From The Editor

Welcome to our second newsletter for 2017. It seems no time at all since the last one, yet I’ve had no difficulty filling it. In fact I am postponing till next time an update on the Peaks Trail and on the films on the Stawell Field Naturalists produced by the RMIT student team.

There are only a couple of photos in the newsletter as we don’t want to make the file too big. But there could be more on our website when the news goes up there for all to see in a couple of weeks. And remember, you can access articles from previous newsletters there as well. Thank you Frank van der Peet for this service. And there’s our Facebook page as well.

From Our (Very Busy) Ranger In Chief

David Roberts, Area Chief Ranger, Grampians Gariwerd

We would like to publicly acknowledge the contribution of Ryan Duffy, outgoing Ranger Team Leader Environment & Heritage, as he moves to NSW Parks & Wildlife to take on a new career challenge. Ryan has been a strong member of the Grampians Parks Victoria Team for 7years, and has played a stable and level headed role during times of change. Of note, the Bioscan in 2012, the ongoing commitment to the Brushtail Rock wallabies, the refinement of the Grampians Ark, the initiation of Sallow Wattle control and the relationships established and progressed with research institutions has been outstanding.

Of most significance however, has been Ryan’s dedication to the area of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage. Previously a minor part of the program, Ryan has grown the knowledge and effort of Rockart management and Traditional Owner engagement to a point where we are now actively conserving, cataloguing and evolving our knowledge of management techniques around cultural site management in Gariwerd. Thank you Ryan.

In other Grampians News,

  1. Works are progressing on the stabilisation and conservation of the Zumsteins Pise cottages post the 2014 fires following the receipt of a permit from Heritage Victoria on the 17 January 2017.
  2. Recent media about the rock wallaby colony has been pleasing as we celebrate some small successes, while highlighting the overall challenges of the program
  3. The production of an accessibility guide for the Grampians National Park is nearing completion which will aid people with mobility issues, wheelchairs, prams/pushers and specialist equipment like the Trailrider. Keep any eye out for it over the coming months.

Regards David Roberts

Sallow Wattle! (“Not-Friend” of the Grampians)

On 5/02/2017 PhD student Samantha Barron gave us a very interesting presentation on her research into Sallow Wattle, (Acacia longifolia), which has become extremely invasive in many parts of the Grampians since the 2006 fires. Samantha mentioned that it is also invasive in more than 20 countries around the world, where it has been introduced for things such as dune stabilisation, tannin production and for ornamental reasons.

The more we know about it, the better we may be able to manage it long-term, and this has been, and is, the overall focus of her research.  Samantha’s aims are to determine which environmental factors help it, and to compare functional traits and genetic differences of the species within its home and invaded ranges; a further aim is to look at its competitive abilities under different climate change scenarios.

One characteristic helping plants to become invasive is being “disturbance adapted”. Acacia longifolia, which includes ssp longifolia and sophorae, is top of the tree for being disturbance adapted ….. Hello Grampians! Fires, floods, you name it, the Grampians excels in disturbance. Fire especially seems to suit Sallow Wattle propagation.

Other factors driving invasiveness include:

  • Fast growing
  • Reproductive maturity of less than 2 years
  • Large, viable seed production
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Adaptability
  • Allelopathy (the chemical inhibition of one plant by another, due to the release of substances acting as germination or growth inhibitors).

Sallow Wattle appears to have the lot!

Biological control possibilities include (seed eating) weevils, flies, gall-inducing wasps, rust fungus, and stem-boring insects.

Samantha’s research highlights many more questions ….. ie:

  • Which areas are most at risk
  • Where will the species do best
  • Where is it going to increase in abundance and distribution
  • Where energy should be directed for control measures …… such as, where it is a danger to threatened species, and along waterways, where it thrives.

