From The Editor

Welcome to a summer edition of our newsletter, the first December one since 2012! I hope it finds you surviving all the Covid stuff and send my best wishes for Christmas and the new year. It’s quite short but there are a few fairly urgent items, and then another one will follow in January.

What an extraordinary year it has been, and it has not been an easy time for our committee, particularly our president Catherine and secretary Bill. As well as trying to organise activities with constantly changing restrictions on volunteer activities, we have also been following the progress of the Grampians Peaks Trail. Committee meetings have had to be via Zoom. It has also been a very difficult year for our Park staff, mainly working from home. We thank them for their dedication and perseverence. Particular thanks to our contact ranger Hannah, and as you will read later, she managed to help us finally install a seat beside Fish Falls, a project literally years in planning.

I have found it quite fascinating to read again the newsletter I sent out in December 2012. (I looked it up to copy the headings and the season’s information). Our president Prue and secretary Wendy were busy writing letters on our behalf objecting to private development in the Park, we were co-operating in Threatened Species surveys, Parks were getting school students to help in cleaning up the Park and attack the sallow wattle and more.

As you will read in the minutes of our committee meeting, I received a Highly Commended Award from the Victorian Friends of the Environment Network. I am deeply appreciative that the committee nominated me for this award.  That means more to me than the award itself. Another local, Matilda Venn, also received the inaugural youth award for her work with orchids. Well done Matilda.

From Our Chief Ranger

The Draft Gariwerd Landscape Management Plan has been launched and we encourage everyone to go to engage.vic website to find all the information. This includes an executive summary, frequently asked questions , a summary on rock climbing, a short video and the plan, so plenty to start reading and join the conversation.

All our project firefighters have returned and are busy working across the park and we are currently recruiting for 2 seasonal rangers. Lots of recruitment is currently occurring with new staff coming on board for the Grampians Peaks Trail.

A successful aerial shooting operation occurred last week as part of the biodiversity response programs,  with the total numbers of the 2.5 years being 378 deer 364 goats been dispatched. The team will know be working hard to promote the value of this level of investment in landscape scale programs so we can continue these programs.

We expect to have Brambuk the National Parks Information and Cultural Centre back open within the next few weeks.

Congratulations to Margo on the release of her book on the Grampians.

Rhonda McNeil

Area Chief Ranger Grampians (Gariwerd)

M 0498 441 433  T  8427 3612


Han Auld – Community Engagement Ranger

(Editor’s note: Han has been our main contact all year, but the Covid rules have meant that she has met very few of us. I decided it was time we started to get to know her, so asked her to introduce herself to us.)

My name is Hannah (or Han as most people call me) and I am the Community Engagement Ranger for the Grampians. I started as a volunteer here almost 5 years ago with Caity O’Reilly, I applied to be a Seasonal Ranger which fortunately turned into a full time position. My role is quite diverse as I manage volunteers and community groups ‘Get Into Nature’ and assist with activities throughout the park. I also assist with the Environmental Education activities including Bush Kinder and Junior Ranger. I feel quite privileged to meet so many people who visit or call the Grampians home because I have the opportunity to educate them about this landscape and just how special it is.

I moved here four years ago after spending four years studying Environmental Science in Melbourne. Previous to that I was in Geelong studying Sustainable Tourism however I didn’t enjoy learning about how to exploit the environment which is why I moved over into Science. I’ve found my passion in Environmental Education and would some day like to study my Masters in Education and work to educate people about the environment and how to protect it. I come from a large family with three brothers and two sisters who all have children or partners so I think that we would need to hire the MCG for the next family Christmas. They all adore coming to visit because we have a deep respect for the environment. We grew up next to Tower Hill State Game Reserve and were taught about snakes, spiders, kangaroos, koalas and weeds by my Dad. I couldn’t begin to count the amount of hours I have spent there during my childhood with my family.

If COVID didn’t find it’s way into 2020 I would have spent my holidays in Ireland, Italy and Scotland – however I chose to buy a house in Halls Gap which has turned out to be a lot of fun! I’ve travelled to pockets of the globe but my favourite time was when I worked as a Turtle Conservationist in Costa Rica, months before I volunteered here in the Grampians. It was a change of scenery however it certainly was an adventure I won’t forget.

