A New Weed Species to watch out for – Kunzea Leptospermoides

(adapted from the Project Platypus Newsletter)

Project Platypus is working closely with Halls Gap and surrounding communities to control the spread of Kunzea Leptospermoides (Yarra Burgan) and the threat it imposes on the Grampians National Park and surrounding reserves.

Kunzea leptospermoides

Yarra burgan (Kunzea leptospermoides, previously K. ericoides) is a tall (2-5 [<15]m) native shrub originating from eastern Victoria and the NSW coastal hinterland. It is not indigenous to Halls Gap or the Grampians National Park. Yarra Burgan was introduced to the region as an ornamental garden plant and has since spread forming dense thickets which are a biodiversity threat and fire hazard.

Yarra burgan was initially thought to be a similar species, Kunzea ericoides, from New Zealand, but studies revealed it as an Australian native. It is a highly successful species in part due to changes in climate and hybridization. Yarra burgan looks very similar to the local Prickly Tea Tree (Leptospermum continentale) masking the problem as it looks to belong in the landscape. Its ability to out compete local native plants enables it to take over with grave implications for the surrounding Grampians National Park natural values.

Why remove Yarra Burgan?

  • To avoid it proliferating and invading new areas.
  • To maintain the beautiful natural values of local plants and animals.
  • It represents a serious fire risk, far greater than endemic local vegetation.
  • it prevents local species from establishing with implications for
  • Insects and animals dependent on the local flora.
  • Thickets 4 m high present high fuel loads with potential for increased wildfire severity.
  • Infestations into the Grampians National Park threatens conservation significance.
  • In the long term, as an invasive species, it will dominate the Grampians.
  • Flow on effects for local tourism dependent on the natural park values to attract tourists.

This plant was first bought to our attention by a former Parks Vic ranger in the Grampian’s National Park who was concerned about what he was witnessing around 6 years ago. We have utilised some funding in the past to conduct some initial trial treatments and initial mapping, but the current lot of funding from RE Ross Foundation allows to focus on controlling the plant for the next three years. Project Platypus would like to thank R E Ross Foundation, all the landholders and project partners that have allowed us to map and treat the spread of Yarra Burgan. The work achieved so far has been beyond what we expected to achieve. This has largely been because of a small group of landholders that have not only allowed for us to treat it on their property, but because of the hard work they have assisted us in by contacting absentee landholders and championing the message. We have been using men from the Hopkins Correctional Facility in Ararat to do the work.

Project Platypus is worked with the Northern Grampians Shire Council and Halls Gap Community groups to get on ground works underway and look into town action plans and fire mitigation plans to have the plant identified as one of concern for the area.

It is still mainly around Halls Gap but smaller infestations have been found on the Ararat-Halls Gap Rd through to Ararat, with large infestations around Trajul Rd and Pomonal.

Anyone wanting more information on this plant and project please contact Lachlan McIntyre on 5358 4410 or 0409 740 521 or via email


Citizen Science Opportunity in the Grampians

Just in is another message from Nature Glenelg Trust.

An exciting citizen science opportunity in the Grampians awaits You!

NGT is in the early stages of developing a volunteer-based wetland monitoring program to learn more about the ecological responses of two restored wetland systems in the southern Grampians.

The Walker, Gooseneck, and Brady Swamp wetland complex, and Green Swamp, have undergone significant hydrological changes over the past few years, with support and involvement from the community playing a key role. These works, which straddle Parks Victoria reserves and NGT’s wetland restoration reserves, have supported the recovery and conservation of a range of wetland dependent species such as fish, frog and birds, many of which are threatened. Equally, the transformation of these systems has provided new opportunities for the community to enjoy the local flora and fauna.

This citizen science monitoring program will allow community members to connect to these wetlands in a new way, and collectively learn more about their rich ecology. The data collected will complement and build on existing knowledge gained through conventional monitoring methods of fish, frogs and birds.

Remote technologies will be used to record data on key fauna groups: acoustic loggers called AudioMoths will be aimed at recording frogs and birds, while field cameras will focus on recording wading birds. Equipment will be deployed in early May, with data retrieval and downloads occurring each month. This monitoring program will provide new opportunities for people to volunteer, as many activities can be completed from home on a desktop (e.g. sorting through images, identifying birds and frogs). There will however, still be opportunities for people to get out in the field, and assist with the monthly data downloads.

Interested volunteers will be invited to join us in a tour of the wetland sites in mid-May. This will be a chance to see the equipment deployed, learn more about the history of the sites and the monitoring program. For more information and to register, please see flyer below.

