Proposed changes to camping & accommodation fees in Victorian Parks. Please have your say!

Many of you may or may not be aware that there is currently a proposal by the Victorian Government/DEPI to increase camping and accommodation fees in all Victorian parks managed by Parks Victoria. This is not the annual camping fee increases which occurs around November each year and has just seen the fees rise. This is a totally different set of fee increases and changes to the camping and accommodation fee system.  See the following:

Victorian National Parks Camping and Accommodation Fees – Regulatory Impact Statement
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has released a proposal for a user-pays approach to charges for camping and roofed accommodation in parks and reserves managed by Parks Victoria.
The new approach is designed to help fund ongoing maintenance and services to ensure that people can continue to enjoy these special places well into the future. Victorians are invited to provide comment on the regulatory impact statement by 22 November 2013.

The Victorian Climbing Club feels that these changes and increases are exorbitant, unmanageable and rather than encourage people to head out camping to the many parks on offer in Victoria, they make it difficult and for many, too expensive to do so. Another of the many downsides of this, is that for those that will continue to make regular trips, this will push more and more out into the park in search of bushcamps (although bushcamping is also set to be user pays) to avoid the fees. This will surely result in more environmental damage as there will be areas not set up to handle the traffic of many people and long term camping impacts. What their plans are for policing and managing the camp fee system is a mystery. Expecting the already resource (financial and people) poor Parks Victoria to police this is ridiculous and will mean that the important job of conserving the natural assets of the parks will be replaced by, what amounts to a parking officer.

The document is a lengthy one and with the variety of changes, many inconsistent, it can seem confusing to understand what this actually means for you in terms of camping fees.  I have attached the documents and relevant links but below are some salient points. The Victorian Climbing Club will be putting in a submission but this is no way counts for the many voices in the climbing community. What is imperative here is that you send in an individual submission. This is a proposal asking for comment. If you don’t like and agree with what is being planned you will need to say something – otherwise you will have to accept the changes they implement. Submissions by the public are often thin on the ground – people will complain on forums, around campfires but rarely does it make it into physical form to reach the people it needs to. Someone else won’t be doing it for you – the numbers will be less rather than more – so we need to turn this around. If you think this is important, not just for you, but for all those who love getting outdoors and camping now and into the future, you must say something. Submissions are required by Friday 22nd November. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy time consuming submission. A short well thought out one will count. I have also included an example letter of a VCC member here. This may give you an idea on how to write it. Try not to write it word for word. Too many of the same will end up only being counted as one. Besides explaining what you don’t like and maybe why, it can also be helpful for the future to explain what you do like. The current ‘special’ allowance that Mt Arapiles has and its special  individual user low fee should be pointed out as something that works and should continue.  I hope all of this helps and encourages you to put your thoughts forward. We are going to need it.

POINTS TO NOTE
•    Charges will be introduced for bush camping in the Grampians – payable either per person at 9.70 or per undesignated ‘site’ up to 6 people for $19.30
•    Camping at camp grounds in the Grampians will be charged at varying fees depending on the ‘level of facility and service’

o   Stapylton, Plantation, Smiths Mill and Jimmy Creek are classed as ‘high’ and therefore charges will be $48.70 per site of 6 people plus a vehicle. There is no per person rate for campsites rated ‘high’. Individuals or groups smaller than 6 will need to pay the $48.70.
o   Buandik, Troopers Creek, Wannon Crossing, Strachans, Borough Huts, Boreang are classed as ‘mid’ with charges being $37.80 per site of up to 6 people plus a vehicle or alternative a per person fee of $18.90.
o   First Wannon Remote campground is classed as ‘basic/very basic’ and therefore charges will be 19.30 per undesignated ‘site’ up to 6 people for $19.30 or per person at 9.70
o   Overnight walking in the Grampians will be subject to a special fee of $10 per person per night, $9 per school group member plus a booking fee of $15 for groups or $10 per person
•    All camping in the Black Range State Park will be charged using a ‘camping pass’ that can be purchased for overnight a week, a month or annually. Charges for the pass depend on the vehicle with a standard car rate being overnight  – $17.40, a week – $46.40, monthly at $81.10 or Annually at $121.70
•    Mount Arapiles has been classed as a special camping site with special fees – a simple per person rate of $5, with no separate vehicle charges or options to pay per site
•    Brisbane Ranges and Cathedral Ranges – All camping areas classed at ‘mid’ therefore charges being $37.80 per site of up to 6 people plus a vehicle or alternative a per person fee of $18.90.