COVID-19 hasn’t made it easy for anyone to complete volunteer activities but I would like to announce that I have found two new activities you can complete whilst at home!

Digitising Grampians Herbarium  You would have read Leigh’s interview in the last newsletter with one of your incredible naturalist members Win, who was a large contributor to the Grampians Herbarium donated to Parks Victoria many moons ago. This is an undeniable, incredible resource for the Grampians that needs to be shared! Leigh mentioned the potential of digitising this resource and Parks Victoria would like to support this project.

Updating the Visitor Information sheets

Parks Victoria are updating current fact sheets and guides for Grampians National Park. The wealth of knowledge that is within the Friends of Grampians Gariwerd (FOGGs) has been identified as an important resource that can greatly assist Parks Victoria complete accurate records for the local and visiting community. Parks Victoria would like to invite Friends of Grampians Gariwerd to assist with this task as a volunteer activity. Please see the link to the drop box folder which has all the previous visitor information fact sheets, guides etc.

What will the final product look like? A Parks Victoria designed document with the FOGGs logo alongside the Parks Victoria logo. Recognition of the work that was contributed by FOGGS will be outlined in the final document. This document will be widely accessible on the Parks Victoria Website, in Information Centers and Brambuk. These will provide accurate information for visitors when in the National Park.

 I am available for a chat if you would like to discuss the above projects.


Han Auld Community Engagement Ranger

Editor note: FOGGS are now working on both these projects.

Annual General Meeting Minutes

FOGG AGM 14th November 2020 held at Heatherlie Quarry.

Members met at lunch time after our wildflower walk nearby.

Minutes from 2019 AGM were read and accepted

Presidents Report: Catherine gave a summary of the year’s activity. Passed a motion of thanks to Catherine for her two years’ presidency, and for helping us through both the Covid scenario and the changes in Parks rules.

Treasurers Report: Balance on 1st.July 2019 was $9,828.45, income for the financial year was $1,808.00, expenditure $818.60, leaving a balance $10,817.85 at 30th.June 2020. (Not audited)

Membership Fees: -To remain $20 for individual and $25 for Family

Election of Office Bearers:  President: Leigh Douglas,

Vice president: Rodney Thompson.

Secretary: Alison Bainbridge Thanks to Bill & Judy Gardner’s efforts in their term as Secretary.

Treasurer: Judith Thompson. Note that this is last year Judith will hold the position of Treasurer.

Committee Ordinary Members: the number of ordinary members to remain at four. David Steane, Geoff Stratford, Ben Gunn and Andrew Cunningham

Newsletter Editor – Margo Sietsma re-elected as newsletter editor.

General Business:

Life membership for Win Pietsch: Moved that Win Pietsch  be made a Life Member of FOGGS.  Carried.

Motion: Andrew Cunningham moved that FOGGs lobby Parks Victoria in 2021 to increase toilet facilities in the Northern Grampians, especially Reids Lookout, and Hollow Mountain and Heatherlie Quarry.  Carried.

The AGM closed at 2:30pm and we proceeded to a general meeting.

General Meeting

  • Volunteer Innovation Fund: Agreed not to apply for 2020. Will review in 2021.
  • Updating Park Brochures: There were several members working on information for the brochures including Neil Macumber, Leigh Douglas and Margo Sietsma, Rodney, Bruce McInness. Suggestion that the Halls Gap History Society might be interested in providing information on settlement history.  Secretary to send out email to members working on this project to ask how far they have got with this project noting that Hannah Auld would like this Information early 2021.
  • Ian McCann Books: 60 copies of Ian’s book are left after taking one for M Stevens farewell gift. It was agreed to keep 10 copies as gifts for presenters. Agreed to readvertise in the next newsletter.
    Kellet Prints: 16 still available after choosing one for M Stevens farewell gift.  It was agreed to keep some copies as gifts for presenters. Agreed to readvertise in the next newsletter.
  • FOGG Cupboard: The present FOGG cupboard inadequate and awkward to access.
  • Motion: Margo Sietsma moved that we send a letter to Rhonda McNeil to request better and more accessible storage for FOGG.
  • Farewell to Mike Stevens: It was agreed to present Mike and his family a copy of Ian McCann’s book and a Kellett print. Leigh Douglas to provide a card. Margo Sietsma and Alison Bainbridge to finalise.  Margo will present this to Mike Stevens on behalf of FOGG.

