Newsletter #18 – Winter 1998

A newsletter for people interested in the Australian Alps

Australian Alps Liaison Committee

The Australian Alps Have Moved …

Well, not the actual mountains, but the management of the Australian Alps national parks cooperative program.

April saw a major change in the administration of the Australian Alps national parks program as Neville Byrne handed over the reins of Program Coordinator to Brett McNamara, formerly a ranger from Namadgi National Park (ACT).

Every two to four years the responsibility for coordinating this program rotates to a new conservation agency. It is traditional that each of the land management agencies involved in the Australian Alps takes a turn (in rotation) to sponsor the coordination of the Australian Alps program. With this rotation, the job of Program Coordinator also rotates to the new Agency – the ACT Parks and Conservation Service.

The latest change completes the circle as the coordination of the program returns to the Australian Capital Territory where it started with the first Program coordinator Andre Mayne. Janet Mackay of Kosciuszko National Park filled the Program Coordinators role between Andre and Neville.

Neville had been on secondment from Parks Victoria (formerly Victorian National Parks Service) since July 1995 and now returns to take on the challenging role as Chief Ranger, Bendigo. As Neville indicated in a farewell speech to the Natural Heritage Working Group and other supporters at Namadgi National Park, the friendships and contacts made during his time as Program Coordinator have been the most valued part of the position.

The Liaison Committee wishes to express its sincere thanks to Neville for the sterling job his has done in coordinating and promoting the Australian Alps over the past three years. Through Neville’s enthusiasm and hard work the Alps program has addressed matters of coordination across the Australian Alps national parks in a world-class manner, thereby delivering excellent value for money.

Brett McNamara brings to the position a strong history of involvement in the Australian Alps program, most recently as Convenor of the Community Relations Working Group, continuing the tradition of Program Coordinators being drawn from people who have had a strong interest and involvement in the Australian Alps.

Brett can be contacted on :
Phone (02) 62071694
Mobile 0417 292885

Welcome to new Working Group members

There have been some changes in the membership of the Australian Alps working groups. The working groups are often referred to as the ‘engine room‘ of the Alps program. Without their enthusiasm, dedication and cooperation the program would not be the success that it is. A warm welcome is extended to all the new members and thanks to all those who continue on.

A professional development workshop on Contract and Project Management has been planned for the 15 and 16 September 1998 at Tumut; (details to be provided closer to the date). This forum will also act as an induction for the ‘new players’ into the operations of the Alps program.

Recreation and Tourism Working Group:

Pam O’Brien NSW NPWS, Convenor, Phone (02) 6450 5575
Peter Jacobs Victoria
Kris Rowe Victoria
Geoff Young Australian Capital Territory
Karen Civil Australian Capital Territory
Deb Bourke Commonwealth
Ben Wallace Commonwealth

Community Relations Working Group:

Peter King Environment Australia, Convenor, Phone (02) 6250 0766
Ann Jelinek Commonwealth
Stuart Cohen New South Wales
Gill Anderson Victoria
Daryl Burns Victoria
Sharon Lane Australian Capital Territory
Odile Arman Australian Capital Territory

Cultural Heritage Working Group:

Debbie Argue ACT Heritage, Convenor, Phone (02) 6207 2167
Virginia Logan Australian Capital Territory
Colin Killick New South Wales
Janice Cawthorn New South Wales
Dave Burton Victoria
Nick Walton Victoria
Katherine Maxwell Commonwealth
Andrew Tatnell Commonwealth

Natural Heritage Working Group:

Andy Murray Victoria, Convenor, Phone (03) 5161 1302
Nigel Watts Victoria
Graeme Enders New South Wales
Mick Ivill New South Wales
Mark Lintermans Australian Capital Territory
Trish MacDonald Australian Capital Territory
Greg Hays Commonwealth
Graeme Marshall Commonwealth

Community Education Project Officer:

Cath Renwick
Phone (02) 6250 9501
Mobile 0419 491 104

Call for Projects 1999/2000 & future years

Just when we have this year’s work program up and running, it’s time to consider next year’s projects for the Australian Alps national parks.

Criteria for projects are listed below, however if you believe a proposed project is of high value to the improved management of the Australian Alps (but outside the criteria) please submit it also for consideration by the Liaison Committee.