Two studies are in the pipe-line:

  1. Mapping, and predicting plant health by Parks
    The fascinating Chlorophyll Fluorescence measuring tool is assisting as a measure of plant health, (we’d all like one but Samantha tells us they are expensive)
  2. CO2 and drought study; e.g., how well does Sallow Wattle do with/without water??
    There are so many variables. For example, in open heathland, the species doesn’t have to grow as tall as in wooded areas, but it gets no shade once it has outgrown the heath.

Many thanks to Samantha, and her hard-working assistant Josh, for this research and presentation. We wish them all the best as they continue this research.

FOGGs have a strong commitment to encouraging and supporting research into the biodiversity of our Park. Samantha was not one of the students we supported financially, but whose work is so important and we will help with any followup work if needed. We hope to have at least one student presentation on our calendar each year.

Some of us are helping Park research with photomonitoring of Sallow Wattle at different sites. We each have a list of GPS points where a starpicket has been hammered in so that at regular intervals we can take a photo pointing in the same direction. Over the years this will become a valuable record of where it is or is not flourishing.

March Committee Meeting Report


Financial report

Currently we have a balance of $13,811.26. Of that $4250.00 is  for the ‘All Abilities  Walking Track’ booklet (see elsewhere) and $1306.65 is money from Friends of Zumsteins which also is already spoken for. (see below).

Flora books for Grampians

Steffen Schultz is working on a Grampians Flora Book. He will let Wendy know what plants he still needs to photograph over the next 12 months and ask FOGG and others to let him know so he can go and photograph them.

Ian McCann’s book – In view of the fact that Steffen is working on a book and no one on the committee currently has time to organise the reprinting of Ian’s book this is not being acted on at this stage.

What to do with the money we received from Friends of Zumsteins

(Received in 2010/2011 financial year.) In September 2011 we had decided to use the money for interpretive signage or some other distinctive use at Zumsteins. With the floods and the fire we never got round to finalising spending this money. It was suggested we look into erecting a board which has either birds, flowers or fungi of the area. However this has not been able to be done and seeing there is nowhere to sit and rest along the Fish Falls walk we now plan to put a seat along the track dedicated to the friends of Zumsteins.

Name Badges

Wendy showed us several business card designs. We chose one and will proceed to have them printed.

New sign board

It was decided to go with a double sided rectangle or feather style flag and organise some sort of weights for the base so it does not blow over.

Artist’s Pictures Donation

Artist John Kellett contacted our Ranger in charge Dave wanting to donate a large set of limited edition prints to support work in the Park and Dave suggested giving them to us. We are very grateful, but as we have limited opportunity to display them we are going to share them with the Walking Track Support Group who can sell them more easily at stalls in Halls Gap.

FOGGs will keep some to either sell or have as speaker gifts. The rest we will let the walking track support group sell to raise funds which will go directly into walking track works. We will advertise them on Facebook and in our Newsletter for Sale in case any of our members want to buy them. A price of around $80 was suggested.

Personal Locator Beacons for Hire

Some Parks staff have proposed the idea of FOGGs purchasing GPS units to hire out to the public possibly through  Brambuk. The hire fee would recoup the costs and could earn FOGGs some money. We need to think this through before making a decision.

Working with children checks

Margo has received her working with children check and has lodged a copy for FOGGs. Rodney also has one, but needs to add FOGGs.

All Abilities Walking Track Book

The new booklet is almost ready. Margo responded to the draft Matt sent out and he is taking our feedback into consideration.

Roundtable meeting

The next meeting was to be held on 15th March but it has been postponed to April 19 in order to organise speakers. The organisers are ‘aiming to gather local researchers to come in and update the group on local flora and fauna studies, particular in fire affected areas and how this may influence our future planning strategies.’

Sallow Wattle Update

New 3D vision technique to revolutionise conservation efforts

PV Press Release Tuesday 21 March, 2017

If you think 3D vision glasses used for gaming are purely for entertainment, think again. A Parks Victoria science team is successfully using this technology for the first time to “fight the enemy” and identify a highly invasive weed, Sallow Wattle in the Grampians National Park.

