Surveying, Scouting Standing By......

East Gippsland winter rains are setting in, but even the coziness of hearth in Goongerah can't keep us out of the forests. Despite block-and-tackle boggy roads and the DNRE's recent policy to cut GECO off from access to current harvesting lists, GECO can be found roaming the forest, doing endangered species research, monitoring previous blockade sites, scouting planned logging along the borders of both Errinundra and Snowy River National Parks, and every once in a while dropping the loggers some scones.

Goolengook Block...

Ingenious "hair tube" traps made of plastic sheeting and tea strainers continue to be laid in treasured patches of old growth forest remaining around Goolengook block. We've already succeeded in finding hairs belonging to the endagered Long Footed Potoroo in some areas, and are always looking for more. Our findings have delayed the logging of at least one area of Goolengook (lorien, at the end of Riti Road) where blockading has delayed that logging in the past.

The DNRE are conducting thier own surveying to verify our findings and the Victorian government is due to reconsider their Potoroo legislation in the near future, meaning that the victory may be once again a fleeting one. Still, finding evidence of Potoroo has held them off at least as long as our tripods have in the past, and the trees still stand. Other past blockading sites, such as Little Goolengook River and Old Goolengook Road, are also being surveyed for Potoroo.

Hammonds Road...

Coupes on Hammonds Road have been completed and burnt with the usual disregard for DNRE's own regulations. Activists armed with cameras and coupe plans are doing their best to document the many breaches of the Code of Forest Practices and the shamefully wasteful excesses of contractors in these coupes. These Audits are provided for by current legislation, but rarely happen because EGL themselves are at least partly responsible for doing them and have a clear interest in preventing the documentation from happening. Auditing contractors and archiving documentation of thier practices can create yet another nusiance factor for operators in East Gippsland to contend with, and avenues through which Green Policing can become enforceable are being explored.

Teacher's Track and Lillipilli Creek...

27 coupes and 4 new roads are scheduled along the borders of Errinundra National park over the next three years (in Cobon block), and the GECO truck has been patrolling the area for signs of machinery and works. The thick , old growth Sassafrass and Lillipilli gullies are being closely watched and activists are standing by.


Goongerah Campground Trashed by DNRE

It is usually the Department of Natural Resources and Environment accusing the Greenies of vandalism but the Goongerah Campground affair exposed the tax payer funded vandals for what they really are. The campground situated on a magnificent part of Ellery creek was completely demolished by department workers supposedly as a cost cutting exercise in March 1999.

The communal shelter, several picnic tables, stone fireplaces and toilet block were all destroyed. To top it off they bulldozed the road, leaving four huge ditches which rendered it impassable. As well as leading to the campground the road was the access to one member of community’s private property. The owner, Kerry Seaton, managed to find a letter in which the Department had agreed to maintain the access road through to his property.

The campground was a well used spot. It is estimated that around 500 people per year camped at the site and that on top of that it was often used by day travellers. The campsite is on the Baldwin -Spencer Trail and on the recently established Snowy River Trail. It was destroyed only a week before the Easter Forests Forever camp which is hosted by CROEG and is a regular event held at the campground.

Despite it’s frequent use and the fact that it is the only camp ground this side of the National Park the Department maintained that it was justifiable as they were rationalising camping facilities in the region. Notably the Goongerah Campground is the only site to have been “rationalised”. As far as the cost cutting part goes the occaisional replacement of toilet paper and the odd sweeping of the floors in the toilet is hardly high maintenance. The cost of bulldozing it would probably have maintained the campground for about 5 years. The DNRE failed to communicate at all with the community prior to taking this action, and the community in fact would have been prepared to take on the maintenace rather than see the site destroyed.

The DNRE also failed to communicate with the East Gippsland Shire who had only recently replaced the bridge which led to the campground. The bridge had been completely destroyed in last year’s floods. The council had spent around $35,000 on replacing the bridge only three weeks before the DNRE came in and destroyed the road immediately beyond it rendering it completely useless.

Negotiations between the Shire, DNRE, Lakes & Wilderness Tourism and the community are ongoing to re-establish the campground and have the road repaired. Currently the road has had makeshift repairs (done by the community) and so it is possible to access the campground area minus its facilities.