Northern Grampians reopenings update – Saturday 20th, September.

With the September school holidays just around the corner – like this Saturday the 20th to be exact, the question on many people’s lips is – what is open for climbing in the Northern Grampians?

Following many discussions, site visits, working bees, more discussion, assessments etc, I can confirm that this Saturday, the Stapylton area will be open for climbing. This includes the Amphitheatre, Green and Grey Walls, Epsilon Wall, Bellepheron on Flat Rock, Trackside and, and, and …..Taipan!

This is only the beginning of the reopenings and while I am sure there are many out there that are not seeing the cliffs and bouldering areas they want open on this list as yet, it is important to understand that all the areas – including the ones that PV have decided to open for this coming weekend, are still recovering and have a long way to go before they are anywhere near a healthy, robust state. What PV are responding to is the fact that this part of the park is a critical piece of the climbing landscape and have taken on board that the majority of enquiries from recreational climbers/ boulderers be they local, domestic or international have centred around these areas. Many discussions, as I noted, have taken place between a variety of climbing reps, myself included. Our feedback has been taken on board.

Recovery has been slow in all areas due to below average rainfall so decisions needed to be made around the areas that could best handle the visitor traffic as well as concentrating on a number of work projects (of which there are many). The work projects in the Stapylton area have been pushed to the front.

I will put together a longer report that helps to explain to climbers the rationale behind why some areas are opened and others are not. Often it seems that as long as a track seems to be okay into an area then there should be no reason why it can’t be opened. This is so far from the reality of the situation – there really are a multitude of worm cans that start opening when discussing each area. But for now, I wanted to get this information out to the climbing community so that those who had planned their trip around a Stapylton/Taipan visit these September holidays could do so. I have had many enquiries. I will have some further information over the next few days and there will also be a Parks Victoria update on the situation out this Friday which will contain more info.

Further reopenings will occur and I will keep you up to date as soon as they are confirmed.

As I noted at the start of this report, the area is still fragile and requires care in using it. Going off track onto ground that has very little regrowth will further hamper nature’s efforts to recover. Stay on the tracks. There is a new one up to the Grey and Green walls area and some realignment on the Taipan track. Take care when you place your packs and gear on the ground. One of the hardest issues to deal with is toileting which generally requires you to head away from the cliff area. Visit the toilets in the carparks before heading up to the cliff, and obviously if you must go, choose your spot carefully. It won’t just be you trampling the sensitive ground.

I really must thank all the team at the Grampians Parks Victoria office. They have been keen to push this along, understanding the needs of the climbing community whilst still having to deal with the environmental and cultural values of the park. They have praised the efforts of the diverse climbing community to pitch in and help out on the work days and of respecting the closures by staying out of closed areas to let them recover.

As always I am happy to respond to any enquiries regarding the closures and reopenings. Stay tuned folks and enjoy the beautiful rock that the Stapylton Amphitheatre and Taipan have to offer.

Stapylton/Taipan view

Stapylton/Taipan view

Access & Environment Report, September 2014

The work days for the North Grampians achieved many of the targets. Due to back injury
I was unable to attend any of them therefore huge thanks must go to Tim Lockwood and
David Singleton for standing in as the reps for the days. Many thanks to all the volunteers who turned up. We had groups from MUMC, The Lactic Factory and VCC along with a number of individuals. Tim Lockwood gave me a brief rundown on the work that was achieved. At the time of going to print, I didn’t have any photos of the days themselves -hopefully I will have some for next issue. I will also have more information on the reopenings shortly. Assessments are still going on as to the areas that can be opened without risking too much damage to the still very fragile ground.

Wed 20th August –

Clearing of track to Taipan and around the base. Barely any clearing was required under Taipan wall, Spurt wall being the worst hit. Cleared a few protruding branches which people used to come close to hitting falling off Tyranny, Dial a lama, Fabios route.
Clearing of base of Grey and Green wall areas. Not too much required here, mostly manicuring. Clearing of track to and around Summerday Valley. One or two larger trees had to come down here but nothing too dramatic.