The breakthrough technique has the potential to revolutionise the way weeds are identified and managed across Victoria, including areas previously difficult to access with mountainous terrain.

Steve Shelley, the Parks Victoria Information Management Officer, who has developed the use of this technology said, “The possibilities are endless. And how lucky am I to have this as part of my job? I enjoy using gaming technology at home for fun and then at work too.”

Parks Victoria Project Manager, Mike Stevens said, “You have to get sophisticated about knowing your enemy – in this case, weeds.”

“Dealing with large scale weed issues is like dealing with a big piece of string and you don’t know how long it is before monitoring begins.”

Other key points:

  • Mapping the extent and density of Sallow Wattle in the northern Grampians region using gaming technology (3D stereoscopic imagery).
  • Uses an ArcGIS plug-in called PurVIEW that utilises gaming technology (Nvidia 3D Vision glasses and infrared emitter) to present our park landscape in 3D from overlaying aerial photographs. Viewing in 3D helps to discriminate flora species by their height as well as their shape, texture and colour.

Innovative solution to a major problem facing our park managers.

  • Sallow Wattle is a highly invasive weed in the Grampians National Park. It has become a particular problem after fires in 1999 and 2014 released the Sallow Wattle seeds. Although native to Australia, it is not native to the Grampians and has spread so that other native plants are disadvantaged as it forms a solid wall that prevents many species from growing underneath.
  • In the Grampians, Parks Victoria is dealing with 30, 000 hectares and this poses a huge challenge for mapping weeds given the mountainous terrain.
  • Past surveying methods have included on-ground surveys which are time consuming, labour intensive and not always safe given the terrain.
  • The 3D vision glasses and infrared emitter allows the team to identify plants by colour, height, texture and infrared reflectivity.
  • Sallow Wattle is easy to identify using this method as it is a “middle-story” shrub and can easily be separated from tall eucalypts and low shrubs.
  • Weeds pose issues for biodiversity, and could significantly harm this important landscape and habitat that is also a major attraction for local, national and international visitors/tourists.

Brushtail Rock Wallaby Site

We hope many of you watched the recent news  on TV or heard some of the interviews on radio.

A story about the Moora Creek rock-wallaby colony featured on Sunday night 12 March ABC news bulletin. It was shown in at least South Australia, QLD, NSW and possibly ACT. An online extract can be viewed in the link below.

Interesting note from Ryan: Apologies to East Gipplsland and interstate partners (e.g. ACT Parks). Despite our best efforts to promote a broader program involving diverse partners, it did not make it to the final cut. Despite this omission, I hope the final product provides some promotion for the species and recent small success in Moora Creek.

Update On The WAMA Project

Wildlife Art Museum Australia

Recent good news about the WAMA project is very welcome with a second independent study confirming its potential to bring jobs and tourism to the region. WAMA is a project to establish a wildlife and art precinct in the Halls Gap area, with a gallery, artists’ workshops, educational facilities, botanical gardens and wetlands all celebrating the relationship between art science and nature.

Planning is well underway on the 16 hectare WAMA site. Local botanical expert (and FOGG member), Neil Marriott, is WAMA’s Site Development Team Leader and has been charged with the exciting challenge of establishing the gardens as an international showpiece.

When asked why flora is such an important part of the WAMA proposal, Mr Marriott explained, “the Grampians is the richest area for flora in Victoria, having over a third of species that occur in the state. Our flora is unique and iconic and has long been a subject of artists, nature lovers and scientists alike. People come to the Grampians to see the spectacular indigenous plants and wildflowers and at WAMA we will have them all, named and displayed in one spot”.

The vision is to meld the experience of seeing the wildlife art displayed in the gallery with seeing native wildlife, plants and animals, out in the landscape.

WAMA’s plans include a woodland area which will display all the beautiful local plants that naturally occur in the Pomonal-Halls Gap area. A separate wetland area will display the diversity of the beautiful, indigenous Grampians flora in distinct garden beds on rocky hills, moist gullies and grassy woodlands. Many of these species are endemic to the region.

