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Tarilta Creek Gorge Burned by DSE

Tarilta Creek Gorge (Jan 2012) from Glenn Tempest on Vimeo.

Friends of the Box-Ironbarks Forests (FOBIF) have just posted a critical assessment of the recent DSE burning operations of Tarilta Creek Gorge in the Upper Loddon State Forest. You can read their blog and view some images at Tarilta Gorge: burned off, washed away. Essentially the DSE burn (CAS 0051, Limestone Track) was supposed to have created ‘a mosaic burn coverage appropriate to meet requirements of localised EVC’s [ecological vegetation classes] and to reduce the spread of fire.’ It’s in Zone 3 Ecological Management Zone (EMZ). According to FOBIF a DSE briefing last September indicated that in such a zone it would be expected that about one third of the area would be burned. This hasn’t been the case as it appears that a great deal of destruction has been inflicted upon this once beautiful location. There has also been a substantial loss of top-soils, which have washed into the creek and created large siltings (most of it ended up blocking Limestone Track Bridge).

Only a month ago my friends and I walked Tarilta Creek Gorge as we wanted to create a GPS of the route and take some new images. The walk is to be included in our forthcoming Goldfields Walks, which is due out in spring. You can read about our walk on my blog here. The short video (above) makes an interesting and disturbing comparison to the images shown at at Tarilta Gorge: burned off, washed away.

 

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Dogs in Parks

As the Access & Environment Officer for CliffCare, many of the articles I write are aimed at providing information to climbers on best practices whilst out climbing. Not only does this help with becoming better informed but in the long run it helps with maintaining access to the areas we love to climb at.  And if you use them, it’s fair enough that you should take care of them. Quite recently I wrote an article on dogs in victorian parks following a reported incident of someone bringing a dog into a National Park.  As the original discussion was on an online forum, it soon degenerated into a slanging match but I did think that whilst there are many dog owners who probably flout the rules in this instance there are also those that aren’t really aware of the importance of not taking our furry friends into National Parks.  This discussion is of course, not limited to just climbers. So many outdoor pursuits, especially walking, seem to be the perfect activity to bring your best bud along. And there are parks you can take them to. But they aren’t National Parks.  The following information below was taken from a PV fact sheet and pretty much explains the reasons why it’s not so cool to bring Fido or Fifi along.

So before you head off for the day, weekend or week, check on the parks notices to make sure whether they’re welcome.

DOMESTIC DOGS
Parks Victoria recognises that dogs are popular recreation companions and contribute to people’s health and well-being. Walking with a dog has many benefits, such as reduced stress, enhanced mood, increased heart and lung fitness and a number of social benefits. Many people enjoy walking with their dog in natural areas, such as parkland, open space, bush and coastal areas and Parks Victoria provides a wide range of opportunities throughout Victoria for people to experience people to experience the great outdoors with their dogs.
CAN
As a general rule, dogs are permitted in parks or areas of parks where the primary management purpose is for recreation, e.g. Metropolitan Parks, Reservoir Parks, Regional Parks and Forest Parks.
CAN’T
Dogs are generally not permitted in parks and reserves where the primary management purpose is for conservation, e.g. parks managed under the National Parks Act 1975 (Vic.) and nature conservation reserves.

NATIONAL PARKS

Generally, domestic animals and other introduced animals such as dogs are not permitted in national parks established under the National Parks Act. This is to ensure that the park is managed in accordance with its objectives, to preserve and protect the natural environment and to conserve flora and fauna. Park rangers are often asked by visitors “why can’t I take my dog into the national park?” First and foremost, national parks are there to protect Australia’s native wildlife. They are vitally important for the many species whose survival is in danger. Dogs can have negative impacts on the natural and cultural values of parks, as well as impacts on the enjoyment and safety of other visitors.
Dogs can compete with or harass, chase, trample or prey upon native fauna, especially ground-dwelling species. Dogs can also disturb wildlife by their scent, sounds, scratching and digging. Dogs may also transmit diseases and parasites to native fauna, and their urine and excrement may attract wild dogs and foxes. Even if a dog is on a lead and is very obedient it would be impossible to have a rule which allowed some dogs (the quiet or small ones) into national parks and similar reserves but not others (the big and the boisterous).
Dogs are a potential source of annoyance, distress and sometimes harm to park visitors especially in camping and picnic areas, and when the animals are not under control. Some visitors are frightened of dogs or object to seeing dogs in parks because they are not part of the natural environment and make wildlife more difficult to observe. Dog droppings can cause offence to visitors, and have environmental, amenity and
health impacts.
Dogs are permitted in national parks for specific purposes.
These include:
Dogs which assist disabled people with their disability are permitted in all parks and reserves, with the exception of Wilderness Parks and areas closed to the public, e.g. Reference Areas
Dogs assisting police, SES or Defence Force in search and rescue or surveillance
Dogs in vehicles which are in transit through a national park on a major through-road / route travelling on bitumen roads which pass through national parks.