Mount Buffalo
o   Lake Catani – classed as ‘High’ so charges will be $48.70 per site of 6 people plus a vehicle. There is no per person rate for campsites rated ‘high’ individuals or groups smaller than 6 will need to pay the $48.70.
o   Mount Mcleod and Rocky Creek Camping areas are subject to a special fee – $12.50 per person, $9 per school group member plus a booking fee plus a booking fee of $15 for groups or $10 per person

Some extra points to note:
•    Traditional owners are exempt from fees. How will this be managed – no description in place?
•    Payment of fees is proposed to be via Online booking system with booking and payment to be made prior to camping
•    For those people who just turn up without booking, you will still be required to book online upon arrival. This probably means that you are expected to use your smart phone and pay by credit card. This is obviously assuming that everyone has a smart phone, that there is phone coverage and that you have a credit card. And that the campground is not fully booked out!
•    For those campgrounds without designated sites, like Arapiles, a capacity would need to be defined. How many this will be, is another question that will need to be answered. And once online bookings reach capacity does this mean the system will not accept your booking?
•    Conversely when you make a booking and then turn up but struggle to find a space – how that will be managed?

*REMEMBER – YOUR SUBMISSION NEEDS TO BE IN BY FRIDAY 22ND NOVEMBER. THAT’S THIS FRIDAY!

Written submissions should be forwarded by 5:00pm Friday 22 November 2013 via either of the following:

Post
Camping and Accommodation Fees
Land Management Policy Division
Department of Environment and Primary Industries
Level 3, 8 Nicholson Street
EAST MELBOURNE VIC 3002

Online
Email: camping.RIS@depi.vic.gov.au

DEPI RIS Page link: http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/forestry-and-land-use/visiting-parks-and-forests/national-parks-camping-and-accommodation-fees

Fact sheet: http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/205971/Victorian-National-Parks-Camping-and-Accommodation-Fees-Regulatory-Impact-Statement-October-2013-Fact-Sheet.pdf

RIS executive statement: http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/205519/Victorian-National-Parks-Camping-and-Accommodation-Fees-Regulatory-Impact-Statement-October-2013-Executive-Summary.pdf

RIS statement: http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/205517/Victorian-National-Parks-Camping-and-Accommodation-Fees-Regulatory-Impact-Statement-October-2013.pdf

Access & Environment Report(s) November, (Sept & Oct)

My apologies. It has been a seriously busy couple of months at the Access officer desk. Whilst I have been getting all information needed out via social media platforms such as Facebook and forums, I have neglected to post the monthly report. So this is a bumper post that includes my regular report that gets published in Argus

Posted latest report to the earliest, this is mainly for reference purpose and some of the issues have now changed status so will update in a new post shortly. Hmm, if I could just have a few more hours in the day….

NOVEMBER REPORT:
It has taken a while, but for the most part, many of the climbing areas previously out of bounds because of the Victoria Range fires are now accessible. Much of the access did hinge on the roads being closed and the listed roads below are now open which means that any of the cliffs accessible from them are open for climbing. Red Rock Road is still closed while it undergoes some final work but hopefully reopening shouldn’t be too far off. You are still able to access the cliffs along that road though by walking in from the Anderson Road intersection.

The cliffs in the Camp of the Emu Foot track area are still out of bounds. This particular area was burnt the worst and the ground really needs time to recover before it is opened to any kind of foot traffic. These cliffs include Eureka Wall, Lost World, Red Sail, Weirs Creek.

