Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



getting more kids into the outdoors

Outdoors Victoria was established in 2012 as Victoria’s peak body for the outdoors community with a focus on advocacy.  Its purpose is to:

Build a valued and sustainable outdoor community for the benefit of the community and natural environment by enhancing, connecting, and advocating on behalf of outdoor education, outdoor recreation, outdoor therapy and nature based tourism.

Today they are launching their policy ‘asks’ for the Victorian state election.

Policy Priority 1 – Help kids get outdoors
Giving children better opportunities to learn and play in nature leads to lifelong improvements in their education, health and wellbeing outcomes.

Policy Priority 2 – Invest in the regional outdoor economy
Strategic investment in outdoors infrastructure and events, as well as ecosystem health, is a powerful driver of prosperity and wellbeing for regional Victoria.

Policy Priority 3 – Unlock the potential of the outdoor community
The full potential of commercial and community-based outdoor organisations can be realised through skills development, smarter regulation and research.

Full Policy Agenda

You can download a full copy of their policy agenda here and for more information please email them at

New Wattle Species for Victoria

Parks Victoria reports that a species of wattle not previously found in Victoria has been discovered in the north east, in Mount Lawson State Park near the New South Wales border.

Acacia linearifolia is a wattle with very narrow, long and straightphyllodes or leaves. Local Parks Victoria Ranger Kelton Goyne discovered about six trees of this rare wattle in March this year when looking at planned burning options in the park.

Continue reading “New Wattle Species for Victoria”

Victorian Public Lands Survey

This survey, for Parks Victoria, is now at least 6 months old but is still open for comment. Depending on how many spots you want to nominate as being precious, the survey takes about 15 minutes.

The following comes from the PV website:

“Public lands in Victoria comprise national parks and reserves, state forests, marine parks, and other public lands. What do you value about these places? What changes would you like to see? We need your help!

In the first part of the survey, you will drag small icons onto a map of Victoria to identify places you value and your public land preferences. The second part is a short, simple questionnaire. We really value your input to help manage our public lands now, and to plan great public lands for the future!

The questionnaire will take you less than 5 minutes and the mapping activity takes most people around 10 – 15 minutes, depending on how many icons are mapped at each location and how many locations are mapped.”

Victoria’s Great Forest National Park. It’s Time

The vision for a Great Forests National Park, proposed for the mountains east of Melbourne, is gaining momentum.

logoThe Great Forests National Park proposal is a vision for a multi-tiered parks system for bush users and bush lovers alike.

The tallest flowering trees on Earth grow north-east of Melbourne. In their high canopies dwell owls, gliders and Leadbeater’s Possum, Victoria’s endangered faunal emblem, that lives only in the ash forests of the Central Highlands.

These mountain ash forests have flourished along the Great Divide under rich rainfall patterns. They provide most of Melbourne’s drinking water. They have been shown to be among the most carbon-dense forests on Earth due to the relatively cool climate and rapid growth.
GFNP map
The Park, stretching from Kinglake through to the Baw Baws and north-east to Eildon, will protect the forests of the Central Highlands. It will be a world class reserve in Melbourne’s backyard.

It is time for this great vision to be turned into a National Park.

More information here.


Job fears in Parks Victoria revamp

The following comes from The Weekly Times, journalist is Chris McLennan.

Image: DSE
Image: DSE

With government plans to introduce camping fees for staying in national parks (which will draw on Parks Victoria [PV] resources to manage), allow private development in parks, re introduce cattle into the Alpine national park, you do have to wonder about the common sense of this government. Add to this the threat of ever worse fire seasons, and these cut backs seem short sighted and potentially dangerous. Union officials say that more than 500 people, including firefighters, will be caught up in the proposed changes.

According to the union that represents PV workers,

Parks are slashing 10% of its workforce but exempt senior and managerial positions, and will target Ranger and Field Service Officer employees instead.  Parks will waste $8-$10million paying out retrenched employees trying to save $10-$15million.  It’s completely cost counterproductive.  Parks Victoria (currently) employs 1,100 staff at 100 national, state, marine and urban parks.

Job fears in Parks Victoria revamp

Parks Victoria staff face an anxious summer after a department-wide restructure was announced just before Christmas.

Union officials claim more than 500 people will be caught up in the proposed changes, which may involve some staff pay cuts and others choosing redundancies.

