Planned burn info for Grampians May 2015
Approximately 6 years down the line from the start of the project, the final rocks were put in place, and the Pharos Gully Track is now complete. This was a mammoth undertaking in a collaboration between CliffCare, Friends of Arapiles and Parks Victoria. Our artist in residence – anyone who has seen and walked the track will know what I mean – was Walter Braun. Walter is a climber and stonemason whom we employed to build the track. The rocks, of which the majority we had to bring onto the site were carried over the years by well over 1000 people. CliffCare and the Victorian Climbing Club would like to take this opportunity to thank Walter for his amazing work and to all the volunteers who believed the speel of ‘Take your training to a new level. Haul a rock’. We love you all and can’t thank you and your muscles enough. Peter Hawker the ranger at the park was also an integral part of this project and helped in whatever way he could along the way. Huge thanks also to our fellow collaborators – Friends of Arapiles and Parks Victoria. One word people. Teamwork.
I will have another article soon on the project, that gives a little more detail on project costs, volunteer hours and project timeline. Along with pictures along the years. Stay tuned.
Thanks to Acacia Rose and Peter from K7 Adventures for being on hand to take the photographic evidence of finished project.
Hoping that many of you manage to check this before you head off for the weekend. As I noted in the previous post, the main bouldering areas such as Andersons and Kindergarten are still closed but there have been a few new openings so check the post or download the official PV document uploaded to this site.
As always, please remember that many of the sites that have been opened are still recovering from fire. Take care to stay on the designated tracks, avoid going in with large groups and be mindful of your packs and gear and try to keep them off the vegetation as much as possible.
Grampians National Park Fire Recovery Update – Parks Victoria
For rock climbing and bouldering
Monday 30th March 2015
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 Hollow Mountain, Summerday Valley and Mt Stapylton. While three main visitor sites have since re-opened ( Flat Rock, Mt Stapylton return walk and Mt Zero), the majority of the Mt Difficult Range remains closed to visitation, this includes rockclimbing.
Environmental recovery in the Northern Grampians has been slow – shallow soils and lack of rainfall has meant vegetation has taken longer to regenerate. The landscape is still very fragile – Parks Victoria has been working closely with the local rock climbing community and CliffCare to ensure there has been a considered approach to re-opening rock climbing sites in the Northern Grampians, taking into account long term sustainability of climbing. Please support the long term recovery of fire affected areas by remaining out of any closed sites.
Open and accessible rock climbing and bouldering areas in the Northern Grampians:
(Accessible from Mt Zero Picnic Area, Flat Rock and Stapylton Amphitheatre areas only):
• Spurt and Afterglow
• Between the Sheeps
• Plaza Strip
• The Citadel
• Caves Club
• Central Buttress
• Grey & Green Walls
• Taipan Wall (Upper and Lower)
• Epsilon Wall
• Trackside Bouldering area
*Hollow Mountain (Gun Buttress to Andersons), Farside, all climbing areas on the Northern Side of Stapylton (Van Dieman’s Land to Sandinista) and other climbing areas in the Mt Difficult Range such as Eastside, Pohlners and Smiths Rd remain closed. Summerday Valley is currently only accessible via Licensed Tour Operators and school groups.
Other accessible rock climbing areas in and around the Grampians:
• Victoria Range (Please respect cultural heritage and recovering fire affected areas)
• Mt William Range (Seven Dials area)
• Serra Range (Including Bundaleer and Mt Rosea)
• Wonderland Range
• Mt Arapiles
• The Black Range and Mt Talbot (west of the Grampians) remain closed due to fire.
You can help support sustainable climbing in the Grampians by considering the following:
Stay on designated tracks – any off track walking can impact soil stability and the regeneration of vegetation. Spread of weeds and other pathogens can occur by foot traffic in fragile soils and recovering mossbeds. Don’t create short cuts or new tracks.
Consider other options – There are many climbing and bouldering sites within the Grampians. By giving these fire affected areas some time to recover they will be here to enjoy in the future.
Think about your safety – tree risk and unstable soils are present across all fire affected areas. Please remember your climbing etiquette when in the Grampians National Park:
Only climb in open and accessible areas and keep group numbers low – Avoid taking large groups into area where there are no designated tracks.
• Respect fragile environmental areas and cultural heritage
• Keep an eye out for aboriginal art sites – report to Parks Victoria if you find anything
• Be mindful of cleaning
• No chipping or bolting
• Avoid excessive chalk
• Take your rubbish home with you.
* Visit http://www.cliffcare.org.au/ for rock climbing access and environmental reports.
* For detailed information on open and accessible climbing areas please refer to relevant guide
books or websites. Please note park closures.
* The closest camping option in the National Park is Plantation Campground, approximately 10km north of Halls Gap, or private accommodation in the Northern Grampians area. Bush camping in closed fire affected areas is not appropriate.