Rather than listing every single cliff that is open, the roads and walking tracks below will govern what is open for climbing. If you are not sure, drop me a line and I will let you know

The following roads, walking tracks and visitor sites are now open:
Harrops Track
Billywing Road
Syphon Road
Northern end of Sawmill Track
Victoria Range Track
Goat Track
Buandik Camping Ground and Picnic area
Fortress walking track
Ingleton Springs Picnic area
Glenelg River Road
Chimney Pots Walking Track

The following walking tracks and roads will remain closed until further works are completed:
Billimina walking track
Red Rock Road (you can access cliffs on Red Rock road by parking and walking in from Andersons Road)
Matthews Track
Strachans Campground
Manja Walking track

Just in before Argus sent to printers so have no time or space to add anything further. Keep an eye on the CliffCare and VCC site but please read up and send your comments in. If this goes through, it will mean paying a lot more for camping. In my opinion excessively so! NOTE: Information on this will be added to a new post in the next day or two but PLEASE read up and make your comment submission if you are able to as soon as possible. We really need as many people responding as possible.

Victorian National Parks Camping and Accommodation Fees – Regulatory Impact Statement.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has released a proposal for a user-pays approach to charges for camping and roofed accommodation in parks and reserves managed by Parks Victoria. The new approach is designed to help fund ongoing maintenance and services to ensure that people can continue to enjoy these special places well into the future. Victorians are invited to provide comment on the regulatory impact statement by 22 November 2013.

For more information go to http:www.depi.vic.gov.au/camping

OCTOBER 2013 REPORT

CLIFFCARE – 2012/2013 AGM Report

AN OVERVIEW OF THE YEAR THAT WAS
The last year has been an eventful but progressive and successful year for CliffCare.
Onground projects:
Working Bees –
Pharos Gully Repair Project – 5
You Yangs Boneseed Rip it Up day -1
Grampians Vic Range Fire Recovery – 5 attempts and 1 working bee for multiple areas.
Climbing Area Access Negotiations
You Yangs – After discussions with Parks Victoria at the You Yangs, a number of changes to restrictions were implented:
The Sunday closure to climbers on Big Rock has been removed.
The permanent seasonal closure of sites on the east of Flinders Peak from August to November was removed.
Particularly exciting though was the reopening of The Lookout at the You Yangs which had been closed to climbing for approximately 25 years.
Arapiles – Camp fee dispute, negotiations and successful outcome
Grants
Summerday Valley Repair Project – $
Arapiles Climbing Forum Display – $1,100
Fundraising
A successful partnership with the Banff and Radical Reels film festival running the bar as a fundraising and promotional exposure event. This is a partnership that will be continuing and goes a long way to help fund the projects and costs of CliffCare. It provides a great opportunity for the community to learn more about CliffCare, how it is run and the importance of it for continued access to the cliffs.
Other
New CliffCare logo. Took a little while to get off the ground but CliffCare now has it’s own logo which will hopefully spread the word further out into the climbing community.
Future and Ongoing projects:
Arapiles 50th Anniversary Climbing Forum – Nati Frinj/Cup weekend 2013
Commercial climbing and the community – Bridging the Divide
Summerday Valley Repair Project

SEPTEMBER  2013 REPORT

Following a very successful workday in the Victoria Range on the 24th August, I am pleased to let everyone know that we are able to access a few of the areas. First up, though, I must thank the 26 people that rocked up on a perfect working bee weather day. (This was about the 5th attempt to get this day off the ground). We had a great selection of people with the local Halls Gap crew, Nati crew, Melbourne and Warrnambool volunteers. Big thanks also to Ross and Simon from Vertical Life/Adventure Types for getting the word out in their circles and helping with providing info. The team I work with at Parks Victoria and Claire being there on the day once again proved the great working relationship we have with them. Please remember that these areas have been impacted by fire. While they may have been the least damaged of the climbing areas, there are sections that have still been quite badly burnt, so extra care really does need to be taken. Don’t go in with large groups, really keep an eye on the track markings such as tape, cairns and delineation. Just be a little more vigilant about keeping to the one track. The teams have assessed each area and for the most part, tracks are the same but there have been some realignments. These are the better, more sustainable options with what we have to work with. Please don’t decide otherwise by creating new tracks and new cairns. Some follow up work will be done on these tracks in another couple of months when more regrowth has been established. Point to note: The Victoria Range has a strong indigenous cultural heritage content and all visitors should be aware of this and take due care and respect when visiting the area.

Due to the recent weather and rainfall, unfortunately much of the planned works by PV for the roads hasn’t eventuated and some of the roads and tracks are definitely bogworthy, so at this present time, roads are still closed. A small extra walk is all that is needed to access a couple of the cliffs. Others require a bit more motivation.

