From the Editor

Welcome to another full newsletter, whether you are receiving it in the post or by email. You can also access it via our website, together with various photos .

Please remember that it’s time to renew your membership, via the form included.

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

Our AGM is in September and will creep up on us quickly. All office positions will be open for election. It would be really good to involve new folk as we look to the future of our group. Do let us know if you are interested.  You don’t need to live locally as much can be done by email these days.


President’s Report

It has been an unusual quarter. I got the last issue out just before I left for a visit to Europe, leaving Wendy to look after the various activities we had planned and got home just in time to work with the committee on our response to the proposed Grampians Peaks Trail. (see my article on the trail, and the response we sent).

Wendy and Noushke put in an application for ‘Communities for Nature’ grant for a fence around the Caladenia audasii site. We are yet to hear the outcome.

January’s severe fire has an ongoing  impact on several of our activities, as well of course on what the Park staff have to do. They are struggling with an enormous workload and very little money to help with all the recovery work. We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated and capable group here. Our volunteer co-ordinator Katherine Dyson has resigned and is heading back to Melbourne. We will miss her; she has been such an asset. But it is good to learn that she will be replaced. Funding from Conservation volunteers, PV and others has been found. Unfortunately this funding is once again for a limited period, so the person appointed will again be on a contract, with little certainty year to year. He is Jonathan Lee   0409 425 058 

We have run out of membership brochures and have decided to revise our existing one and do a reprint. Our membership is not growing much and if we are to survive into the future it is now that we need to do some active recruiting of the next generation. Something to think about at our AGM.

This quarter again we are having difficulty arranging dates for some of our activities. We were hoping to have a July school holiday presentation on the small mammal trapping programme, but didn’t manage to find a suitable date. The Fungi explore which last year had to be cancelled  was rescheduled by the landcare group with little notice, so our apologies for the late notice we sent out by email and snailmail just to locals. Also, we have had to change our arrangement whereby most meetings were on the second Saturday of the month, due to unavailability of key people. Sorry, we know it makes it harder to plan ahead. So do please make sure you contact the person listed if you are planning to come to an event.


From the RIC’s Desk

There is plenty of activity occurring around the park at the moment as we move beyond the shortest day of the year and start the climb towards Spring.  The team has been extremely busy undertaking our routine and not so routine tasks, which continues to challenge our resources and our ability to adequately forward plan. In saying this, the achievements of the team is outstanding when you consider what has been thrown our way this year, on the back of many challenging years.

For the Environment & Heritage team, the key interest has been around planning for the next phase of the Grampians Ark program, our landscape scale predatory control program and ensuring we are being really clear and concise about we are hoping to achieve over the next 3 years. We are hopeful that this initiative will be fully funded by DEPI for that period, and therefore we are planning accordingly. The Indigenous Heritage component of the program is focusing on the fire affected area and assessing the impacts, new finds and future management of these sites with the most contemporary advice and involvement from the cultural heritage industry and Traditional owners.

The Visitor & Community Team are extremely busy implementing a significant redesign of many of our campgrounds in response to the new on-line booking system and fee structure. The Parkstay system will allow visitors to the Grampians National Park for the first time to book a camp site in the Park. This is a good thing as it will assist in managing the capacity within our camping areas and ensure the experience isn’t compromised by overcrowding and impacts. The challenge will be to monitor the impacts of Bush camping within the Park, where fees do not apply until the end of 2015.

At a broader scale, Fire Recovery and the Grampians Peaks Trail Draft Master Plan has kept us busy and will continue to influence what and how we do things into the future.  A significant milestone for the Park has been the recruitment of a new Advisory Group. The 15 person group aim to represent a range of views and provide strategic and operation advice to Parks Victoria on a range of topics. The new group which commenced on the 25th June, has a make up of 5 returning members and 10 newly appointed members. I look forward to working with this group and getting them involved in the range of complex issues we face to ensure we seek the best and most relevant views we can.