Thursday 21st August –

Cleared the track to Sandinista, around to Amnesty wall, through Anderson’s and marked the track to Kindergarten. Cleared around Barc wall area for the stone work. Van Diemans land track was walked and assessed. There’s a bit of track clearing to do that way. The cliffs out there as well as the Anderson’s boulders are relatively untouched. There is however one cliff on the way to VD which was dubbed the “Impossible wall” as it was superb orange rock but nigh impossible for any climbs. This cliff has been annihilated, the ground is littered with rock flakes. It’s not dangerous but rather sobering.

Saturday 23rd August –Cleared all the way to Van Diemans land and worked on Barc wall stone work.

If you remember last report, I noted that there was going to be a bouldering site visit with
a number of local boulderers to look at hardening some of the tracks into Andersons and
a general discussion about bouldering in the future. The meeting went really well. It was attended by Dave Roberts (RIC GNP) Tammy Schoo and Kyle Hewitt from Parks Victoria. Boulderers attending were Scott Clarke, Oliver Miller, Braeden Hyland. I also attended. Some of the tracks will be delineated and some hardened. The following photos are a few from the day. We also visited Summerday to see the work that had taken place there. Majority of the boulders in the Andersons area are okay. There are a few of the warmup boulders which have taken a hit but all in all, the rock has fared okay. Ground though is still very fragile and there is little vegetation especially in the way of shade trees. It will be a while before chilling out under the shade of a tree will be possible. Probably won’t be the best place to be when the weather is warm.

andersons 2

Oliver Miller at Andersons, Grampians

andersons 3

Kyle Hewitt (PV) at Andersons, Grampians

new walkway section across fragile ground - new access track Summerday

new walkway section across fragile ground – new access track Summerday

barc wall track

Access track into Barc Wall, Summerday area

 

summerday 2

New stepwork up to Wall of Fools area from access track

A&E Report August. North Grampians August working bees announced.

Volunteers Needed!

It’s a long post but please read through. Info for climbers and boulderers alike.

I have been collaborating with David Witham from the Grampians Walking Track Support Group and Tammy Schoo at Parks Victoria on finalizing dates for the North Grampians working bees.

Dates have been set for the first of the working bees in the North Grampians climbing areas. Please drop me a line at cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au as soon as possible to register your availability for your preferred date. I will be sending out more details once I have a list of people. We are really hoping for a good turnout for these days. Gives us a much better chance of getting some climbing in the area come the September holidays!

Wed 20th August  – Tree risk and vegetation clearing works at Stapylton Amphitheatre, Summerday Valley and Andersons. Working with David, our chainsaw guy, this day requires only a couple of extra workers.

Thursday 21st August – Stapylton Ampitheatre. Grey/ Green Walls Rehab track works and belay area delineation.  Also any required works around the Taipan area. Possible start on some works in the Summerday Valley/Bark Wall area. Enough people for two or more groups would be good.

Saturday 23rd August – Bark Wall (Summerday Valley area) rock works.  Also other veg clearing, abseil area delineation works. Enough people for two groups would be beneficial. As this is a weekend working bee, there will also be a VCC trip run in conjunction with it. Working bee on the Saturday and climbing on the Sunday (location to be confirmed) So if you are wanting to help out and also find a climbing partner for Sunday this could be a good option. You are also welcome to just be part of the working bee.

Some food and beverage will be supplied on these work days and start time  will be 9.30am.

Along with David Witham from the Grampians Walking Track Support Group, CliffCare is also trying to raise some funds to put towards the track work of the climbing areas. Please make a donation – every little bit helps and this money can be dedicated towards just the North Grampians climbing track works. Just make a note in the Special Message part of the donation process – North Grampians. This will ensure that your donation is just directed at these works. Your donation is also tax deductible! You can donate here https://www.givenow.com.au/cliffcare

There is also the possibility of another working day or two in September should we need it. Especially in respect to some of the bouldering areas in the North Gramps. The PV team at Halls Gap would like  to get some of the tracks into these areas delineated and are contemplating the idea of some of them being a bit more formalized. The team are really keen to get the bouldering community on board with this so I am aiming to organize a small group to meet either late this week or early next to visit the site and have some discussion on what they think might work for tracks between these areas. I will be contacting some of you that I already know but if you think that you might be available on a weekday to come along and to have a say on bouldering in the Northern Grampians please drop me a line. This will also be an opportunity for discussion on the future of bouldering in the Grampians National Park. This is also something that the team I have been working with at Halls Gap PV are really keen to start dialogue on. With bouldering and new development occurring throughout the park, it is important that we have these discussions to avoid any issues with sensitive areas in the Grampians. Moving forward with a sustainable plan for the future and having the climbing community involved and on board with it means a much more successful outcome for both sides.

