Cattle Wars - Vic High country

Submitted: Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 08:56
ThreadID: 105399 Views:2925 Replies:7 FollowUps:29
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Hi all, todays Good Weekend in the SMH has this article re the ongoing debate of grazing in the Alpine NP. Link
Cheers, Warrie

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Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 10:23

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 10:23
Cant say I know much about the area but if its like anything else the greenies have got there claws into it would probably be a radical rule idea without much thought.
Take away there income (cut off the dole LOL) or send them in on foot next time its burning........
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 10:42

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 10:42
As good a bit of stereotyping as I've seen on this website there Hairy. "Greenies" worldwide have done more to protect our environment than the rest of us put together. Like lefties, righties, fence sitters and rednecks they come in a variety of shades with a huge diversity of views and ideas.
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Follow Up By: Skulldug - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 11:41

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 11:41

Is that a touch or red on your neck I can see?

Best get in out of the sun.

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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 20:10

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 20:10
Yep.........haven't had a real good run with the "GREENIES" lately........LOL
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 21:00

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 21:00
Most Greenies I know are well educated with high paying jobs. There are a lot here in the Blue Mountains. I 4 wheel drive a lot and wish that people were more like the Greenies I have contact with than most of the 4 wheel drivers I see leaving crap around campsites. The Greenies never do that and they camp and bush walk a lot.
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 12:37

Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 12:37
I don't deny for a minute there are a lot out there who are workers, sensible and done a lot of good.........BUT........the MAJORITY I have come across is my line of work have been either unrealistic, feral, or just professional protesters. That's why I have the opinion I do.....

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Reply By: John and Regina M - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 10:40

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 10:40
Wow Hairy, that was an informed comment.
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 20:12

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 20:12
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 11:44

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 11:44
Seems a reasonable piece Warrie.

We certainly support the cattle grazing in part of the HC , total bans on almost anything are usually destructive in a society, causing a fight and more wasted resources.

The discrediting of green type views and general alienization of them has been significantly boosted by these types of total ban actions.

We have got to the stage with things like gobal warming where something as obvious as understanding that if you keep washing dishes in the same sink, the water will get dirtier and dirter , that huge sections of the population don't even believe in the science.

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Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 16:57

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 16:57
It's not just "the" science Robin that is no longer believed in. The international Murdoch press has been hammering the credibility of the scientific community for the past decade. Scientists are now dismissed as "elites". In the western world, government support for science has been drying up. And this at a time when the Asian countries have been increasing the numbers of science graduates. Quite a price is going to be paid in the near future.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 18:58

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 18:58
My question regarding "climate change", as seems to be the preferred term, is .... What caused the Ice Age?

As far as the cattle are concerned, get them back ASAP, leaving anything to Perks Victoria or the Dept of Sparks & Embers is fraught with danger.
There is so much fuel build up since the cattle have left that it is a disaster waiting to happen, & yes I do have a vested interest, my property is on the edge of the High Country & has twice been threatened by wildfire!

They also took away the rights to grazing along sections of the Murray River, it is now derelict & overgrown with weeds & is also an accident waiting to happen.

There are also plenty of locals in Tasmanua that would agree wholeheartedly with Hairy.

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Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 20:16

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 20:16
I don't understand what you are getting at? The generally accepted theory on the cause of the ice ages relates the Milankovitch cycles to movements of the earth on its axis, sunspot cycles and impact events. The first three appear to be be very long term cyclical while impact events are totally random. None of these factors appears to have any relationship to current climate change data. Except that the current rate of change can only be compared (in geological age terms) to an impact event. But of course their is no impact event in the last 100 years.

