CLIMBERS – WE NEED YOU! Quick Submission to Horsham RCCouncil due tomorrow!

Attention all climbers - For those of you that love Mt Arapiles and the surrounding area, just the way it is, could you please take a few minutes of your time to send in a small submission to Horsham Rural City Council.Their current draft document Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) is open for submissions which end tomorrow. The document is huge but the sections that may affect us are small. It is important to ensure that those sections of the document as it stands now stays the same when it comes to development and land use for the Mount and surrounding area. If there are enough submissions going the other way(and there doesn’t have to be that many) saying that development should be allowed to occur closer to the mount, it means that the document can be changed to allow that option to be there. In the bigger picture, that means that if anyone,be it individual or company wants to develop something, one of the biggest hurdles is already out of the way. Putting in a brief submission now could mean a whole lot less hurt later on. Prevention rather than cure.

Here is a link to the huge document with the pages 29 Natimuk and 41 Tourism the only ones you might be interested in reading. I have also supplied a basic idea style draft of a letter you could quickly put together draft letter ideas. Please do make the effort. This is not a NO letter, this is a support letter for the current document in its current form (specifying those sections.)

There is a little discussion also on it on Chockstone

Black Hill……literally

As I noted in my previous Access report, Steven Wilson will be filling you in on the fire event at Black Hill. Thanks to Steven and Jayden Andrea for compiling this report.

circuit track 1

Circuit track

On Wednesday the 7th of January 2015, as I was walking into my house, I saw the first lightening strike. As I got inside I saw the second and said to my wife Ann that it had hit Black Hill.  Soon after,  the CFA Fire Ready app started going off:  Three fires, one north of, one south of and one at Black Hill. Time to set up the fire pump and hoses.
As we are 5km from Black Hill and were directly under the smoke column, it became a wait and see game.  Sol Rogowski,who is a fellow climber and area neighbour and  his partner Suzie Hazlam, came around to lend a hand (if needed) and watch from our deck. Around 8pm blackened leaves and bark started to land on our grass. Fortunately none of it was burning.
Photo 1 - Smoke plume

Time to ring Dan and inform him that he may want to move his club trip
Around 10pm the South end of the park went up.
Photo 2 - red glow

1 hour later the wind direction changed and brought some rain with it. Time to relax.
Eight days later Jayden Andrea gave me a call to let me know that he had council permission to inspect the damage to the climbing areas. We headed up that evening.
The fire has impacted all of the climbing areas. Mostly though there has been a loss of vegetation, and none of the climbs appear to have any exfoliation.  A lot of the large old trees have fallen, with quite a few looking like they are also going to fall.
The VCC track repair work below Milawa, which took place in 2011, has been burnt out and will need redoing.
photo 5

The tree that you climb for the start of Pull The Ripcord has been burnt but is still standing, however you wont be able to climb it any more. An alternate start has been partially bolted and will have another bolt added when the park is open again. Alternately you can do a Batman start off the ringbolt.
photo 6

Bicentennial Fa(r)ce  in the Dino eggs area, has lost the dead tree that use to start from. It looks like it is still climbable – although a bit harder than grade 19.
Photo 3
Attack Of The Killer Dunny Budgies has lost its belay tree.
Photo 4

The rear entrance car park has had a lot of damage with a number trees fallen or about to fall.
Considering that Black Hill used to be a quarry, I would be concerned that erosion could prove to be an issue as there is little or no top soil for the plants to get re established in.
Black Hill is currently closed.
Words – Steven Wilson
  Photos – Jayden Andrea

tree stump still burning 9 days later

Tree stump still burning 9 days later

Access & Environment Report January, 2015

I seem to have the same kind of news each time I come back after the Christmas New Year break. Fires, heavy rains, closures. And no different this year. Black Hill was hit pretty hard by fires in early January. I have left it up to Steven Wilson (who is the club’s eyes and ears of all things Black Hill) to give you a rundown on the area and you can get a good idea just by looking at the photos. The post following this report contains Steven’s report. There are more on the clubs photo site so check these out also. Current situation is that Black Hill is closed. I plan to be in contact with Macedon Ranges city council to chat further on reopenings and how we might help out.
The Grampians as well as Arapiles was hit from a number of sides although all fires at Araps were contained in a short time. Areas that include climbing sites still closed due to fire:

