Prez Sez

We are very sad to learn of the death of Lyn Munro in early July. Judith will be writing about Lyn, in this or the next newsletter. She will be greatly missed, as a loved friend and fellow champion of the bush, plus for all her knowledge and input to FOGG and the Hamilton Field Nats; our deepest sympathy goes to Dave and their family.

As the short dark cold days of Winter start to give way to the (slightly) longer, (at times) sunnier, and equally cold days of late-winter, Spring is showing its presence all through the bush: Acacias and Eucalypts flowering, orchid leaves pushing up through the ground, brilliant red correa bells, fantastic fungi, and birds chasing each other and pairing up ready for nesting. It’s one of the most exciting times to be out in the bush, full of promise, especially after the plentiful rains we’ve been having. I hope you’ve all been enjoying the wet, and able to be out in nature somehow, even during this 5th lockdown.

Thanks to Covid it’s been harder to plan activities, but none-the-less, May saw us having a good Clean up Australia morning at McKenzie Falls, and we have enjoyed 3 great outings this Winter so far; see reports later on the Red Gum Walk working beeFungi with Win Pietsch, and exploring the edge of Moora Moora Reservoir with Ross Simpson. We recorded 21 species of birds at the latter, though there were very few of each species.

Plans and dates are more liable to be changed at short notice, so it’s a good idea to keep checking Parkconnect to confirm, or with a committee member by email or phone. So far, the only month in which we have missed an activity due to Covid was February, as there wasn’t one planned for January.

Following the FOGG fossil outing at Mt Bepcha last year, Bill Gardner has circulated Chris Gouramanis’s paper writing up the fossil arthropod tunnels found in the Grampians. This has been circulated to members.

Now for the business side of things, which affect us all as well as the Grampians-Gariwerd.

On 31 May, with the support of the Committee, I sent a letter to the Premier, Lily D’Ambrosio (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change), Matthew Jackson (CEO PV) and the Premier re some of the concerns FOGGs and other Friends groups have with the management of the Grampians (and other National Parks) in Victoria. A copy of the letter was also sent to Phil Ingamells at VNPA.

In summary, we questioned the following issues:

  • Lack of sufficient Park staff, leading to a severe restriction on patrolling, particularly at peak visitor periods; keen staff having to work many (voluntary) hours over and beyond what they are paid for, leading to their burn-out; and, a reduction in essential monitoring programmes.
  • Lack of resources to Park staff leading to a lack of basic maintenance such as track clearing and repair, cultural site interpretation upgrades, and the continued use of the savage flash-burns in full-filling their ‘controlled burn’ requirements rather than undertaking small-scale cool-burns.
  • The need for ALL park rangers to be Authorised Officers, as is the case in other less field-oriented Government agencies (such as Aboriginal Victoria). The current lack of power for PV rangers is clearly unacceptable and not in the best interest of preserving the Parks values.
  • The exceptional attention given to the Peaks Trail. These extensive and costly works continue to draw resources away from daily Park management.
  • We are also concerned about PVs current focus on economic benefits of the Park. The Park was established to protect the environmental and cultural values of the Grampians, not as a resource to be exploited for economic gain, particularly when the exploitation destroys many of the values of the resource they are promoting. There is a clear conflict of interest in these two aims, and we stress that the environment cannot be allowed to be held second to any short-term economic gains.

We quickly received a very positive response from VNPA, but responses from Parks Vic and Minister D’Ambrosio were received as this was being prepared.

Matthew Jackson’s (PV CEO) reply was short and summarised in this paragraph:

  • Parks Victoria has determined that all staff and volunteers that operate in parks will be required to hold a Working With Children Check.
  • If you have already applied for, or are in the process of obtaining a WWCC, I want to personally thank you for your commitment to child safety.  If you have not yet applied to obtain a WWCC, the deadline for obtaining one has been extended to 31 December 2021, which will allow you time to apply and work through any practical implementation issues, recognising the challenges of recent COVID-19 restrictions.

No comment was given on our other concerns.

The response from Lily D’Ambrosio was a page of platitudes congratulating us on our past work and to say the budget allows for the 57 ranger positions to be retained and that Parkconnect has been “introduced to enable staff and volunteer groups to collaboratively plan and manage volunteer activities”. A very disappointing reply. A response to both parties will be considered by the FOGG Committee.

