The AG has met just once since the last newsletter. 29/10/20
The meeting had most members in the mural room plus some with Microsoft teams.
It opened with a video of how the Dunkeld Kinder group does their respect to country.
Mike Stevens was next, announced that he was leaving PV and moving interstate. He gave us an update on his team’s work. First, the Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies. There are at least 4 new joeys, likely to be more as scats show there are 3 females in a different site which could also have pouch young. The introduction of a new male at the end of last year is the cause. Next, the cat poisoning programme has finally started. (It was slow because of misgivings by parliament). Baiting is being done well inside the Park, close to where there are threatened species eg the BTRWs and potoroos. It’s a very tasty looking sausage. Some baits have been taken by foxes too. Will need to repeat a few times as more cats move in to take over the territory.
The group expressed their thanks to him, and best wishes for the future.
Tammy Schoo and Hannah Auld
Next came Tammy Schoo and Hannah Auld to talk about education, Junior Rangers and volunteers.
I am hoping we can get them to do the presentation to FOGGs some time.
Tammy started with an interesting slide show on the history of education programmes over the years.
Next Hannah used slides to talk about some of the education programmes running here. There’s a climate watch trail going up to Venus baths which she has taken groups on. She commented it is surprising how much children already know about climate change.
Next came a fun video of the Dunkeld kindergarten in the park. First spraying their shoes against cinnamon fungus, then out enjoying the area, magnifying glasses for examining things, goggles if they want to get close to prickly stuff, using phones for photographing stuff and comparing with what the same spot looked like last time. It is the teachers who run and fund the programme, not PV.
Next: Junior Ranger Programme. Run during school holidays to give bush skills and knowledge. It was tried it on line in September, and it is hoped to have some here over the summer. You can see some of the Melbourne ones on YouTube.
Tammy and Hannah hope that the revamp of Brambuk will enable them to revive the school education programme.
“Goal: to establish a world-class approach to working with volunteers that is embedded within PVs core business and effectively engages and supports volunteers in safe, innovative, meaningful activities to improve the health of the park, the broader community and themselves.” (PV Healthy Parks document). There’s a strategic plan 2017 -21. Late last year there was a volunteer forum here which was useful in hearing volunteering groups thoughts and they will try to implement it in 2021. Groups here are FOGG, Walking Track Support Group, schools (they are making use of schools to do sallow wattle control and the kids do enjoy it), Trailrider, 4wd clubs, Landcare groups.
There were plans to train and use volunteers this year for a bird survey but it had to be postponed due to Covid. Use of volunteer shooters for deer and goat control, There is now a staff manual with information about the volunteer groups so new staff can learn quickly. Some discussion of the new Volunteer Innovation fund.
Over to Rhonda.
First, update on the management plan. The draft plan went to the minister last week, and will be released in the next few weeks. There will be several documents: the complete management plan, a summary plan, questions and answers. Both hard and digital copies. Next comes community consultations, smallish groups. Cultural heritage is the major theme, not just in one chapter. There is concern in the AG that rock climbing may completely dominate discussion of the plan.
Cultural site protection. New sites are being discovered and new protection needs follow, including Taipan wall and Bundaleer, Red Rock . (Also Arapiles but that is outside the GNP). New information signs. They are seeking funding for long term protection and for researching the rest of the Park. Covid restrictions making it all much harder. The old management plan had a rough plan with maps drawn up in the office and is poor quality. Important to remember 80% of climbers want to do the right thing, 10% are unsure, 10% couldn’t care less. Education is vital. We need to emphasise that it is really exciting that we are discovering so many new sites.
Shooting of deer and goats will continue to occur.
It is hoped the Information Centre will reopen soon, with some of the previous staff. The Cultural Centre will remained closed for some time. The artefact collection is safe in storage. How best to display it is under discussion.
Over to Prue Daly.
Peaks Trail. Community sessions will be starting soon, but bookings will be essential. Work on the trail has been very busy. Aerial lifting in to camp spots has started. The track is about 70% finished, the unfinished bits are scattered, not just in one or two places. No signage yet but they are working on it. Advertising has started for 4 new rangers, and then they will be advertising for track maintenance positions. Training of emergency response teams has started. Opening date is yet to be decided. and may be staggered. There are three different ministers involved (Fed and State). Water tanks will be placed at some spots along the trail where it is simple to fill them. Near each campground there will be a sign informing where the closest spot is for mobile phone coverage and internet, but nothing along the track.
Back to Rhonda.
Miscellaneous. Repairs are needed to the stair case at the Grand Canyon, so it is unable to be used. Replacing it will take a while with the Covid restrictions. There’s a similar problem with one of the lookouts at Boroka.
Vandalism, especially to gates blocking closed roads, has been a real problem, not just to this park and will be a massive and expensive job to fix. Boredom and frustration with Covid restrictions?
Next Advisory Group meeting will be on the Management Plan, hoped for in the last week in November. I will be interstate but hope to join in remotely.