“Many of these people are our frontline firefighters. They already have a lot on their plate,” Community and Public Sector Union federal secretary Karen Batt said.

A consultation period on the proposed changes will end on January 30 and a Parks Victoria spokeswoman said it may not be until March-April that the reorganisation is finalised. Individual staff are yet to be told which positions will be restructured.

Parks Victoria’s acting chief executive Chris Hardman said there would be no net loss of staff from the restructure. He said the proposed model was designed to significantly enhance the organisation’s services for the Victorian community.

“We are looking forward to hearing from staff and unions as to what they think about the proposal and to assist the organisation to put together the best possible operating model.”

More than 120 jobs have been trimmed from Parks Victoria in the past 18 months.

Wild dog control action plan released


The Weekly Times has reported that there is a new wild dog action plan for the High Country. Wild dogs are a major problem in farming areas adjacent to the mountains, and there have been considerable lobby efforts to get additional government support to tackle the problem.

Long term president of the Bairnsdale VFF, Rob Grant, who passed away in October, had long called for additional resources from the government. Rob pointed out that this is not just a problem for sheep farmers, citing many known attacks on calves as well.

Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh had previously promised to implement an aerial baiting program, establish a $4 million fox and wild dog bounty and reinvigorate the wild dog management committees.

Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh yesterday released the new Victorian Wild Dog Action Plan with set operational targets and local area work plans.
The Victoria Government will launch a new wild dog control action plan control in Omeo today.

A forum, organised by the Victorian wild dog control advisory committee and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, was held at the Omeo Hall yesterday.
The plan aims to increase the effectiveness of our trapping program and increase the number of baits laid by 10 per cent to almost 20,000 in the coming year.

Local area work plans will be developed using local knowledge for each of the 15 wild dog management zones in East Gippsland and northeast Victoria,  Mr Walsh said.

The action plan also includes commitments to improve access to fresh 1080 bait products in areas affected by wild dogs and examine ways of removing legislative and red tape frustrating the management of wild dogs.

Alpine grazing: still no news from government

source: MCAV
source: MCAV

Four days after The Australian newspaper announced that the Victorian government intends to ask the federal government to approve a new grazing trial within the Alpine national park, there is still no statement from the government about its intentions. The environment minister has had the time to issue a media release on the birth of a baby hippo at Werribee zoo, but apparently not to let the Victorian community know what is happening with this controversial proposal.

The grazing announcement has been a long time coming. In January 2013, The Weekly Times reported that the mountain cattlemen had toured Mr Smith to the Wonnangatta Station, specifically to talk about the re introduction of grazing.

Then last week, it was reported that the mountain cattlemen had again toured the Wonnangatta Valley with Mr Smith and also the Upper House MP Philip Davis.

Both the Age and the Australian have run pieces on the visit and subsequent announcement that the Victorian government is moving to gain federal approval to introduce cattle back into the Alpine national park.

The Weekly Times is reporting that a referral for the trial had been sent to the Federal Government on monday November 25.

Any attempt to re-introduce cattle gazing will be highly controversial. It seems strange that the Minister appears to be making announcements via the media, and not communicating directly with the people of Victoria about his intentions by making a detailed statement on the trial.

National Park logging canned – now to stop ‘ecological thinning’

The New South Wales Government has rejected the recommendations of an Upper House enquiry that called for logging in National Parks. However, their response leaves the door open for ‘scientific’ trials that could still see commercial logging crews sent back into sensitive protected areas.

barmah treesFriends of the Earth welcomes the Government’s response to rule out a moratorium on new National Parks and to open Parks for commercial logging. Politicians of all persuasions can’t ignore the fact that Australians don’t want to see our National Parks trashed. If National Parks aren’t safe from logging, where is? This response is a small win for the millions of Australians who care about our unique ecosystems and want to see them properly protected.

However, the response still provides support for a controversial ‘ecological thinning’ trial in the Barmah-Millewa National Park; Australia’s largest Red Gum forest and an internationally significant Ramsar wetland. This trial mimics a commercial forestry operation and will have significant impacts on this environment of national significance. If the O’Farrell Government is serious about protecting our natural heritage, they should rule out all logging in National Parks, whether commercial or ‘scientific.’

