Newsletter #19 – Summer 1998/1999

A newsletter for people interested in the Australian Alps

Australian Alps Liaison Committee

The Alps have grown…

What has a Minister of the Crown and a Tharwa meat pie have in common?

Not much, but in some ways the inclusion of Mount Buffalo National park into the Alps Memorandum of Understanding owes much to a chance meeting and a meat pie for lunch!

Some three months ago the Hon Marie Tehan, Minister for Conservation and Land Management (Victoria) was visiting the ACT and inspecting the northern section of the Australian Alps national parks.

While driving through the quaint village of Tharwa on the outskirts of Canberra, protocol demanded the procurement of one of the best pies in Tharwa (in fact the only pies available in Tharwa) for a Ministerial lunch!

Over a meat pie, complete with sauce, the question of enhancing the Alps cooperative management program was raised by the Minister. The inclusion of alpine environments and communities not contiguous with the existing Australian Alps parks has been discussion point with the Australian Alps Liaison Committee (AALC) for sometime.

The issue of amending the Alps MOU to allow for the inclusion of parks and reserves on the biogeographical level was raised with the Minister. Minister Tehan fully endorsed the concept of managing and viewing the Australian Alps cooperative program on a biogeographical and regional level, rather than a series of parks and reserves which are simply contiguous with one another.

The Minister was very keen for this year’s Field Workshop at Mount Buffalo in its centenary year, to announce the “oldest alpine park” as the latest addition into the Australian Alps cooperative management program. With that, the AALC produced a joint team effort in generating a ‘mountain’ of paper work seeking the agreement of the remaining Ministers responsible for the management of the Australian Alps national parks and reserves.

In less than three months, unanimous ministerial agreement had been obtained.

On the 7th November 1998 at Mount Buffalo National Park as part of the Centenary Celebrations, Minister Tehan on behalf of Pam Allen (NSW) and Robert Hill (Commonwealth) and in the presence of Brendan Smyth (Minister for the Environment, ACT) announced the amendments and inclusion of Mount Buffalo National Park into the Alps MOU.

If only the rest of the worlds problems could be solved over a Tharwa pie!

Tidbit’s…

Season’s Greetings… What happened to 1998, where did it go!

Another fire season upon us and another year older… Thankfully it would appear that this fire season is not as threatening as last years…

On behalf of the Australian Alps Liaison Committee, I would like to sincerely wish you all a happy and safe break over the festive season. We look forward to your continual support next year. During the year the response of staff across the Alps has been to give their time in addition to their normal duties, to become involved with and ensure the success of the Alps program.

Without this level of staff commitment and the energy and enthusiasm of the working groups, the overall program would not have received international recognition as a model of excellence in achieving cross-border cooperation.

Thankyou and Merry Christmas to you and yours…
Brett McNamara

1997/98 Annual Report

Recently, the Australian Alps Liaison Committee Annual Report for 1997/98 was tabled and accepted by the Heads of Agencies at their meeting at Mount Buffalo National Park.

The annual report provides a review of the Australian Alps cooperative management program for the previous financial year. The report outlines the organisational make-up of the Liaison Committee and Working Groups and contains the financial report on projects undertaken. The report also continues to serve as an important information source on the cooperative management program for members of the public, tertiary institutions and libraries.

Reporting on the activities and successes of the cooperative management program is an essential task of the Liaison Committee to raise awareness and to communicate the tangible benefits of the Memorandum of Understanding.

It also makes an ideal Christmas gift! Additional copies are available from the Program Coordinator.

New Database Up and Running, sort of…

With the hand over of the Program Coordinator position came a mountain of paperwork and computer files. Amongst which was the Alps newsletter mail-out list. The mailout list contains over 600 names, addresses and contact details collated over a number of years and guess what happened? Yep, the file crashed, we lost the lot!! This happened late one Friday afternoon …

The good news is we have a new data software program up and running, the bad news is that there are still a few teething problems… So, if you have received multiple copies of this newsletter, give one to your Granny and contact the Program Coordinator.

High Profile Field Workshop

This years annual field workshop at Mount Buffalo National Park has been heralded as “one of the best ever” with over 65 participants enjoying a very impressive view of the Australian Alps from the front verandah of the historic Mount Buffalo Chalet!

The main theme this year was a centenary of visitor management. The workshop complimented Parks Victoria centenary celebrations, marking 100 years of park management of the unique cultural and natural heritage values of Mount Buffalo National Park.

While managing a national park is not a complete circus, it certainly is a balancing act! The balance of protecting the values of the park while at the same time providing for the enjoyment and inspiration of visitors. The workshop examined in some detail the lessons learnt over the last century. The successful components that have been strengthened and the experiences gained when managing complex issues related to visitor and recreational management.

The gathering at Mount Buffalo also had an international flavour. Brian Ahern form the Department of Conservation in New Zealand, providing an overseas perspective to ski field and resort management. Many of the issues the Australian Alps face are common with our New Zealand colleagues. The worldwide effect of climate change was identified as one the major issues confronting all alpine land management agencies.

David Riley, Deputy Chief Executive of Tourism Victoria, providing a thought provoking presentation on the future direction of tourism and national parks. An article featuring edited highlights of David’s presentation is in this newsletter.

Jane Lennon, Heritage Consultant, presented a retrospective view of the development of two of Victoria’s icon parks that of Wilson Promontory and Mount Buffalo and the associated impacts upon these parks in terms of increasing visitor numbers.

As part of the Dedication Day activities on the Saturday, Brendan Smyth, Minister for the Environment (ACT) officially launch the Australian Alps latest publication “Explore the Australian Alps – the official touring guide to the Australian Alps national parks”. See the flyer insert for more information and how to secure your copy today.