 Editor’s note: If you would like a copy of Ian’s Wildflower book, or one of the Kellett prints, please contact our secretary Alison.

Installation Of Seat At Fish Falls

After a long break with no activities, because of Covid 19, we were able to have a working bee. On a very pleasant Saturday 10th October

Committee had finally been able to organise with Parks, the purchase and installation of the seat to be installed on the Fish Falls walk. Back in 2017 we had picked out and proposed to Parks a couple of spots along the track which we thought would be suitable sites for the seat. However with changes to Parks staff and changing of FOGGs committee members it has taken a while to all fall into place.

We met at Zumsteins picnic ground and Hanna our Parks contact joined us. After an OH&S briefing and a reminder of the Covid rules we got started. Hanna had brought along a motorized track barrow to carry the seat and quick set cement into the site. As there were 10 of us we broke into a team to install the seat and another team who did some light pruning and weeding along the track. A couple of strong fellows went ahead and dug the holes for the legs of the seat, which needed to be to be concreted into the ground.  Another few people manoeuvred the seat and concrete along the track. By the time the seat got to the site the holes were ready. Some adjustments were made to the hole depths to get the levels right and the concrete was put in the holes and seat put in place. It was surprising how quickly it all happened once we got to the site. As the concrete sets extremely quickly we were able to test the seat out and it was ready for hikers to use immediately.

We all made our way back to the picnic ground and ate our lunch while catching up with one another, which for some of us had been a very long time.

The history behind this seat: many years ago the Friends of Zumsteins Group folded, they had a small amount of cash in their account and under the Incorporation Rules they needed to pass the money on to a like-minded Society, and they chose FOGGs. After many suggestions we decided that we would use the money to put a seat on the Fish Falls track with a plaque dedicating the seat to them. There was no seat along this walk and so now those who are not as fit as they would like to be can have a rest along the way. It has just taken a while to come to fruition, but was satisfying to complete.

Photos by Leigh.

Advisory Group Report

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.

Brambuk Update.

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.


Online Information Sessions

People are encouraged to attend a community information session to learn more about what is in the plan and discuss the proposals in depth. Due to current health restrictions, these are mostly online.

The dates and times for the information sessions are:

Online discussion sessions (max 30 people each):

  • Tuesday 24 November, 5.30 – 7.30pm
  • Thursday 26 November, 5.30 – 7.30pm
  • Tuesday 1 December, 5.30 – 7.30pm
  • Wednesday 2 December, 5.30 – 7.30pm

You can register for a community information session online. – Eventbrite registration link.  You can also register by calling 13 1963. If you cannot participate online you can call 03 8427 3606, to ask about an in-person option in the local Grampians area. If required, more information sessions can be held in January 2021.

This plan is a draft, Parks Victoria, Barengi Gadjin Land Council, Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation, and the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation want to hear your feedback. All feedback will be carefully considered in preparing a final management plan. You can provide written feedback in two ways:     Complete the survey on line or send a written submission to

Electronic submissions are preferred, but if you would also like to provide a hard copy you can mail it to: Attention: Manager Park Planning, Parks Victoria, Level 10, 535 Bourke Street Melbourne VIC 3000

Parks Victoria will be accepting feedback until the end of Sunday 24 January 2021.

Miscellaneous Reports

There is a new update on the Victorian Deer Management Strategy project. Submissions on a draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy were sought in October 2018. 666 public submissions were received. The final Strategy and a Consultation Report is now available at:…

The Grampians Fire Online Conference is also available on line. Two highlights of the presentation were:

  1. The case study into the Mt Lang bushfire in December 2019, with some great photography and a good summary of the activity of the fire.
  2. The Wartook Community Bushfire Strategy Development.

Farewell Mike Stevens

As we learned at the AG meeting, Mike is leaving Parks Vic. We at Foggs have been most appreciative of the work he has done here over the years with his creative thinking on ways in which to advance conservation and ecological health in the Grampians, and the hard work he always cheerfully and enthusiastically undertook.(already said.) He will be greatly missed and we will be giving him a small gift of an artwork and a copy of the Ian McCann book.

Mike with FOGGIES at Red Gum Walk 2007. Photo by Leigh.