PARK WATCH Article December 2023 |

Blake Nisbet, Nature Conservation Campaigner, took to the Beeripmo Walk with VMTC members to raise awareness of planned logging

Spring had sprung on Mount Cole/Bereep-Bereep and numerous keen hikers took to the trails of the Beeripmo Walk. VNPA had the pleasure of joining the Victorian Mountain Tramping Club (VMTC), a very active multiday bushwalking club, on the hiking circuit, a deeply cherished walking experience, to raise awareness of planned logging.

Some members were experiencing the trail for the first time, whilst others were return visitors – a real case of ‘so nice you must do it twice (at least)’.

The walking trail peacefully meanders its way through lush fern gullies and waterfalls up into the exposed rocky outcrops atop the mountain peaks, providing sensational views of the surrounding landscape.

Along the trail are some localised hotspots of the critically endangered Mount Cole Grevillea (Grevillea montis-cole subsp montis-cole), a spectacular flowering plant which when we visited was lighting up the forest floor with its blood red flowers. The Beeripmo really is one of Victoria’s premium bushwalks – we are so lucky to have it so close and accessible at just a few hours’ drive heading west of Melbourne.

VMTC is concerned about VicForests’ extensive plans to clearfell log along the trail. This threatens the peace and serenity for which draws bushwalkers to the trail in the first place.

A short drive around the forests of Mount Cole clearly exposes the destruction and damage caused by years of intensive logging. Big hollow-bearing trees are now rare throughout the landscape, placing environmental pressures on local wildlife such as the Blue-winged Parrot (Neophema chrysostoma) and Mountain Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus cunninghami). Many logged areas have not been restored to their former ecological glory, turning once long-thriving forests into grassy paddocks.

I use hiking as an opportunity to detox from the long list of issues we bare upon ourselves as a society, and I certainly don’t want to be slapped in the face with clearfell logging during my bushwalking experiences.

Raising awareness

We showed every passing bushwalker a map of the planned logging and found there to be overwhelming levels of shock and disapproval amongst the bushwalking community.

There was understandably a level of confusion amongst the Beeripmo bushwalkers about the threat of logging, as most were under the impression that native forest logging had ended in Victoria and that Mount Cole was a national park. We wish this were the case, but the Victorian Government is yet to make a call on the future of logging in western Victoria, and has not yet formalised the establishment of the promised Mount Buangor National Park, leaving the Beeripmo Walk on the chopping block.

A few things clearly stood out from the weekend on the Beeripmo: that the walk is clearly loved by many Victorians, and that the bushwalking community will not sit silently by in the fight to protect the Beeripmo Walk.