Black Range State Park
Mt Talbot Scenic Park

Following the fires, we received some much welcomed rain. As often happens, these rains were quite heavy and impacted on a number of roads and areas in the Grampians. Due to it’s fragile state, some parts of the North Grampians suffered a little more from the rain with washouts.  Summerday Valley had a couple of sections of track blow out. A part of the new access track in took a blow. This was a section of the track that was being monitored already because of erosion. This will need to be assessed as to whether it can be rebuilt or the track needs to be slightly realigned.  Hardest hit in the valley though was the access track around to Main Wall. This small track  followed closely to the creek and unfortunately when the heavy rains hit, the creek rose and completely washed out the track. This again will need to be assessed as to the best course of action.

There has been some confusion over a number of climbing areas in the Northern Grampians as to whether they are open or not, such as the Ravine and other crags  along the Pohlner Road. Also the Asses Ears. By default, these areas no longer fall into the  closed and no access category, as the roads have now been opened. As there are no real visitor sites in these areas, the concern of human traffic is not so high but this doesn’t take away from the fact that the areas are still really fragile. After having conversations with the PV team at Halls Gap, it is worth noting that giving these areas a wide berth for a while yet would be the right and  sustainable thing to do. Many of our climbing areas are not official visitor sites. This means that they are not always included in every single communication so it gets a bit difficult sometimes to ensure that climbers are not putting these areas at risk from further damage. This is something that will definitely be a future discussion with PV.  The term ‘sustainable climbing’ is something that all climbers need to take on board and understand that because many of the areas in which we climb are not always  an  ‘official visitor site’, we need to take some responsibility for doing the right thing, thereby ensuring that any environmental damage is limited.  Take a closer look at some of these areas if you are visiting them and make the call yourself. Is there limited vegetated ground cover? Loose soil? No distinguishing original tracks meaning new ones (and often, less sustainable ones) appearing. Multiple tracks.  These things are noticeable if you actually look for them rather than just making a beeline to the cliff to climb. The other concern that isn’t so noticeable in the early days, is the transporting of outside weeds and pathogens into a fragile and bare area that has little or no natural vegetation system happening. With no other plant life competing with them, weed seeds and pathogens can take hold and forever alter the environment in which native flora used to thrive.
For many people, maybe these things aren’t really a concern, but I would hope that many of the things that you love about the Australian bush is the flora and fauna. Would be a shame to see this diminish over time.


Overlooking Summerday Valley and recovery progress. 6-7th December VCC trip. Trial reopening program. Photo Ben Wright

Grampians closure updates -Fire and Rainfall events. Black Hill closed

Hi All,

‘Tis the season and all…..

Along with some fairly major fires in the Grampians over the last two weeks, it was further topped off by 100mm of rain in some areas of the Grampians. The North Grampians with its fragile and fire damaged environment didn’t fare so well with the flooding and consequently there are some closures around the Mt Zero Road due to this rainfall.

Please take note of the road closures as well as the climbing area closures that are noted in the PV update I received.  In short:

Black Range State Park closed due to fire. No climbing
Mt Talbot Bushland reserve closed due to fire. No climbing

Please see the following closures for Mt Zero Road due to flood damage

  • Flat Rock intersection to Roses Gap Road
  • Roses Gap Road to Heatherlie Quarry

This closure will be in place until the area dries out and machinery and crews can enter the area to repair the damage.

Parks Victoria Fire and Rainfall Event update 13/1/14

Late last week the Rocklands -Rees Rd Fire impacted on a large area within the Black Range State Park (west of the Grampians) and the Mt Talbot Bushland reserve north of the Black Range. The fire has now been contained and heavy rainfall has assisted with this. Fire crews will continue to work in the area as fire response moves into fire recovery. Unfortunately the fire impacted on walking tracks, picnic areas and climbing sites in the Black Range and at Mt Talbot.  There will be temporary closures in place for the next few months while fire lines are rehabilitated and recovery works are undertaken.

On January 13 areas within the Grampians received nearly 100mm of rain. This caused widespread damage to roads and walking tracks, particularly within the fire affected are of the Northern Grampians. Parks Victoria will be working to assess the damage and undertake repair works over the coming months. Fire closures remain in place but there are new temporary road and visitor site closures along the Mt Zero Road, between Flat Rock Road, Roses Gap and Heatherlie Quarry.  