With this years workshop now only a fond memory to most, planning has already commenced for next years Field Workshop to be held at Namadgi National Park (ACT). The theme for next year’s workshop is based on ‘Neighbours and Volunteer Management‘. We look forward to catching up with everyone once again and renewing acquaintances at the northern end of the Australian Alps in late October 1999!

A Kiwi perspective on a small window on the Australian Alps…

Brian Ahern and his wife Rosemary provided a fascinating insight to the Field Workshop at Mount Buffalo on issues related to alpine land management from the land of the long white cloud. Brian is the Program Manager Concessions, Wakatipu Area Office, Department of Conservation, New Zealand.

The trip across to the land down under was fascinating. A highlight for Rosemary and I was to amongst enthusiasts for national parks, our trip to the Australian Alps can be sum up in one word – dedication.

Dedication of the people who work well beyond the boundaries of what is expected of them, not just employees or officers, but staff who are a part of a culture and ethic. The culture to manage and conserve that which is so much becoming an accepted philosophy of survival on this earth, the natural and cultural resources of our parks and reserves. We met many who have endured remote and challenging postings in places that are often hostile and still adopting pioneering attitudes of “breaking the land in“, and confronting a public that has not yet caught up with the big picture. These test the most resilient personality.

However, grappling with rapidly changing political scenes and structural changes can be the biggest challenge, and it is important not to lose the foundation of experience that prevails, so look after this experience and learnt knowledge as a resource. We neglect our history at our own peril.

Key points which I feel are mutually shared between our organisations, involve many complex issues which resource managers face on a daily basis:

  • Risk Management
    This area is getting top priority by your organisation, especially with Parks Victoria, and becoming manifest in every field of activity – planning, practical, political and monetary. The times when we are most vulnerable are during major change when there are many new things to be grasped and grappled with. These are the areas where risk can be identified and when old learnt skills are lost. Be vigilant for those contributing factors.
  • Tourism
    It is vital to the continued understanding and protection of any park system. It is a reality and must be managed in a professional manner which will lead to positive rather than negative conservation outcomes. The way in which we manage this will reduce visitor impact.
  • Visitor impact
    These can be reduced by preparing visitors before they enter the park system. By conveying information to visitors via the tourism agencies and organisations and establishing closer representations of parks on tourism boards, all will benefit.
    It was good to see the session on tourism at the workshop advocating partnership. Having well-trained and sensitively managed staff is essential to further reducing visitor impacts. This is well established in your parks. Excellence in this area occurs in the way in which visitors are managed, directed and serviced.
  • Surviving change
    This is a fact of life in the way in which we approach our work. Change from climate, technology and political attitudes is on the move. The preparedness for these adjustments will benefit the handling of change without detrimental effects to conservation. It will demand flexibility and innovative approaches.
  • Ski-field development
    We were surprised as we drove over Mt. Hotham at the development on the other side of the mountain. The contrast was with Mt. Buffalo, which is low key and controlled. You should allow modernised facilities to be put in, but still maintain the qualities and aesthetics of the environment. The trick is to allow the activity while minimising effects, or providing an established route to pull back or restore to original.
    Keeping in touch with the local community is essential. This point is reflected well at Mt. Buffalo in particular, with the lodge concession, and with the centenary celebrations on the Saturday with the elders and school children represented. They are your closest and most watchful customers. They are also good political barometers. Make sure you give them a tap occasionally, and see what reading you get. The longer it is left the bigger the shock.

Many thanks to all the workshop participants and associates. In particular, we would like to extend our thanks to Brett McNamara for his assistance in getting us there. We’ll keep in touch.

Cheers
Brian and Rosemary Ahern
Queenstown
New Zealand

Australian Alps Service Awards

Staff Awards have been developed to recognise high levels of staff commitment to the cooperative management program for the Australian Alps and to encourage staff to take a major role in contributing to the success of the program.

There are two main categories of awards for staff who are working or have worked as part of the Australian Alps cooperative program. The awards are intended to recognise outstanding or significant contributions.

Outstanding Service Award

Awarded to individual members of Agency staff who have made an outstanding contribution to the Australian Alps program. Outstanding Service awards are awarded for contributions that would be considered to be a very high standard for staff in regular employment with an Australian Alps agency.

Alistair Howard, Executive Director Operations NSW NPWS, presented two Outstanding Service Awards on behalf of the Heads of Agencies at the Mount Buffalo Field Workshop. The recipients were:

Gill Anderson, Parks Victoria. For the development of the Australian Alps Vehicle Touring Guide.

Bob Jones, Parks Victoria. As a long standing member of the Australian Alps Liaison Committee.

Merit Award

Awarded to individual members of Agency staff who have made a significant contribution to the Australian Alps cooperative management program. The recipients were:

Neville Byrne, Parks Victoria. As the former Program Coordinator, Australian Alps national parks.

Gregor Manson, NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service. As a member of the Australian Alps Liaison Committee.

Dennis Matthews, Parks Victoria. As former Convenor of the Cultural Heritage Working Group.

Letters of Appreciation

In addition to the above awards, the Australian Alps Liaison Committee presented Letters of Appreciation in recognition of the contribution made to the Australian Alps national parks cooperative management program. The recipients were:

Andy Murray, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Victoria. For his work in producing the report ‘Tiger and 1080: the threats posed by buried poison baits to spotted-tailed Quolls in the Australian Alps national parks‘.

Nigel Watts, Parks Victoria. For his work in overseeing the production of the booklet ‘Alps Invaders: Weeds of the Australian High Country‘. Project undertaken by the Natural Heritage Working Group.

