Access Report September 2016

On Friday 19th August, I attended a meeting organized by Parks Victoria Halls Gap. I was invited to represent the climbing community and attended with a number of other user group reps. The North Grampians Community Workshop was an opportunity to discuss openly and workshop, possible ideas on future developments in the North Grampians area of the park. Topics would include:

· Grampians Peaks Trail – Opportunities, alignments, camping on offer and planning requirements

· Fire Recovery – campground upgrades, rock climbing, four wheel drive and bush walking experiences

· Day use sites, picnic areas and trailheads – including Coppermine and Golton Gorge area discussions

So the main topic that came up that would primarily interest climbers was camping and campgrounds. And indeed, from many of the other user groups, this seemed to be a big issue. With the extra visitation expected from the Grampians Peaks Trails as well as just general growth in user groups, having enough camping spots to suit all could forseeably be a problem. Be it individual sites, vehicle based sites, bush camping etc and not to mention one of the biggest issues with this – toilet or waste disposal.

TROOPERS CREEK CAMPGROUND

Troopers Creek Campground which is the campground that climbers tend to use if they are climbing at Mt Difficult for the weekend is slated for permanent closure with the GPT being the impetus for this. I have had discussions with the PV team on this a number of times. Amongst a variety of concerns, the campground as it is currently, is a small one that will not be able to cater for the extra people that the trail brings through. It also has some cultural heritage sensitivities close by which add further issues. I explained my concerns re the closure in original discussions on this in an advisory group meeting a while ago. The new campground further up the road, although much larger, would add another 45 minutes on top of the 45 mins it already takes to walk up the track. As I explained, this campground is used by climbers and Mt Difficult is historically an important cliff. After some discussion, I have been assured that climbers will be able to park near the old Troopers and still walk the track up to Mt Difficult as they did before. This track though has been extensively damaged by the fire and won’t be repaired. Whilst I have not had the opportunity to check out the track, climbers in general are not adverse to walking tracks that aren’t maintained. It might be an idea at some point in the future though, to head in and check that the alignment is clear enough for people to find their way to cliffside. The new campground will have more tent sites and group camping areas and some vehicle based camping as well as toilet and fireplace facilities.

Bush camping in the area will also still be available.

STAPYLTON CAMPGROUND

Stapylton Campground is due to open just before the September school holidays. Opening has been held up by the slow supply and delivery of the timber used in the remaining works in the campground. Stapylton was always seen as a group camping site and the new improved one will be no different in that regard. Group camping will have even more of a focus although with some separated communal areas rather than the one main one that was there before. Vehicle based camping will also be catered for.

GOLTON GORGE BUSH CAMPING

This campsite will continue to be available as a bush camping site.

CAMP SANDY AND BUSH CAMPING

Due to Stapylton Campground being closed, a number of bush campsites have been developed and have grown in size. Camp Sandy in particular has been seen and noted by a number of other user groups and park locals. Feedback ranges from just interest to concern. Once Stapylton re-opens, there is a strong feeling that this particular bush camp will be closed down.

BOOKING SYSTEM AND FEES

Following on from this, discussion was then had around the fact that for many the booking system and fee structure doesn’t work for them and the possibility that bush camping will continue to grow be it for financial reasons or the simple requirements that some have in regard to camping. As was noted, the booking and fee system is not a PV strategy and wasn’t actually on the table to discuss at this meeting. This is a State government system. Still, it was an important thing to note, for PV to understand some of the continuing issues and thoughts of visitors to the park. Of note: State government is currently looking at the booking system of the parks so Watch this space!

Space doesn’t permit me to highlight every point discussed at the meeting but other topics did include Bouldering and its sudden growth and what that might mean for the park. The other user groups had the opportunity to learn a little more about it although personally, I think that there is probably room for some more education in this department.