These new closures in the Northern Grampians will have an impact on the Summer Day Valley Pilot reopening trial for LTO’s.   For the time being there will be a temporary suspension of the trial until assessments have been done and repair works undertaken.

Black Hill Bushland Reserve

Please note the the Black Hill Bushland Reserve is still currently closed due to the fires. I hope to have more information on this soon.

Victorian Fires Jan 2015 affecting climbing areas

There are currently fires in a number of areas that could impact climbing. At this stage there are fires in the Grampians, Black Range and Black Hill and while some of the fires are now under control, the areas are either closed or care should be taken. The latest updates are as follows:

Black Range

Due to a fire which started on 3 January following a lightning storm the following parks are closed:

Henty highway was closed yesterday but is now open.

There were also a number of other smaller fires in the Grampians including one near Syphon Road.

These fires are close to the Victoria Range climbing areas so if you had been planning a trip for this weekend, it would be advised to postpone.

Black Hill Bushland Reserve

There is currently a fire in the Black Hill Bushland Reserve. The area is closed. Will hopefully have more information on this after the weekend but it looks like the park has burnt quite hard.

If you haven’t already got the Fireready App, please do so. If you are going to be travelling to and around many of the climbing areas it makes sense to have relevant and timely information. You can download it here

North Grampians climbing area updates 23/12/2014

The following is the latest update from Parks Victoria with regards to open and closed climbing areas in the North Grampians. As noted below Mt Difficult Range, Wartook basin,  Hollow Mountain, Summerday Valley and Coppermine Track areas – there is a good chance that these particular areas will remain closed until Spring 2015 in order to allow them to regenerate. I will be involved in a site visit early in the new year to look at a number of other sites, in particular bouldering to see how these are faring and whether some early reopenings may be possible. Parks Victoria has asked for it be noted that thanks are to go out to the climbing community for supporting these closures and supporting environmental recovery for the long term.

You can see some pics out and about in the North Grampians from a number of field trips I attended this year as well as some from the recent Summerday Valley LTO pilot reopening trial, of which the VCC was involved in. Here

Grampians National Park Fire Recovery Update For Rock Climbing and Bouldering
 Friday 19 December 2014

In January 2014 a large bushfire swept through the Northern Grampians causing widespread damage to visitor sites, roads and walking tracks. Many popular rock climbing and bouldering sites were also impacted including the Hollow Mountain, Summerday Valley and Mt Stapylton areas. We are now approaching twelve months since the fire and there have been many significant fire recovery projects completed. Some projects will continue into next year with the planning and rebuilding of visitor sites, infrastructure and experiences particularly across the Mt Difficult Range.

However, environmental recovery in the Northern Grampians has been slow to recover and vegetation will continue to take time to regenerate; in particular the rocky outcrop environments where soils are shallow and steep slopes exist. In addition, the north of the Grampians has received substantially less rainfall than usual, which has further slowed the regeneration of vegetation. The landscape is still very fragile – any off track walking, climbing and bouldering can cause these areas to take much longer to recover. Personal safety must also be considered with tree risk and unstable soils being present across all fire affected areas.

As a result, Parks Victoria will continue to keep some popular rock climbing areas closed to visitation to provide the chance for ecological recovery. This includes most of the Mt Difficult Range, with particular reference to Hollow Mountain, Andersons and the Kindergarten, Summerday Valley, North of Mt Stapylton, Van Diemen’s Land and Cut Lunch Walls, the Coppermine Track and Mt Zero road areas.

Please respect the fragility of the environment and support the long term recovery of the Northern Grampians by remaining out of any closed areas. While Parks Victoria regrets the need to enforce closures, substantial fines will be imposed on those found in any closed, fire affected areas.

Open Rock Climbing and Bouldering Areas Northern Grampians (Flat Rock and Stapylton Amphitheatre areas only):

Central Buttress
Grey & Green Walls
Taipan Wall (Upper and Lower)
Spurt Wall
Epsilon Wall

Other accessible rock climbing in and around the Grampians area:

  •   Victoria Range (Please respect cultural heritage and recovering fire affected areas)
  •   Serra Range (Including Bundaleer and Mt Rosea)
  •   Mt William Range (Seven Dials area)
  •   Wonderland Range
  •   Mt Arapiles
  •   Mt Talbot
  •   The Black Range

*Fore detailed information on open and accessible climbing areas please refer to relevant guide books or websites.