However I agree with you that once land is cleared it must either be reaforrested or managed. Leaving it to secondary growth is a disaster waiting to happen. Nope, I don't live there however I have a number of friends with properties in the Corryong/Nariel area and we discuss these issues.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 21:25

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 21:25
You answered your own question in regard to what I was alluding to!
Movements of the Earth on its axis can contribute to climate change if it can cause a catastrophic change like the Ice Age.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 23:53

Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 at 23:53
I still don't follow what you are getting at. There haven't been movements of the Earth on its axis in rather a long time. None of the factors that we know have contributed to the cycle of ice ages and warmings in the past have any bearing on the current changes. The science is there for those who are prepared to put the time into researching it. Instead, in the west, we are increasingly turning away from science. Climate change is only a part of what this will eventually cost us.
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Follow Up By: Slow one - Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 06:08

Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 06:08
Believing the MURDOCH press is like a woman believing what is written in New Idea.
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Follow Up By: Slow one - Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 09:18

Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 09:18
WOW! I just looked and guess who owns New Idea. Gutter press themselves.
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Reply By: Ken - Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 13:44

Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 13:44
A new trial will be interesting. After the previous gov't bowed to green pressure to can the earlier trial at least now we could have a chance to make an assessment on benefits and impacts of grazing. So far the debate has been dominated by anti-grazing interests with strong prejudices to any form of grazing.

One of the reasons for opposition to grazing so often trotted out is supposed damage to wet area of the NP. Excluding the Bogong, where grazing has long been banned the remainder of the Alpine Park is generally quite dry country, devoid of peat bogs and other allegedly fragile areas.

A few things that need to be recognised in all this is that in cleared areas, vegetation growth since exclusion of cattle, is out of control. Wonnangatta is a prime example of this as are other streamside clearing where grazing once took place. The grassland fuel loads in Wonnangatta have been allowed to rise steadily since cattle were excluded.
Frequently we hear the cry 'cattle won't help stop fires, they don't eat sticks and branches'. True but when grazing was a regular practice the cattlemen regularly burnt patches to encourage new growth. All the sticks branches and scrub was removed by fire not by cattle ! A return to grazing will reduce some of the fuel load but given the reluctance to carry out fuel reduction burning by the current crop of land managers it would seen most unlikely that cattlemen would be allowed to return to their previous practices. Given the disastrous lack of controlled burning which has resulted in massive forest fuel loads it may not be possible to return to the previous cycles of grazing and burning.
Claims of environmental damage from grazing ring a bit hollow with me. After 150 years of management by cattlemen the area was still considered to be worthy of national park status. I wonder after a similar period of 'lock it and leave it' allows wildfires to rage, feral animals to multiply and noxious weeds to flourish, will anyone be able to say the Alpine NP is still in good shape ?

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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 15:10

Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 15:10
Putting aside the high country discussion, surely you're not serious about the significance of environmental damage from cattle Ken.
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Follow Up By: Ken - Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 15:55

Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 15:55
Bazooka I'm not sure what cattle damage you are referring to but the thread is about the high country and it is there that I question the claims of massive damage. I have never said there is no environmental damage anywhere as suggested by your broad statement; simply it is nowhere near the extent that some would have us believe in the Alpine NP.
I fully understand that this country originally had no hard hoofed animals so their introduction logically must have some impact. What I cannot accept is that it is on the scale claimed by those opposed to grazing. Also I do not hear demands for removal of 2 other hard hoofed animals with healthy appetites which are in greater number than cattle ever were and are in the alpine parks all year ! Deer and horses, if you are not acquainted with the 2 largest feral animal populations currently in residence.

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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 17:28

Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 17:28
Hullo Ken

To me at least, you have made some valid points, especially wrt to the Wonnangatta valley.

I have been visiting the Vic High Country for over 45 years. My concern is that it seems that the amount of fuel has markedly increased, especially the understory that has grown unchecked after major fires, particularly where the canopy trees has been severely reduced. Many of the dead trees, mainly mountain ash, provide significant fuel supporting further hot fires, thus continuing the cycle.

Consequently it may well very be difficult to re-establish the old "balance" maintained by the original custodians of this country, where patchwork, low intensity fires reduced the understory to a minimum and produced fresh feed for the native animals.

These practices were maintained in many areas by the cattlemen, the fresh feed in this case being for their cattle. Any move to try to return to what Bill Gamage termed the 1788 landscape may require many decades of years of consistent practice - probably something beyond our short term thinking.

On the other hand, the current custodians are also highly unlikely to produce a satisfactory and sustainable outcome based on current practice, lack of funds and political interference.

From my point of view, we need some middle ground between the "no cattle anywhere" vs "cattle are OK everywhere" approaches.


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Reply By: Member - Bucky - Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 20:27

Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 20:27
I hunt up in the High Country, as often as my Mrs lets me, and believe me, the Cattle would make no difference.