The timetable for consideration of project proposals is:

28 August 1998 Opening of Call-for-Projects
28 Sept 1998 Close of Call-for-Projects
28 Sept – 28 Oct 1998 Working Groups meet to assess and rate project proposals within 3-yr Strategic view
4-6 Nov 1998 Presentation by Working Group Convenors of current future directions to participants at Annual Field Workshop
Late Nov 1998 Presentation by Working Group Convenors of project proposals and AALC considers preliminary listing of project proposals
Dec ’98 – Jan ’99 Working groups refine approved projects and determine implementation processes
Feb/March 1999 AALC endorses details of projects and implementation
Apr – June 1999 Working Groups call for external tenders if required
July 1999 Working Groups commence projects

Project Proposal Forms are available from and could be returned to:

Brett McNamara
Program Coordinator
Phone (02) 62071694
Fax (02) 62072901

Criteria for projects under the Australian Alps Co-operative Management Program

All project proposals are considered on their merits in terms of implementation of the Australian Alps Strategic Plan 1996-99 (copies are available from Brett McNamara). Projects have the greatest chance of success if they also meet the following criteria:

  1. have outcomes that have application to park management in at least two of the States/Territory, and
  2. result (either directly or on implementation) in on-ground benefits to the management of the AANPs,

The Liaison Committee will consider supporting on-ground works (on a cost-sharing basis with an Agency) where the project:

  • involves implementation of a strategic approach developed under the MOU,
  • has direct cross-border benefits, and
  • has priority support for continuance and/or maintenance by the Agency.

The Australian Alps program is operated on a budget of only $400 000 per annum, and while no funding limits are set, for guidance, project funding in the range of $5,000 to $50 000 per annum should be considered.

An application form should be completed for each project proposal.

Around the Agencies: correspondents report

New South Wales

Robyn Kruk, Director General of the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, changed jobs recently with a shift to the NSW Premier’s Department. Brian Gilligan is currently acting in the position. Gregor Manson, Regional Manager for Snowy Mountains Region headed off to Sydney to play a valuable role in policy formulation with the Service and to oversee the Service’s input to the Snowy Hydro corporatisation process.

John O’Gorman (Grafton) and then Mark Johnston (Narooma) have papered over the Snowy Regional Manager’s in-tray since Gregor’s move, whilst Janet Mackay took leave to head for Scotland during July, leaving Dave Darlington to be Snowy Region Operations Manager and Pam O’Brien and Megan Bowden to ‘Tag-Team’ as Jindabyne District Manager.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual in the Snowy Region.

Victoria

Bioregional basis for park management

Now that Parks Victoria has been established for almost eighteen months, the time has come to closely examine the structure of field operations and to put in place a structure that will meet the corporate needs of Parks Victoria into the future.

In February, all 25 Chief Ranger positions across the State were vacated to make way for a new bioregional structure. By the end of April all of the 25 new Chief Ranger positions were filled. The restructure creates 15 new park management Districts (three within each Region). A key aspect of the new Districts is that they are based on discrete bio-geographical boundaries and provide the opportunity to focus park management decisions within the District to the overall consistent management of the region.

Bob Jones previously Chief Ranger, Alpine, and member of the Australian Alps Liaison Committee for many years, has taken on new duties with responsibilities for Grazing across the whole of Parks Victoria.

Peter Bray previously Chief Ranger, Central Gippsland has now taken on the role of Chief Ranger Asset/Risk Management Programs. Dennis Matthews, previously Chief Ranger, Bairnsdale, and member of the Cultural Heritage Working Group continues his role in Gippsland but is bowing out of the Australian Alps.

The good news is that under the restructure, the whole of the Alpine National Park (together with Avon Wilderness Park) will be managed by the Chief Ranger Alpine District. This is the first time in the history of the Alpine National Park that it has been in a single management unit! Chris Rose has taken on this very important role. Chris brings a wealth of experience from Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service and will introduce himself elsewhere in the newsletter. Snowy River National Park (also part of the Australian Alps) is now located in the East Gippsland District.

Mt Buffalo Centenary

The fun and activity continues at Mt Buffalo National Park as part of their centenary celebrations. The main centenary Heritage Festival ran from 26 March to 9 April with a wide range of activities including photographic and artistic displays, a series of walks conducted by the Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs, a Schools Program and many other interesting historic and cultural events. See a detailed story on the celebrations later on in this newsletter.

Park planner injured

Well-known park planner at Bright, Evan McDowell, was seriously injured in a paragliding accident outside of Bright on 14 March. Evan sustained 16 fractures and numerous lacerations in a 70-metre spiral fall when part of his paragliding canopy collapsed. He was confined to Intensive Care at the Alfred Hospital for over a week. He returned to work in early June and his health is improving daily.

More staff movements

Glenn McLeod, Ranger at Mt Beauty has accepted a position on the other side of the Great Dividing Range based at Bairnsdale. Glenn will maintain his involvement in Alps activities (including pool championships) due to his new association with Snowy River National Park.