All in all, the workshop was a good opportunity to hear other stakeholders interests and concerns in the park and what their suggestions might be for moving forward. Thanks must go to the Halls Gap Parks Victoria team for continuing to involve the community in discussions around forward planning. It is not an easy process to balance budget and resources with the needs and wants of the many diverse users. I look forward to discussing further many of the topics we broached.

Campfires at Arapiles – Keep it in the campground please.

 

Just another post on that old chestnut – campfires. It’s all been said before. CliffCare and Friends of Arapiles as well as many members of the climbing community are working together to try and get the information out there. This recent campfire was discovered last week at the Good Morning Arapiles boulder. Quite a large and recent campfire as well as a half burnt  log which  I can only assume was removed from the campfire at the end of the evening. Signage is at the campground. But best it be said again. Campfires at Mt Arapiles are:

  1. Only allowed in the actual campground.
  2. Only allowed in the campground and in the official metal fireplaces
  3. Only allowed between 1st May and 31st October. (No fires between 1st Nov & 30th April)
  4. Firewood collection is not allowed in the park.

Put a jacket on if you are cold.

Various reasons as to why – the main one being environmental impact. Especially so in an isolated park such as Mt Arapiles.  At this point in time, people are still allowed to have campfires, albeit in the campground. It would be great if this could continue but if the incidences of campfires around the park continues to grow, we could find ourselves out of luck.

There have been numerous posts on this. A couple that I can link to immediately:

https://cliffcare.org.au/2011/07/30/wood-fires-at-arapiles/

Revegetation Project – Pines Campground & Beyond. The Planting #1

As noted in the previous blog post, the planting took place on Saturday 11th and Tues 14th June. On Saturday, members of the climbing community and park users turned up at the Pines Campground to put the callitris glaucophylla  in the ground. VCC member Ollie Sherlock who originally gathered the seed from around the Plaque wall area and grew the plants, was also in attendance. Many thanks to Louise Shepherd from Friends of Arapiles and Zoe Wilkinson from Parks Victoria who directed proceedings on the morning and with the perfect weather also turning up, it made for a great event. Huge thanks to all the volunteers, those who emailed me in response to the call out and those who read the posters and just rocked up. This project is a collaboration between CliffCare/VCC, Friends of Arapiles and Parks Victoria.

On Tuesday, the young kids of the area who attend the Bush Kinder helped to plant the remaining 8 trees in the Pharos Gully track area. Some were used around the newly rehabbed area to the right of the main track and others were used along the main track to help define the track line. Another fine weather day and the kids loved having a dig, hammering a stake and watering the young plants. Thanks to Jane Wilkinson, her assistants and all the lovely kids from the Bush Kinder. I certainly enjoyed it as much as they appeared to also!

These pines are indigenous to the area and whilst they do take a while to mature, they are the first of a number of plantings that will be occurring in the campground and surrounds.

If you camp at Arapiles and usually have left over water when you leave, take the opportunity to give the plants a water by using your leftovers

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Revegetation Project – Pines Campground and Beyond

It’s taken a while and much is still in the pipeline, but thanks to VCC member Ollie Sherlock, we have some plants ready to hit the ground. Callitris glaucophylla. Sourced from seed from the Plaque area, Ollie has lovingly grown these little babies. Like all kids, at some point it’s time to leave home and that time has now come. We are spreading the love a bit. Most will end up in the Pines campground, a couple at the back of D Minor Pinnacle, one at Muldoon where previously lived a Callitris and the rest will take residence in the newly rehabilitated area near the Pharos Gully Tourist Track. The latter area will be planted next week by the Natimuk Bush Kinder and helpers. What I am needing is some volunteers to help out this Saturday at 10am in the Pines Campground. This is not an all day job – in fact if we have a decent number it shouldn’t take long at all.