Dave Roberts

Natural Values Update

One of the really encouraging talks at the Fire Ecology forum was Ryan describing the way partnerships with the museum and with universities are enabling a lot of valuable research into our fauna and flora. Later in the year we are hoping to hear from one of these students, Susannah Hale who is doing her  PhD at Deakin.  Susannah also delivered the Deakin small mammal trapping program a couple of years ago and is now completing a paper that will be submitted for publication summarising the data thus far.  An item for our AGM will be how we can best support this work. Last year we donated money to help with the  travelling costs of two students researching Smokey Mouse, and we will be arranging a time for them to present to us too.  At least one other Friends Group is doing this sort of thing. A FriendsNet article  reports that a Friends of the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve member  left a legacy to be used by the group to be used as a research grant to support post-graduate biology students at universities.


Activity Report – Zumsteins Tree Planting

IMG_0107 IMG_0104 IMG_0103MAY  27 – Zumsteins Tree Planting

On Tuesday 27th May there was a tree planting at Zumsteins.  FOGGs received a grant last year to do a planting around the kiosk area of McKenzie Falls and the money needed to be spent by 30th May. When the fire went through in February it was decided to relocate the work to the Zumsteins area. This activity was organised by Katherine Dyson who arranged for students from Stawell Secondary College to do the planting with some help from Proo and Wendy. The rain held off for us and we got a few hundred trees planted. They were a nice group of students and also had a biology lesson on how the bush recovers after fire. It is sad we are losing Katherine as she does such a great job with the students.


Activity Report – Field Naturalist Survey

JUNE 7 & 8 : Field Naturalist Survey

The aim of the project was to survey  for arboreal mammals, in particular Squirrel Gliders. The group used remote cameras, hair tubes and spotlighting. A few Foggies were able to join them spotlighting near Silverband Falls, but unfortunately saw nothing interesting at all. It was only after I left that they even saw a wallaby!


Activity Report – Ecological Burns

JUNE 11 – Ecological Burns

On 11th June we had a presentation by Parks and DEPI staff: Jill Read ‘Fire and environment management officer’, Ryan Duffy ‘Biodiversity and Heritage officer’ from Halls Gap, Glen Rudolph ‘Planning Manager Wimmera District, Land and  Fire’, and  Andrew Govanstone ‘South West Bushfire Risk Landscape Planning’ DEPI. They explained some of the processes and considerations put into planned burns. This is a very large and complex subject and I have tried to give a brief overview of some of the things presented to us.

The Grampians is a fire prone landscape and has a high occurrence of lightning and so most of the species are well adapted to fire. 70% of the vegetation requires fire for regeneration and is fire dependant, 28% is influenced by fire but requires much longer intervals between fires, 1% is fire sensitive and is severely damaged by fire and 1% is independent of fire. The Grampians is made up of a mosaic of different vegetation types, consisting of over 40 Environmental Vegetation Communities (EVC’s)  and each of these has a different Tolerable Fire Interval (TFI). Key fire response species are used to determine these TFI’s. For example some communities require 8-12 years for key species to mature and set enough seed to regenerate after a fire and if left too long e.g. 45 years or longer adult plants will have died and soil seed banks will decline. Ecological burns also take into consideration, keeping floristic diversity, creating environments that will sustain small ground dwelling mammals and protecting creeks and gullies from wildfires.

After the 2006, 2013 and 2014 wildfires the Grampians has very little long unburnt bush left and so reducing fuel loads around this remaining bush will be required to protect it from future wildfires. After 2006 it was thought there would not be another large fire for 20 years, however with the wildfires of 2013 and 2014, it has become apparent that things have changed. The types of fires we will be dealing with in the future are going to be more severe and there may need to be a change in the way planned burns are done. We were shown a video of the January 2013 fire which showed fire going from an area which 2 years earlier had a planned burn and then the increasing intensity when it got to unburnt bush. Fires in the Grampians are started predominantly by lightning and with the drying climate these are occurring earlier and later in the season and are more intense.