Gill Anderson, Parks Victoria. As Convenor of the Australian Alps Walking Track subcommittee for the development by the committee of the Australian Alps Walking Track Management Strategy.

Around the Agencies: Correspondents Report

New South Wales
The word from the Lyrebird…

Brian Gilligan has now been permanently appointed as the Director-General of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Mark Johnston who has been acting in the position of Regional Manager, Snowy Mountains Region will soon be departing Kosciuszko for the coast. It is unclear at this stage as to who will be casting a watchful eye over the Regional Manager’s in tray!

Danny Corcoran will join the Jindabyne Rangers and will assume responsibility for the Pilot area. Danny has considerable experience as a Ranger in NSW and will be arriving prior to Christmas to take up his new post.

In contrast, Tumut Rangers will be farewelling John Dunn who is retiring from the Service at the end of the year. John will be greatly missed as a Ranger within the Region particularly for his expertise, experience and enthusiasm in the areas of pest species control. John has also worked very hard to ensure the Service achieved and maintained best practise standards of training for chainsaw use and fire arm use throughout the State. John is unsure how long he has worked in Tumut District and only refers to being there for “too long” however we calculated that it has been for 12 years. Good luck John.

Other happenings within the Region include the public exhibition of the Kosciuszko National Park Fire Management Plan, which will close on the 30th of November. It is hoped that the final plan will be in production by the New Year.

There has also been a lot of fire training happening across the region including helicopter winching and safety, fire weather, basic fire modules, chainsaw operations, radio operations and fire preparedness days.

Corroboree frog tadpoles that spent the winter in Melbourne were welcomed home to their natural ponds in Kosciuszko recently. In an effort to increase the survival rates of this threatened species, they have spent some time in Melbourne.

The Alpine Way reconstruction works Stage 2 are underway which will see 600 metres of the Alpine way above Thredbo Village reconstructed and the road above the village re-opened.

The future of the Kiandra Court House was thoroughly discussed at a public meeting held at the historic landmark. From this meeting Tumut District will draft an options document which will also go on public display for comment.

Otherwise, its business as usual in the Snowy Region.

Victoria
The Mexican update, south of the border…

With the arrival of Mark Stone as the new Chief Executive of Parks Victoria some opportunities for improvement in the structure of the organisation have been identified. A review process is now close to completion that has made Head Office and some corporate Divisions more functionally aligned with the corporation’s key service delivery objectives. This has included the formation of four key corporate Divisions:

  • Park Services
  • Conservation
  • Corporate Strategy
  • Corporate Services

The restructure will be completed and all people in their new roles by Christmas 1998.

In terms of the Regions, the structures remain close to those created earlier this year. However, as a result of a review of the role of regions and corporate divisions, some additional people and functions will be transferred to the Regions. This does not greatly affect the Alpine District, but East Gippsland and West Gippsland Districts will take on several additional assets.

The Alpine District has now completed its restructure process and is concentrating firmly on service delivery. Key objectives for the next few months are to complete the flood damage assessment and begin restoration of damaged roads, bridges and walking tracks. The other key element is ensuring the grazing management systems is implemented this year following the reissue of the alpine grazing licences for a further 7 year period.

The large and complex region, which comprises the Alpine District, has been divided into 6 management units, each with a Ranger-In-Charge. These management units are:

Unit Name Officer in Charge Unit Headquarters Other PV Offices
King Howqua Andrew Markwick Mansfield Whitfield
Buffalo Peter Jacobs Buffalo Buffalo
Bogong Peter Jenkins Bright Mt Beauty
Upper Murray Nick Walton Corryong Tallangatta
Eastern Alps David Burton Swifts Creek Buchan
Wonnangatta Moroka Peter Lawrence Heyfield Dargo

In addition, the new units will carry a program strategy role, the main idea of which is to coordinate responses across the Alps in Victoria to a number of key issues. It also gives corporate staff the option of responding to one key person, and interstate Alps people, a key contact in Victoria.

Australian Capital Territory

The Gang-Gang Gossip

More Staff Movements

Since our last edition, Namadgi National Park has seen a number of new faces. Amongst which are Amanda Carey and Tony Corrigan. Amanda has finally fulfilled a long ambition to work in the Alps; this has come about after a few years’ “hard yards” in some of the ACT’s other reserves. Margot Sharpe has taken leave to care for her new daughter, Patricia a sister to Erin. Congratulations Margot and Richard! Filling the vacant void at Namadgi is Tony Corrigan as Senior Ranger. Tony has been with the ACTP&CS for 15 years and is looking forward to the challenge ahead.

Aboriginal trainee Norman has joined the ranks to broaden his experience and to lend a hand. Norman’s roots are in the Menindee district, but he has travelled quite extensively. Dean Freeman, who preceded Norman, has now moved to greener pastures at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Dean was an asset to the Park and will be missed – thanks Dean.

The Great Northern Hug’ n

The annual ‘Hug n‘ was held recently, with staff from NSW NPWS Tumut and Queanbeyan Districts mixing with Namadgi representatives to discuss cross-border issues. The Hug’ n had it origins in keeping with the Alps principle of cooperation and goodwill between the agencies. The venue this year was the Franklin Chalet which apparently celebrated its 60th birthday this year! (See last Alps Newsletter).

Field inspections of some of the challenging issues took up the two days and sparked some lively debate especially in relation to mountain bikes and wilderness areas. Thankfully, all was resolved over a few quiet ones back at the Chalet, with the vast majority of the world’s problems being solved! As a result of the meeting, a number of trails within the joint Bimberi Wilderness Area will now be managed as dormant fire trails. Thanks to Angie Jenkins who’s catering skills made the Hug’ n the great success it was… after all the Alps marches on its respective stomachs!

