What the Prez Sez

Another great year kicks off for FOGGs.

We are planning another action packed program this year with great experts, fun activities, world leading research, gatherings, walks and good fun. I’m looking forward to leading our Mt Abrupt walk. It was a part of my childhood (visible on the horizon as I grew up) and my schooling, with camps, hikes and rock climbing adventures. I look forward to seeing the views from the southern end of the range again. I just hope some of our other members can help me with plant ID as we wander.

Our traditional cleanup was again a great outing with collaboration from parks, 4wd club, walking groups, climbers and tourists all joining in. A few backpackers too. Maybe it was the enticement of doing your bit to help out, or maybe it was Tammy’s skill on the hotplate cooking a free feed.

I have to admit I look forward to our cleanup day. It’s a chance to communicate with others and be visible in the park. And we look for a new location each time. This year was a new location for most of our attendees, and that’s another reason to enjoy it.

We are grateful to the work Caity O’Reilly does in volunteer coordination. This year’s cleanup was no exception. And this year her lunch preparations were a step up on last year. She even had BBQ tongs! Her efforts are always appreciated. It’s a pity a park this size can’t give a valuable and dedicated staff member a long term contract, instead of having to chase funding for her every year. The region is enriched by her efforts. Lobby everyone you can to increase funding to our National Parks, one day they will be the only natural environment we have left!

We are saddened by the sudden loss of JanBert Brouwer. A dedicated participant, our promotions officer and committee member. His sense of humour and wry smile made his presence at activities a delight. His attention to detail kept us all on our toes when writing our reports…..He will be sadly missed by all, especially Mabel. I will leave tales of his greatness to those who knew him better.

We will be holding a working bee to help Mabel complete her planting, to honour JanBerts plans for showing the world his favourite Australian plants. I urge you all to join in, for a few minutes, an hour or a day. The feeling you get from helping others makes the effort worth while. For me it is a chance to pay it forward. FOGG members aided me recovering after the 2014 fire.

It’s been a great season for the park, with a lot of weather suitable for visitors. It’s been a pleasure to talk to people from all over the world. They are blown away by the natural features, and the scenery, but I often hear them wishing there were more staff available to talk to. It saddens me governments don’t view our national parks as something that should be funded in tough economic times. They bring tourism to our regional areas, and help a depressed population find some cheap enjoyment that fulfils them, and more determined to preserve our environment for future generations. They also inspire ideas of other ways to enjoy our natural environment. These are all things that can help improve local economies, and strengthen our national identity at a time when it is essential we have positive hope for the future.

But then, the environment that sustains us has long been second place to the needs of profit and greed. At least our state government won’t allow fracking in our arable land. Just sand mining and toxic waste storage, in areas adjacent to our favourite national park. I am referring to Iluka’s plans for new mines, and a storage dump for radioactive waste sands in our region. While not in the park, the proximity can impact on our playground. It’s a pity government stays away from ruling things out, and leaves it to a local council to fight a multinational with bigger coffers and higher paid experts.

But it is heartening to see council members, business owners, farmers and conservation groups working together to prevent what could be an environmental catastrophe for our region. And that is the future I see when I’m out and about in the park!


Vale JanBert Brouwer

We were all deeply saddened by the sudden passing of JanBert Brouwer on the 12 February.

JanBert and Mabel joined FOGGs in 1993 and for many of those years have been active committee members.

JanBert was born in Java in 1942. After the war, his family moved back to Holland where he spent his younger years.  Shortly after getting his Degree in Agricultural Science, he and Mabel moved to Australia in 1970. JanBert was employed by the Department of Agriculture in Werribee as a plant breeder.

In 1983, he moved to the Wimmera where he worked at the Wheat Research Institute. His initial work was with oats but in 1985 he became the pulse breeder, of which he became a world authority. JanBert has been credited as being the father of Australia’s $300 million lentil industry.

Soon after arriving in Australia, the Brouwers fell in love with the Australian flora and fauna. Their homes both in Little River and the Wimmera have been set on several acres and planted with vast quantities of native plants. As well as his love of the plants, he enjoyed the birds these plants attracted and he was a keen bird observer.  JanBert has spent decades as an advocate for Australian plants, being actively involved in both local native plant groups and the Victorian Australian Native Plants Association.

In addition to FOGGs where he was a valued committee member as well as supporting Mabel in her role as our treasurer, JanBert was involved in many community groups, including the Bird Observers and Friends of the Wail Arboretum. He and Mabel regularly volunteered at the Horsham Visitor Information Centre where they were able to promote the Grampians. He was also responsible for the attractive garden outside the visitor centre.

JanBert’s dry sense of humour and input will be sadly missed.

Bon Voyage Ryan Duffy

Email  received from Ryan.