A fire and fauna project has been set up with Deakin university and after the 2006 fires 36 monitoring sites were established to monitor small mammals. Some of these sites have now had 2 and 3 fires over them, some wildfires and some planned burns. This monitoring is now giving a valuable database which when combined with rainfall and other environmental data gives a picture of how many of the small mammals react to fire. It also shows how important refuges are in times of drought and fires and how gullies and other refuge areas need to be managed to protect against wildfire. In addition to the Deakin work DEPI put out remote sensing cameras to monitor animals in areas before and after planned burns. DEPI’s Arthur Rylah Institute do bird surveys, and Field Naturalist groups also do camera monitoring.

It is recognised that there is a need to change the strategies used for ecological burns to achieve a more mosaic effect across the landscape. Different types of fire may need to be applied in different areas with some only one hectare and some larger areas treated but with a patchy effect achieved within that area.

Phoenix modelling is used to predict how fires might spread and do damage. This modelling has been used while fires are going and to help with decisions on how to attack fires and where to put resources. It is a tool which will be used more in the future for Strategic Bushfire Management Planning, which will be used to develop the Fire Operation Plans (FOPs). FOPs currently look at three years of planned burns and focus mainly on fuel management zones. Over the next 12 months this new Strategic Bushfire Management Planning (SBMP) will be developed and it will have a more holistic approach to planned burns. There will also be an emphasis on working with the community to understand how they would like to see public land managed in relation to fire. Part of that process will be that there will be more meetings like the one held on June 11th for FOGGs, as well as opportunities for people to contribute to this process. At the next Grampians Round  Table meeting Wendy and Margo will learn more about these changes and inform people in the next newsletter.



Volunteer Awards

wendy proo 30 yrOn Friday 23 May Parks Victoria held an event at the Peter Francis Points Arboretum to acknowledge volunteers and present some regional awards. Proo Pyke and Wendy attended and accepted an award on behalf of FOGGs for thirty years of service to the Grampians National Park. Don Carter and Gil Hopkins also received the Kookaburra award in recognition for their thirty years of service on the Grampians National Park Advisory Group.

Queen’s Birthday Awards

jill readFire and Environment Program Officer Jill Read was recently awarded an Australian Fire Service Medal as part of the Queen’s Birthday honours. Jill is based at Parks Victoria’s Halls Gap office. Jill Read has been recognised for reforming fire management in the Wimmera, providing benefits for the protection of life and property without compromising the protection of natural and cultural values in parks and forests.

Jill has been with Parks Victoria for 25 years and in that time has developed a new approach to planned burning using her extensive knowledge and experience in fire management and ecological systems. Her success has resulted from her knowledge, passion excellent collaborative skills and ability to harness specialist input.

Jill is the first female in public land and fire management in Victoria to be recognised with this honour. The Australian Fire Service Medal recognises distinguished service by members of Australian fire services and is awarded by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the responsible Commonwealth, state and territory ministers.

When asked how she felt about receiving an Australian Fire Service Medal, Jill said she felt pride. “As an employee of Parks Victoria I have worked with a broad range of people over the years from Victoria and interstate in the field of fire ecology, and it is very gratifying to see the work that we have been doing and my contribution to it recognised in this way. It has also been humbling to receive many messages and kind words from people after receiving the award.”

Congratulations Jill, Gil and Don from FOGGS.

Grampians Peak Trail

This is a proposal that has been bubbling along for several years now, but with all the fire and flood recovery stuff happening we have told you very little about it. The Draft Master Plan came out in May and we have responded with our comments as a committee. Some of us have also responded as individuals, as have many others in the community who are passionate about protecting our park, and the Advisory Group is also putting in a response. We hope these will be taken seriously and incorporated in the next draft, where there will again be a chance to comment.  Of course there are also submissions from others with different agendas.