Park Victoria Chief Executive, Jeff Floyd, recently announced his move to the position of Chief Executive of Tourism Victoria. An international search found a replacement very close to home. Mark Stone, Executive Director Parks, Flora & Fauna (DNRE) took over the chair in June. His deputy is Geoff Vincent, Parks Victoria’s former Regional Manager Victoria East, who has a long history of involvement with the Alps program. All in Parks Victoria look forward to continuing contact with Jeff Floyd in his new role, particularly as it relates to promotion of Victoria’s natural assets.

Australian Capital Territory

Since our last newsletter, Stephen Hughes has come on-board as the Manager, ACT Parks and Conservation Service and ACT representative on the Australian Alps Liaison Committee.

Stephen played a valuable role in his first AALC meeting in influencing the annual works programs that would be supported by the AALC during 1998/99 and also in getting the new Program Coordinator (Brett McNamara) appointed and established in the ACT.

Staff Movements

Margot Sharpe is back on board as the senior ranger at Namadgi after spending the last 18 months helping produce the much awaited fire fuel management plan for the ACT as well as stepping in as manager of Googong Foreshores for a brief period.

Peter Hann’s knowledge and management skills have been required elsewhere. He has taken up the demanding role of manager of Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Peter will continue to maintain a strong interest and working relationship with Namadgi both as a neighbour and as a strong supporter of the Alps program.

Virginia Logan has been appointed Manager of Namadgi National Park. Virginia has worked for the ACT Park Service for the past nine years as a Ranger and has been actively involved in the Alps program as a member of the Cultural Heritage working group. Another big change in the operational nature at Namadgi is Brett McNamara’s departure from the Brindabellas. Brett has been the resident Ranger at Bendora Dam for the past five years. His departure has left a significant gap in the on ground management of Namadgi. Angie Jenkins has taken up the challenge.

The first big challenge is to get a break in the weather so that the removalist truck can get up the mountain to move her in. Angie is earning her stripes (or more appropriately, “Gang gangs”) this winter in managing the increased visitation to the Mount Franklin area as the result of fairly heavy snow falls so far this season. Her efforts are being greatly assisted by Rob Hunt and his fellow rangers from Queanbeyan district NSWNPWS. This on ground joint management approach underpins what the Alps program of cooperation and goodwill is all about.

Steve Welch has decided to take a well-earned break from the service by going on long service leave. While he is away Amanda Carey, will be joining the staff at Namadgi and taking on the challenge of the Boboyan Project, amongst other duties.

Aboriginal trainee, Dean Freeman, has also joined Namadgi staff. Dean was born and raised in Tumut and has spent the last few years up north around Cairns. He has returned to the cold country after spotting an advert in the “Koori Mail” for a 12-month traineeship with the ACT Parks and Conservation Service. Staff are pleased to have Dean on board as part of the team.

Boboyan Pines Rehabilitation

The ACT has further benefited from NSW NPWS with the work on the Boboyan Pines revegetation project in Namadgi. Andy Spate from the Southern Zone team, based at Queanbeyan, has been inspirational as part of the working group set up to help guide the work on the removal of the pine plantation and the rehabilitation of the site. For those of you who know Andy the answer to your question is ‘No, there is no karst system in the Boboyan area’. Andy was involved with a lot of the earlier work on the pine rehabilitation work at Jounama in Kosciuszko National Park.

Over the last few months there has been some significant achievements on site including an impressive burning of the pine slash. This proved to be a wonderful training exercise for the Park Service as well as the ACT volunteer bush fire brigades. Much valuable experience was gained about the intensities of pine fires. In a symbolic gesture several weeks after the burns the ACT Minister for the Environment, Brendan Smyth planted the first Eucalyptus sapling in the ground, at an informal work party.

Wedding Bells

The big news is Graeme Todkill, Namadgi’s leading hand field officer, is engaged to Monica Muranyi who has been working as a ranger on the Murrumbidgee River Corridor. Congratulations Toddy and Monica who are in the process of moving into the rustic Pine Island Homestead overlooking the magnificent Murrumbidgee River.

Environment Australia

April saw Deborah Bourke finish up as Secretary to the Australian Alps Liaison Committee and return to her substantive position at the Mining and Industrial Section within Environment Australia. Thanks for a job well done Deb.

The Alps extends a warm welcome to the new Liaison Committee Secretary Paul Stevenson. Paul has recently shifted from Norfolk Island back to Canberra with Environment Australia. Paul might have some suggestions for a future venue for the Annual Field Workshop (particularly if you think in terms of offshore ‘mountain’ areas). Paul introduces himself elsewhere in this newsletter.