NOTE: In the case of Red Rocks, this access is the new access approach that was established before the fire. Do not cross the paddock – this is private property and no longer allowed. TEMPORARY (Due to road closures)- From the Henty Highway, take Andersons Road. Follow this all the way through to where it intersects with Red Rock Road. Park up here on Andersons Road not Red Rock Rd. This is closed so please respect this closure even though it may seem super easy to just park on it or drive a little way down. We are trying to establish some kind of road access but for now it is not possible.

Red Rocks Pinnacles
Mt Fox
Hollywood Bowl

Turn left and walk a short distance (150m) to a sandy track on the right. This track leads you to all of the above climbing areas and is the permanent access track after the road closures finish. Follow this track for approximately 500m to the intersection. Turn right. Another 70m will get you to the Mt Fox track(cairned) and a further 450m along will get you to the access track to Red Rocks area.
Muline
Emu Rock/Emu Cave
Muline and environs is as before (some track realignment) but will require a longer walk from Andersons road to get to the start of the access track.
Gallery/Buandik area – Track here has been cleared and re-established (no foot bridge) but with the road closures, you are going to need to be keen, as access at the current time is only by foot. A big walk. This area can be accessed by the Tower but this area is very wet and boggy at the moment, and we couldn’t get in to assess the track. Once road closures are lifted, I will provide further info on areas such as The Fortress, Chimney Pots and environs. Cliffs around the Camp of the Emu Foot Track will remain closed even after road closures are lifted. These areas were really badly burnt and need to recover. Please respect this.
Cheers, Tracey

 

 

FalconWatch – Nesting alerts

Generally from September to November is the Peregrine nesting season. There are a number of regular locations that the Peregrines nest at and two of these have now been confirmed with nesting activity. Please give these areas a wide berth. Climbing near and stressing out the birds can be a matter of life or death for their chicks.

CURRENT NESTING SIGHTINGS:

30/09/13 – Falcon nesting(and swooping) at Harlequin Cracks and Beau Geste area Mt Arapiles.  Gets highly agitated. (This is a regular nesting area most years)

30/09/13 Kestrel now nesting near rap anchor at Cassandra.  This is her usual nesting place. Please stay away from this area

NOTE: There have also been sightings of Peregrines around the Tiger Wall area. Please keep an eye out and report an specific nesting sites.

Please check out the Falconwatch page here to understand why it is so important to be respectful of the birds nesting sites

Adult female peregrin falcon - photo Victor Hurley

Adult female peregrin falcon – photo Victor Hurley

Victoria Range Workday and Reopening Update

red rocks gully

red rocks gully

Following a very successful workday in the Victoria Range on the 24th August, I am pleased to let everyone know that we are able to access a few of the areas. First up, though, I must thank the 26 people that rocked up on a perfect working bee weather day. (This was about the 5th attempt to get this day off the ground). We had a great selection of people with the local Halls Gap crew, Nati crew, Melbourne and Warrnambool volunteers. Big thanks also to Ross and Simon from Vertical Life/Adventure Types for getting the word out in their circles and helping with providing info. The team I work with at Parks Victoria and Claire being there on the day once again proved the great working relationship we have with them.

Please remember that these areas have been impacted by fire. While they may have been the least damaged of the climbing areas, there are sections that have still been quite badly burnt, so extra care really does need to be taken. Don’t go in with large groups, really keep an eye on the track markings such as tape, cairns and delineation. Just be a little more vigilant about keeping to the one track. The teams have assessed each area and for the most part, tracks are the same but there have been some realignments. These are the better, more sustainable options with what we have to work with. Please don’t decide otherwise by creating new tracks and new cairns. Some follow up work will be done on these tracks in another couple of months when more regrowth has been established. Point to note: The Victoria Range has a strong indigenous cultural heritage content and all visitors should be aware of this and take due care and respect when visiting the area. http://cliffcare.org.au/2012/07/06/indigenous-cultural-heritage-and-climbing/