We are also looking into the request by PV that all our members need to have a ‘Working with Children’ ticket. The first reply simply consisted of a web address of where to find their brochures.

We sent a return email requesting that they answer the specific question we initially sent:

As a community group, Friends undertake works and educational excursions within their respective Park or Reserve. Why is a WWC card required by its members? We do not do specific educational activities with children, and any children that do attend are in the company of their parents or grandparents.
If taken logically this would imply that all parents with children who go to a playground where other families gather will also have to have a WWC card?
Can you please clarify the situation and give reasons, if we have to have WWC cards, why this is so.

So far we have not had a response.

Additionally, from their brochures, it is clear that FOGGs do have to develop a ‘Child Safe Policy’ and a ‘Reportable Conduct’ strategy. These will be developed by the Committee in the near future.


Following our querying to Dept Justice and Community Safety regarding the need for FOGG members to have a Working-With-Children check it appears that legally we do NOT have to have a WWC check. Their email advised that:

The Worker Screening Act 2020 (the WS Act) establishes a framework for those people engaged in ‘child-related work’. Under the WS Act, a person needs a WWC check if they meet ALL of the following five conditions of ‘child-related work’:

  • they are an adult who ‘works’ with children aged under 18 years of age. The term ‘work’ includes engaging in voluntary work and providing practical training as well as paid employment
  • they are working with children at or for one of the services, places or bodies, or in one of the activities listed in the WS Act (see
  • their work usually involves direct contact with children
  • the contact they have with children is not occasional direct contact that is incidental to their work, and
  • they are not exempt from having a WWC check.


  • A person does not require a WWC check under the WS Act if their work involves only occasional direct contact with a child and that contact is incidental to their work.
  • Also an adult is not engaged in child-related work merely because they are participating in an activity with a child on the same basis, for example, playing on the same cricket team.

However, despite this, PV are still requiring every volunteer working on Parks Estates to not only have a WWC check, but also to lodge a copy of your certificate with them.

Margo forwarded the committee a section of the Field Naturalist Club of Victoria newsletter that details PV requirements for volunteers:

From FNCP:

As part of Parks Victoria’s commitment to maintaining a child safe environment, and to ensure it aligns with the Child Safe Standards a Working with Children Check is now compulsory for all volunteers over the age of 18.

The new rule applies to individuals and volunteers within groups, and it applies to everyone who volunteers regularly and even if the volunteering only occurs on a one-off occasion. Importantly the rules apply even if you do not have direct contact or engagement with children during the activities!

What this means for [read FOGG] is that everyone who wishes to participate in club activities on Park Victoria estate (National Parks, Flora and Fauna Reserves, Game Reserves, etc) will need to get a Volunteer Working with Children Check. They will also need to lodge their Working with Children Check number with Parks Victoria via the ParkConnect system.

With the new requirements on Working with Children Checks signing up to an activity via ParkConnect will become the mandatory norm for all Parks Victoria volunteer activities.
The next key steps are:

Apply for a Working with Children Check (no charge for Volunteers):
Nominate the [read FOGG] as well as Parks Victoria as an organisation that you volunteer with. The information to be used for Parks Victoria is as follows:
Parks Victoria, Level 10, 535 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 300.  131 963

In the next section that asks for occupation fields and type, please use the exact information below to complete your application. If you have an existing check then you must update it to include Parks Victoria and the FOGG.
Register yourself with ParkConnect:
After successfully gaining a WWC Check and registering for ParkConnect you must upload an image of it to your ParkConnect account.
For more information visit:


The new Parks Victoria Volunteering Manual is setting the terms for the FOGG’s relationship with Parks Victoria. It is likely that more actions will be required of us as we work through the implications of the new Manual. This will particularly be the case for trip leaders. You can find the manual on this page:

Given our recent lack of communication from PV, it is worth noting that in the Volunteering Manual it states:

Parks Victoria has the responsibility to:

  • Commit to working with volunteers
  • Maintain regular, effective dialogue and build constructive relationships with volunteers
  • Collaborate with volunteers in activity planning and implementation, paying due respect to management objectives, capacity and responsibilities
  • Develop and work with volunteers to create and support meaningful activities
  • Enable volunteer activities and experiences that support land, waterway and marine management objectives and priorities
  • Ensure volunteers are covered by appropriate insurance (subject to insurance terms and conditions)
  • Provide and maintain a safe and healthy working environment, free from discrimination
  • Provide proper induction to Parks Victoria and orientation to the volunteer activity
  • Provide the level of support, resources and instructions required to effectively perform activities
  • Monitor and evaluate volunteer contributions and activities and incorporate changes as necessary
  • Recognise and reward the contribution of volunteers
  • Genuinely listen to issues raised by volunteers and treat them appropriately
  • Respect and utilise the knowledge of volunteers
  • Protect personal information of the volunteers
  • Provide a child safe environment aligned with Child Safety Standards
  • Consult with volunteers in relation to OHS and communicate OHS Risks

PRESIDENT’S REPORT or, as Rodney dubbed it, PREZ SEZ

Welcome to FOGG’s 1st newsletter for 2021, and to an action-packed year of activities …. except the action has been very slow to start with; post-Covid, health problems within the committee, computer glitches – and as Margo said, time pressure on Parks staff. We apologise for the lateness of notification of events so far, but I am providing a provisional calendar for the rest of the year (see below); although none of these activities have yet been approved by Parks. As soon as this happens, you will all be notified.

We have had two outings so far this year, with our third coming up on Saturday 8th May. After all the Restrictions last year, it has been wonderful to gather together again, see each other, welcome new members, and share our interests and knowledge.

Our February event, finding and looking at reptiles, led by David Steane (who has a fascinating amount of knowledge about them) had to be abandoned due to Covid restrictions.

Hannah (our Parks rep) organised our annual Clean-up-Australia Day on 13th March.  Six of us braved the Covid to pick up lots of rubbish at McKenzie Falls, mostly small bits and stuff, with a few of the proverbial but unwelcome nappies around the car park. Thanks to Margo, our numbers were swelled by an enthusiastic visiting school group: we stayed around the tracks at the top, while the youngsters descended & ascended the many steps to the bottom of the Falls. A group of very conservation-aware students who did a very great job. See Geoff’s report later in newsletter.

April 10th saw a gathering of the Clan for an intriguing look/think about some local land formations, led by Graham Parkes and ben Gunn. There was much discussion among members about the possible causes of these (see Graham’s report). This is one of the things I love about FOGG, when members, with their varied fields of interest and expertise, come together and share information. Underlying this is the shared love and treasuring of ‘the bush’, and its conservation.

Six of our members were among the 20 volunteers who took part in the Great Gariwerd Bird Survey around the central Grampians, with another 20 participants from the Dunkeld end doing the southern end. This was a highlight of the year, ten weeks of much learning and excitement, culminating in the Survey on 17/18 April. Many hours of preparation but rewarding ++; we hope it has been just as rewarding for the survey results!  Hannah enthusiastically threw herself into the organisation and preparation of it all, helped by other Parks staff at the dinner, and did an amazing job.  Greg Kerr’s teaching was amazing too. See Hannah’s and John’s reports.

Our friend this past year has been La Nina; as a result of excellent rains in Spring, the bush in the mountains is bursting with green bushiness, and beautiful to be amongst (as long as you’re not trying to walk through it, paths are so valuable!) Our gardens and native planting are likewise thriving.

We are researching the procurement of the herbicide Phytoclean, for use by members in the Grampians, to help prevent the spread of Phytopthora, which is still killing some of our beloved plants.

Proposed FOGG calendar for the rest of 2021

Details of these are yet to be finalised, with leaders and Parks.

Activities are on 2nd Saturday of each month.

  • June:           Fungi:   Leigh, Win.
  • July:             Talk at Brambuk – update on pest management from Parks; may open to public too.
  • Aug:             Walk along part of Peaks trail with Neil Marriott & Andrew Cunningham. Peaks Trail, meeting near Roses Gap.
  • Sept:            Orchid walk:     Win, Leigh
  • October:       Working Bee:  Removal of African Weed Orchid within Park. Hannah will suggest good locations for this.
  • November:   Bats:  Margo is organising
  • December: Christmas Break-up:   Zumsteins with walk to Fish Falls, or, Lake Wartook.

Yours in anticipation of many more exciting adventures in Grampians-Gariwerd,

Leigh Douglas.

President’s Report

Hi Friends,

I hope you are all going well. It looks to me like spring is here and we seem to have missed winter. I don’t know about you but our rainfall is non existent and our seasonal creek and wetlands are still dry. What a disaster for our wetland plants, frogs and water birds. I hope we get some rain soon.