Camp grounds

The new campground at the site of the old Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station is all but finished and due to open over the next few months. The new campground will cater for larger groups and includes new toilets and a communal shelter and barbecue area.

Recent renovations to the Orroral campground are also nearing completion. The campground was closed early this year as the drought left it without any water. Under the watchful eye of David Dwyer, staff saw the opportunity to undertake some well overdue maintenance work. The area now sports new grass, rebuilt fireplaces and a few new sites.

Environment Australia (Commonwealth)

What’s the buzz with the Parks Australia…

As for other agencies in recent times, the Commonwealth park service, Parks Australia, is currently undergoing a restructure. After the Federal election in October 1998, the portfolio has been renamed the Department of the Environment and Heritage. The new ‘improved’ department comprises of Environment Australia (of which Parks Australia is a part), the Bureau of Meteorology, the Antarctic Division, the Australian Heritage Commission, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Supervising Scientist Group and a Corporate Services Group.

The legislation implemented by Parks Australia and its predecessors – ANPWS and ANCA for 23 years, is being revised. The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1975) is being merged with other conservation legislation involving whales and endangered species (Reform of Commonwealth Environment Legislation: Consultation Paper). The result will be the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Bill 1998 and its associated Regulations.

A certified agreement over work conditions has been negotiated and accepted by the majority of Environment Australia staff. The conditions for remote area staff are being reviewed as part of the certified agreement. While many Alps staff feel remote they should think of those on islands up to 2000km from the mainland!

What’s happening around the Alps – Project Progress Reports

Community Relations Working Group

Progress Report

Peter King, Environment Australia, has recently moved onto greener pastures within the organisation, leaving a significant gap in terms of providing leadership to the working group. The need to find someone of similar ‘calibre’ to step into the ‘breach’ has resulted in Odile Arman, a sharp shooter from way back, serving as energetic Convenor of this Working Group.

Australian Alps Video and Map project

Work has been proceeding on the development, production and distribution of a 15-minute video on the Australian Alps national parks for visitor centres, coach groups and general purchase. The existing Alps Tourist Map will also be revamped and updated with more user-friendly information. The entire project has been designed along similar lines to that of the very successful NPWS South -East Forest package. The Alps project will develop stakeholder interest and form partnership arrangements with councils, tourism organisations and others to provide a sense of ownership for the information package. Stuart Cohen (NPWS) is coordinating the project.

Community Awareness Survey

A project brief is nearing completion to engage the professional services of a market research company to ascertain and establish baseline values of the level of awareness of community audiences of the existence of the Alps cooperative management program. This survey will also provide useful data and information as to the needs and park visitor satisfaction to our national parks. This project represents a joint effort with the Recreation and Tourism Working Group; an initiative which is hoped will bring both working groups closer together.

Community Service Announcements

Hopefully by now, many of you around the 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 interstate!

The community services announcements 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.

Australian Alps Internet Home Page – www.australianalps.environment.gov.au

The Australian Alps home page was recently overhauled and is likely to just keep getting better – easier to use, with more information! This and subsequent newsletters and annual reports are now available on-line. The website continues to be popular with students and visitors alike and is linked to all the Alps agency sites as well as the website of the Australian Institute for Alpine Studies .

Visit the Alps site soon at www.australianalps.environment.gov.au.

Alps Field Guide

A major review of the anticipated Field Guide was undertaken and comparisons made with other field guides covering the Australian Alps and other conservation reserves. This resulted in a much more focussed project that will be habitat based, and will not directly compete with privately produced guides for the Australian Alps. When complete, the Field Guide will help to increase community understanding and appreciation of the unique natural heritage values of the alpine and sub-alpine environments and the importance of conserving the Alps. The target audience for the Field Guide is the general visiting public who may not have training or experience in the scientific or taxonomic identification of alpine species. For further details contact: Ann Jelinek, Environment Australia, Phone (02) 6250 0284.

By Odile Arman, Convenor
Phone (02) 6207 2088

Natural Heritage Working Group

Strategic Management Plans

The Strategic Management Plan for Native Flora and Fauna and the Strategic Management of Priority Pest Species are both projects that the working group has established so that we can have a strategic view of where we are going over the next 5-10 years.

The projects are designed to review the current knowledge and importance ‘rankings’ of the different species and communities across the Alps and identify those for which there is a priority need for further research, investigation or management coordination.

A key to the success of these projects will be the workshops that will be held to discuss the issues and species that are seen as priorities. It is important that both expert and field staff are involved in these workshops.

If you have ever put up a project to this working group that has not received funding ensure that you have your say at one of the relevant workshops. Keep your eye out for notification of the workshops. More Information about these projects can be obtained from:

Strategic Management of Native Flora and Fauna
Graeme Enders
NSW NPWS
Jindabyne
Phone (02) 6450 5506

Strategic Management of Priority Pest Species
Trish Macdonald
Namadgi National Park
Phone (02) 6207 2900

Feral Goats

Following on from the very successful Feral Goat Workshop that was held in Tumut last year, work has commenced on the development of a strategic management plan for feral goats in the Australian Alps. An important part of this project will be the development of an extension package. This package can be used to encourage Alps neighbours to control goats, and to inform them of the detrimental impacts that goats have in the Alps bioregion. For more information contact: Trish Macdonald, Phone (02) 6207 2900.