Due to the recent weather and rainfall, unfortunately much of the planned works by PV for the roads hasn’t eventuated and some of the roads and tracks are definitely bogworthy, so at this present time, roads are still closed. A small extra walk is all that is needed to access a couple of the cliffs. Others require a bit more motivation.
NOTE: In the case of Red Rocks, this access is the new access approach that was established before the fire. Do not cross the paddock – this is private property and no longer allowed. http://cliffcare.org.au/grampians/victoria-range/red-rocks-creek-area/ (scroll down to page bottom on this link)

TEMPORARY (Due to road closures)- From the Henty Highway, take Andersons Road. Follow this all the way through to where it intersects with Red Rock Road. Park up here on Andersons Road not Red Rock Rd. This is closed so please respect this closure even though it may seem super easy to just park on it or drive a little way down. We are trying to establish some kind of road access but for now it is not possible.
Red Rocks Pinnacles
Mt Fox
Hollywood Bowl
Turn left and walk a short distance (150m) to a sandy track on the right. This track leads you to all of the above climbing areas and is the permanent access track after the road closures finish. Follow this track for approximately 500m to the intersection. Turn right. Another 70m will get you to the Mt Fox track(cairned) and a further 450m along will get you to the access track to Red Rocks area.

Muline
Emu Rock/Emu Cave
Muline and environs is as before (some track realignment) but will require a longer walk from Andersons road to get to the start of the access track.

– Track here has been cleared and re-established (no foot bridge) but with the road closures, you are going to need to be keen, as access at the current time is only by foot. A big walk. This area can be accessed by the Tower but this area is very wet and boggy at the moment, and we couldn’t get in to assess the track.

Once road closures are lifted, I will provide further info on areas such as The Fortress, Chimney Pots and environs. Cliffs around the Camp of the Emu Foot Track will remain closed even after road closures are lifted. These areas were really badly burnt and need to recover. Please respect this.
Cheers,
Tracey

Access & Environment Report August, 2013

For the second time, the scheduled workday for the Muline and Red Rocks area of the Victoria Ranges failed to eventuate. First one scheduled in June slowly lost its attendees until there wasn’t enough volunteers to efficiently do the work required on the day. On Saturday, 13th July, another workday event was planned. This time we had plenty of volunteers. With help from the guys at Vertical Life rounding up some bodies also and a number of the visiting international climbers putting up their hands, the day was set to be a success. Unfortunately, the email I sent to the weather gods got lost somewhere along the way. Having had a wonderful week of weather in the Wimmera, it was decided that Saturday would be a perfect day for a drop or two of rain. And the weather gods lost count.
I tried to remain optimistic whilst listening to the rain on our tin roof. I told myself it would pass. It was only when the radar screen was waved in front of my face that I needed to accept the fact. It was not going to pass anytime soon. So at the last hour, the frantic calls to intended volunteers took place and the workday was cancelled.

The perfect weather for a great workday. Not.

The perfect weather for a great workday. Not.

Media moguls can have flat batteries too. Who is that?

Media moguls can have flat batteries too. Who is that?

 

So, surely, third time will be lucky? At the time of writing this, I am working towards another day on the weekend of 3rd,4th August to mark and clear tracks in this area. And for the other repairs such as roads, there is a good chance that these will also be finished at the same time. Which means access to the cliffs in these areas will once again be happening. Discussions with PV on the weekend re access to climbing areas was very positive. As I mentioned above, the time frames are weather dependant so if we get a run of bad weather over the next few weeks this could extend the reopening dates. As it stands though, there is a good chance that we will be able to access the Muline/Red Rocks area and fingers crossed, the Gallery and Buandik area, around the start of August. There are a number of issues around the Gallery and Buandik that make it a little more involved when it comes to reopening the area but PV have been plugging away on a number of solutions that might make it possible to get some access happening. Access to the Fortress and Chimney Pots should not be long after that. All of the cliffs around the Cave of the Emu Foot track , will as previously mentioned earlier in the year, be closed for a lot longer. This was the worst of the burnt areas and needs to be allowed to recover by giving it time. So recapping:

Muline, Red Rocks area – start of August
Gallery/Buandik area – start of August
The Fortress. Chimney Pots – end August
Camp of Emu Foot Track area cliffs – minimum 1 year.