What’s happening around the Alps – Working Groups

Community Relations Progress Report

With Brett McNamara taking the position of Program Coordinator, Peter King (Environment Australia) is once more serving as energetic Convenor of this Working Group.

Community Service Announcements

Many of you around the Australian Alps would have seen the Australian Alps advertised recently on television in the form of 30 or 60 second community service announcements. They have even had air play in the Northern Territory!

They remain popular with stations and are being played in both prime time and late-night time slots. They aim to make the general community more aware that there is a single biogeographical region known as the Australian Alps, and to highlight some of the unique values of this region.

Alps Internet Home Page

The Australian Alps home page was recently overhauled and is likely to just keep getting better- easier to use, with more information, and we will in time have this and subsequent newsletters on-line. This website continues to be popular with students and visitors alike. It is linked to all the Alps agency sites and soon will be linked to the website of the Australian Institute for Alpine Studies . Visit the Alps site soon.

Mt Franklin Interpretive Display

Surrounded by storm blasted snowgums which have withstood the ravages of time, a picturesque mountain setting is the backdrop for a quaint ski chalet, found high on the Brindabella range in Namadgi National Park (ACT).

Built by the founding men and women of the Canberra Alpine Club (CAC) in 1938, the Mount Franklin Ski Chalet represents an important and tangible link in the development of Australian skiing. Standing proudly as the oldest surviving club-built ski lodge in the Australian Alps national parks, the Chalet and site is unique in a regional context.

Historic Mount Franklin provides an insight into an aspect of our alpine heritage. The Canberra Alpine Club and the ACT Parks and Conservation service are committed to the long term management of the site and the significant heritage values it represents.

The site is unrivalled in many aspects. The Chalet is significant in that it represents a site were the management of the heritage values remains vested with the original owners, the Canberra Alpine Club together with the ACT Parks and Conservation Service in a spirit of cooperation and goodwill.

As a highlight of the ACT Heritage Festival a major Open Day was held with over 200 interested people attending. Dr Colin Adrian, Executive Director of Environment ACT, officially opened the Mount Franklin Heritage Walk. The Heritage Walk is designed to encapsulate the unique history and human experiences of Mount Franklin as seen through the pioneering spirit of Canberra Alpine Club members. The display is complete with an interactive oral history soundscape presentation, and historic photographs and ski equipment from a bygone era.

The Australian Alps Liaison Committee partly funded the display panels around the Chalet, a site that straddles the NSW and ACT border. As well as highlighting the Australian Alps, the displays also show that snow cover, once common and plentiful at Mt Franklin has diminished, and is today less reliable than it once was.

Field Guide

After much consideration and a new project brief, the Working Group is now working with a contractor to produce an introductory-level field guide to the Australian Alps. Recently, Dierdre Slattery released a detailed reference book for the Australian Alps and the Working Group’s proposed field guide will nicely complement this and other publications about the Australian Alps. For further details contact Ann Jelinek at Environment Australia, phone (02) 6250 0284.

By Peter King
Convenor
Phone(02) 6250 0766

Natural Heritage Progress Report

Mark Hallam (Environment Australia) and Frank Ingwersen (Environment ACT) have recently had to tender their resignations from the Natural Heritage Working Group due to other commitments. The thanks of the Australian Alps Liaison Committee goes to both of these people.

Scientific Plots

The analysis of the value of existing scientific plots across the Australian Alps continues in the hope of identifying a number of plots that can form the basis of an on-going scientific record of changes happening in the Australian Alps.

La Trobe University (Warrick Papst) is undertaking the review of scientific sites in Victoria, while Jo Clarke is evaluating those in NSW and examining the newly documented sites in the ACT (provided by Brian Terrill).

Once appropriate sites for long-term monitoring have been identified, work will be undertaken to ensure the scientific plots are adequately marked and protected to provide on-going opportunities for monitoring change. For further details. contact Genevieve Wright, NSW NPWS, Jindabyne.

Fox/Dog Poisoning and Quolls

Andy Murray (DNRE Victoria) recently submitted his final report on the potential impact that poisoning programs using the buried-baiting technique (used to poison for dogs and foxes) could have on the Spot-tailed Quoll. The report “Tigers and 1080”, has been endorsed by the Australian Alps Liaison Committee, and it is hoped that the recommendations made in the report will be applied across the Alps. Copies of the report are available from Andy Murray (03) 5161 1302 or Brett McNamara (02) 6207 1694.

Costin Photo Collection

A larger number of photographs than expected have been discovered in a review of the “boxes of information” resulting from the decades of scientific research undertaken by Alec Costin and Dane Wimbush.