Before I get to our FOGG response, here is an outline of this ambitious proposal. Apologies if it is too long, but I feel it is important for all members to understand what is being proposed. The full document is available from the Parks Victoria website.

Parks Victoria, in partnership with Grampians Tourism and Tourism Victoria is developing a master plan for the Grampians Peaks Trail, a 144 km long-distance walking trail in the Grampians National Park which will extend from Mt Zero in the north through to the township of Dunkeld in the south. The master plan is being overseen by the Grampians Peaks Trail Task Force, a group comprising representatives of local shires, tourism bodies, walking clubs and state government agencies including Regional Development Victoria, Tourism Victoria and Parks Victoria.

The Grampians Peaks Trail is recognised by the Victorian Government as a priority product development opportunity for the region and is one of four long-distance walks being developed under the Walk Victoria’s Icons brand which will position Victoria and the Grampians as a key nature-based tourism destination.


The Grampians Peaks Trail will be a world-class, long distance walking experience, showcasing the beauty and majesty of Gariwerd’s natural and cultural landscapes. Visitors undertaking the multi-day walk will experience one of the great icon walks of Australia, representing a “must do” walking experience with an estimated visitation of 23,000 people per year by 2020.


The Grampians Peaks Trail route is a high quality, memorable and spectacular journey that incorporates many of the wonderful features of the Grampians, while protecting the important natural and cultural values of the park. The route connects some of Gariwerd’s most spectacular peaks, from the massive sandstone outcrops in the north, to the rugged and remote Mount William range in the centre, down to the awe inspiring peaks overlooking Dunkeld and the surrounding volcanic plains in the south.


A wide range of experiences, walk options, levels of difficulty and accommodation types will be available along the trail, broadening the appeal of walking and providing opportunities for day walkers, overnight walkers, experienced bush walkers and school groups, as well as encourage participation from people who otherwise may not have considered the walk. Walkers will be both independent (self-guided) and guided (assisted) as part of a range of walking products.


On-walk accommodation is central to the experience of an iconic multi-day walk such as the Grampians Peaks Trail. As such, there will be both low and high yield accommodation along the walk which provide a range of exceptional experiences and broaden the appeal to a more diverse market.

The default accommodation for the entire length of the Grampians Peaks Trail will be hiker camps (provided by Parks Victoria), with camping on designated tent platforms and will be used by both independent and guided walkers. On-walk hiker lodges will be provided by the private sector; these are roofed structures which may include showers, toilet and kitchen facilities and will provide a more comfortable walking

experience. They will cater for a higher yield market and be used by guided walkers. Off-park accommodation will also be provided adjacent to the National Park, yet close to the walk, allowing walkers the opportunity to stay in more comfortable accommodation.


The Grampians Peaks Trail will provide a demonstrable economic benefit to the local community, the region and the State by supporting a wide range of investment opportunities for tourism, complementary services and infrastructure that provide an holistic and integrated walking experience.


The Grampians Peaks Trail will celebrate the unique flora, fauna, geology and cultural heritage of Gariwerd in a manner that is sympathetic and respectful of the landscape. The trail will be managed to the highest level of environmental stewardship and sustainability for future generations to enjoy, based on an understanding of natural values, ecological processes, and the specific requirements of significant plants and animals.


To ensure its enduring quality and economic sustainability, the Grampians Peaks Trail must be constructed, maintained and operated to the highest standards to achieve a full cost recovery for maintenance and operation, and in partnership with the private sector.

The proposed business model assumes that the core walk infrastructure, including the trail and hiker camps, will be publicly funded in a staged manner over a number of years. The private sector will provide the products and services, as well as roofed accommodation, to augment the experience and operation of an iconic multi-day walking experience.

The draft master plan includes  maps, suggestions of where hiker camps and possible roofed accommodation could go, both inside and outside the park, a fairly good outline of the different overlays and the constraints they will impose on any developments. Plus lots of pretty pictures.