Friends of the Earth worked alongside Traditional Owners, scientists and local communities to ensure that precious remaining River Red Gum forests in Victoria and NSW were protected in National Parks.

We now need to mobilise to safeguard this legacy. Please check out and sign our petition to the federal Government calling for them to reject the proposed thinning trial.

Nowa Nowa residents have mixed feelings about mining project

nowa nowaThe following article comes from the ABC, journalist Jenni Henderson.

Check here for a background on the project and details on the community consultation process that has been happening. Leaving aside the direct environmental impact of the project, there is the key issue of what impact a large number of large trucks on the narrow Princes Hwy will have on locals and tourists.

Residents of Nowa Nowa and surrounds are expressing mixed feelings about the prospect of the Iron Ore mine being established seven kilometres north of the town. Mining company Eastern Iron is now putting together a feasibility study for the mine and has held community information sessions in Nowa Nowa, Lakes Entrance and Orbost.

The company estimates about 200 people have attended the sessions so far, to learn more about the project.

The mine still requires environmental and planning approval from the State Government.
Neil Smith a Nowa Nowa resident says the community has been ignored in the decision making process so far.

“I’m not just talking about the mining company. The East Gippsland Shire are in the process of negotiating a memorandum of understanding but they don’t see that’s there’s any need to talk to community before they reach an agreement,” he says.

Mr Smith says he feels that there has been no opportunity for the community to reach a consensus on what they want out of the mining project.

“If it’s ten years of mining and ten years of jobs and then nothing except a big hole in the ground and some potential environmental damage then there’s no benefit,” he says.
Nowa Nowa needs the cash flow and employment opportunities a mine would bring, says Paul Oakes, president of the Nowa Nowa and District Business and Tourism Group.
“Nowa Nowa is a very small community; it just needs the funds in. It’s pretty quiet, of course the mills have all been cut right back and forestry is cutting back on the harvesting so it’s sort of shrinking, the area is shrinking really,” he says.

Mr Oakes says the business and tourism group is concerned that East Gippsland Shire Council is representing the Nowa Nowa community in signing a memorandum of understanding with the mining company.

“It’s pretty hard for us to get any services from the shire except the basic ones. We’d prefer the mine to deal directly with the development group that’s here,” he says.

Helen Shields, a Nowa Nowa resident, says the mine proposal has the potential to divide the community.

“Communities always have dreams about things they can do for their area which improve them. Of course people want work, of course people want a future for their children to stay here but nobody’s had those conversations in relation to the mine,” she says.

Ms Shields has concerns about any environmental and social impacts the mine could have on the town.

“If there is explosions happening here 24 hours a day for 10 years I don’t believe that it won’t impact on this catchment area,” she says.

Private development push threatens Victoria’s national parks

The following comes from the Victorian National Parks Association.

IMGP5971The Victorian Government’s decision to open up the state’s national parks to development and private investment sets a dangerous new direction for our conservation reserves.

The policy essentially puts a ‘for sale’ sign on two thirds of Victoria’s national parks estate.

National parks and other conservation reserves protect our already depleted natural areas. They do not exist as money-making ventures for private hoteliers and or proponents of large-scale tourist accommodation.

National parks are the jewel in the crown of Victoria’s tourism industry, but we need to be careful that we don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

Exposing our parks to tourism development could lead to irreversible damage to some of our most precious natural areas and undermine the integrity of our magnificent system of parks and reserves.

The primary role of national parks is the conservation of nature on behalf of all Victorians. Our parks were not created to end up as building sites for hotels and large-scale infrastructure that can only be used by a privileged few who can afford it.

Now, a group of 21 eminent Victorians including a former state governor, Nobel prize winner and leading academics have written an open letter to Victorian Premier Denis Napthine, describing the privatisation of our national parks as a betrayal of public trust.

What can you do

Sign the petition: By signing the petition you will be joining the fight to protect Victoria’s national parks. Your name will be listed among thousands of others who stand together to win the campaign.

Private leases plan for national parks

The following article comes from The Age, journalists are Jason Dowling and Tom Arup.

Check here for the response from the Victorian National Parks Association. Check here for the VNPA Hands off our Parks page.

ta-handsoff-240pxThe Napthine government has introduced sweeping changes to Victoria’s national parks allowing for 99-year private leases – in the same week Canberra is considering expanding its powers over the parks.

