Friends Of Warby Ovens National Park Meeting: 20th December at Mullinmur Billabong Hub – 10 am to 12 midday
Wet weather venue can be found within 100 metres) Light refreshments available. Mullinmur Billabong can be accessed via an unmade track toward the Ovens River end of Phillipson’s St – plenty of parking is available, Signs will be placed!
This is designed to be an inaugural get together (plus an opportunity to get input from WONP supporters and potential members who cannot attend).
- Acknowledgement of country
- Introduction by a Parks Vic representative
- Initial activity re attendees personal interest in WONP
- Guest speaker on one special aspect of the WONP
- Morning tea
- Role and organisation of WONP + possible 2023 activities
- Initial calendar of events for 2023 to be built!
Introducing the FOWONP
Construction of FOWONP after international recognition of WONP
Our park was greenlisted with IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) in August 2021. This was only the fourth park recognised in Australia and the first in Victoria. It seems that the 3 quite distinct parts of the WONP all have very high conservation values. The Lower Ovens had in 2019, perhaps the highest ecological quality values (eg wetlands and native fish) of any major river system in the Murray Darling Basin. The Killawarra Box Ironbark forest also has exceptionally high conservation values (health of the forest and the presence of some very special birds) according to experts. The Warby Range despite having certain ecological problems such as wort weed infestation, still maintains its very special flora and fauna aspects recognised by IUCN such as the prolific Grass Trees (Xanthorrea) and Carpet Python – mentioned in the introductory section of the IUCN website “why is it greenlisted”
- in September 2021 a “googled” survey was carried out to assess the support which has been established for the many other greenlisted parks on the planet. It seemed that just about all parks had support groups and specialised websites. The WONP had neither. Subsequently a few people from the Warby Ovens National Park Advisory Group (formed in late 2019 to “push” the greenlisting process) plus IT professional and enthusiastic conservationist Jason Townsend met to work out possible solutions.
- Sheree McKenzie established a now very popular (over 1100 members this week) FOWONP facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/312953100040495
- Jason voluntarily began to work on a wordpress website warbyovens.com.au in early 2022, which was launched in basic form in September 2022. We were advised that the formation of a FOWONP was needed to “author” this website and part of the reason for recruiting enthusiasts for our WONP is to attract authors for sections of the website!
- the actual formal FOWONP (listed with Parks Connect and Landcare etc) has existed since September this year and the first working bee was held on the 20th of that month at Wenham’s Camp, to carry out some preparation for the official greenlisting celebration event on October 9th and to reactivate the arboretum plus some signage up towards Mt Warby.
- 2023 – having established the basics – where to from now?
Role of FOWONP
This has to be worked out by members of course but obviously the main role of FOWONP should be to support PV in managing and informing people about the exceptional features of our park (plus the Ovens River upstream of WONP) and should be expressed in our future plans.
There are so many possibilities re helping management of the WONP with community engagement! This is where we need ideas and input!! Priorities will be set and a calendar of activities developed.
- already we have “put our hand up”, to be involved in NECMA’s willow and other exotic tree removal project to be completed in 2023
- development of the website should be a priority with sections giving the local perspective on for example – Ovens River wetland health post the flood or the condition of the Carpet python population in the Warbys or updates with fire management activities in WONP or feral animals control carried out by PV etc etc
- the restoration of the Wenham’s Arboretum will continue plus work on other flora education facilities such as the wild flower walk at the Killawarra Forest camp (supplying plant ID signs and “back up” on the website?) has been mooted
- contact has been made with several Australia wide groups which mainly carry out surveys in the WONP such as Birdlife Australia, Platypus Conservancy and 1000 Turtles. They need extra volunteers and we can hopefully link into their high quality citizen science efforts.
- links with research groups and universities eg Arthur Rylah Institute already very well established. Several universities have research members working in the WONP and next door at the Winton Wetlands
- links with many other local groups should be developed further – Landcare groups which are neighbours to the WONP plus local land management organisations such as Winton Wetlands, Catchment Management authorities, DELWP and the CFA plus recreation groups such as NE Canoe Club or Warby Range Bushwalkers or Cycle groups plus flora and fauna groups such as the local Australian Plant Society organisation and Albury Wodonga Field Naturalists etc etc
We (the initial 4 person formation group with input from several others) believe that FOWONP clearly should not be Wangaratta centric. Perhaps Zoom meetings could be held every second month with “get togethers” planned for small community locations along the WONP, such as Boweya, Bundalong, Peechelba and Boorhaman. Communication via email would probably be the main means of connection. Re the need for a formal committee clearly in 2023, the usual committee organisation is probably not necessary or needed – alternatives?