous company. That way the money would go to locals rather than PV consolidated funds. The GPT is planned to open in Spring.  So they are frantically busy.

Finally I also asked about the non GPT track in Wonderland. What was the situation with the closed section in Grand Canyon? The answer was that the ladder needs extensive and expensive repairs, in fact a completely new ladder. And when that will happen is unknown.

Advisory Group Meetings, January 15 And March 2 2021

January 15  Meeting

After our acknowledgement of country, the January meeting was totally spent on discussions on the draft management plan. Several of us had already circulated our comments to the group and others commented and gave their thoughts. We had hoped to hear comments from the traditional owner groups but found they were completely snowed under, with many requests and quite under- staffed.

Assorted comments:

  •               the language in the plan could end up being divisive
  •               How does GG management set the joint management up so it has the most chance of success?
  •               It appears to be Melbourne driven.
  •               Disappointed that the AG was not consulted
  •               Far too short a time for feedback
  •               What will be done with the feedback?
  •               Will reasons be given for accepting or rejecting comments?

Rhonda told us that PV will publish a discussion paper on the web, with a table to help the community see how PV gets the balance right.

There will be a workshop with traditional owners in February.

The management plan will go to the minister in June.

Kevin was given the task of collating our thoughts and producing a group response, but we were encouraged to also send in our individual comments, (which several of us did.) We were encouraged to look at the PV website and Facebook pages when drafting our submissions, also to make it clear at the beginning whether it was an individual response or on behalf of a group (eg FOGG, rock climbers) and how many in the group.

Kevin sent us a copy of the group response in good timing for our next meeting.

March 2 Meeting

All present, no apologies.

Acknowledgement of country.

Kevin thanked Cecilia Myers for her help in finalising the group submission on the draft management plan. We agreed that it was well done.

We had hoped that some traditional owners would be present, but that has not been possible. They continue to have problems with Covid restrictions, only zoom meetings, the time pressure for them to get their responses in. Barry reminded us that there were a number of different groups and that informal conversations over a cuppa were often very helpful.

Rhonda then took us on a tour of the precinct. $5.8 million dollars has been allotted to upgrading the precinct. However, this money is not going to GNP but to Parks Vic Commercial unit.

Rhonda showed how run down much of the front site is, toilets, education room, display areas. She mentioned there is some discussion of adding showers to the toilet area. The education room may be able to give FOGGS a more suitable area to store records, books etc.

We then moved to the shop area which has re-opened but the cafe remains closed.

Then down the path to the cultural centre. The garden needs attention. The cultural centre will remain closed for the time being, except with permission from Rhonda. It too needs maintenance to the roof and more. The collection of cultural items is stored safely.

We returned to the Mural Room for discussion on the staff situation and Rhonda drew us a diagram of it. Also a diagram of how PV is organised. See below for both. It was clear to me then, but should have been before, just how much is expected of our local staff. The revamp of the cultural area, the GPT, and legal issues such as deaths within the Park are all outside their control, yet much time needs to be spent advising these teams who often have little experience of being in a national park like this. And this time has to come out of their existing responsibilities.



Under Rhonda as Chief Ranger are three teams.

Tammy leads Visitors & Communities, which has Seasonal Rangers, Volunteers & Schools (Hannah), Walking Tracks, Information, Education, Interpretation.

Derek leads Environment & Heritage, which covers Grampians Ark, Biological responsibilities, Rangers, Aboriginal issues.

Johnno leads Park Operations, which includes Peaks Trail, Facilities, Roads.

There are currently several empty positions, due to illness, and some awaiting new staff.


Under the Parks Vic CEO are seven areas:

People & Culture,   Fire & Emergency,  Legal,  Construction, Commercial,      Marketing, Operations.

The Grampians Team sits under “Operation”. HR, Finance and IT sit under “People & Culture”

The next AG meeting will be on May 11, with the major topic being Fire.

Margo Sietsma

Annual General Meeting Minutes

FOGG AGM 14th November 2020 held at Heatherlie Quarry.

Members met at lunch time after our wildflower walk nearby.

Minutes from 2019 AGM were read and accepted

Presidents Report: Catherine gave a summary of the year’s activity. Passed a motion of thanks to Catherine for her two years’ presidency, and for helping us through both the Covid scenario and the changes in Parks rules.