A new rock drain in Summerday Valley. The drain is actually the old walking track which  now acts as the main drainage through the site.

A new rock drain in Summerday Valley. The drain is actually the old walking track which now acts as the main drainage through the site.

So lots to take on board and I look forward to receiving emails of volunteer availability for the upcoming working bees

Camping fees at Victorian parks – Update

For all those wanting a little more info on the fees and online booking system being implemented on 1st July, please see here:

http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/visit/book-your-stay/changes-to-camping-and-accommodation-fees

fee sign

Camping fee and system changes at Victorian parks – 1st July 2014

Hi All,

I thought I should remind everyone that as of 1st July, 2014 the camping fee system which includes the new prices and the online booking for sites will be implemented. For Mt Arapiles Tooan State Park this means that you can no longer pay your fees via the fee box. You will need to book a site online.

Fees for Arapiles will continue to be $5 a night with campers free to choose where they wish to camp within the designated campground area, but you will need to do this online.

The signs have been installed and the fee box will be removed soon. See the pictures below.

As yet, I have no official communication to get you any further info. I will post this as soon as it comes to hand. If if people want to make direct enquiries or give feedback then either call 131963 or email info@parks.vic.gov.au

Here is the link to the DEPI which contains the original information http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/forestry-and-land-use/visiting-parks-and-forests/national-parks-camping-and-accommodation-fees

For other parks though, the fees won’t be staying the same. Hefty hikes. Online booking system will also be go for obtaining a camp site

The post which the original proposal http://cliffcare.org.au/2013/11/19/proposed-changes-to-camping-accommodation-fees-in-victorian-parks-please-have-your-say/

photofee sign

Access & Environment Report June 2014

Work on the climbing areas in the Northern Grampians is due to start very soon which means that getting access to them to climb is just around the corner. Well, around the Winter corner anyway.
The latest update is that there is some positive progress with the Rock Climbing areas in the Northern Grampians. PV have contractors scheduled to begin works within the Amphitheatre in the next few weeks, with the view to hopefully have the Stapylton Amphitheatre opened by the September School holidays. Summer Day Valley will also have contractors beginning works in the next few days, with the view to have works completed by the end of winter.
At both sites, the contractors will be undertaking short sections of track realignment and stabilisation works. As part of this project Parks will be looking at creating directional signage for the area so that climbing sites are identified at the trail heads (Mt Zero car park, the entry to the Amphitheatre and Hollow Mountain Carpark), and at the site turnoffs on the main walking track.
CliffCare and the climbing community’s involvement will be required at some stage and once some work projects are organized, I will start putting the word out.More than likely there will be some work days planned for August.

The Queens Birthday long weekend is coming up and along with this will come the reopening of  the Northern section of Mt Zero Road. While there are areas that may seem accessible from the road, at this stage all climbing areas remain closed except for those at Flat Rock as previously mentioned in my last report. There will be some temporary signage installed at various sites such as those in the East  Side and Telstra Towers areas, but please understand that just because there may not be signage it doesn’t mean the area is open. The areas that you are able to access  in the Flat Rock area are:
The Play Pen
Wall of Fuel – often referred to as Western Flanks (this isnot Wall of Fools in Summerday)
Bellepheron Wall – Lower (Western End only)

In other news a working bee has been organised for the Queens Birthday long weekend. at Mt Arapiles. This will be to continue work on the Pharos Gully Track.  Walter our stonemason is nearing the end of his pile of rocks near his work area, so it’s up to us to get some more up there. Working bee will be on from 3 until 5 on Saturday 7th June. It would be great to get some more bodies helping out. Drop me a line at cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au  Otherwise if you are in the area, go to the bottom end of the Pharos Track – up the track to where it starts to get steeper. Resident slavedriver Cameron, will be there directing able bodies  to the chosen rock pile. Half an hour is all that is expected.

The Banff film festival is also just around the corner. CliffCare runs the bar and this is one of the major fundraisers we undertake. If you think you may be able to help out on the bar, please drop me a line cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au  I am looking for a few more volunteers for the Saturday matinee and evening shifts.
Safe climbing all,
Tracey

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