Walkers in the Great Otway National Park are being asked to get "snap happy'' for a cause.
A Victoria University (VU) and Parks Victoria joint research project aims to maintain the upkeep of the Great Ocean Walk by monitoring sections of track via the virtual world.
A series of bright green wooden markers called "Fluker Posts", named after VU researcher Dr Martin Fluker, have recently been installed at various locations between Blanket Bay and Johanna Beach on the Great Ocean Walk, near Apollo Bay.
Walkers in the park are being asked to place their cameras on each Fluker Post, take a date-stamped digital photograph and then email it to [email protected].
The pictures are then chronologically arranged within a PowerPoint presentation and made available to the public at www.slideshare.net/towbike.
VU Lecturer in Tourism Dr Martin Fluker said the photographs would be used to monitor the visual effects of trail usage, design, repair, weed infestation, fire damage and general erosion over the coming years.
"Land managers of national parks spend heaps of money and resources on designing, creating and maintaining these walking paths,'' Dr Fluker said. "One of the most important reasons to monitor the condition of the tracks is to make sure walkers are kept safe.''
Parks Victoria Great Ocean Walk Team Leader Nick Alexeyeff welcomed the initiative.
"It's been great to work with Victoria University on this project,'' Mr Alexeyeff said. "The 10 posts are in remote locations and can be hard to get to on a regular basis. For a park ranger it can be a two hour walk from any road. This project enables us to check the condition of the tracks from the comfort of our office. It's a great tool for us.''
The Fluker Post project has been run successfully in the You Yangs Regional Park for the past two years and the Brisbane Ranges National Park since the start of 2010.
"We've already learnt that this is a great way for walkers to take ownership of these beautiful places and to help with the upkeep of these important recreational trails,'' Dr Fluker said. "If more members of the public can take photos and send them in, that's more great data for us.''
Photos of the Fluker Posts are available upon request.
For interview: Martin Fluker, VU Lecturer in Tourism, 9919 4412 or 0402 459 490
Daniel Clarke, Media Officer
Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919 9491 or 0407 771 072. Email: [email protected]