Treasurers Report: Balance on 1st.July 2019 was $9,828.45, income for the financial year was $1,808.00, expenditure $818.60, leaving a balance $10,817.85 at 30th.June 2020. (Not audited)

Membership Fees: -To remain $20 for individual and $25 for Family

Election of Office Bearers:  President: Leigh Douglas,

Vice president: Rodney Thompson.

Secretary: Alison Bainbridge Thanks to Bill & Judy Gardner’s efforts in their term as Secretary.

Treasurer: Judith Thompson. Note that this is last year Judith will hold the position of Treasurer.

Committee Ordinary Members: the number of ordinary members to remain at four. David Steane, Geoff Stratford, Ben Gunn and Andrew Cunningham

Newsletter Editor – Margo Sietsma re-elected as newsletter editor.

General Business:

Life membership for Win Pietsch: Moved that Win Pietsch  be made a Life Member of FOGGS.  Carried.

Motion: Andrew Cunningham moved that FOGGs lobby Parks Victoria in 2021 to increase toilet facilities in the Northern Grampians, especially Reids Lookout, and Hollow Mountain and Heatherlie Quarry.  Carried.

The AGM closed at 2:30pm and we proceeded to a general meeting.

General Meeting

  • Volunteer Innovation Fund: Agreed not to apply for 2020. Will review in 2021.
  • Updating Park Brochures: There were several members working on information for the brochures including Neil Macumber, Leigh Douglas and Margo Sietsma, Rodney, Bruce McInness. Suggestion that the Halls Gap History Society might be interested in providing information on settlement history.  Secretary to send out email to members working on this project to ask how far they have got with this project noting that Hannah Auld would like this Information early 2021.
  • Ian McCann Books: 60 copies of Ian’s book are left after taking one for M Stevens farewell gift. It was agreed to keep 10 copies as gifts for presenters. Agreed to readvertise in the next newsletter.
    Kellet Prints: 16 still available after choosing one for M Stevens farewell gift.  It was agreed to keep some copies as gifts for presenters. Agreed to readvertise in the next newsletter.
  • FOGG Cupboard: The present FOGG cupboard inadequate and awkward to access.
  • Motion: Margo Sietsma moved that we send a letter to Rhonda McNeil to request better and more accessible storage for FOGG.
  • Farewell to Mike Stevens: It was agreed to present Mike and his family a copy of Ian McCann’s book and a Kellett print. Leigh Douglas to provide a card. Margo Sietsma and Alison Bainbridge to finalise.  Margo will present this to Mike Stevens on behalf of FOGG.

 Editor’s note: If you would like a copy of Ian’s Wildflower book, or one of the Kellett prints, please contact our secretary Alison.

Advisory Group Report

The AG has met just once since the last newsletter. 29/10/20

The meeting had most members in the mural room plus some with Microsoft teams.

It opened with a video of how the Dunkeld Kinder group does their respect to country.

Mike Stevens was next, announced that he was leaving PV and moving interstate. He gave us an update on his team’s work. First, the Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies. There are at least 4 new joeys, likely to be more as scats show there are 3 females in a different site which could also have pouch young. The introduction of a new male at the end of last year is the cause. Next, the cat poisoning programme has finally started. (It was slow because of misgivings by parliament). Baiting is being done well inside the Park, close to where there are threatened species eg the BTRWs and potoroos. It’s a very tasty looking sausage. Some baits have been taken by foxes too. Will need to repeat a few times as more cats move in to take over the territory.

The group expressed their thanks to him, and best wishes for the future.

Tammy Schoo and Hannah Auld

Next came Tammy Schoo and Hannah Auld to talk about education, Junior Rangers and volunteers.

I am hoping we can get them to do the presentation to FOGGs some time.

Tammy started with an interesting slide show on the history of education programmes over the years.

Next Hannah used slides to talk about some of the education programmes running here. There’s a climate watch trail going up to Venus baths which she has taken groups on.  She commented it is surprising how much children already know about climate change.

Next came a fun video of the Dunkeld kindergarten in the park. First spraying their shoes against cinnamon fungus, then out enjoying the area, magnifying glasses for examining things, goggles if they want to get close to prickly stuff, using phones for photographing stuff and comparing with what the same spot looked like last time. It is the teachers who run and fund the programme, not PV.

Next: Junior Ranger Programme. Run during school holidays to give bush skills and knowledge. It was tried it on line in September, and it is hoped to have some here over the summer. You can see some of the Melbourne ones on YouTube.

Tammy and Hannah hope that the revamp of Brambuk will enable them to revive the school education programme.