While the WAMA Project is best known for its plan to build a world class wildlife art gallery to showcase wildlife art, reintroduction of endangered wildlife is also an important part of the project.

The vision is to meld the experience of seeing the wildlife art displayed in the gallery with seeing native wildlife, plants and animals, out in the landscape.

WAMA’s newest Board Member, Mike Stevens has been brought on to strengthen WAMA’s capacity to contribute to the conservation of threatened animal species in the Grampians region.

Mike brings his life-long commitment to conservation and land management to the WAMA team.

The first reintroduction planned for WAMA will target the southern brown bandicoot which is nationally endangered and the long nose potoroo which is at risk of extinction in the Grampians and listed as nationally vulnerable.

According to Mike, “In the past, these animals were part of the Australian landscape, but are now so rare, most Australians would not be able to identify them or know they play a critical missing role turning over soil to maintain many ecosystems”.

The more supporters WAMA can demonstrate, the greater impact their applications for support will be. To become a WAMA 2020 Supporter, please email your name and address, either email or postal, to

A Piece Of History

In April 2007 the book covering the devastating fires of January 2006, and also the way the vegetation responded , was launched at Willaura. FOGG were the instigators of the project, then many others came on board to support it. As well as the book, there were art and music workshops and performances in different places around the Grampians, culminating a festival day in Halls Gap.

To me, one of the highlights was the set of songs which emerged from the workshops with Fay White. Too long to put here, but here are  excerpts from two of them. (I will ask Frank to put the complete ones up on our website.)



The fire came through with roar and noise, awesome power and might.
Somehow we found the strength to stay, that long and anxious night.
At dawn the sound of cracking rocks, the fall of dying trees.
We looked and saw the forest, and the farms brought to their knees.
Twisted iron, charred remains, scorched and blackened ground,
Fenceless paddocks, stricken stock, some dead in swollen mounds.
Proud cliffs with trees like charcoal sticks, naked rocks laid bare,
And wisps of smoke from smouldering stumps, drifting in the air.

Fallen to ashes. fallen to ashes, All that beauty gone, fallen to ashes.

So summer passed and autumn came with days of mist and frost
And welcome rain began to fall, we grieved for what was lost
And the land began to lift its head to meet the falling rain
And we began to find the strength and will to start again

Out of the ashes . . . something coming through, out of the ashes

It’s hard painstaking dirty work, tedious and slow
Sometimes you think its gone for good, perhaps you too should go
But the grass-tree’s sprouting cheerful spikes as if to disagree
And Lo! A new defiant dress on every fire-scorched tree

Out of the ashes . . . something coming through, out of the ashes



These mountains stand shoulder to shoulder
Massive uplift held  in stone
Lift your heart and look and listen.
Here is a wonderland.

Sing – the mornings, crisp and fair,
early bird-songs slice the air
Round the cliffs the echoes ring,
every wild thing wakes and sings
Sunrise turns rocks to rose,
every eastern rock-face glows.

Live, alive, a heartbeat heard – alive in Grampians Gariwerd

Sing – the days of scented peace,
perfume nectar sweet release
Wildflower courting insect wing,
snowy thryptomene has its fling
Cascades laughing tumble down,
flowing water for lowland towns

Live, alive, a heartbeat heard –alive in Grampians Gariwerd

Flick and flutter in the twilight haze,
gentle wallabies come to graze
Feeding, foraging, feathers and fur,
in leaf litter the lizards stir
Flocks of cockatoos rise and fall,
wok-a-wok wattle-birds cackle and call

Insect, animal, reptile, bird – alive in Grampians Gariwerd

Sing the horizon blue on blue,
rugged skyline breathless view
Noble slope, the sweeping range
O how swift the mood can change
Twist and crack in gale force winds,
forest buckles as the storm drives in

Wild and wilful heartbeat stirred – pulse of the Grampians  Gariwerd