So after all of that – which may seem a little negative for dog owners who want to take their dogs to parks, I have listed below a selection of parks where they are more than welcome.

Albert Park 3km South of Melbourne CBD
Bunurong Marine and Coastal Park 10km South of Wonthaggi
Cape Conran Coastal Park 30km SE of Orbost
Cape Liptrap Coastal Park 10km South of Leongatha
Cardinia Reservoir Park 45km SE of Melbourne
Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park 60km East of Sale
Greenvale Reservoir Park 22km North of Melbourne
Hepburn Regional Park 5km West of Daylesford
Jells Park 20km East of Melbourne CBD
Karkarook Park 17km SE of Melbourne CBD
Kooyoora State Park 220km NW of Melbourne
Lerderderg State Park 75km East of of Melbourne
Macedon Regional Park 57km NW of Melbourne
Maroondah Reservoir Park 70km East of Melbourne
Murray-Kulkyne Park 50km South of Mildura
Silvan Reservoir Park 50km East of Melbourne
Westerfolds Park 16km NE of Melbourne CBD
Westgate Park 6km West of Melbourne CBD
Yarra Bend Park 4km North of Melbourne
You Yangs Regional Park 55km SW of Melbourne

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Mt Stapylton Loop Walk

I’d been planning to walk the Mt Stapylton Loop for the last year or so and it was only last week when I finally got the chance to do so. For anyone unfamiliar with the Grampians National Park, this 12.2km circuit walk traverses a series of exposed sandstone peaks and shallow valleys in the parks drier northern extremity. The Wimmera surrounds this rugged massif and it doesn’t take much imagination to visualise how, in the not too distant past, the sea once lapped right up to the cliffs and boulders.

I left the Stapylton Campground at about 8am. It was a little earlier than I’d planned but I hadn’t accounted for nature’s alarm clock; a few dozen screeching cockatoos flying over my tent at 6am. The trail passes through low scrub for about 15min before crossing Pohlner Road. There are great views of the Mount of Olives, a tower of ochre-coloured rock, which reminded me of a rather more sad and weary version of the Pharos at nearby Mt Arapiles. By the time I reached the top of the range the sun had risen high in the sky and I was sweating from the climb. Here the trail reached an intersection and I turned north, a gradual ascent leading up through low bush.

After an hour or so I reached a major trail junction. Here I met a group of walkers who had come up from Mt Zero Picnic Area and were sitting on the rocks trying to figure out which way to go. All of the trail signs were laying in the trees, having been pulled from the ground. Why anyone would want to do this is beyond me. I pointed them in the right direction and they happily set off towards Stapylton Campground. I on the other hand continued on up towards the top of Mt Stapylton. The trail weaved its way up the northern side of the rocks before sidling up to a rocky ridge. Here a metal sign indicated that walkers should only proceed in good weather. No problem today.

The final scramble to the top is easy but exposed. In wet or windy conditions I would seriously think twice before attempting the ascent. A couple of years ago my partner and I arrived on the summit as black storm clouds gathered and a hot wind gusted from the north. Our hair stood on end and we could feel the crackle of electricity in the air. Needless to say we retreated immediately, managing to reach the safety of the trees just as the heaven’s opened up and the rain came pouring down. This time I arrived on top in perfect conditions. Fluffy clouds billowed above me and a lone kestrel danced on the breeze.

Mt Stapylton is only 518m above-sea-level but its isolated rocky mass and commanding position makes it one of my favourite viewpoints in the Grampians. Off the the northwest I could see Mt Arapiles and its distinctive tiny neighbour, Mitre Peak, rising above a sea of wheat stubble. As I turned counter-clockwise I could make out the bluffs of the Black Range and, almost abutting it, the entire backbone of the Grampians National Park as it stretched, broken and twisted, south towards the coast.