Given the lack of rain, today was another glorious sunny day for the Grampians and I took the opportunity to go for a walk. What a profusion of flowers we have at the moment of all colours yellow, mauve, pink, red and white. We all have our favourites. We will miss our FOGG events and the wildflower show this year, so I hope you can catch up on some webinars and zoom meetings instead.

I have certainly been out in the garden a lot planting and weeding. Talking about weeds, the spread of Sallow wattle south along Mt Zero road in the Grampians National Park and the spread of South African weed orchids in both the Victoria and Mt Difficult range looks relentless. In my opinion, without immediate action there will be no controlling these invasive plants.
I hope that the Victorian Government will provide funding for weed control in our national parks along with everything else that we need and don’t have any funding for. We all have our wish list and mine is getting longer!

We are waiting in suspense for the Grampians Landscape Management plan to be released later this year and hope we get the opportunity to provide comment that will be listened to.

I must say that I am very concerned about the Grampians Peak Trail, in particular the extent of new trails formed (over 100km), overengineering of the track, the amount of cleared vegetation for both the trail and campsites, and the bulldozing of tracks to reach these campsites and all in the Grampians National Park. (I have shortened this quite a bit and replaced with My objections can be found in the report of the meeting on ??.)

Enough complaints from me.

Please enjoy reading our newsletter, thank you once again to Margo and other committee members for an amazing effort. If you have the chance please get a copy of the reprint of Ian McCann’s The Grampians in Flower by David Welch. FOGG have some copies.

I wish you all the best and please continue to stay safe.


President’s Report

Good Day to Friends of Grampians Gariwerd,

On Friday 24th I will be attending the Grampians National Park landscape management plan Strategy meeting via teleconference.  We have come a long way in a few weeks with telecommunications!

This session will focus on preparation of a Draft Plan for public release and comment.  So please watch out for this and to respond with public comments.

We hope that you still have work and that you have been able to spend some time outside during this very difficult time.

We hope that you will enjoy the newsletter and thank you to Margo and Leigh for putting it together.

Thank you also to Bill for providing us an update on shield and clam shrimps and a very interesting article on gnammas.

Powerful owl

This is the time of year that Powerful owls are breeding and the other night we heard them at our property in Fyans Creek.

A few days later we were walking under a big old Pinus radiata tree and we heard an angry sounding noise ‘oorh’ and after 10 minutes of scanning the branches we eventually saw not one, but two powerful owls perched high up in the branches.  One was asleep and the other one was preening. Exotic trees have their benefits! We don’t think they are breeding on our place. We have been following the construction of nest boxes with interest as they are using 3D printing to make them!

Here are some photos.


On a recent walk around our property we spotted our first flowering orchid for the year; Parsons Band (Eriochilus sp.).  It would appear that the flower is produced before the leaves.




Have you noticed all the wattles coming out in flower, we even have correa and hakea flowering at our place.

All the best and we hope we can meet in person again soon.

Catherine Pye

Prez Sez

Welcome to Friends of the Grampians Gariwerd newsletter.

As I write this, we have had nearly 30mm of rain and it is still coming down. No longer can I see the hills beyond the paddocks. I hope you have all had some relief from this hot and dry summer.

As I look outside on the dry brown grass, I see the red necked wallabies browsing on our lavender bushes…it can’t taste that good or can it? Last year’s joey is still hanging around and still has a drink every so often from mum’s pouch.

In November 2019 Grampians Parks Victoria staff met with local volunteer groups and we went through the process of planning our year and how to get approval for our activities on Park Connect. Following this Rhonda and Hannah have met with FOGG committee members to discuss our monthly activities plus Hannah and Rodney have been out to see Redgum Walk to work out what needs to be done for our yearly working bee in May.

I was very pleased to see that our first activity the Ptilotus monitoring was approved on Park Connect and Hannah and a new ranger came along to say hello and see how we were going.  This is a great start to the year and we look forward to working closely with Rhonda, Tammy and Hannah this year.

There are many challenges ahead for our National Park and we hope that you can join us this year for some fun and learning about the animals, plants and place that we love.

Kind regards, Catherine Pye

What the Prez Sez

August 2019

This is an exciting time of year in Grampians National Park.  The wildflowers are stunning with the golden and other wattles flowering, hakea in bloom along the Halls Gap Road and the grevilleas starting to come out.  This is one of my favourite times of year.  Both greenhoods and helmet orchids are showing their flowers.