Would be great to see 20,000 head, or in fact 200,000 head up there.
Fuel reduction is the key, not letting everything just grow unchecked, as that is why we have massive fires.
Don't believe me !
Then go to Cape York, where almost every bit of it is fired, on a 3-5 year cycle. Everything still survives, and any bushfire gets controlled quickly, and not get away till it burns itself out, in 1 or 2 months time, like in the High Country.

Yes, we need trees, but we need to exercise some control, and not let those intelectually constipated people ruin it by not reducing fuel loads.
Look what these people have don to the Wilson's Promontory, scrub everywhere, and she burnt out of control, almost destroying it

Bring back cattle, and heaps of them
Cheers Bucky

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Follow Up By: Shaker - Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 22:29

Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 22:29
Yes, & the Wilson's Prom fire was lit by the same authority that are supposed to be managing the land where the cattle were!

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Follow Up By: Member - Bucky - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 05:30

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 05:30
That's the one Mate !

Department of Natural Disasters

No other name for the bunch of FW's
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Follow Up By: Member - Bucky - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 05:43

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 05:43
I live near the "Prom", and as a Kid the Old Man used to take us there occasionally, to show us, and the odd Cousin from Melbourne, where he trained during WW2, Tidal River and Mt Oberon, Squeaky Beach, Whiskey Bay, ect.

The Department of Natural Disasters, have turned the Prom into a great "Mulga" !, that will burn to the ground every few years.

It's no longer Pretty, because of the fires, and the continual efforts of the DSE to "bugger up" every thing those idiots get their grubby hands on.

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Reply By: mikehzz - Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 22:35

Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 22:35
I have visions of the High Country being turned into parkland and the cattle are our gardeners, clearing away the under brush. :-) Correct me if I am wrong, but if we weren't here, the underbrush would build up every so often and go up like a tinderbox when struck by lightning. The bush has evolved over a million years for that to happen so it won't be destroyed, it always bounces back remarkably quickly in fact. I think it's a lame argument to say that cattle can stop that from happening....the deer and the horses don't, there were bad fires there last year. So if you want to graze cattle in the National Parks, come up with a non baloney argument instead of making out you are grazing cattle almost as a public service.
I live in bushfire central, 9 houses in my street went up in October....maybe we should have had some cattle? And the bad fire that happened in Winmalee a few weeks before the really bad one was a hazard reduction burn gone wrong.
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 15:24

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 15:24
As inquiries have shown the understory grazing tale is near enough to a myth as far as meaningful fire mitigation is concerned, and comparing the NT to the highlands as was written elsewhere is just total nonsense. Some limited grazing for "preservation of historical customs" might be reasonable but I agree totally let's stop the bullshit about it having any significant effect on bushfires.
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 18:01

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 18:01
I always look at this and ask the question .... "so the cattle eat branches, twigs, bark, gum leaves, and top growth ??"
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Follow Up By: Alan S (WA) - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 21:26

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 21:26
I believe there seperate issues,
do we need to reduce fuel loads to avoid major bushfires - yes,
but there are a number of ways to achieve this, one of which is grazing.

The grazing issue is a cause looking for justification, not the otherway around.

My 2c worth

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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 23:24

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 23:24
The stuff that really burns are the dead gum leaves and twigs. They fill gutters in a matter of weeks and catch alight that easily a house has no chance. The fires went through here 6 weeks ago and already you can't see the black earth anymore due to a carpet of dead leaves. Australian native trees are veritable flammable debris machines of the highest order. Hazard reduction burns are the only answer in my view and they are inherently risky, but what are you going to do? The bush wants to burn, lots of species depend on it for their life cycle.
Putting cattle in National Parks is right up there with putting deer, horses, foxes or cats in them. In my opinion, if you have a choice then you don't do it. At the end of the day they will be competing for resources with native animals and we all know who wins that battle. Think Indian Miner or Cane Toad for worst case scenarios.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:29

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:29
Couldn't have been much of a fire compared to the one that went through the Victorian High Country, there were no trees left to drop dead leaves!