Biocontrol of Broom

After last year’s workshop on Broom, the Australian Alps supported the importation of the seed eating Bruchid Moth. This is part of the strategy of looking for effective bio-control agents for Broom. This involves training staff in implementation of biological control, releasing agents at nursery sites, monitoring the establishment and spread at the release sites and measuring the impact of the biocontrol. The Keith Turnbull Research Institute (Vic) has been engaged to undertake and carry out this work. For more information contact: Nigel Watts, Parks Victoria, Mansfield, Phone (03) 5733 0120.

Fire Regeneration

Following the major fire in the Alpine National Park (Vic) earlier this year, a project was established to look at Post-fire Regeneration of Grassland and Bog Communities. This project is being carried out by Warick Papst et al, Latrobe Uni. The Alps has provided some of the funding that was needed to ensure that this work was carried out. The information resulting from this study will be relevant to all Alps parks and will supplement the information already being obtained from the Alps Vegetation Fire Response Monitoring System. This Monitoring system has 40 sites established throughout the Alps. For more information about this project or the Alps Fire Response Monitoring System contact: Genevieve Wright, NSW NPWS, Jindabyne, Phone (02) 6450 5537.

Stream Health Monitoring

The first stage of this project is well underway. The project involves a literature review of water quality studies in the Alps and designing a sampling strategy so that a model of Alps river health can be developed. The model will provide a focus for catchment management initiatives and a baseline data set of river condition in the Alps. For more information contact: Mark Lintermans, Phone (02) 6207 2117.

By Trish Macdonald, A/Convenor
Phone (02) 6207 2900

Recreation and Tourism Working Group

Explore the Australian Alps Touring Guide – out now!

The much heralded, much anticipated touring guide to the Australian Alps is now available. The guide was officially launch by the Minister for the Environment (ACT) Brendan Smyth at the Mount Buffalo Field Workshop. The Minister commented on the quality of the guide with its colourful 176 pages packed with information and additional notes on the Australian Alps national parks.

The touring 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.

Back-country Recreation Strategy

Expressions of interest have been circulated for staff and other interested groups willing to undertake projects 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 for more information or Cath Renwick, Phone (02) 6250 9501.

Minimum Impact Evaluation

Elizabeth Beckmann and associates, from the University of Canberra have recently commenced work in evaluating the effectiveness of the popular minimal impact series of codes. After printing eight successful minimum impact codes, its time to review the success of these codes in delivering the minimum impact message. The project will aim to review the effectiveness of the code series and advise on improvements to presentation and distribution. If you have any comments you would like incorporated into the review contact: Geoff Young (ACT), Phone (02) 6207 2900.

Recreation Strategy Project

With work now completed on a pilot project for a recreation strategy model for the Alps, the working groups’ attention is now being focused on how it can be implemented throughout the Alps. The Pilot was based on the Snowy River area around Willis. 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. For more information contact: Peter Jacobs (Vic), Phone (03) 5755 1466.

Australian Alps Walking Track

The Australian Alps Walking Track is one of the Groups greatest achievements. 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 strategy group will continue to 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 summer 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 working group is concentrating its collective energy in facilitating 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.

Best Practice workshops: Visitor Monitoring

A key initiative of the working group 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. 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. Contact Pam O’Brien, Phone (02) 64505575 or Cath Renwick Phone (02) 6250 9501 with any ideas or suggestions as to what you would like to see covered.

Tour Operator Training

After two very successful Tour Operator training courses the working group has decided to continue these on a formally accredited basis. The Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) -Canberra’s equivalent of TAFE have been engaged to develop an accredited course for tour operators, the project involves developing a formal curriculum and accredited training module. This is a great initiative for the Alps as the whole issue of training and accreditation is looking for a sense of direction.

Tourism Information Package

Cath Renwick, our hard working community education officer has been busy working away developing a tourism information package.. 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. The end result will be a package of information about the Alps which can be presented to those tourism groups by local staff.

By Pam O’Brien, Convenor
Phone (02) 6450 5575

Cultural Heritage Working Group

The Cultural Heritage working Group has welcomed many new members – all enthusiastic and keen, the latest recruit is Ray Supple from the Parks Victoria. A recent meeting of the group held in the salubrious Namadgi National Park Visitors’ Centre has fired up the group to tackle head on a number of projects…

Hut Preservation and Restoration Training Workshop

Work has commenced on conducting a training workshop for staff and volunteers at a number of historic sites to learn skills in repairing and conserving historic buildings in AAnp’s. The project will include production of a workshop manual and listing of people with appropriate trade skills for latter reference. A Project Officer is about to be appointed to facilitate and coordinate the workshops. David Dwyer is overseeing the project, for more information or suggestions as to what you would like to see the training workshop cover, contact: David Dwyer, Phone (02) 6207 2900.

Cultural Heritage Site Assessment

This project is designed to produce an assessment of site protection and conservation requirements throughout the AANPs based on currently available data and train staff in use of assessment method. The project will involve collating data set requirements for heritage sites from each Agency and developing common data set requirements for sites, including sample forms. Ray Supple and Colin Killick are coordinating, contact Ray in the first instance for more information (Phone (03) 9816 1130).

Aboriginal Issues Awareness Workshop

The working group identified the need to conduct a series of Aboriginal issues awareness workshops to empower field staff to confidently approach Aboriginal communities regarding interpretative messages. The project has been recently refocussed to take into account the need to gain appreciation for issues facing contemporary Aboriginal society. Colin Killick is currently exploring options with NSW NPWS Aboriginal Training Unit to deliver an ‘Alps’ tailored program. For further information contact: Colin Killick, Phone (02) 6299 2929.

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. 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.