Please remember your climbing etiquette when in the National Park:

  •   Only climb in open and accessible areas
  •   Stick to formal tracks – don’t create short cuts or new tracks
  •   Respect fragile environmental areas and cultural heritage
  •   Keep an eye out for aboriginal art sites – report to Parks Victoria if you find anything new.
  •   Be mindful of cleaning
  •   No chipping or bolting
  •   Avoid excessive chalk
  •   Take your rubbish home with you.

For fire recovery updates, maps and further information on activities, campgrounds and car touring options in the Grampians National Park please visit phone 13 1963 or call into Brambuk the National Park and Cultural Centre, Halls Gap, open 9am-5pm daily.

Access & Environment Report, December 2014

Feedback from members of the climbing community has been positive in regards to the reopenings in the Northern Grampians.

I have contacted Tammy Schoo to discuss ball park opening times for some of the other areas. We are hoping to get a meeting squeezed in before Christmas to look at some other smaller areas including bouldering sites. Whilst originally there was some hope for a Christmas reopening for some of the other major areas ie Hollow Mountain, this is unlikely to happen. Rainfall has not been good and with the Northern Grampians one of the driest, it doesn’t make for good groundcover regeneration. I will know more once I meet up with Tammy and we look and discuss the situation. The biggest problem is while a particular area might be on the way or even in a state to handle some traffic, opening up the area in order to access it causes huge problems. Much of the area around Hollow Mountain is still in a very fragile state. Opening it up in order to get to some area is a certainty that people will head off track to search and develop new areas, or just shortcut to get to a particular cliff they can see. I am only talking on the climber side of things. There are also walkers who would head off track to see an area they may not have seen before because of the bush.

There are definitely areas that are bouncing back but some areas still look completely annihilated. At the recent Grampians Advisory Group meeting, we drove along the Mt Difficult Road – it was a very sobering experience in certain sections. We also had discussions around the Brush Tailed Wallaby program – I will have more on this very soon. We visited the new hikers camp near Rosea. This one is to be a test case for the other 11 camp sites which are part of the Grampians Peaks Trail. Looks very exciting and will be a great experience for those walking the trail.

I attended the recent Arapiles Advisory Group meeting which I thought was a very productive meeting. We discussed many things but one of the main discussions was around the campground itself and especially the issue with decreasing shade due to loss of trees. We have started a sub committee and have given ourselves a deadline date of planting season next year when we WILL get plants in the ground. The native pines that were planted a couple of years ago was a step forward but unfortunately that particular species is extremely slow growing and isn’t really classed as a good shade tree. There has been some research of various species and we will decide on this in a meeting in February. A survey will be put together and this will also be put out to the climbing community for feedback. Also some leveling of the campground was discussed. This would help in the long term for even distribution of campers across the whole campground. Currently people chase the shade(trees) as well as even ground. The long term effect of this is that compaction and erosion occur and further trees are put under stress.

I also recently attended the Grampians Roundtable and Fire planning forum. Much of the meeting was a field trip where we were visiting fire affected areas to either look at damage and recovery or to hear how the fire fighting or planned burns helped, didn’t help etc. I hope to have some information on these processes soon to put up on the website. Understanding how the burn program works, the improvements that are being made to managing landscapes via burning is an interesting, albeit controversial topic. The more informed we are makes it much easier to provide knowledgeable feedback to those who handle the burn programs. It is a complex and tricky business.

The following  images were recently taken in the Summerday Valley area that show some of the regrowth occurring. Thanks to Liam Beasley for the photos. You can also see some pics out and about in the North Grampians from a number of field trips I attended this year as well as some from the recent Summerday Valley LTO pilot reopening trial, of which the VCC was involved in. Here

wall of fools 2 08 by liam

sdv firescape 03 by liam wall of fools 99 by liam


dsc_0068 dsc_0067


carpark view 85 by liam mt stapylton 82 by liam Back Wall 1.1