Alan Fox has been contracted to work with Alec Costin, Dane Wimbush and Roger Good to identify and catalogue the many hundreds of photographs of research plots and scientific experiments belonging to these scientists that have been undertaken over the years.

The resultant catalogue of prints and negatives will be lodged with the National Library, and a CD of the most important photographs and images will be prepared for use in interpretation and future reporting of changes in the Australian Alps. For further details contact Trish Macdonald, Namadgi National Park Phone (02) 6207 2900.

Rehabilitation of Disturbed Mountain Catchments

Following on from the 1997 Disturbed Catchments Workshop at the University of Canberra, one of the strongest recommendations was to collate the best examples and techniques for rehabilitating disturbed areas in alpine and sub-alpine environments, particularly those associated with resort development and infrastructure (eg. roads, utilities).

Terra Forma Pty Ltd have been contracted to collate a resource manual on the best rehabilitation techniques, where expertise is available and sources of rehabilitation materials. Already two workshops have been held which attracted resort management staff, road managers and park field staff. Through a sharing of ideas, the most important aspects and processes of rehabilitation were identified and examples of best practice were noted and examined.

The resultant manual will be of great benefit to all parks and resort managers in ensuring best practice and consistency in the approaches to rehabilitating disturbed areas in alpine and sub-alpine environments. Contractors and works staff will also gain by having a readily available source of information on technique materials and suppliers. For further details contact Graeme Enders, NSW NPWS, Jindabyne Phone (02) 64505506.

Alps Invaders Booklet – now available, secure your copy today!

The Australian Alps national parks are pleased to announce the release of ‘Alps Invaders -weeds of the Australian high country‘. The fantastic Alps Invaders weed identikit is now available from the Program Coordinator. The guide has been produced for those concerned about weed invasions in our national parks.

Sainty and Associates working with Parks Victoria’s ever vigilant Ranger Nigel Watts, have put together over 50 weeds species in an easy to use identikit guide for visitors, lodge owners, adjacent landowners and field staff.

By identifying weeds that pose the greatest threat to native vegetation, all users and visitors to these parks can assist land managers to locate and control the spread of these invasive species.

A large number of weed species described in the book invaded the Australian Alps many years ago. Others are more recent arrivals. All pose a threat to the long-term survival of wildflowers and other vegetation in the Australian Alps, as well as a threat to the food source of native animals.

Alps Invaders lists the most threatening weed species for alpine and sub-alpine environments and provides information about how to identify the individual weed species. A feedback form also provides the opportunity for members of the public and other park stakeholders to report instances and occurrences of threatening weed species so that early control efforts can be focussed on emerging weed problem areas. (Thanks to Nigel on a job well done, Ed!) For further details contact Nigel Watts, Parks Victoria, Mansfield, Phone (03) 5775 2788.

Global threats to Snow Conference

An international conference to examine the potential impacts of global warming on the Australian Alps was held to explore the long-term implications for management. The conference in February at the Snowy Region Visitor Centre, Jindabyne was a great success with about 80 people attending and a large amount of media interest in the presenters and topics under discussion.

The conference brought together, from Australia and overseas, experts in fields as diverse as meteorology, climate modelling, glaciology, pedology, zoology and botany in order to explore the possible consequences of global warming and increased levels of ultraviolet light on the natural environment of Australian Alps.

The Conference provided the framework for future cooperative research and monitoring and the means to compile an inventory of our present knowledge; the results of this stocktake has been presented in the book “Snow: A Natural History – An Uncertain Future“.

The Australian Institute of Alpine Studies (AIAS) was launched at the conference. Visit their website www.aias.org.au or contact Ken Green NSWNPWS Jindabyne, Phone (02) 6450 5538.

Quoll & Dog/Fox behaviour

Lights … Camera … Action! Spotted-tailed Quolls, dogs and foxes will soon have a chance to demonstrate their talents in front of the camera! A video surveillance camera system has been designed which will soon be gathering unique footage of quoll behaviour at a latrine site and dog and fox behaviour at bait stations.

Developed by Faunatech (contact Ross Meggs 03 9439 2165), the camera is infra-red sensitive, and will provide high-resolution pictures both at night and during the day.

By filming the animals in action at these sites, we will have a much better knowledge about how dogs and foxes approach, investigate and dig up buried poison baits. This information is expected to lead to improvements in the way in which bait stations are created and managed.

Similarly, the role that latrine sites play in the breeding ecology of Spotted-tailed Quolls will be better understood through video-footage of use of these sites by male and female quolls. For further details contact Andy Murray, DNRE, Orbost, Phone (03) 5161 1302.

Feral Horse Monitoring

A contract brief has been distributed calling for a suitable consultant to prepare a monitoring program that investigates and documents the erosion and grazing impacts of feral horses in alpine and sub-alpine environments.