While we have had below average rain, at least we have had some rain and now we can hear at least 6 different frogs calling in our wetlands.   The ducks are happy and for the first time we have grey teal.  We have been noticing the ducks up trees and on looking them up we see that mountain duck, grey teal and black duck all nest in tree hollows!

This is certainly the season for cockatoos and we have been seeing large flocks of long billed corellas grazing on onion weed in our paddocks.  The blue wrens are in breeding plumage and scarlet robins and Jacky winters are regularly spotted.  Weebills and pardalottes are calling.

FOGG have been active over recent months with a trip to Hollow Mountain in June to look at the rock climbing areas and the Aboriginal rock art site.  In July the trip to Hidden Lake was postponed but some members managed to get there and find clam shrimps.  More about this from Bill.

In July, on Planet Ark National Tree Day, we had a successful planting on our property of over 1000 tea-trees, melaleuca and slaty sheoak into deer and kangaroo proof enclosures we had built.  Thank you to all members involved.

In August, Clive Carlyle gave a presentation of the wildlife we see on trail cameras on our property – southern brown bandicoots, feathertail gliders, brushtail possums, echidnas and sugar gliders, plus many birds, yellow footed antechinus, wallabies and kangaroos.  Not to mention 3 sorts of feral deer (fallow, red and Samba) foxes, rabbits, hares and cats!

Parks Victoria have started a 3-year deer and goat control program and we hope that this reduces the numbers of these destructive, introduced and unwanted animals.

We are investigating a sallow wattle project and have been contacted by a landowner near Wartook who has noticed new sallow wattle in the park.  We understand that a new ranger has started who is leading the Sallow wattle program and we hope to meet her.

The Grampians Landscape Management plan is up for review and the first meeting of the Strategic Reference Group is on August 21st at Halls Gap.  There will be 5 meetings over the coming 12 months to put the plan in place.  I will be representing FOGG on this group – so please let me know if you have any issues that you would like discussed.

Parks Victoria are having community meetings throughout September so hopefully everyone will be able to attend. The first meeting in Halls Gap is 5th September from 6.30-8.30pm please register online at engage victoria.

FOGG have been contacted by Annie Hobby of DELWP to be involved with Gardens 4 wildlife program – the idea being to make all our home gardens more wildlife friendly by plantings and encouraging wild areas and ponds etc.  They have next meeting on 12th September 10am at Pomonal Hall.  If anyone is able to attend or would like to be involved, please let me know.

Park Connect.  So far FOGG have been unsuccessful in getting our activities up on this forum.  There are at least 4 different levels of approval before events make it to Park Connect and we are finding this frustrating.

In May, we met with our Chief Ranger Rhonda McNeil to work through Park Connect issues and we plan a General Meeting with Rhonda on 20th September at 4.30pm at Brambuk. All welcome.

Climate change;  FOGG members attended the screening of The Movie 2040, about Climate Change and Hope in Ararat in July – an excellent and inspiring feature film.

The Victorian Government has put out a Roadmap to Zero for the Grampians Region for comment (survey now closed) and following on from this a forum ‘Decarbonising Victoria: Grampians Roadmap to Zero Emissions’ will be held in Ballarat on Friday 23rd August.  The forum will be opened by The Hon Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change and Minister for Solar Homes. Featured guests include Professor Ross Garnaut, Alan Pears, Beyond Zero Emissions as well as industry and community practitioners.  Attendees will include representatives from local and state government, community organisations, industry, agriculture, transport, renewable energy developers, not-for-profits and many others.  Plus participation in a zero-carbon round-table workshop. We hope to be able to have a report on this in the next newsletter.

Catherine Pye

Prez Sez

Hello Friends!

What a great start to the year with the wonderful talk by Neil about our great birds and animals and where to find them locally.  Thank you Neil.

Our next event is Sunday March 3rd, ‘Clean up Australia Day’ meeting at 8.30am in the Halls Gap Park opposite Visitor Centre.  I look forward to seeing you there.  For those who can’t make this please arrange your own community clean up – hopefully the Shires will have their tips open for free that day.

Well we’ve had our first committee meeting and have planned out a year of exciting activities.  These can be found in the Calendar.