For updates on the many camping, walking and driving opportunities in the park, call into Brambuk, the National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap, visit the local Visitor Information Centre or call Parks Victoria on 13 19 63.
While Parks Victoria regrets the need to enforce closures, substantial fines will be imposed on those found in any closed, fire affected areas. For fire recovery updates, maps and further information on activities, campgrounds and car touring options in the Grampians National Park please visit http://www.parks.vic.gov.au phone 13 1963 or call into Brambuk the National Park and Cultural Centre, Halls Gap, open 9am-5pm daily.
Following quite a few enquiries more recently about bouldering areas open in the Grampians, notably the Northern Grampians, I have tried to put together a list of bouldering areas and their open/closed status. As was noted in an email I received from boulderer Vanessa Tocatijan, it can sometimes seem a little unclear especially to international climbers, what is exactly what. Trying to marry up areas in the reports which often highlight ranges and popular bouldering areas to the info contained in the Grampians Bouldering guidebook can be a little tricky if you aren’t that familiar with the Grampians. As I explained, putting the information together in a report in a timely manner can often make this quite difficult and we don’t always manage to get it right. It is an important point that Vanessa has raised and I hope this info can help clarify things a little more. What I must also say is the interest of the climbing community to get the right info and get it right when it comes to closed fragile areas is really heartening and should be commended.
There are a number of extra bouldering sites reopened for Easter. They are still contained predominantly in the Mt Stapylton area
Northern Grampians areas
Andersons, sub areas include: CLOSED
This area, including the sub areas mentioned, is still closed and needs more time to recover. It was burnt quite extensively, with the fire quite hot. Little rainfall hasn’t helped.
Hollow mountain, sub areas include: CLOSED
Hollow Mountain Cave
As above, this area is still closed. Hollow Mountain provides access to a much larger area, parts of which are still delicate and will not handle the traffic climbers and boulderers bring as well as all the other park users who want access to the tracks. Another point to note – It is also a trait of climbers and boulderers to wander off track to find and develop new areas. After fires the ability to access these is made much easier. Unfortunately, this is a death sentence for recovering environments. And as it has been proven in the past, new sites have been developed whilst the areas have been closed. This is not the only reason (climbers are not the only users that are being taken on board) but it does inform whether opening a particular area that provides easy access to another nearby fragile area is a wise move.
Mt Stapylton area, sub areas include:
Kindergarten – CLOSED
Daves Cave – OPEN
Epsilon wall – OPEN
Trackside – OPEN
Spurt and afterglow walls – OPEN
Snakepit – OPEN
Lower Taipan – OPEN
Wildsides – OPEN
Between the Sheeps – OPEN
The Citadel – OPEN
Caves Club – OPEN
Ground Control Caves – ??
Campground area, sub areas include:
Campground Boulders – The boulders that are in park property are still off limits. There are some boulders that are on private property. These boulders were part of a negotiation with the private owners a number of years ago, whereas we managed to arrange access providing we took care of the sites, not using them to toilet etc. I have not managed a site inspection of this area as yet but would imagine the area would be quite fragile if it was contained in the fire zone. I would recommend giving this also some time to recover. Also accessing the boulders on private property requires you to pass through parks land and then the issue of toileting elsewhere becomes a problem.
Titanic – CLOSED
A number of enquiries have revolved around the Kindergarten closure. The track in is predominantly on rock, the site itself has a solid rock base so the question is – how is the environment being impacted and why is it still closed? On a site visit early last year that included myself, local boulderers and Parks Victoria, this was one area that we were really hoping would be in a situation that it could be reopened. All of us were throwing around possible workable options to make it happen but the agreed outcome at the end of the day was that it wasn’t really possible without risking 1. Access to nearby Andersons which was in a very fragile state 2. The amount of users that would then use the Kindergarten would be substantial and along with this would come the need for toileting areas. The surrounding soil was very fragile and shouldn’t be accessed. Where would people toilet? If you think about it, the reality of this ‘ small’ problem isn’t so small. Toileting on the rock is never acceptable yet digging a hole or moving off rock wasn’t an option either. Multiply that by the groups of people that head out to the area. Makes it tricky.
I will have a couple more updates to put up on the blog today. Stay tuned and be informed.
you think about it, the reality of this ‘ small’ problem isn’t so small. Toileting on the rock is never acceptable yet digging a hole or moving off rock wasn’t an option either. Multiply that by the groups of people that head out to the area. Makes it tricky.
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 http://hrcc.vic.gov.au/images/Haveyoursay/DraftHorsham_Municipal_Strategic_Statement_for_discussion.pdf 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Attack Of The Killer Dunny Budgies has lost its belay tree.
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
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.