The state changes mean the historic Point Nepean Quarantine Station is in effect up for sale, according to activist Kate Baillieu.

The commercial real estate section of The Saturday Age carried an advertisement from real estate agents Jones Lang LaSalle to lease the Quarantine Station. The government has also asked for expressions of interest for private development of the 17-hectare site.

Matt Ruchel, executive director of the Victorian National Parks Association, said the new 99-year leases that will apply in all of Victoria’s national parks, including Wilsons Promontory, were deeply concerning. ”National parks are primarily for conservation, not development,” he said.

Environment Minister Ryan Smith said the 99-year leases would ”give investors greater certainty and a stronger incentive to develop innovative, high-quality proposals in our national parks”.

A spokesman for Mr Ryan said there would be exclusion zones where development would not be allowed in national parks.

In Canberra, the federal government is considering expanding its powers over national parks in response to plans by Coalition-led states to allow cattle grazing, shooting and logging in protected areas.

Environment Minister Tony Burke met as recently as Wednesday with conservation groups who want him to broaden his oversight over parks before the election.

The Australian Conservation Foundation and the Wilderness Society wants a ”trigger” to be legislated, meaning a heavy-impact project in a park would automatically need review under national environment laws, and giving the federal minister scope to block it.

The fate of national parks in Queensland, NSW and Victoria has come to the fore in recent years with cattle grazing, recreational shooting, and possibly logging, among state government proposals for parks. Currently, the federal government can only intervene in a national park if it is heritage-listed, or a protected plant or animal is threatened.

Mr Burke said the community was right to be concerned that places they have been enjoying are under threat. ”I share that concern and I’ll be looking into the ways I can stop these state governments from trashing national parks forever,” he said.

In 2011, Mr Burke proposed listing most of Australia’s 500-odd national parks – the domain of state governments – under federal environment law, which would have given him the power to reject new logging, grazing and mining projects. He later withdrew the proposed regulations after stopping a controversial cattle grazing trial in Victoria’s Alpine National Park using heritage law.

”Since then [the listing withdrawal] state Liberal governments are launching new attacks on national parks every few months. My view is clear, national parks are for families and nature. They are not farms, rifle ranges, mine sites or logging coupes,” Mr Burke said.

keep our Parks free of prospecting

 The following alert comes from the Victorian National Parks Association.

snow gums near Mt Lovick, VIC
snow gums near Mt Lovick, VIC

Our national parks are under attack, yet again!

The Baillieu Government has asked the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) to make recommendations to introduce recreational prospecting into sections of up to nine national parks in eastern Victoria.


  •     VEAC cannot recommend that there should be no prospecting allowed in the parks, even if it reports that such activity would be harmful to the parks.
  •     VEAC has been given a very short time to gather evidence and make appropriate recommendations, indeed this will be the shortest ever VEAC investigation, and will largely take place over the holiday period.
  •     Prospecting with metal detectors can erode streamsides, harm rare plants and spread pathogens such as Phytophthora and Chitrid Fungus. But evidence-based information relating to both the impacts of fossicking and the complex geology of Victoria is not readily available. More time is definitely needed for this investigation.
  •     There will be no draft report, and only one period of public consultation.

Please write to VEAC, Victoria’s environment minister, and our energy and resources minister, saying:

  •     The terms of reference are flawed, because VEAC is forced to introduce fossicking to eastern Victorian parks, even if it decides the activity is harmful.
  •     There is no demonstrated high interest in fossicking in the eastern part of Victoria, even though vast areas of state forest are already available for that activity.
  •     There is absolutely no urgency for this investigation, so there is no need for such a tight timeline (and VEAC’s resources are already stretched, with two current investigations – Marine Parks and Yellingbo).

For more information, read the article Prospecting in Wonderland by Phil Ingamells in the latest edition of our magazine Park Watch.

For details of the investigation visit the VEAC website.


Please, send a message now to Victoria’s environment minister, Ryan Smith, and the energy and resources minister Michael O’Brien saying that you are not happy with the restrictive terms of reference for this investigation, and that the timeline is far too short.

Please add your own concerns, and any of the information above.

Hon Michael O’Brien
Minister for Energy and Resources
Email: michael.o’

Hon Ryan Smith
Minster for the Environment and Climate Change

Blog at

Up ↑