We look forward to working with the volunteers and seeing these incredible wetland systems from another lens (literally)!

To register your interest contact  .

Email |  Postal | PO Box 354, Warrnambool, VIC 3280

Two Interesting Pieces from the Stawell Newspaper

Southern Brown Bandicoot

Sightings of the endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot have provided further encouragement for Park Rangers about the health of native animal habitat in the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park.

The small species of bandicoot, listed as Endangered in Victoria, was detected on surveillance cameras that were placed in the national park following reports from a member of the public.

A Southern Brown Bandicoot in the western area of the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park.

It’s the first recorded sighting by Park Rangers in two years and follows recent camera footage that confirmed an increase in the park’s small population of Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies, which are listed as Critically Endangered.

As with other animals in the area, it appears that bandicoots may be benefiting from a combination of recent factors including rainfall levels, a lack of large-scale bushfires and Parks Victoria’s conservation work, such as the Grampians Ark program.

Parks Victoria’s Grampians ark coordinator Derek Sandow said these sightings are really encouraging news for this native animal that faces threats from cleared habitat and introduced predator species.

“Reports of koalas and goannas and other animals not seen for some time in the Grampians give us encouragement about the health of the national park and our conservation efforts,” he said.

The Grampians Ark program targets foxes and feral cats, which can have a devastating impact on birds and small mammals, such as bandicoots.

The program is being funded by the Victorian Government’s $33.67 million Biodiversity Response Planning and Weeds and Pests on Public Land initiative.

The Southern Brown Bandicoot is a ground-dwelling marsupial with a grey-brown coat and a long tapering snout.

Mostly active after dusk, they play an important role in the ecosystem by turning over soil which helps increase the rate of leaf litter decomposition and nutrient cycling.

Excepting the Grampians region, the bandicoot is typically found in southern and lower lying parts of Victoria.

A Southern Brown Bandicoot in the western area of the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park.


One of Stawell’s natural landmarks is set to change hands after the Northern Grampians Shire Council moved to return the Sisters Rock site to traditional owners at their April meeting on Monday.

The council voted to move and accept the recommendation to transfer the Sisters Rocks site to the Victorian Government, who will then decide the appropriate public body to determine the management arrangements and associated funding for the land.

As part of the process the council also had the assurance that the transfer of ownership will not affect the Western Highway Duplication (Ararat to Stawell) project.

“From the Council’s perspective it would be a powerful act of reconciliation that we can perform on behalf of the community in recognising indigenous culture”.

The land will be returned to the WJJWJ Peoples as part of the Traditional Owners Settlement Act 2010 (Vic) (TOS Act).

Sisters Rocks are a culturally significant site to the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk Peoples (WJJWJ Peoples), who have been seeking changes to the land’s ownership for some time.

The Barengi Gadjin Land Council (BGLC) is the entity that represents the WJJWJ Peoples and they have expressed their aspiration for the Sisters Rocks site to be returned to the WJJWJ Peoples.

The Sisters Rocks, along the Western Highway are a grouping of granite tors which form a dramatic landmark on the eastern approach to Stawell. The area has been a picnic and tourist destination since settlement in the area. The rocks facing the public access are now heavily covered in graffiti which dates back over most of the 20th century. It is an area of debate whether this is an historical record or ugly disfigurement of the natural beauty of the rocks.

The Victorian Heritage Database lists Sisters Rocks as socially and aesthetically significant at a local level and an important landmark in the area with a level of significance as ‘recommended for Heritage Overlay’ since 2004. The site, comprising of approximately four hectares, is reported to be one of the first successful attempts at nature conservation in Australia. An application for the land was applied for by a local body member under the then Land Act to protect the site from being demolished for building stone. The title was issued and in 1887 transferred to the Borough of Stawell.

The Barengi Gadjin Land Council have expressed their thanks for this decision.

“This is a positive demonstration from council to recognise and encourage the healing of country for our people and the broader community. This decision means a lot to our families. This isn’t about the past, it’s about the future, and it’s important we take the necessary steps to develop a strong relationship and increase the visual presence of our culture across the region.” Dylan Clarke, BGLC Chairperson.

Bits and Pieces

The Easter weekend saw a huge number of visitors enjoying our Park in perfect weather. Among them was a group of Junior Field Naturalists to whom a couple of us were able to show bits of our natural environment: Catherine and Clive their bush property, Anthea and I the Botanic Garden and a walk to Venus Baths. Courtesy of FOGGS, each family was given a copy of the geology brochure, and we fielded many enquiries about edible plants, insects (especially ants) and more. It was a joy to see their enthusiasm and it is so important to engage the next generation.

