Report on BTAC Firebreak Track activity 22 and 23 July 2023.
For the July track clearing activity BTAC sought a track that was not likely to be covered with snow, something at a lower altitude. We partnered with Friends of Baw Baw to do work on the AAWT within the Baw Baw National Park. Parks Victoria readily accepted the offer to attend to this section of track which was indeed in need of attention.
Over the two days more than 100 logs, some quite substantial, were cleared from the 6.5km section of the AAWT from the Mt Erica Road, down Fire Break Trail to O’Sheas Mill Site and out to the Thompson Valley Road. 15 volunteers, some from as far afield as Benalla, toiled with chainsaws, brush cutters, hedge trimmers and hand tools to clear the many logs, regrowth on the track and the overhanging vegetation to restore the track hopefully for some years to come.
Peter Maffei and Joe van Beek checked out the track ahead of the event. They counted over 100 chainsaw jobs and noted the huge amount of hedge trimming that was needed. On passing through the intended camp site for the weekend at O’Sheas Mill Site, aka East Tyers Camping Area, they declared it as not fit for purpose because of mud, dampness and lack of suitable tent sites.
While a few of the volunteers travelled from home each day the majority arrived on Friday afternoon and stayed in the luxury of the Erica Caravan Park with undercover cooking facilities and hot showers. As this was a last-minute change and an unexpected cost to the volunteers a good rate was obtained from the Park owners, which BTAC further subsidised so volunteers were paying just $10 per night for the unpowered sites and access to all camp facilities. A wood fire in the BBQ shelter provided a focal point for socialising.
We worked as two teams, each with a similiar combination of skills, experience and equipment. On Saturday one team lead by Peter Maffei started on the Mt Erica Road and worked downhill on Firebreak Track while the other team lead by Joe van Beek worked uphill from O’Sheas. The chain sawing was all done by the end of the day. On Sunday Peter’s team, without chainsaws, went back to finish off Firebreak Track while Joe’s team cleared from O’Sheas to Thompson Valley Road. The participants contributed some 200 on-the-job volunteer hours with a further 80 to travel and in preparation.
Although it was cold with temperatures between 2 and 12 degrees, the days were ideal working conditions. Soft misty rain set in around 3 on Sunday afternoon just after our objectives for the weekend were achieved and we had arrived back at our vehicles.
Thanks to Parks Victoria and Friends of Baw Baw for their support for this activity. Thanks to Peter Maffei for leading the second team and special thanks to all the volunteers for giving of their time, travelling to the site, hard (but hopefully satisfying) work and camaraderie.
Joe van Beek
BTAC Activity Leader
PS: An example of feedback on Facebook:
Yippee! Oh heartfelt thanks to everyone concerned for all of those tireless days of hard work. Please know all of your efforts are very much appreciated! You guys are absolutely all legends!