The successful contractor will work closely with the Friends of the Cobberas volunteer group to implement the monitoring program in the Cobberas area of the Alpine National Park (Vic.).

Friends of Cobberas will be trained in the monitoring program and through their regular visits and survey work will provide valuable and scientifically valid data on the impacts of feral horses in this area. For further details contact Scott Perkins (Parks Victoria, Buchan).

Broom Control

Keith Turnbull Research Institute has recently introduced from New Zealand a seed eating Brucchid as yet another line of biological attack on spread of English Broom throughout the Australian Alps. Training of field staff in further distribution and monitoring of the spread will follow the release of the Brucchid into nursery sites.

By Andy Murray
Convenor
Phone (03) 5161 1302

Recreation and Tourism Progress Report

Australian Alps Touring Guide nearly on the book shelves

The final draft is now approved and with New Holland Press for publication later this year so it is distributed in time for this summers visitors to the Alps. The guide is comprehensive and detailed and aimed at visitors seeking information about car trips throughout the Alps. It includes suggested tours, accommodation, information centres and a smattering of natural and cultural history. This has been a difficult project due to the sheer amount of information available, lack of suitable maps and contractual difficulties half way through. Gill Anderson is congratulated on her patience and persistence with this project.

Back-country Recreation Strategy

There are three major items left to deal with from this project. We will be shortly seeking expressions of interest from staff willing to undertake these small but important tasks related to Cross-country skiing, canoeing and rafting and self reliance in remote areas. A great opportunity to be involved and diversify your work! Contact any member of the Working Group or Cath Renwick Phone (02) 6250 9501 for more information.

Australian Alps Lookout Displays

This project is designed to interpret the Alps from key places outside the Alps looking in. Impressive displays are being put in place at two spectacular and busy visitor areas. The Horn on Mount Buffalo has an impressive view of the Alps from Mount Jagungal to The Bluff, near Mansfield and Black Mountain Tower in Canberra, has panoramic views towards Namadgi and Brindabella national parks.

Recreation Strategy project

Consultants have completed a pilot project of a recreation strategy model for the Alps and now we are ready to look at how it can be implemented throughout the Alps. The Pilot was based on the Snowy River area around Willis. Staff training has taken place with a very successful workshop at Currango. The model is based on a Recreation Opportunity Spectrum model with adaptations for the Alps. The next step is to review the pilot and implement a ROS mapping exercise for the Alps gathering information on recreation use and key nodes. Following that we hope to implement the model for key areas using a planning team approach. We are very excited about this project, as it should provide a sound framework and useful management tool for recreation management throughout the Alps.

Australian Alps Walking Track

The Australian Alps Walking Track is one of the Groups greatest achievements. The Guide continues to be popular and a reprint is now being done. The installation of signs at key locations and wilderness boundaries is now completed and major clearing works are completed in the Swifts Creek section.

A Management Strategy for the Australian Alps Walking Track has now been completed after much consultation and a strategy group in place with representatives from all States and the bushwalking community. The group will continue meet twice a year to coordinate and facilitate a common approach to management of the track in line with the now agreed strategy. Geoff Young at Namadgi National Park (ACT) will now be taking over the coordination of that group from Gill Anderson. Trailhead displays will be installed in spring at Walhalla and at the Namadgi Visitor Centre, designed carefully to fit in to the quite different setting of those two places.

Visitor Monitoring

The RTWG are persisting with trying to facilitate some meaningful visitor statistics across the Alps. The program is well in place with figures being reported and collated quarterly, however we are hoping to carry out more work on the system this year to improve accuracy and reporting. Our thanks to Maz White in Bright for coordinating and staff for providing the data from those irritating counters.

Stop press – The Australian Alps will host a Best Practise Workshop on Visitor Monitoring on April 27, 28 and 29, 1999. If you have any ideas or suggestions as to who should be there please contact Cath Renwick, Community Education Project Officer, Phone (02) 6250 9501.

Minimum Impact Program

After printing eight successful minimum impact codes, its time to review the success of these codes in delivering the minimum impact message. We will soon be engaging a consultant to review the effectiveness of the code series and advise on improvements to presentation and distribution.

Best Practice workshops

A key initiative of the RTWG this year will be the start of a series of best practice workshops. The group sees itself as having an important role in facilitating networking so that the best practices of staff across the Alps and of technology in the industry can be communicated to others. Pam O’Brien will be leading these with assistance from Cath Renwick – feel free to contact them with ideas. The first on will be a workshop on visitor monitoring. It will include information on the best technology available, how to get the most out of simple and reliable systems and some basic customer service monitoring. Following workshops will tackle toilet technology and, our old favourite, walking track construction.