By Debbie Argue, Convenor
Phone (02) 6207 2167

The view from Tourism Victoria

At the recent Mt Buffalo Field Workshop, David Riley Deputy Chief Executive from Tourism Victoria provided a thought provoking presentation on the future direction of tourism and national parks. At the outset he hoped that we would remember 5 things. Here is a reminder – edited highlights.

Tourism is an amalgam of a wide range of other industries including transport, accommodation, hospitality, education, sport, retail, manufacturing, heritage, flora and fauna. Tourists most often have to deal with all these industries albeit indirectly. Changes within these industries can have great impacts on tourism.

Commonly it is thought that alternative tourist destinations, both in Australia and overseas, are the chief competitors for the tourism dollars. However, the mortgage, children’s education and other leisure activities are more likely to really compete with how much families and individuals are willing to spend on their holidays. Credit cards represent a boon to the tourism industry as they have radically changed the ability of people to travel, that is, people can travel before they have saved the money!

Indicators of success in tourism don’t necessarily equate to higher visitation though that is often what is measured. A more complex measure would include length of stay, average expenditure, dispersion and seasonality (where and when people spend) as well as visitor numbers.

Tourism Victoria has identified several areas of tourism ‘product strength’, and they include: festivals; arts/cultural activities; food and wine; skiing and high country; shopping/arts/crafts; natural attractions; touring and soft adventure. These areas are marketed strongly and with a great deal of success in Victoria. Accessible diversity is the key to Tourism Victoria’s jigsaw campaign.

There are several key marketing factors that national parks should consider:

  • The mix of interpretation, education and entertainment. One suggestion is to get rid of all the interpretation signs and get more ‘guides’ back on the ground.
  • There are ethical issues to consider when marketing natural attractions:
    • promise only what can be delivered
    • remember a brochure is a contract to deliver
    • ensure supply before you market
  • Remember you are managing and marketing a living product – the natural and cultural environment – try to manage the visitor’s ‘footsteps’ or impacts not the ‘ground’. Be prepared to ‘demarket’ – place less marketing focus on areas that can’t cope.
  • It is important to manage visitors’ interactions with staff and the site. Visitors contribute 50% to the interaction and it is important to equip staff to manage visitor interactions especially when the visitor is being belligerent. It isn’t just service provision it is a two-way interaction.

‘Branding’ is another element to the marketing mix. Are the words ‘national park’ the brand, or is the name of each national park the brand, or is the differentiated experience on offer at each park the key to the brand? Most people are looking for a clue to distinguish one attraction from another and asking themselves ‘I want this experience so how do I get it?’

There are many potential opportunities for national parks and the tourism industry to work cooperatively together and amongst others these include:

  • cooperative tactical advertising campaigns
  • direct marketing
  • event management in a park
  • industry development partnerships
  • electronic information distribution
  • infrastructure development – regional plans

Finally, David pointed out that tourism in national parks is not a jigsaw puzzle but a Rubik’s cube! He encouraged us to try to see all the sides and all the impacts … and those 5 messages to remember were:

  • Don’t fool yourself that tourist are homogenous
  • Understand the market must be segmented by attitudes not demographics
  • Measure success including impacts and visitor satisfaction
  • Too easy to think that a glossy brochure is the answer
  • Plan for supply and demand.

Australian Alps Walking Track… A walkers perspective

David Booth recently set out on a walk, a walk covering over 650km across the roof-top of Australia. Here is an edited version of an article written by David about his experiences, a walker’s perspective…

Pst… I want to share a secret with you. It’s called the Australian Alps Walking Track. It extends from Namadgi National Park near Canberra all the way to Walhalla in Victoria, some 650 km of the most spectacular mountain country in Australia. I discovered the secret in John Siseman guidebook and was inspired to try it solo!

Before you dismiss me as a fanatic I should emphasise that my previous longest bushwalk was 7 days and my previous longest solo walk was 2 days. I am an average bushwalker with some Tasmanian and NZ experience (20 years ago). My message is that this walk is accessible to many people either in sections or as a “through walk”.

My planning was detailed. I studied available information about the terrain and water availability. I planned a 32 day walk with two food drops. This meant an average of around 20km per day in some very steep country. I spent a lot of time trying to minimise pack weight. I read a lot and opted for a light Cosmos tent, a minimum of clothing and food and a MSR stove … not as extreme as some American walkers who don’t take tents or stoves, eat mostly Snickers and walk in running shoes!

With the drought lingering I decided to leave the walk until autumn. Not too early as water was scarce, but not too late, as bad weather including possible snow would mean a trip of different character. My schedule was based on some formulas for walking based on 4km per hour with adjustments for ascent, descent and track/no track. My schedule was slightly optimistic, after all I am 51 years old and my pack was between 20 and 25kg. I allowed for some easier days but did not allow for bad weather delays.

I told family I would like to do the trip, and after they had recovered from the shock, we all started to assume I would do the trip. I received a lot of encouragement from them and other people. My retrenchment in March made it all possible. There was no longer an “excuse” not to do the walk.

So on 1st April 1998 (an appropriate start date for such a venture) I emerged from the car at Namadgi Visitor Centre to start the adventure. After the mandatory photo taken by my wife Robyn, I set off into the cool morning air to climb Mt Tennant the first of some 40 peaks that I was to traverse on the walk. Immediately I wondered whether I could sustain the enthusiasm needed for the sheer physical demands. I was also considering the mental prospect of being alone for a month. Did I make the correct decisions about food and equipment? It was all ahead of me to experience and I decided to make the most of it. After all, it is a great challenge.