And lastly to round off the report. The Lookout area at the You Yangs is now open and ready for climbing business. The club ran a combined climb and rip up the boneseed trip on the 29th June and it was a great day. We pulled a huge amount of boneseed up in a short time and will look at managing this over the years. It grows ridiculously easy but also thank goodness, it pulls up ridiculously easy. Few pics on the before and after of the boneseed in this report and there are a few pics of the climbing elsewhere in Argus.

Boneseed has been removed

Boneseed has been removed

Access track to the Lookout

Access track to the Lookout

climbing sign at the Lookout

climbing sign at the Lookout

And not lastly, but finally – CliffCare has a new logo. Actually its first ever real logo and you will be seeing it around more and more.

Safe climbing and all that,

Cheers, Tracey

CliffCare logo colour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CliffCare logo social media

Access & Environment Officer Report July 2013

Wow people – I am a bit late in uploading this report. It’s almost time for the August
Sorry. It has been a crazy busy time for me and only seems to be getting busier. Amongst other things, read below and you’ll see why.

2013 is a year of anniversaries. And therefore celebrations. This will be the 60th anniversary of the Victorian Climbing Club. From it’s early beginnings climbing at the Cathedral Ranges all the way through to the development of climbing areas throughout Victoria, from Grampians to Arapiles, Hanging Rock to Black Hill, Werribee Gorge to You Yangs……the list goes on. Look at any guide book and you can be pretty positive that the names you see on many of the first ascents belonged to club members. It took the lead when it came to engaging with land managers also. Those early days were rough in this department – when the rebellious climbing community and often non climbing friendly park managers were not a good mix. But throughout the years, through both positive and negative outcomes, these relationships have grown and matured on both sides, and the club and the community it strives to represent, has for the most part, given access a good name. In 1998, the club made its access position formal by setting up CliffCare and employed an Access officer. While the work done previously by volunteers in the access area was certainly noteworthy, expecting volunteers to commit to longer term engagements with projects and land manager relationships would always be something that could suffer from inconsistency of commitment. And for the evergrowing need and importance of continued access for climbers, this progressive move would ensure that our status as a responsible user group was acknowledged. While I think most people would agree that climbing access in Victoria is on a good wicket at this present time, and I do hope this continues – I do have concerns with the way the park system is heading and maybe the access issues we deal with now will be different to the issues in the future, ie hunting, development etc. Anyway, that’s another story – back to the celebrations.
vcc colour logo (2)Yes, a celebration of everything the club has managed to achieve for itself over these 60 years and for those in the climbing community through its involvement in access. Whether a club is your thing or not, and for many of you reading this in the Argus newsletter, it obviously is – The club still plays a vital role in the bigger picture, its existence has pushed forward climbing in a positive way and I do hope as time goes on, that support for the club continues through its membership as well as in the broader climbing community.

And I did say Anniversaries didn’t I? Plural! Well, this November, Arapiles celebrates its 50th Anniversary of climbing at the mount. We have all heard the stories of Bob and Steve Craddock seeing a photo of Mitre Rock on a poster on a train, and heading out to discover that Mitre was a mere pimple compared to the much larger Mt Arapiles next to it. And the rest is history.

Come the Nati Frinj Festival in Natimuk on the Melbourne Cup weekend in November, there will be a few activities and events to celebrate these two anniversaries.

Photo exhibition – Climbing and Community – Mt Arapiles – presented by the Victorian Climbing Club
50th Anniversary pictorial of climbing at the mount
. From FA on that first weekend through to iconic moments across the years and the people that lived it. This will also be the first stage of an ongoing project to collect and digitalize many photos of Victorian climbing and community.

50th Anniversary Climbing Forum. – presented by Friends of Arapiles, CliffCare, Victorian Climbing Club and Parks Victoria.

This small scale climbing forum will look at climbing at Arapiles over the last 50 years from the sport itself to the environment we use to explore it. Static displays set up within a meeting place (at this early stage, the picnic pavilion area at Araps) across the weekend will encourage people to visit within their own time frames. These displays will cover the many aspects that climbers engage in when they climb. This will culminate in a presentation Monday 4th November evening by a number of notable climbers from the early years, followed by a Q & A style discussion. A lively attitude will be encouraged!  An entertaining and thoughtful approach to climbing then and now, what has and hasn’t changed and what do climbers want and expect from their climbing and the environment they engage in.