Tour Operator Training

After two very successful Tour Operator training courses the RTWG has decided that we need to continue these on a formally accredited basis, but reduce our time commitment. We have engaged Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) -Canberra’s equivalent of TAFE – and Pat Darlington and Dan Nichols from the Kosciuszko Education Centre at Sawpit Creek to develop, run and accredit a course for operators. Another Tour Operator Workshop was held in early May and the team is now developing a formal curriculum and the accredited training module. This is a great initiative for the Alps as the whole issue of training and accreditation of operators is looking for direction.

Tourism Package

The RTWG has recognised that what parks want to promote for tourism and what local tourism authorities actually promote can be vastly different. This project aims to facilitate better communication between local managers and tourism groups. It will identify all the tourism groups around the Alps and their area of interest and identify the relevant park centre. A package of information about the Alps will be prepared to present to those groups by local staff.

The RTWG is looking forward to new members coming on board this year with new ideas and energy. I would like to take the opportunity to thank David Phillips from Environment Australia, who has retired from the group, for his dedication to the RTWG over many years. His experience and knowledge has been invaluable to the group and been a driving force in many of its achievements over those years.

By Peter Jacobs
Convenor
Phone (03) 57551466

Cultural Heritage Progress Report

The help of archaeologist Phil Boot (NSW NPWS) on the Cultural Heritage Working Group over several years is greatly appreciated. Colin Killick, District Manager, Queanbeyan has replaced Phil. While Dennis Matthews is refocussing his attention on East Gippsland, Debbie Argue of the ACT Heritage Unit is stepping into the role of convenor.

International Cultural Significance

Former Cultural Heritage Working Group member Jane Lennon has been contracted to prepare an assessment of the cultural values of the Australian Alps against international criteria. Depending on the results, Jane will also prepare a nomination for the Australian Alps national parks for the Register of the National Estate based on the cultural values.

It is expected that the assessment of cultural values will complement the assessment of international natural values of the Australian Alps undertaken by Prof. Jamie Kirkpatrick several years ago. For further details contact Kathryn Maxwell, Environment Australia Phone (02) 6250 0332.

By Debbie Argue
Convenor
Phone (02) 6207 2167

Australian Alps Profiles

Australian Alps Liaison Committee Member: Chris Rose, Parks Victoria
The Alpine Rose…

I graduated from Melbourne University in 1983 with a Degree in Forest Science. My first real job followed in 1984 at Healesville. Following Ash Wednesday I worked as a Fire Prevention Officer with the local Shire developing their first fire management plan.

Lured by the cold of Tasmania, and by the chance to work in Tasmania’s World Heritage Area, I started as Fire Management Officer for the WHA. Having prepared fire management plans for the three major National Parks in the WHA, I saw the light amongst the smoke!

The lure of general management beckoned and I moved to Tassie’s wild West Coast as Area Manager overseeing Strahan, Queenstown, Lake St Clair and Cradle Mountain. After two solid years of stakeholder management and recreation and tourism work, Chris took the opportunity to move to Hobart as Assistant Director – Operations. This entailed major works programming, track planning, asset management, technical services and program development. Some key achievements were the introduction of Park entry fees for Tasmania’s National Parks, the redevelopment of Lake St Clair to a World Class visitor centre, and the organisation and running of an International Walking Track Management and Planning Workshop, attended by some Australian Alps agency staff.

In 1997, following a major restructure of the Service, I accepted the role of Regional Manager for Southern Tasmania. This role was particularly demanding and involved many staff issues.

Once a mainlander always a mainlander – the lure of the Alps was too strong! I looked for an opportunity to “come home” to Victoria. Now with Parks Victoria as Chief Ranger Alpine, Parks Victoria the return to the mainland is complete.

Helen, Angus, (2 and a half) and I are settling into life in Bright. We are expecting our second child in September. Angus has been practising his snowball throwing recently at Mt Buffalo – mainly using me as his target!

I hope to catch up with many of you at the Australian Alps Annual Field Workshop on Mt Buffalo in November.

Chris is based out of Parks Victoria Office, Bright, Phone (03) 5755 1577

(I have it on good authority that Chris is particularly partial to a good bottle of red… so you’ll all know how to persuade him, should you ever need to! Ed.)

Alps Profile: Australian Alps Liaison Committee Secretary: Paul Stevenson, Environment Australia
Minute Man; have pen, will take minutes…

With Deb Bourke’s return to the Environment Protection Agency, Lee Thomas (Convener AALC) had to find someone who wasn’t doing anything to fill her place. I just happened to be in view at the time. (You probably should have dived for cover Ed!)