“I recently accepted a job with NSW Parks and Wildlife to assist with a threatened species reintroduction project – http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/SavingOurSpecies/extinct.htm. Not only is the job pretty cool, my wife (May) and I have chosen to move near a larger population centre (Halls Gap is pretty small for a lady from Bangkok) and closer to my parents and sister. We will be moving to Coffs Harbour.

My last workday at PV will be the 24th March. I will be leaving PV with a heavy heart as I have really enjoyed working on some amazing projects, with amazing partners, in an amazing landscape. Highlights include seeing recent rock-wallaby pouch young persisting to adulthood, working with Ben Gunn and ranger Jake Goodes to record 36 new rock-art sites that have been re-discovered in the last 5 years, detecting a quoll on remote camera. In all honesty the greatest highlight has been to work alongside the awesome Parks Victoria crew and volunteers who help us manage this amazing landscape.”

Ryan, we in FOGGS will miss you greatly and wish you and May well as you leave us for Coffs Harbour. We have greatly appreciated the way you have encouraged co-operation with Universities so that learning about the natural values of our Park is so much more available than it used to be.  And as Dave has said, it has been so good to see your work with Jake and our member Ben Gunn on our cultural heritage.

From The Editor

December 2016

Welcome to our summer newsletter.  Please note that our first activity for the year is on Sunday 5th February 4.30 pm in the Mural room Brambuk, where we will again start the year by hearing from a student doing research in the park, followed by the opportunity to have a meal together. ( You will remember that FOGGs donated some money to the Museum some time ago to help with student research projects). This year we have a presentation from Samantha Barron who has just started her PhD after completing her honours on Sallow Wattle. The sallow wattle explosion is a real threat to the Park and so research on it is very important.

Then in March we are having our annual cleanup activity followed by a BBQ lunch. Last year we worked on the Balconies track, the year before on the Ian McCann reserve near Stawell.  More details of the specific area we will be cleaning up and meeting spot will be sent to people closer to the date.

Last year was the wettest in the Grampians since 1964 and the Park has benefited greatly, except that the weeds have enjoyed it too. There are magnificent displays of flowers in all the higher areas this month still, do try to get out to look at them.

Prez Sez

December 2016

Hello foggies, welcome to my annual presidents report . Those who attended the AGM have heard it all before, but for those who haven’t, I waffled something like this….

This year we have held a number of activities in conjunction with other groups in the park, and supported some activities that have been run by Parks Vic by providing people to man tables and work stations. Our own Cleanup day initiative was taken on by others this year with great success. 4 wheel drivers, climbing groups, walkers and park staff all joined in to clean up at some of the iconic sites within the park. Its amazing to hear the support we get from the public too, with much praise offered at all sites. This event will continue to grow! I have already ranted about the stone cairns previously so I will stay calm, but it disappoints me Parks don’t feel the need to put up signage discouraging the activity, the cairns are back in abundance. Other activities included a bioblitz event and Little Rangers, supported by Margo, Prue, Mabel and others, with thanks from the entire group for giving up your time to represent us. A birding activity in the coldest wettest month with Birdlife Australia was also successful, but I have to admit there were more of them than us. Janbert’s report on that one was good too. Concise and accurate, with a little humour thrown in. (I must get him to teach me how to do concise, it would make Margo’s job easier come newsletter time)

We also joined in with the Lake Fyans 100th Anniversary celebrations, setting up a display, and running a wild flower walk. It turned out to be a wet, cold dreary day, but we had fun in the rain, found some great plants, and enjoyed bopping along with the Ararat City Band. A mix of young and not so young musicians who really enjoy what they do.

This year the committee voted to change our fee structure to enable us to cover insurance payments from our membership fees. Also to cover the Newsletter costs. I still think our membership is a good price, and this is only the second fee increase since we started at the inception of the park 32 years ago.

Our Facebook page has been gaining in popularity and is a good way to communicate with the tech savy future group members and leaders. Many thanks must go to Margo and Caity for their efforts. Its always good to see a bit of online promotion for our group, and it raises our profile in different ways to our website, with links between the two.

Janbert’s promotion work has been very successful this year, with several new members, and many first time visitors hearing the radio promotions. We even had a few interviews on the ABC radio prior to events! I wish to offer my heartfelt thanks to Janbert, he does a great job.

There have been a number of students supported by Foggs over the years and this year was no exception. The most notable  of these this year was the three students documenting the history, work and people of the Stawell Field Naturalist Society. We had three very dedicated young people who did research, interviews, video editing and production. Ably supported by Margo who was a tower of strength and dedication throughout. She even provided accommodation, editing and directional advice. It seemed like a full time job for her. The mini – documentaries that they produced were viewed at our final activity for the year, and despite a few hiccups, were well received with more to come. Its good to know some of the great people I have looked up to for most of my life for their dedication to actions supporting the environment and educating others, are now laid down in history for others to learn from. It also makes me think of others that it should be done for too, before its too late and memories fade. Notably some of our own founders!