To be continued, visit the Alps website to find out how I got on…

David Booth

A possum stole my pickles…

Visitors Books located in huts provide a marvellous insight into the level of visitor satisfaction with our national parks and in particular the management of wilderness areas.

The following are comments left by some backpackers after their ‘wilderness experience‘…:

A possum came into my camp and stole my bag of pickles. Is there any way I can get reimbursed? Please call me on my mobile…

Trails need to be widen so people can walk while holding hands.

Ban walking sticks in the wilderness. Hikers using them are more likely to chase the animals.

I found a smouldering cigarette left by a horse.

There are too many bugs, leeches, spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests.

Reflectors need to be placed on trees every fifty feet so people can walk at night with torches.

Need more signs to keep the area pristine.

The places where trails do not exist are not well marked.

There’s no pleasing some people…

Feature Article: A message from Mt Pinnibar

Nick Walton is the Ranger in charge of the Upper Murray Management Unit within the Alpine District of Parks Victoria. For providing an insight into a day in the life of a Ranger Nick, Nick will receive a complimentary copy of “Explore The Australian Alps – the official touring guide to the Australian Alps national parks“.

If you would like to receive a free copy of this marvellous book, send in today your story about your special part of the world…

The track from Tom Groggin Station to Mount Pinnibar is a steep, narrow, rutted and rugged four-wheel drive track. I wonder and marvel at the construction of this track. It is a testament to the machine operators’ skill as the track rises along the ridge line and weaves in and out of magnificent specimens of Alpine Ash. These gigantic Ash trees were too big, and still are too big, to have been pushed over by any bulldozer. They have proudly stood; unshakeable, on the mountainside and defied the foresters yearn for millable timber to end up protected in the Alpine National Park.

It is not only the slight feeling of vertigo that tells you the track is steep, it is the sound that the vehicle engine makes in low range gears, that lets you appreciate that its working a lot harder than normal. In places there is a sharp rise in altitude where many of natures landscape creations quickly unfold into the distance. Tall mountains, rock scarps, knolls, deep ravines, dissected valleys, gullies, ridges, scree slopes, granites, shales and the presence of graptolites make this a geologists playground.

Along the track, still on the way up, and at around 1,500 metres, the majestic Ash gives way to large Snow Gums in a picturesque setting. You can almost draw a definite line at the altitude where the two species meet. Incredible as it seems, the Snow Gums get smaller as you travel higher, until you reach the summit of Mt. Pinnibar at 1,772 metres where they are but the size of small shrubs. I am astonished at the change in form of this species and how finely tuned it has evolved in response to temperature. There is a precise relationship between altitude and temperature where above 600 metres there is a steady decrease of about 18 per 100 metres for unsaturated air.

Mt. Pinnibar is reputed to be the highest peak, in the Alpine National Park, that you can actually drive over. What impresses me most about being on this mountain is the elements of wilderness. It is a place of solitude, ‘a refuge from the pressures, sights and sounds of modern urban life’. There are a few visible forest harvesting scars which are being reclaimed by the resilient forest and the regeneration activities of our foresters. As I stand, looking at the unbroken 360-degree view, I watch the resident Australian Kestrel hovering with unparalleled skill above a patch of wildflowers. It is pleasing to witness this master of flight as it swoops into the Mountain Gentian and Billy-buttons to snatch its unsuspecting prize.

The vista and cool air lend themselves to a refreshing experience. I am awe inspired by the creation of these mountains. I enjoy their imposing grandeur and give up at trying to conceptualise the vast time frames needed to explain their existence.

On the way down the western slope of this silent sentinel I consider the time of day, the fuel I have left and the distance back to Corryong, before deciding my route home. Fortunately for some, I choose to travel via Wheelers Creek Hut and I stop briefly. Although not historic and managed by the Forests Department, I occasionally give it ‘a lick and a promise’. Wheelers Creek plays host to the Spotted Tree Frog surveys as it is prime habitat for this endangered amphibian. The water quality here is outstanding, it is cold, and oxygen laden as it tumbles and cascades amongst pollution free pebbles and boulders. This creek, like the others on the northern side of the range, drain into Australia’s greatest river, ‘The Mighty Murray’. The sly fox is here too; its footprints and scats along the creek bank give away its presence. Lets hope that the CSIROs efforts in viral-vector immune-contraception proves to be the downfall of this introduced predator.

I meet the first people I have seen for the last four hours. Ah Ha! Customers, clients, stakeholders, visitors and poor drivers all rolled into one. Somehow (a method best left unexplained), these intrepid four-wheel drivers have slipped off the side of the road and come to rest in a ‘no go position’. We collectively weigh up the options as I graciously knock back the offer of a ‘slab’ for my assistance. While recovering bogged vehicles I am always mindful of two things. Number one, it is not core business and number two, the potential to damage the bogged vehicle. I will always, gladly, lend a hand to a fellow motorist, without a fee, where I am certain that no further damage will result. In this instance I convinced my new found friends that their predicament would best be resolved by engaging a more powerful vehicle (a tow truck) and appropriate recovery gear. None the less they were pleased to see me, and glad of my radio contact with the outside world.

On my travels I note the magnitude of the Blackberry infestation. If I could turn back time I would convince Baron Von Mueller, arguably Australia’s most notable botanist, of the error of his ways. The vegetation communities of the Alps are poised for permanent change as this insipid invader now claims a huge percentage of the available habitat. The words ‘too little, too late’ echo about the gullies which are grappling with the Alps most powerful enemy. The challenge to get rid of this species is daunting as it out-competes all of our native understorey plants at an alarming rate. Where is an effective biological control that is so desperately needed?