In July, we invite Friends to our property at Fyans Creek for a plant out to coincide with Planet Ark National Tree Day.  Clive and I bought our place about 5 years ago and have slowly been renovating the farm house and undertaking various land care activities on the property.  We have a lot of red gum regeneration, but are lacking in understorey so we collected some local tea tree, melaleuca and sheoak seed which we are now growing for the plant out.

In February 2018 we made the exciting discovery of southern brown bandicoots on our property in an area of dense bracken.   The bandicoots were seen on our wildlife cameras which we have been putting out regularly to see what animals  we have.  On subsequent camera monitoring we have recorded bandicoots at 14 locations.   The area where they live has a mixed redgum/yellow box overstory with medium to very dense bracken understorey.   We would be happy to show you this area and the diggings at the plant out.

Kind Regards, Catherine Pye

What the Prez Sez

Another year of FOGGs comes to a close.

As the flowers disappear, the grass yellows off and the wildlife congregates around the shrinking water sources, it becomes obvious that summer is about to hit with a vengeance.

I have been reflecting on this year with my beloved FOGGs, and my last three years as President. We have done some good for our community, participated in shared activities, supported local events and promoted our group and its aims to the community at large, and provided some educational opportunities to the community and ourselves.

We have much to be proud of. And that’s just this year alone.

I have been proud to lead the group for the last three years, but for various personal reasons I need to step down at this years AGM. I feel that over the last 12 months I have not been as effective in the role as I should be. The group also has a policy of not having one person at the helm for too long. This stops the workload from becoming too  much for one person, and ensures new ideas and activities are developed to keep things interesting. I reckon I’ve had some good ideas, but its time for some new ones. The enjoyment I have got from the position of president cannot be measured, but is genuine. If the chance arises in the future I may take the roll again if voted in. I have been very proud of the group and its members and always will be. Being part of the committee or an office bearer in a group you enjoy has its own unique rewards and I encourage everyone to give it a try. It will always be a source of pride that for a short time I followed in the footsteps of some truly great warriors for the national park and the environment it protects, especially as I was present at the inaugural meeting at Borough Huts, and saw the work those early leaders did, (my own father included) thinking one day it might be me.

We have had some great activities this quarter that generated untold enthusiasm in our members.

The excitement on Bill’s face as he fulfilled a lifelong dream of reaching the top of Mt Dryden was probably reflected in others too. It was a little sad to spend our birdwatching activity with the Neves who are leaving the state to live closer to family. It was great to share a meal and conversation with two people who have been an inspiration to many members for a long time. I will miss them greatly. Its a pity the birds didn’t want to join us that day!

Our wildflower walk with the involvement of the Hamilton Field Nats was a great success, and many plants were identified. I don’t think we beat last years species total, but we enjoyed the views, great conversation and companionship with like minded people, and surely that is what life is all about.

These activities allow members and guests to learn, to participate and to share their knowledge with others, all essential to the human experience. This is the secret of the longterm success of FOGGs, and will help the group continue into the future.


Prez Sez

Winter is truly hitting us, but there doesn’t seem to be much wet, just a double dose of cold. It’s obvious through the park that things are dry, but it still looks verdant and green compared to inland NSW and Qld. So, dry as it is here, we haven’t got the worst of it. Our fungi location at Jimmy’s creek was a little disappointing, but the season just hasn’t been wet enough, and lots of frosts have taken their toll on the fruiting bodies of fungi. We were pleased to have young Dave and Lyn Munroe to share their knowledge. As protégé’s of Ian McCann it is always a pleasure to have their knowledge in the group on our Fungi Frolic. But even with experts present we still saw lots of bums!

I recently indulged in the pleasure of a big road trip through inland NSW and Qld. Beautiful country. Great facilities. Roadside stops with toilets and information boards are regularly spaced ever 25 km or so. It’s an interesting comparison with our park when people have to travel greater distances within the park to find a toilet. Tourists and travellers seem much more welcome than here. Information centres seem to be about information on the local area and less about promoting businesses that pay for the service. I was struck by how much it seemed that sharing their love of their home was more important than making money off tourists. I’m sure there is a flow on from the warm welcoming attitude that translates to spending, but it didn’t feel as though profit was the only reason for communication; pride seemed to be at the forefront.

Working bees at Goltons Gorge have been progressing with a few minor hiccups due to weather conditions, but the work on the new track is looking good. Those participating should be proud of what they have achieved so far.

