Both Wayne and Vicki have compliance work as part of their Ranger roles. The Rangers explained the scope of the work and the various acts that form the basis of regulations and laws within the National Park. There was plenty of time to ask questions. One important issue that was clarified was that dispersed camping in the Alpine National Park is still quite in accordance with the Park regulations. This may not be true of all Victorian National Parks, so it’s best to check, before you venture into them. Another area of concern that Vicki focused on was the importance of being with your campfire. A high percentage of the bushfires in the Parks are caused by either unattended or abandoned camp- fires. The Dob In A Hoon program was discussed with Wayne emphasising that any information about questionable behaviour in the Park is valuable, but we should not intervene or put ourselves in harms way trying to get details. Ring the Parks Victoria number, 13 1963 or 000 to report anything illegal you might see. As we travelled further, we saw some signs of the fire. By the time we reached McFarlane Saddle its impact was quite noticeable. For the climb to Mt Wellington Vicki left her PV Isuzu D-Max and rode in a very flash new Ford Raptor. As an enthusiastic Hilux owner that must have been difficult for Vicki. On the climb we were greeted by a pair of wedge tailed eagles casually playing on the thermals. The track was in quite good condition so the views could be appreciated by the drivers. We drove over the blackened summit and down to Millers Hut for a late lunch. It is incredible that the historic hut and its surrounding mature eucalypts and green grass survived the ferocity of the fire. Congratulations to the fire fighting team for preserving the important site. Following lunch Wayne gave an excellent presentation on the extent and impact of the fires. With a large map, hanging on the side of the 70 series dual cab, Wayne was able to graphically illustrate how the several lightning strike fires had gradually merged into one large fire mass. The strain on resources must have been immense with so many fronts to contend with. It’s interesting that these fires, involving so many agen- cies, large numbers of rotary and fixed wing aircraft, dozens of pieces of heavy machinery, hundreds of personnel on the ground, long periods of closure of sections of the Alpine National Park and state forest areas running over several weeks, attracted so little media atten- tion. The discussion and question time after the presentation was quite long and covered a range of fire related topics including the increased frequency of these large hot fires, climate change, the fuel reduction burning program, recovery plans and the viability of fire impacted flora and fauna species into the future. On the way back over Mt Wellington we had time to stop and view the extent of the fires. It was a rare windless, warm and sunny afternoon on the summit. Looking north west the fragile Wellington peatlands have been significantly impacted. The peatlands take thousands of years to form and are a vital component of the catchment for the river systems. Looking south into the Avon Wilderness Area the north facing slopes seemed to have been the areas of hottest burn. Wayne decided to return via Licola rather than complete the intended circuit down Marathon Road to Briagolong. Time had beaten us, but the long discussions had been very useful. The increased frequency and ferocity of the fires in the Alps and other areas of South Eastern Australia will ultimately have consequences for all of us. Looking specifically at recreational four wheel drive touring, the long campaign fires may restrict the access we have to the area over the popular summer tour- ing season. Track and road network maintenance and bridge load capacity will become more important, as their main function is firefighting access. In broader terms the fires will have short and long term consequences for biodi- versity and species viability in the Alps and water quality in the catchment areas. Our group arrived back in Heyfield at 6:30. Thanks to their knowledge, planning and obvious passion for the Alps, Wayne and Vicki had provided us all with a fascinating and educational day with some good four wheel driving as a bonus. Greg Rose. Four Wheel Drive Victoria Regional Representative, Southern Alpine National Park. 4 JUNE 2019 TRACKWATCH