The Commonwealth department involved in the Australian Alps program traditionally provides the secretary to the Australian Alps Liaison Committee, in this case Environment AUstralia. The secretary works closely with the AALC Convenor and Program Coordinator to ensure the smooth and efficient operation of the Liaison Committee’s work and that of the Alps program generally. The secretary is responsible for recording minutes of the AALC, Heads of Agencies and if required Ministers meetings; the position is also responsible for the secure storage of these minutes and for ensuring actions arising out of these meetings are addressed.

I joined ANPWS in 1984 after studying Forestry, growing bananas in the Northern Territory and lecturing at the University of Canberra. My first job with ANPWS was to initiate the programs, cooperating with Aboriginal people in the management of their land for nature conservation. I then moved on to managing the ANPWS States Assistance and Research and Surveys Programs, with fingers in several other pies.

One of those pies was assisting the development of the Alps MOU and I had the privilege of producing the first one or two Alps newsletters. In 1989 I moved to the Cocos Islands as Conservator and then to Norfolk Island in 1992. After years on balmy islands, my family and I are now facing our first winter since 1988. My main tasks now are writing management plans for Norfolk Island and Booderee National Parks

Over the last decade the Alps arrangement has matured considerably from a dream that may not have survived even one change of government into a solid working relationship between the four participating agencies. The arrangement now seems to have become an international model for cross-border conservation management. Conservation agencies can now approach other cross-border opportunities with confidence. The lessons that have been learnt, the successful components that have been strengthened and the failures which are now avoided, should not be taken for granted. The knowledge base accumulated over the last decade is very impressive.

The lessons that have been learnt, the successful components that have been strengthened and the failures which are now avoided, should not ne taken for granted. The knowledge base accumulated over the last decade is very impressive.

I am thrilled to once again be involved with the Alps program and look forward to meeting many of you around the Alps.

Paul works from Environment Australia’s office, Canberra, Phone (02) 6250 0369

Feature Article

Mount Buffalo Celebrations commemorate the centenary

How do you say Happy Birthday to a 100-year-old National Park? You invite everyone to a fortnight-long party.

Rangers at Mt Buffalo National Park successfully commemorated this great milestone with a Heritage Festival, showcasing the natural and cultural heritage of this significant national park.

A centenary Working committee invited the local community and noted speakers to participate in the festival, offering lovers of the mountain and first time visitors the chance to be part of history. Rangers at Mt Buffalo are still celebrating the overwhelming success of the festival!

Festival highlights included Schools Week with a regional school, art and writing competition, interpretive walks with Aboriginal speaker Eddie Kneebone and Flora and Fauna experts. The local community participated in workshops on heritage writing, oral history recording with RMIT Media student and the State Library, the festival delivered on its promise of ‘something for everyone’.

The oral history recording has provided the park with an opportunity to collate and recollect the characters associated with Mt Buffalo over the years. One such interview, with the granddaughter of the 1930s era ranger Harry Harrison dispelled the long-standing myth that Harry died of exposure while working on the mountain during a cold snap. Harry did contract pneumonia while working on Bent’s Lookout, but actually died in hospital later.

Guided walks with Rangers and Federation of Victorian Bushwalkers drew record numbers, while historic Chalet tours offered visitors the chance to reflect upon the cultural history of the park, and the newly commissioned 30 minute Mt Buffalo audio visual presentation at Cresta Valley visitor centre.

Retired newsreader Dan Webb and ex-Mt Buffalo Ranger Bob Adams launched their book ‘The Mt Buffalo Story’, with a cocktail party at the Chalet. For family groups the Festival Sunday Family Picnics complete with live entertainment, roving National Park mascots and bush theatre was a terrific success.

The two-week Festival was a tribute to the team effort amongst Park’s staff and Mt Buffalo Chalet, an avid supporter of the event. However, the end of the festival does not herald the end of the festivities. Celebrations continue with remaining Open Days, a Nordic Ski Race and a Dedication Day ceremony with the local community.

This years annual Alps Field Workshop to be held at Mt Buffalo from the 4 – 6 November with the central theme of visitor management for over a hundred years. Plans are well under way to invite all four Ministers with responsibilities for the Australian Alps national parks, to attend part of the Field Workshop and partake in the celebrations of this unique and significant national park – maybe there will be more cause for celebration come the end of the year, the Alps may be growing!

Dates for your Diary

28 August – 28 September
Call for Future Projects

15 – 16 September
Working Group Representatives
Contract and Project Management Workshop, Tumut

4 – 6 November 1998
Annual Field Workshop, Mt Buffalo National Park
Theme: Visitor Management over 100 years

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