We are still trying to put the leftover money from the Friends of Zumsteins to good use. The committee have decided to purchase a seat to donate for use on the Fish Falls walk from Zumsteins to Mackenzie falls. It is needed, and can incorporate a plaque to explain where the money came from.

We have been asked if we were interested in taking on the reprinting of Ian McCann’s book, Grampians in Flower. It’s a very good idea, as Ian’s book is a definitive work many of us find invaluable in the field. Ian was also one of those documented in the Field Nats project, and it seems both projects dovetail nicely.

It is very gratifying for me that the Friends Of Grampians Gariwerd is seen as a reliable legitimate organisation that can support or facilitate projects within and relating to the park. We’ve come a long way from the group of fanatics and misfits that got together at Borough Huts after the inauguration of the park, but maybe not so far as all that either. It was fitting to hold our AGM at the same location in 2016.

Wendy and I attended a meeting with Mike Stevens, representing FOGGs, to discuss his major work on grazing animal control. It’s a big issue with so many ferals within the park, and as unpleasant as it is, action must be taken to protect the environment. I am satisfied that the best possible actions are being taken, in the most environmentally friendly way, with humane treatment at the forefront. This will not be a gung ho let em have it kind of programme. There will be many carefully planned actions, with proficiency, control and oversight at the forefront. Parks will have a tight leash, and no one will get away with breaching the rules! I have some knowledge of the issues and techniques and I am satisfied there is no better way to approach the problem without closing the entire park, and spending millions of dollars. Mike has designed a program that will be efficient, effective and most importantly humane, with as little impact on people and wildlife as possible. Some people will still not be happy, but they never are. This is about protecting the park, and the needs of the native animals that belong here. I genuinely believe if it wasn’t here before white settlement, it doesn’t belong in a national park. The ferals have to go!

We are working on a program of activities for the coming year, and hope it can top our success of the last twelve months. But it will have to be good to do so. Educational, active and fun are the buzzwords for any discussion on possible activities. We are happy to have suggestions, and hope our ideas are well received. We had some great experts this past year and hope we can get even better.

I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks for the confidence shown by re electing me as president. It is touching to know my actions are appreciated, even if I do rave on a bit and get hot under the collar sometimes. And to the other returning committee I thank you for your own dedication and support.

The Grampians National Park is a wonderful place and I intend to enjoy it to the fullest extent again this year. I hope you can all join me in supporting, learning, sharing and educating.

Happy New Year!

World Ranger Congress 2016

Mark Whyte, Team Leader Assets and Services Grampians Gariwerd  

In May 2016 I was lucky enough to represent Parks Victoria at the 8th World Ranger Congress in Colorado. This tour included a shadow assignment in Yellowstone National Park and recreational visits to Zion and Grand Canyon.

I spent 4 days on a Shadow Assignment in Yellowstone NP and was blown away by the sheer scale of the operation, Yellowstone NP has nearly the equivalent number of employees during the summer months as the whole of Parks Victoria.

The World Ranger Congress was an amazing week, set in Rocky Mountain NP and featuring delegates from 68 countries. On the first morning I had breakfast with Rangers from Finland, Belize, India and a Masai Warrior from Kenya, quite a cultural experience.

It was humbling to hear stories from African, Asian and South American Rangers about the work they do counteracting poaching. Many Rangers act as paramilitary with inadequate training and equipment to undertake their roles, a Congolese Ranger described to me that ‘they were fighting a war on poaching’; the poachers use proceeds to fund weapons and terrorist activities. The International Ranger Federation and the Thin Green Line are doing fantastic work supporting Rangers on the front line.

After the congress I visited Zion NP on the Memorial Day long weekend along with 60,000 other visitors, while hiking the narrows (hiking through a slot canyon) felt like a trip on the subway rather than the awesome adventure that it was, the park coped fantastically well with the record visitation numbers due to a shuttle service. Zion has one road in and out that joins the main visitor sites, this is closed to traffic over the summer months and a shuttle service operates from the local town outside the park. The Grand Canyon also runs a shuttle service to many lookouts on the south rim with access roads closed to traffic.

Visitation management is a challenge for park managers across the world, while the Shuttle Service worked well in Zion and Grand Canyon it is not a feasible option in Yellowstone due to multiple entry points and distances between key features (Yellowstone was originally planned for horse and cart with key visitor sites 30 miles apart or a day’s travel).

A shuttle service could be one method of improving peak visitation management in the Grampians National Park (central corridor), however requires further investigation and planning. The Friends of Grampians Gariwerd were instrumental in assisting with interpretation during the Parks Victoria Wonderland Eco-Shuttle trial that ran in the Park during the early 2000’s. This was a voluntary shuttle and most visitors opted to continue to drive their vehicle. For a shuttle service to be successful in the Grampians NP it would require closing access to traffic at popular visitor sites, providing timely shuttle bus access and appropriate parking options, while working extensively with tourism organisations, local tourism operators, visitors and the local community.