“Goal: to establish a world-class approach to working with volunteers that is embedded within PVs core business and effectively engages and supports volunteers in safe, innovative, meaningful activities to improve the health of the park, the broader community and themselves.” (PV Healthy Parks document). There’s a strategic plan 2017 -21. Late last year there was a volunteer forum here which was useful in hearing volunteering groups thoughts and they will try to implement it in 2021. Groups here are FOGG, Walking Track Support Group, schools (they are making use of schools to do sallow wattle control and the kids do enjoy it), Trailrider, 4wd clubs, Landcare groups.

There were plans to train and use volunteers this year for a bird survey but it had to be postponed due to Covid. Use of volunteer shooters for deer and goat control, There is now a staff manual with information about the volunteer groups so new staff can learn quickly. Some discussion of the new Volunteer Innovation fund.

Over to Rhonda.

First, update on the management plan. The draft plan went to the minister last week, and will be released in the next few weeks. There will be several documents: the complete management plan, a summary plan, questions and answers. Both hard and digital copies. Next comes community consultations, smallish groups. Cultural heritage is the major theme, not just in one chapter. There is concern in the AG that rock climbing may completely dominate discussion of the plan.

Cultural site protection. New sites are being discovered and new protection needs follow, including Taipan wall and Bundaleer, Red Rock . (Also Arapiles but that is outside the GNP). New information signs. They are seeking funding for long term protection and for researching the rest of the Park. Covid restrictions making it all much harder. The old management plan had a rough plan with maps drawn up in the office and is poor quality. Important to remember 80% of climbers want to do the right thing, 10% are unsure, 10% couldn’t care less. Education is vital. We need to emphasise that it is really exciting that we are discovering so many new sites.

Shooting of deer and goats will continue to occur.

Brambuk Update.

It is hoped the Information Centre will reopen soon, with some of the previous staff. The Cultural Centre will remained closed for some time. The artefact collection is safe in storage. How best to display it is under discussion.

Over to Prue Daly.

Peaks Trail.   Community sessions will be starting soon, but bookings will be essential. Work on the trail has been very busy. Aerial lifting in to camp spots has started. The track is about 70% finished, the unfinished bits are scattered, not just in one or two places. No signage yet but they are working on it. Advertising has started for 4 new rangers, and then they will be advertising for track maintenance positions. Training of emergency response teams has started. Opening date is yet to be decided. and may be staggered. There are three different ministers involved (Fed and State). Water tanks will be placed at some spots along the trail where it is simple to fill them. Near each campground there will be a sign informing where the closest spot is for mobile phone coverage and internet, but nothing along the track.

Back to Rhonda.

Miscellaneous. Repairs are needed to the stair case at the Grand Canyon, so it is unable to be used. Replacing it will take a while with the Covid restrictions. There’s a similar problem with one of the lookouts at Boroka.

Vandalism, especially to gates blocking closed roads, has been a real problem, not just to this park and will be a massive and expensive job to fix. Boredom and frustration with Covid restrictions?


Next Advisory Group meeting will be on the Management Plan, hoped for in the last week in November.  I will be interstate but hope to join in remotely.


Grampians Advisory Group Minutes: 11 May 2020

Meeting held via Microsoft Teams platform, except for Margo who was in the room with Rhonda.

We started as always with an acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land we were meeting on.

Covid 19 – The park has been closed with opening planned later this week but not campgrounds. Whole team is operating differently and observing social distancing.

Environmental programs – delivered contract ground shooting program but not the volunteer ground shooting. Starting aerial shooting program this week and next week. Completed sallow wattle mulching program. Fox baiting and leg hole trapping continuing. Might not be able to undertake research work on small mammals as per previous years.

Park Operations – Taken advantage of the park being closed and have undertaken tree risk works at campgrounds and some general maintenance works.

Visitor & Communities – reduced work due to school and volunteers programs has meant this team has been busy assisting all other teams and catching up. AS well as taking the opportunity to get into some of our key walking tracks and undertake vegetation clearing and assets updating.

Fire and Emergency – Busy burning season with a number of burns undertaking including around Booroka Lookout, Serra Road and Boronia Peak.

Grampians Peaks Trail – Still working away in construction. There is plans for future meetings with key stakeholders such as advisory committee re huts and the hut experience which know will be operated by Licensed Tour Operators not Parks Victoria.

Brambuk The National Park and Cultural Centre- the current permit expires on June 30 and Parks Victoria will take over the operating of this centre as of July 1. Commercial division will appoint staff to operate this centre.

