The National Science Week – Friends’ Event
Sat 2 - Sun 3 October 2021 has been cancelled due to road conditions and forecast wet weather
National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology. This year the Friends of the Fitzgerald River National Park are holding the following activities to encourage an interest in science pursuits. Both members and the general public are welcome to attend, and we encourage younger people to come along and be fascinated by this exceptional national park.
Saturday 2nd October at Twertup:
10 am – Morning tea (byo), meet at Point Ann picnic/bbq area.
11 am – Point Ann whale watching. Cetacean researchers, Kirsty Alexander and John Totterdell, will talk about the humpback, southern right, killer and blue whales as they migrate along the South Coast. Bring binoculars.
1 pm – Discover Hooded Plovers. Join local bird enthusiast, Anne Gadsby, as she searches the known hiding places for these vulnerable shore birds. Meet at Point Ann picnic/bbq area.
7.30 pm – Twertup owl hunt. Vanessa Lipianin, FRNP Senior Operations Officer and owl enthusiast, will guide a search for these night predators near the Field Studies Centre. Bring walking shoes and torch.
Sunday 3rd October at Twertup
8.30 am – Twertup botanical walk. Join local botanist, Dr. Gillian Craig on a 4 km walk starting at the Twertup Field Studies Centre. Bring walking shoes, hat and water. OR Walk to Roes Rock - 26 km return from Twertup, self-guided (GPS location provided) for very fit and self-sufficient walkers only.
Note: Access to Twertup is via a 10 km 4WD track from Quiss Rd/ Pabelup Dr which is closed during wet soil conditions. Point Ann may also be closed in wet weather. These events will be cancelled if there are road closures. Please check www.fitzgeraldcoast.com.au/explore/road-closures.aspx for updates. This is a bring your own everything event. Overnight shared accommodation is available at the Twertup Field Studies Centre (max 16 beds) or byo swag/ tent (limited to 30 people total) – bookings essential. Please RSVP to email@example.com to book Saturday night at Twertup, or for further information www.fitzgeraldfriends.org.au.
Historical photos show impact of fires in the Park
The Friends of the Fitzgerald River National Park (FRNP) are seeking early photos of vegetation in this park which clearly show the density of obvious plants such as Royal Hakea (Hakea victoria) and banksias from identifiable locations. We will then try to relocate the same view to obtain a sequence of images over time to help determine the effect of fire on particular species.
An example is shown of Royal Hakeas along the No Tree Hill walk trail. The first photo (left) was taken in the 1980s prior to a wildfire started by lightning in 1989. The second photo (right), taken of the same scene in 2019, shows a considerable decline in density of Royal Hakea. This is attributed to an intervening prescribed burn in 2003, which meant that the hakeas were only 14 years old when they were burnt again, without an adequate seed bank for full recovery.
The FRNP is recognised as having a high conservation value and the Friends are concerned that the frequency of prescribed burns and escapes are causing short fire-return intervals. The most recent occurred in June 2019 when a burn for “bushfire risk management, biodiversity management” in the wilderness area escaped and burnt the Thumb Peak range, resulting in a fire interval of only 21 years. The impact on the Threatened Ecological Communities and Threatened species that occur there is currently unknown.
Most of the vegetation in the park is now less than 30 years old (see map overleaf). Although the park’s management plan specifically refers to the establishment of a Research and Monitoring Group to inform fire management, the executives of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) are against its formation. The Friends are pleased however, that following a workshop initiated by the Friends, the DBCA have funded $35,876 for their research scientists to develop a model for defining ecologically acceptable fire-return intervals for 18 susceptible plant species in the South Coast region.
The Friends are also pursuing their intent of providing a travel scholarship to post-graduate student to study the population ecology of Royal Hakea in the park.
If you have any photos, preferably pre-2000 of iconic plants in the FRNP with known location and approximate date of capture, please email them at low resolution to firstname.lastname@example.org or post prints/ transparencies to:
Friends of the FRNP
PO Box 199
Please provide your return address as these will be scanned and sent back to you.
Local tree frog
Members enjoying a break.