After an hour dozing in the sun I reluctantly left the summit and started down. Back at the junction I continued along the trail towards Mt Zero Picnic Area. The walk descends long rocky ramps past Bird Rock and underneath Taipan Wall, a soaring bastion of overhanging red rock, before meandering through the Mt Stapylton Amphitheatre. At the Mt Zero Picnic Area turnoff I pushed on a little further to the top of Flat Rock. This short diversion allowed me to look back into the amphitheatre and view the half-moon escarpment as it started to reflect the late afternoon sun. The final 4.4km of sandy trail led me down from the amphitheatre and back along the range underneath the Mount of Olives to where I rejoined my footsteps from earlier in the day at Pohlner Road. By the time I arrived back at Stapylton Campground the sun was low in the western sky and I was low on energy. Definitely time to warm up in front of the camp-fire and refuel.

Check out my other blog on the Hollow Mountain / Mt Stapylton Circuit Walk and associated images on my SmugMug site here.

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Grampians Trail Updates and Planned Burns March 2012

hollow-mountain

hollow-mountain

Just in time for the long weekend. A number of the tracks previously closed have now reopened and these are listed below. As well as these updates, there are some future planned burns in the Victoria Range. I don’t have actual dates at this stage but at least you can get an idea of the time frame they are looking at and hopefully plan around them. I have been told that during the school holidays, it will be business as usual but the closures will occur before and after this. Sections of the Victoria Range will be closed for a couple of weeks at a time.

Hollow Mountain Walking Track – reopen Tuesday 5 March

The Grampians Flood Recovery crew will be reopening the Hollow Mountain walking track tomorrow after four weeks of construction works. Crews have installed new timber steps and approximately 400m of the walking track has been ‘lifted’ to reinstate the track surface to above ground level.

Bullaces Glen Walking track – reopen Friday 9 March

The Bullaces Glen walking track will reopen this Friday in time for the Long Weekend. This popular track has been closed since the January 2011 flood and storm event. There has been a lot of work done on this track including 200metres of track realignment. The crews have harvested tonnes of rock on site for the creation of over 100 stone steps and have also built a new creek crossing in the Bullaces Glen area. Other works on the track include drain clearing, risk mitigation and vegetation removal along with the replacement of directional signage. The new loop track offers a fantastic option for visitors wanting a 1 to 1 1/2 hour walk with moderate difficulty or visitors can take the longer option to Chatauqua Peak.

Venus Baths Walk Update

There will be access to a small part of the Venus Baths walking track for the Bullaces Glen Walk, however the walk to Venus Baths will remain closed. Concept planning for realignments around land slips and bridge replacement is underway.

Coppermine Road – Reopened

Road crews have repaired the large washout on the road between Coppermine bushcamp and Mt Zero Road.

Grampians National Park – Planned Burn Program 2012

The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Parks Victoria will be commencing its autumn planned burning program in the Grampians National Park during April and May. Planned burns have been scheduled a little later this year because of the dryer weather conditions we have experienced locally.

In line with the Wimmera Fire Operations Plan released last September; DSE and Parks Victoria intend to conduct seven separate burns in the Grampians area. Planned burning is part of an integrated plan to reduce the bushfire risk to people, property and communities. Please see the attached map of the Grampians that provides all planned burns for this autumn.

Favourable weather conditions largely influence when particular planned burns go ahead. The final decision around planned burning will be made on the day of the burn and this will be based on the results from the monitoring of the ground and weather conditions. Where possible, DSE and Parks Victoria will provide notification prior to each burn, but it is your responsibility to check the DSE website regularly for planned burns information.

During the burning program, there will be some short term closures of roads, visitor sites and walking tracks for public safety. The burn areas will stay closed until they are classified as safe. This may be up to a week after a burn. If you are planning a camping or walking trip, it is important that you plan an alternative route in case you need to change your trip at short notice.

Some of the areas that will be impacted by closures this planned burning season include:

All walking tracks and access within the Victoria Range (including Manja Shelter, the Fortress, Mt Thackeray, Goat Track and Victoria Range Track)

  • Access to the Red Rock area including all climbing sites
  • The walking track from Plantation to Mt Difficult, Boronia Walking Track
  • Terraces Track to Tandara Road and the Griffin Picnic ground

For more information

To find out where and when planned burns are happening visit www.dse.vic.gov.au, call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667 or listen to your local radio station

Information is also available at www.dse.vic.gov.au/fires and for information about fire restrictions, fire bans and fires on private land at www.cfa.vic.gov.au

For further information on the Wimmera Planned Burns program contact the Horsham DSE Fire Operations Room on 5362 0720 or visit www.dse.vic.gov.au.