Pets & other companion animals

Charles Hall (the first Halls Gap resident) wrote in 1853: “I had tame emu chickens performing their strange juvenile antics about my reed mia-mia….A female kangaroo was a familiar intimate of my hut (and) wild ducks, geese and swans were constant visitors upon the water-hole opposite my door….”

Living so near the Grampians National Park – surrounded on three sides by it in fact – has some very obvious rewards: wildlife grazing on your lawn, birds splashing in your pond and superb scenery at your back door.

However, to help protect the native fauna and flora in the Park, a number of local and state government restrictions have been put into place. These are as follows:

  • CATS: A local bylaw of the Northern Grampians totally bans the keeping of any cat in Halls Gap. This is for the protection of local indigenous fauna, those we recognise and those less visible, such as bandicoots and gliders. So if you see any cats in the area please let the Shire or the national park know.
  • DOGS: You may keep up to two dogs on an average property. The dog must be registered, be at all times under the owner’s control and wear its identification marker whenever it is off the owner’s property. It must be on a leash near shops. Except for companion dogs for the disabled, no dog may be taken into the national park, not even on a leash. (Dogs can go by car from Halls Gap direct to Dunkeld or Zumsteins.) Please report wandering dogs to the shire.
  • OTHER PETS:  For more details on these and other pets contact the Shire.

Wildlife

One of the joys of Halls Gap is the constant bird chorus by day and the frogs by night. Appropriate plants, water, perhaps a bird feeding table will attract these to your garden. The laws for aviaries and ponds are the same as for anywhere in Victoria. But we do suggest you get advice from the National Park before stocking a pond with fish or frogs, or releasing birds into the wild. It is important that we do not get fauna from overseas (or interstate even) colonising our bush.

Feathered friends

Most of us delight in these visitors most of the time, but sometimes we can feel we are having too many too often. So be aware that feeding cockatoos and other large birds can create huge problems.

Kangaroos & wallabies

You are very likely to have the (mixed) pleasure of kangaroos in the garden. They will keep your grass neat and tidy, entertain you and your guests, but may also take a fancy to your young plants. Our local kangaroos are Eastern Grey kangaroos. Less common but on the increase are the red-necked wallaby and the black wallaby. As with the birds, please do not feed them. It is so bad for their health and also can encourage them to aggressively beg for food, resulting injuries to people. There are signs around the town urging us to “keep wildlife wild”.

Deer

Other common garden visitors are the deer. One trouble is you don’t just get one, you get a herd! They eat almost anything that grows in the garden.

Snakes

Encounters with snakes are rare in the town and in the national park, but it is wise to teach children what to do if they see a snake. Do not try to kill them.

Other native fauna

Space does not allow a list of the local fauna. Ask at the National Park Visitor Centre for bird and mammal lists.

Injured animals

Unfortunately much of our wildlife has little road sense, particularly at dawn and dusk. Many residents have hit a kangaroo or a deer. If the animal is injured it can be put down. See our Emergency Services Page for contact numbers.

Gardening and Landscaping

Keen to get to work in your garden? Many Halls Gap residents are keen gardeners and will be happy to share their knowledge. However there are some restrictions on gardening in Halls Gap that you should be aware of. These concern both clearing of vegetation and the planting of species that could escape and damage the local bush.

As the Shire’s planning documents state in section 21.10 Environment  Overview:

The environmental attributes and natural beauty of the Shire make the area a beautiful place to live and visit. Management of the environment, sustainability of land forms, bio- diversity principles and catchment management strategies are important tools to foster conservation of the environment and need to be embraced by the community in general.

CLEARING NATIVE VEGETATION: A permit is required before removing, destroying or lopping native vegetation. Exceptions are where the vegetation is within 5 metres of a house, is dead or presents an immediate risk of personal injury or damage to property. See the Shire’s website for details.

BURNING OFF: It has happened before -an innocent backyard burn to get rid of rubbish turns into a full scale bushfire. Please check with the local CFA for fire restrictions.

WEEDS: Tedious but true. There are already lots of weeds here and some are escaping into the National Park. It would be so good if we could have more control over thistles, stinkwort, African weed orchid and more. We have a Landcare group but it is an uphill battle that we all can help with.

GARDEN PLANTS TO AVOID: The plants listed below are environmental weeds because of the way they invade native vegetation, usually adversely affecting the indigenous flora and fauna. Please don’t make any new plantings of the following in Halls Gap:

  • Blackberry
  • Bridal Creeper
  • Watsonia
  • Ivy
  • Arum Lily
  • Sweet Pittosporum
  • Sallow Wattle & other Acacia species: baileyana, itteaphylla, decurrens, elata
  • Broom Species
  • Blue Bell Creeper – Marianthus heterophylla (Sollya heterophylla)
  • Portugal Laurel, Cherry Laurel – Prunus lusitanica, Prunus laurocerasus
  • Ink Weed – Phytolacca octandra
  • Irish Strawberry – Arbutus unedo
  • Garden ornamentals that are prone to escape: freesias, gazanias

For detailed information and images of escaped garden ornamentals specific to Halls Gap, see this: Halls Gap Weed Species

For more help contact our Landcare group hallsgaplandcaregoup@gmail.com or Project Platypus loki@projectplatypus.org.au

Want to grow native plants?

The local branch of the Australian Plant Society are very knowledgeable and helpful. See their listing in the Environment Section of the Directory.

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