As I get closer to the office I think about my own vision for the park. I am not in this job for the lifestyle, I am here because I believe in my ability and purpose as a conservator. I ask myself if I have sufficient resources to maintain the naturally occurring distribution and abundance of species, and hope that I do. I start to think about the next generation of environmentalists, what their values might be, how important will biodiversity be, and how they might judge our success or failure as ecosystem managers.

Australian Alps Profile: Brett McNamara, a simple Ranger at heart…

After completing my secondary schooling in Canberra and wishing to discover the meaning of life, creation and the universe, I ventured north. North, as in Northern Territory.

Having planned to undertake tertiary studies in the following year, the trip ‘up-north’ was to be a maximum of 6 weeks, it turned out to be an 8-year odyssey!

Scanning through the local Darwin paper one Saturday morning, a position vacant with the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory caught my eye; ‘Ranger – various positions, no previous experience required’.

Thinking that being paid to roam around in the bush all day would be an interesting job, I applied. Much to my surprise I was given an interview, my very first job interview. Totally astonished, I was offered a position and before I new what was going on, I was on a plane to central Australia to take up a job at a place called Uluru National Park.

A highlight of my time in the red centre was an introduction to contemporary Aboriginal society. A living, breathing, complex culture, rich with pride and a sense achievement, if not resilience. Working extensively throughout the parks and reserves of central Australia I was eventually transferred back to Darwin. Upon my return, the Conservation Commission deemed it necessary to formally educate their Rangers.

As a result, I was asked to undertake formal tertiary education on full pay! The choice was in either Adelaide or Canberra. Tough choice, being more familiar with the various establishments of Canberra I returned to the nations’ capital.

Completing my time at university and meeting a young girl, who, much to her parents’ amazement, I enticed away to the wilds of the Territory (we eventually married!) I resumed my career as a Parks and Wildlife Ranger. Working through out the ‘Top End’ I spent time working on a number of diverse and fascinating parks, notably Cobourg Marine Park (Gurig National Park), located off the tip of Arnhem Land and Wildman River on the banks of the majestic Mary River.

My last posting in Wildlife Management based in Darwin was interesting to say the least. Urban wildlife callouts consisted of removing salt-water crocodiles from backyard swimming pools and chasing a mob of feral pigs around the suburbs of Darwin.

Eventually, the call to return ‘down south’ was too strong.

Taking up a position with the ACT Parks and Conservation Service, we eventually found ourselves living and working at a place referred to as “the most isolated and remote work location in the ACT”.

The place was Bendora Dam, situated high in the Brindabella Ranges of Namadgi National Park. I guess its all relative, but compared to Arnhem Land, Bendora was just a short drive to so-called ‘civilisation’. Some six years later and with two young children who can lay a special claim to a unique part of the world, I was offered a job too good to refuse.

The job involved working for a remarkable organisation, an organisation at the cutting edge of cross-border cooperative management; the job was of course as the Program Coordinator for the Australian Alps national parks…

PS. I’m still working on the meaning of life, although the answer is getting clearer with kids, and the story behind creation; well I’ll leave that up to others to solve, I’m only a simple Ranger at heart…

Project and Contract Management Workshop

The Australian Alps Liaison Committee recently identified the importance of contracting and procurement skills in achieving outcomes under the Strategic Plan for the cooperative management of the Australian Alps.

Increasingly, working groups members are undertaking project work were sound skills in purchasing, contracting and provider management are essential for the successful delivery and completion of the annual works program.

To this end, a very successful professional development workshop was held in Tumut (NSW) on the 15 and 16 September 1998. Austin Vaughan, from Value for Money Training Services, developed a course which was aimed to raise awareness and provide a basic understanding of the underlying principles and elements of project and contract management

Austin also provided some relief in the evening sessions from the rigours of the day with some light entertainment, part of which was the inaugural Himalayan Brown Bear Awards for ‘Professional Services Rendered’. The ‘wash-up’ of the proceedings was unanimous agreement for the establishment of closer working relationships between all working groups. It is hoped to run a similar workshop for working groups members on a regular basis.

Quotes of Quotes…

According to a Grade 2 primary student from Canberra, when asked what Rangers do, she replied:

They help Santa and they sprinkle fairy dust in the sky.

Now I’d like to see that written into the next enterprise bargaining agreement!

Upon inquiring into the operational nature of using a 4-wheel drive, a new employee was told…

Just press the green button.

Unfortunately, the vehicle did not have a green button to push! You get that…

When contemplating future career prospects, ponder the thought that…

Rangers don’t get old, they just become a cosy haven for small animals!

Insects tackle broom in and around the Australian Alps

Two insect species, the twig mining moth and seed-eating Bruchid, have been released as part of a mounting campaign to naturally suppress broom infestations in the Australian Alps. The Keith Turnbull Research Institute (KTRI), Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment, has been leading the way in the fight against this invasive weed.

For biological control to be successful it is important to spread the insect agents thoroughly through infested areas. “Biocontrol Agent Distribution Networks”, involving Parks Rangers, Landcare and ‘Friends of’ groups, are being supported by staff at the Keith Turnbull Research Institute (KTRI), Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE), CSIRO and NSW Agriculture. The networks cooperate to set up nursery sites and monitor the progress of broom agents. It is important to develop a community approach to broom management, increasing awareness of the problems with broom and broader weed issues.

Included in your newsletter is a Landcare Note, take the time to read it. You can get more copies from Raelene Kwong at KTRI on (03) 9785 0171.

Dates for your Diary

27 – 29 April 1999
Visitor Monitoring Workshop Beechworth

3 – 7 May 1999
Huts Restoration Skills Workshop

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