Landscape Management Plan  – Group discussed feeling not as connected with this plan as with previous plans and that for many on the group emails or documents on websites are not the best way for them to process and understand the information.

Request was to organise a face to face day where the group could come together to discuss the key topics as identified at the Feb meeting and have an agreed position for the members to share with their networks. Also requested that documents that were circulated to the Stakeholder Reference Group be sent to each member of the advisory committee prior to this discussion.

Management Plan Discussion: 28 May 2020

Due once again to Covid restrictions, numbers allowed at the meeting were heavily restricted and yet it was difficult to deal with online. The solution decided on was to have five of us at a time in the Mural Room for an hour to present our comments and questions, then leave and another five come in. I think there were three sessions. There had been quite a few emails circulating before the meeting, which was useful, but it will be interesting to see how much of our contributions will be in the draft plan when that is released.

Advisory Group Meeting: 13 July 2020

Due to an easing of Covid restrictions we were able to meet in person in the Mural room, well spread out. Some of our regulars were apologies, and there was one new member Keith Lockwood representing the rockclimbing group.

The main topic was a detailed report by Mike Stevens on the work of the environment and heritage  team. First he introduced the new team member Marlenne Rodriguez Malagon  ???? and provided an overview of the team structure.

He next gave us some good news on the btrws. The new males have settled in well and some of the females appear to have pouch young bit still a little too early to confirm how many. He followed this by showing a YouTube video that has been made to mark 25 years of the Grampians Ark project, a co-operation between the park and the landholders in Victoria valley. This co-operation has been vital for the survival of the btrws and other creatures. (The video is beautifully shot and yours truly is in it, wearing my FOGG badge – you can watch the video here Mike has said there has been interest from Jalluka Landcare as to whether a similar partnership would be achievable in the more densely settled area on the Halls Gap Pomonal side of the Park.

He told us about how the large amount of money his team received last year was being spent and highlighted the uncertainty whether  large amounts will occur again into the future as the government focus tackles the the impact of Covid on tourism.

Fox update: Fox baiting is continuing, as is research into how to make it more effective and safer. Examples are: looking at ravens helping themselves to fox bait, evaluating live trapping with leg hold, evaluating the effectiveness of cameras along roads v cameras in the bush. I was really impressed both here and later on how important the team takes good science to be.

Cat update: there is now an authorised cat poison available, but it may also be fatal to reptiles. So the current plan is to only use it in the colder months when the reptiles are dormant and the cats probably quite hungry. They will also investigate leghold traps for cats as is already successful with foxes.. Mike gave us a link to a government enquiry into cats, and encouraged us to join it.

Herbivore update: Groundbased shooting by volunteers was done in spring and was planned for autumn but couldn’t proceed due to Covid. Aerial shooting has continued, it’s effective but expensive. There’s a colony of goats on Chatauqua Peak for example which they had hoped to deal with but they need to have staff at every track entry point to keep walkers out, and so it didn’t proceed. Deer they are controlling with both aerial and ground shooting. Deer are very habitat oriented, for example they just love pennyroyal weed, and there is potential for more public/private partnerships.

Sallow wattle update: They are making more use of mechanical mulching rather than manual pulling up of plants. It is cheaper. They are continuing to monitor it and compare sites which have had different treatments. Sallow wattle remains a real problem because of the damage it does by excluding all other vegetation..

Bird Surveys: Mike had hoped to have some extensive bird surveys done this year using “citizen science” with volunteers trained by Greg Kerr of the Nature Glenelg Trust. Firstly at the southern end of the park, and then the northern end. But it has been put on hold due to the Covid pandemic.

Mike and some of his team have also spent quite a lot of time assisting in the Gippsland parks burnt in January.

We could have spent another hour learning from Mike, – we are so fortunate to have him, but it was time to hand over to Rhonda.

Working during the Covid emergency:  Most staff are working from home, but one senior person is in the HG office each day. Out in the park most places are open, but they are keeping an eye on popular places like Mckenzie Falls and Wonderland carpark. Halls Gap is worryingly full of tourists. PV is trying to work out how best to deal with volunteers, and it’s not easy and looks like it will get harder. Leaders need to be trained, go on Park Connect, take names and phone numbers, report back.

Brambuk: There has been a delay in emptying out the offices from the old managers, due to the death of Geoff Clarke’s mother. Representatives of the three traditional owner groups are working together on classifying the artefacts there. An interim commercial manager has been appointed and ads have gone out for a full time indigenous manager to be appointed. It is hoped the information centre will open in September, then the cultural centre later.