Update On The Grampians Peaks Trail

We don’t have an update from PV for this issue, but it was good to see the project co-ordinator Anne Wilson on WIN TV explaining that experienced hikers from various bushwalking groups are being asked for input to guide in fine tuning the route. So we fervently hope that some items in the similar ambitious proposal at Mt Hotham don’t get reconsidered here in our Park. The VNPA magazine reports that Parks Victoria, in liaison with Regional Development Victoria, is planning a multi-million dollar revamp of the walking tracks between the Falls Creek and Mount Hotham alpine resorts, with the aim of discouraging use by the current self-sufficient bushwalkers, who they say are low spenders. They are aiming at the ‘high-yield’ luxury market, with the provision of privately built and serviced lodges along the track.

The full ‘Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing’ is a five day walk, with four overnight stops generally offering either a tent on the ground (the cheapest option), a tent on a raised platform (the middle option) or ‘alpine lodging’ – luxury huts serviced with bedding and food by a commercial provider. This would introduce privately-operated built accommodation on the so far untouched eastern side of Feathertop. The luxury cabins would have to be serviced regularly by helicopter.

For more on this proposal see the Parks Victoria website.


Lake Fyans Centenary

October 2016

As Rod says in his president’s report it was a  wild wet day but a worthwhile exercise to raise our profile a little and to enjoy seeing how a wet winter had transformed the nearby woodlands. The photos give you a feel of it I hope. I believe there are plans to publish a book on the day, and I will let you know if that happens.



19 November 2016

We had a good attendance at our AGM. Reports were presented by the president (see separate article) and the treasurer again thanking Ron Goudy for auditing our books and our bank balance at the end of June 2016 being $8,615.89.

Election of office bearers see this year’s committee as:

  • President: Rodney Thompson
  • Vice President: Leigh Gunn
  • Secretary: Wendy Bedggood
  • Treasurer: Mabel Brouwer
  • Committee Members: Margo Sietsma, Ben Gunn, Janbert Brower and Judith Thompson
  • Newsletter Editor: Margo Sietsma
  • Webmaster: Frank van der Peet

We continued with a general meeting and ideas for next years activities were; an Insect day, (as this year’s was unable to go ahead), a reptile day, Clam Shrimps with Brian Tims, a bat event possibly jointly with a landcare group, and  several people expressed an interest in Grasses and having a day on them. Good walks are always popular though no specific suggestions were given.

It was decided we should get name badges for members, as it makes it easier for visitors and new members and also helps identify us as a group when we are doing our activities such as ‘Clean up Australia day”.

It was proposed that we get a new FOGGs sign that is more lightweight and portable than our current one.

There is currently no book on Grampians Flora available for sale and there may be an opportunity to reprint Ian McCann’s ‘The Grampians in Flower’.

After a picnic lunch and social chit chat we looked at the most recent maps of the proposed route then set off from Borough huts camp ground towards Mt Rosea. The original plan was to look at the start of the new track which will lead from Borough huts up to Mount William, unfortunately rain had washed away the crossing over the creek so instead we went in the opposite direction. We did see the new bridge over the creek at the beginning of the walk and this award winning design will be used for all the bridges on the Grampians Peaks Trail Walk.

The day was starting to get a bit warm so we only walked for an hour and a half up the gently sloping track before turning and coming back down.

There were some wildflowers out notably Chocolate Lily and Cinnamon Bells (a saprophytic orchid), Hakea, Slender Candles, Everlasting daisy, Hibertia and Pink Bells. Some South African Weed Orchid was also found in one spot along the track and plants were removed.

Stawell Field Naturalists Films

11 December 2016

As we reported in June and September we have been using three RMIT students to document the work of the Stawell Field Naturalists and, in particular, the legacy of Ian McCann. The students worked on the documents preserved by the Stawell Historical Society and filmed interviews with long time members and people who had worked with them. So in December we invited them to present their work.

After a chapter of accidents, amusing in hindsight but tense at the time, the quite large audience managed to look at two films: one on the Field Naturalists generally, and one on Ian McCann. The students had struggled somewhat with such a wet year and some recording issues, but the films were well received, particularly the Ian McCann one. There is still more footage which we hope can be edited into another film or two. Plus there are some very valuable observations on plant lists etc over the years in the notebooks, which it would be good to make more accessible.

There has been enormous interest in the project, and after the summer break we plan to get them up on the internet in a couple of places, as well as showing them again locally. And maybe we can make use of a new set of students for future projects. Good for us here, and good for them.

Ian McCann Legacy Poster -> downloadable pdf