We had many visitors walking through the Botanic garden in Halls Gap, which is all Grampians Flora. There’s a poster about FOGGS on the noticeboard and membership forms can be taken. Last year we got a sizable grant from DELWP which we are busy spending. I’ll let you know as things progress.

Online Information Sessions

People are encouraged to attend a community information session to learn more about what is in the plan and discuss the proposals in depth. Due to current health restrictions, these are mostly online.

The dates and times for the information sessions are:

Online discussion sessions (max 30 people each):

  • Tuesday 24 November, 5.30 – 7.30pm
  • Thursday 26 November, 5.30 – 7.30pm
  • Tuesday 1 December, 5.30 – 7.30pm
  • Wednesday 2 December, 5.30 – 7.30pm

You can register for a community information session online. – Eventbrite registration link.  You can also register by calling 13 1963. If you cannot participate online you can call 03 8427 3606, to ask about an in-person option in the local Grampians area. If required, more information sessions can be held in January 2021.

This plan is a draft, Parks Victoria, Barengi Gadjin Land Council, Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation, and the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation want to hear your feedback. All feedback will be carefully considered in preparing a final management plan. You can provide written feedback in two ways:     Complete the survey on line or send a written submission to

Electronic submissions are preferred, but if you would also like to provide a hard copy you can mail it to: Attention: Manager Park Planning, Parks Victoria, Level 10, 535 Bourke Street Melbourne VIC 3000

Parks Victoria will be accepting feedback until the end of Sunday 24 January 2021.

Miscellaneous Reports

There is a new update on the Victorian Deer Management Strategy project. Submissions on a draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy were sought in October 2018. 666 public submissions were received. The final Strategy and a Consultation Report is now available at: https://engage.vic.gov.au/draft-victorian-deer-man…

The Grampians Fire Online Conference is also available on line. https://web.microsoftstream.com/video/a6ee473b-5574-4d54-ad8b-c8833279af70. Two highlights of the presentation were:

  1. The case study into the Mt Lang bushfire in December 2019, with some great photography and a good summary of the activity of the fire.
  2. The Wartook Community Bushfire Strategy Development.

Farewell Mike Stevens

As we learned at the AG meeting, Mike is leaving Parks Vic. We at Foggs have been most appreciative of the work he has done here over the years with his creative thinking on ways in which to advance conservation and ecological health in the Grampians, and the hard work he always cheerfully and enthusiastically undertook.(already said.) He will be greatly missed and we will be giving him a small gift of an artwork and a copy of the Ian McCann book.

Mike with FOGGIES at Red Gum Walk 2007. Photo by Leigh.

The Fish Falls Seat Saga (Bill’s name)

Once upon a time there was a Zumsteins Friends Association, formed originally to campaign that Parks look after their heritage. When they felt that their concerns had been listened to they closed down and gave FOGGS the money left in their account. FOGGS decided that it would be good to use it by placing a seat on the path from Zumsteins to McKenzie Falls. But at that stage, I think, the path was still closed. Then came years of fires and floods. Then we had a look and decided it could best go near Fish Falls and sent a note to that effect to Parks.

Update to 2019 and the committee decide to get it done. But the note has been lost. So we start again. What sort of seat and where? Bill, Rodney and Leigh met with Hannah and chose the spot. But what sort of seat? A recycled plastic one was our choice, only to find that Parks have moved away from these back to timber. Bill did a lot of research and came up with several timber seats on the market. But which is the most environmentally responsible? Many committee emails back and forth, and Hannah kept very busy but quite determined that a new seat would be in by the end of the year. Hooray, there is now one ordered and we hope we can help install it.

Thanks to Bill for his persistence and and Hannah for her patience.

Halls Gap Botanic Garden

Halls Gaps Grampians Flora Botanic Garden is devoted to the plants that grow in Grampians Gariwerd. FOGGS held their AGM there last year and also helped a bit with weeding.

The BG committee learnt that there was an opportunity to apply for grants to regional Botanic Gardens and so we set to work. One project we very much want to do is to improve our information about indigenous knowledge and use of plants and state our appreciation to the original occupants of this area. FOGGS have offered us a financial contribution plus contributions of time and muscle in installing new signs etc. We’ve asked for other things as well, so now we just have to wait and see what we get.