VCC 60th Anniversary Dinner

An opportunity for members new, old and past to meet, socialize  drink, eat and celebrate the history of the club. With the 50th anniversary of climbing at Arapiles inextricably linked with the Victorian Climbing Club, these two celebrations will happen together. A toast to many more years to come.

Access & Environment Report June 2013

The Lookout

The Lookout

The Lookout at the You Yangs has been closed to climbing for the last 25 years or so. The area was developed in the early 80’s by a number of climbers – David Clarke, Mike Wust, Mark Walters and there is also a route there by Kevin Lindorff. With a good selection of low to mid grade slab climbs, some low beginner routes and a 20 or two to get the heart thumping, it was definitely an area that would have proved to be popular in the You Yangs. With a large selection of higher grade routes in the park, an area that can cater for those climbers learning the ropes of slab climbing whilst providing good routes is a definite plus.
Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons, climbing was banned at the Lookout in late 80s. At the time the structure at the Lookout was made of wood and quite old and its placement on the rock was not conducive to the climbers setting their anchors and top ropes from the structure legs. The structure itself was situated more forward than it is now so that climbers were climbing up directly under the Lookout and its visitors. There was also concern at the time that visitors might engage in the activities of the climbers.
Times have a-changed though -Following some discussions with Mark Urqhuart, ranger in charge at the You Yangs, the opportunity came up to look at the reasons why the Lookout was banned, its situation then and its situation now. Did it still need to be closed to climbing? Mark and his team at the You Yangs have been making great steps over the years to put the Youies solidly on the map as a great recreational park for a diverse range of users. Amongst the usual recreational visitors such as walkers, nature observers and picnickers, the park plays host to an awesome mountain bike track facility, horse riding trails and of course, our beloved climbing sites. All of these are encouraged, and engagement with the user groups have allowed the care and development of these areas to flourish, with the users taking an active role in site management.

The Lookout platform

The Lookout platform

The Lookout  was eventually rebuilt. Now made of seriously solid steel and sitting a bit further back on the cliff top, the whole structure is a lot more solid than it was in earlier years, and this, along with changing visitor demographic and a modern perspective of user groups and their leisure activities, were the main reasons why the fantastic decision was reached – that the ban on climbing at the Lookout would be lifted. Come July 1st  2013, The Lookout will now be open for climbing.

Gully access to Lookout climbing area

Gully access to Lookout climbing area

 

I will be providing route descriptions, access notes and fingers crossed, topos come the next Argus, but to let you know a few of the details.
The area will be open to individuals as well as commercial groups. Because of this, there will be four sets of double belays set across the buttress tops. This will provide monitored anchors for the commercial groups and will encourage climbers to use the fixed top protection rather than the structure legs. There will be small signage alerting climbers not to use the structure supports and there will also be some signage on the Lookout above alerting visitors to the fact that climbers are below so as to take care. An access track will be cleared and delineated approx. 8 metres west of the Lookout steps. This has been chosen as it is less steep and less prone to erosion. It then meets up with the small descent gully which will probably require a small amount of stabilization to handle the regular traffic that this area is sure to see.

Lookout climbing area base

Lookout climbing area base

Easy peasy access leads to a really nice flat area at the base which is treed. This will allow small groups of climbers to comfortably climb and relax in the area without too much impact to the surrounding environment. At the lookout area, there is currently a small length of fencing on either side of the steps parallel with the walking track. There will be an extension added onto this to limit access from the immediate lookout area. Where this ends will be the entrance to the climbers access track.
With regards to the fixed protection already on the routes, most of this is at least 25 years old, carrots and a variety of mild steel and stainless. After discussions with one of the FA’s of many of the routes, the advice was for all protection to be replaced and with best practice hardware and installation. This will mean that carrot bolts will not be replaced with carrot bolts. At this stage, no retrobolt on the routes is envisaged but there is still discussion occurring to ensure that for the most part, the wishes of the FA as well as present day climbing community is taken on board.
I am really excited about this area being reopened for climbing and very encouraged by the people that I have been working with at the park. Good vibes and good times ahead!