Management plan:  The draft public plan is due to come out at the end of the year and then to be open to comment. The draft internal plan was due to come out in September, Rhonda has just received a draft draft draft version. Some of the topics include; upgrade to cultural signage, information hubs in more locations than just HG, discussion on camping, nothing yet on waste management, more thought needed on fire management, more work needed on recreation activities, particularly climbing. Keith asked why not make changes now to climbing areas that have been shown not to have heritage issues. Can it be an evolving document?

Grampians Peaks Trail: We were fast running out of time but I did ask why almost finished sections couldn’t be opened now. The answer was it’s mainly an insurance question but it is hoped that some of the northern section could be opened in September. There have been some staff changes, and some of the team are not here. One for example is based in Sydney! The next AG meeting will spend more time on the Peaks Trail.

At the end of our meeting we were introduced to the new area chief ranger, Rhonda’s boss, Jamie Staples. He, I am pleased to report, is based locally, mainly in Horsham. His area covers west from Ballarat to the SA border, north from Warrnambool to Wyperfeld. Interestingly he is not a longterm PV employee but has joined by applying for this position when it was advertised. He previously worked for the Grains Board but has always been a bushwalker and lover of parks.

Committee Meeting Report: 15th July 2020

We met on zoom and Paul Strickland from the Victorian Environment Friends Network had been invited to join us. All the committee were able to join in.

Bill outlined his recent discussions with senior park management regarding Prof Timms research permit problems and had positive discussions and concerns from this meeting. Senior Park management wanted to hear feedback and to have this information to try to improve the system.
Acknowledgment of the lack of funding, lack of staff and time constraints on local rangers due to bushfires, inadequate funding and Covid19.

Paul outlined that Parks Victoria is not a conservation agency. That we are independent organisation and as such can determine our own directions and activities. He mentioned that there is a Draft Volunteer Management Manual which is rules for staff engagement with volunteers. Issues around lack of staff and funding.

Suggestions included:

  • Work with Parks staff to resolve these issues. Our best allies are the people we know locally and we need to involve them in our discussions.
  • Essential vs non essential activities briefly discussed , It seems that Parks are happy to have working bees, seat installation etc, while not approving social activities and bird watching events. We don’t want to do all the hard work and not have any fun social activities. Concern that limiting activities will mean we have members dropping off as people lose interest. FOGG have always said that they are not there to do Park work which should be done by rangers. Paul advised that we should be able to have a balance of activities including personal development/educational and working bees as a Friends Group and that this is up to us to determine.
  • FOGG is an independent organisation and we have our own insurance.
  • Park connect is there to assist us but activities do not need to be put on Park Connect for approval

Committee concerned that we don’t want to upset parks or ignore them.
We decided to ask Rhonda to facilitate a meeting with the new regional head . At this meeting, discuss the issues with our area that we need to get sorted out. Making it clear that we want to support local staff so that they can get more support from higher up to improve the Park.

Future activities were discussed and arrangements planned, but all cancelled due to Covid restrictions.

Further discussion on the progress of the reprint of Ian McCanns book .

Insect Talk

February 7, 2020

It was very good to see over 20 people come to hear Denis Crawford speak on the importance of insects, and to enjoy his amazing photography of “creepy crawlies and bloodsuckers”.

Did you know that the world has 5,500 species of mammals, 10,000 of birds, 40,000 vertebrates and 1.25 million invertebrates, of which 1 million are insects?  Understandably we didn’t hear about all 1 million species but looked at some moths, bees and ants. Lots of fascinating snippets: I never knew that there was a moth that only feeds on dead grass trees. How specialised is that? What do insects contribute to the environment? They pollinate flowers, recycle and bury dung, eat or parasite other insects, provide food for other animals, disperse seed (and in various intriguing ways), aerate the soil. A reduction in insects would massively impact on flowering plants, lessen the food available for fish, bats, mammals and birds, there would be much more dung lying around, and carcasses and other organic waste, we’d have  no silk, honey, cochineal …. Where would our agriculture and horticulture be? There was some discussion of bushfires and insects, the loss of so many bees, both commercial and native, the fact that ants are the first colonisers after a fire.

Denis  has a blog and a Facebook page and a YouTube channel. Look for his name or “one minute bugs”

After his talk most of us retired to the Halls Gap pub for a meal and further discussion. Thank you Denis.