Vale Sam Speyer. One of the earliest Friends Of the Grampians and a committee member who helped lead the FOGs into the new era of FOGGs. We recently had news that Sam had passed away. Although not attending activities for many years he was an avid reader of our newsletter, and kept up with what the group was doing. He and his late wife Jetti were both involved for many years and carried the load for administrative work and communication. As a child I was fascinated by the passion a couple of European immigrants had for our piece of paradise. I looked up to them and the dedication they showed to their adopted home in Halls Gap. They were big believers in education about the environment, and the benefits of being out in the park to discover, learn and be fascinated. Those benefits aren’t just for the park, but also for the individual, and for our society.  Sam you will be remembered fondly and sadly missed by many.

I am also saddened to share that another couple who have been staunch and active FOGG members for many years, Bill and Hennie Neve, are soon to depart our region. The Neves are relocating to Perth to be closer to family. We have a final opportunity to share their joy of Australian birds at our next activity. They are opening their home to us. We can wander their covenant protected property abutting the National Park, looking and listening to the avian visitors they love. We will then gather in their giant bird hide home to share a meal and watch the natural world through their famous picture windows. If you are looking for inspiration you will find it with this couple. Tireless workers for our environment, even into their late 80’s they are pulling weeds and counting bird species.

Now the challenge is to bring younger, active and enthusiastic people into the group to continue on from where these great people have guided us.



What the Prez Sez

It has been a dry time in the park, with only a couple of rain events so far this year. Particularly in the north, a lot of trees are under pressure and new growth after fires is dying in many areas, particularly where the rock layer is not far below the surface. Some hillsides look like autumn colours, until you realise that there are only natives growing, and they are suffering. Our summer has continued a long time but the weather has finally taken on an autumn feel with those beautiful pleasant days and chilly damp nights. Even the odd misty morning. I love this time of year! It also allows struggling vegetation to survive until winter rains arrive. I still worry about lightning strikes and careless fires with the current fuel load of dead vegetation.

                Combine this with grazing pressures the vegetation is doing it tough, particularly on the plateaus. Grazing by macropods and introduced cloven hoofed animals is a worry for park management. There are programs set up and in place to deal with this issue, but not enough funding for staff to oversee them. The next round of funding is coming up and Mike Stevens (Acting Head Ranger) is hopeful things can be put into action soon. It saddens me that programs that need to be ongoing are only funded annually, and there is uncertainty every year if they can continue. The deer program is dependent on this cycle, and with rumours of an extra species being deliberately introduced to the park, and high numbers already present from existing species (along with goats) it is important to control their numbers.

                There is movement afoot amongst FOGGs with walking tracks. The Volunteer Track Maintenance group are soon to start working on the walking track at Golton’s Gorge, with assistance from some FOGG members. They will not be reinstating the old track, but marking out and creating a new pathway. It will be great to see this site back in use as it is a favourite of locals at the north end of the park, and it’s been missed by many.

                Redgum Walk is also on our agenda. We have signage ready to go back into place, and members keen to try and repair the damage fires have done over the years. We are looking at options for fireproof metal stands for the signs to be mounted on, replacing the sign on Glenelg River road, and a general prune and tidy up to make the site more inviting. We insisted it be included in the guide book on walks for the less-abled so we need to make sure it is worthy.

                Recently three of our dedicated members participated in the Cavendish Redgum Festival, promoting our long term project in the Victoria

How lucky are we to have experts within our group, and others willing to come to our region? We have had presentations from members and other from regional experts, and more to come. Even if you aren’t up to traipsing through the bush there is much learning to be done at our indoor lecture presentations. PHD presentations from 2 of our committee have been followed by a couple of others. Having Ian Clarke fit us into his busy schedule was great. His work on the history of the rock art and connection of the Bunjil story to the Grampians was great to hear about. Mike doing our annual catchup with park staff and throwing in a visual presentation was great to see too, once the vagaries of the Mural Room AV system were battled and won. This has been a theme of visual presentations in recent years, but it’s been worth persevering as the information given and the photos viewed are most impressive.

The next lecture presentation will be from a herpetologist from the Arthur Ryler Institute. Being a reptile fan I’m really looking forward to this one!

Please feel free to tell me your thoughts, suggestions or ideas for FOGGs in the future.