As far as damage to the ground itself, compared to 4 wheel drives driving off the formed tracks & pushing their way through scrub etc, the cattle damage is minimal.
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 10:17

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 10:17
I never said anything about cattle causing damage. I said they compete for resources. I'm sure you have much scarier fires in Victoria, but 212 houses lost is scary enough for "not much of a fire".
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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 20:24

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 20:24
Hullo mikehzz

This is a huge and complex subject, with no clear one approach "answer". So just a few points to consider.

It is interesting that you used the term "parkland". The most common descriptor used by white explorers as they traversed this country back in the 18th and 19th centuries and reproduced in sketches and paintings was parkland - in many cases for as far as the eye could see, grasslands with large trees well spaced throughout. How could this be? Because of the systematic and intelligent use of fire by the custodians at the time. [Ref "The biggest estate on earth" by Bill Gamage]

When the widespread use of controlled fire ceased and where the land was not used for cropping, the balance of plants and animals was upset and in many cases a thick understory developed. The fuel created as a result meant that fires started by lightning became much hotter and thus further altered the balance, in some cases causing the end of species in that area and enhancing the growth of others [plant and animal]. It is too early to know what the new balance will be, given the short time scale involved.

In the high country, the cattlemen often moved in after the original custodians and in many cases, continued with the use of patchwork fires in autumn, thus maintaining a generally clearer forest with less understory. The creation of NPs with little or no frequent cold burning has meant that a vigorous understory has developed. The result has been the recent series of devastating and frequent hot wildfires that have swept through some parts of the NPs. This new growth is no more "natural" than the previous growth of generally open forest.

Now some people might think that a landscape that is deliberately and systematically modified by man is not "natural". It could argued that man is an integral part of the natural environment, one of a number that modify the environment, for example, beavers which cut down trees, build dams, etc? I am sure biologists could think of many examples.

Now cattle grazing by itself will not solve the problem of devastating wild fires. And I would never advocate the wholesale grazing of the high country. What it might well do is help keep the fuel loads down in selected areas such as the Wonnangatta Valley and progressively those areas where frequent cold burning might eventually lead to the re-establishment of more open treed [parkland] areas covered with native grasses.

In closing, I think it is hard to directly apply ones experiences in one part of the country to another. For example, my understanding is that the vegetation, topography, micro climate, etc of the Blue Mountains is generally not the same as that in the High Country.

Leaf litter in a forest with little or no understory can actually assist in the promulgation of cold fires in the right conditions. OTOH, high levels of understory fuel, together with high temps, low humidity and high wind speeds turn ground fires into hot crown fires with devastating impact on large mature trees.

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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 21:35

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 21:35
All good points Andrew and hard to disagree. I'm all for hazard reduction burns. But, I disagree with farming in National Parks and running someones cattle is farming. I suspect the only people jumping up and down about it have got $$ signs in their eyes looking at all the grazing land being "wasted".
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 00:49

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 00:49

Putting it simply, a lot of people only have, what I would call, a superficial knowledge of the environment in which they are part custodians of. One persons reference to "parkland" is a classic example. In Australia natural "parkland" and cattle created "parkland" are two different things.

Hundreds of native plants and native animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) are simply not taken into account when making such a comment. It may look OK to the average punter but more important things than some not so old tradition of letting cattle chew through the bush could be lost.

Lets not turn the whole place into a "parkland" cleared cow paddock just because some long dead English explorer described a natural area of bush using the same term and because beavers like chewing trees down (lucky they didn't learn how to use chainsaws:)

I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 08:18

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 08:18
Hullo Greg

Thanks for your comments.

It is difficult to have an extended conversation in a forum such as this. Words have different meanings for each of us - in this case that of "parkland".

Given your thoughtful posts I have previously read on many topics, I think you would be very interested in Gammage's book. Mind you, it is really a text, with more than 300 pages arguing a case and nearly a 100 more pages of appendixes, notes and a bibliography. In a short time, it has been recognised by those in this field and outside it as a seminal work and has changed the way we perceive the Australian landscape.

I came across the book when it as recommended to me by staff at the HQ of the Namadgi NP south of Canberra. It certainly has changed by understanding and I now travel in the bush with "new eyes", both with respect to what I pay attention to and the role the Aboriginal peoples had in shaping what he calls the 1788 environment.

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Reply By: Grizzle - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 11:15

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 11:15

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