We will be meeting at 10am at the wash trough in the lower Pines area. Just bring yourself and wear closed toe shoes. PV has tools will be supplied but if you have any mallets or the like to hammer in the tree guard posts, that would be great. Tasks will be assigned. Some might dig and others might mallet the spikes and tree guards. If you are able to let me know if you are able to help out that would be awesome. Otherwise rock up. cliffcare@vicclimb.org.aulittle trees for centenary park

Central Gully

Central Gully Walking Track Repair Project kicked off at Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park on Saturday, 7th May. Walter Braun, legendary stone mason, guided a small team of volunteers from the Victorian Climbing Club / CliffCare and Friends of Arapiles in the first stages of this partnership project with Parks Victoria. It will take quite a few more working bees over the next couple of years and some more fundraising but we are confident that the end result will be as magnificent as the Pharos Gully track which was recently completed by the same groups at the park. On this first work day, a temporary access track for the power wheel barrow to ferry supplies was established. The Central Gully walking track remains open whilst the works are undertaken. Please continue to use the old track and stay off the temporary access track. You can help be donating to either Friends of Arapiles  which has a donation box near the Pines campground toilets or online at Cliffcare  here https://www.givenow.com.au/cliffcare/donate?step=e1s1 or volunteering for a working bee – cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au Follow the project and updates via cliffcare.org.au and Facebook CliffCare Victoria.

See here for the project and its progress https://cliffcare.org.au/arapiles/central-gully-repair-project/

CHSteveWalter

Walter Braun

CGWalterCamBarrowCliffCareLogo

Cameron Abraham & Walter

CGSteveMonksBarrow

Steve Monks

CGSteveFindlayBarrow

Steve Findlay

 

 

 

Pharos Gully project

As noted in previous report, a temporary track was created by the project team when we were transporting rocks up the gully. The intention was always to rehab this when the time came. Over the years of the project, the track which runs parallel to the official track from the carpark, has become much used and therefore now resembles a fully fledged track. On the 5th May, Walter Braun and a crew from the WCMA drought team worked on the track to take it back to its original form – bush. A fantastic job that looks like there was never a track there in the first place. This temporary track was used for works access for the main project and with this final piece of work, the project is complete. Thanks once again all for the work done and for Walter and the drought team for ticking off the last box. A great collaborative project between Parks Victoria, VCC/CliffCare and Friends of Arapiles.

And the final photos showing before and afters:

Access Report May

As I noted in previous Access reports, discussions with Walter Braun, VCC/CliffCare, Friends of Arapiles, Mt Arapiles Advisory Group and Parks Victoria have been ongoing regarding the Central Gully Repair Project. Well, I am pleased to now announce that the first official work day will be taking place on Saturday 7th May. This is a collaborative project between Parks Victoria, VCC/CliffCare and Friends of Arapiles.
A little about the project now.

ISSUES: As with the Pharos Gully(PG), Central Gully(CG) gets its fair share of traffic. CG certainly doesn’t have the very steep gradient that PG has, but there are sections that are steeper than others and these are definitely suffering from erosion and track widening and therefore the eventual loss of more vegetation. Coupled with this is the fact that previous work done in the gully many years ago, using concrete and rocks, is now unstable. The upshot of this, is that people walk around sections that have very deep steps where either erosion or loss of steps has occurred. The track then widens or another smaller parallel track happens. The Central Gully track itself is also, from a walkers perspective, not a particularly interesting one. For most people, it tends to be a way to get from one place to another rather than an enjoyable walk.
After numerous meetings and discussions with the above named groups and individuals, a few decisions have been reached. Walter Braun’s insight and knowledge into the best alignments for tracks has been invaluable and all parties are really pleased with how the project will improve the CG track on so many levels, most importantly, its long term sustainability.

SOLUTIONS: The track will undergo some minor realignment which puts much of it back to a very old alignment that followed closer to the cliff rather than directly up the gully which is a water run line. Over the years the track has wandered around to end up eventually as it is now. The lower section until the Mari vicinity and upper section after the climbing areas will remain aligned for the most part, as they are now. Stabilising and hardening work will take place where required. The middle section of the track undergoing some minor realignment, will in fact, require less work than repairing the current track as it is now. It will follow an easier gradient and will also make use of rock platforms.

POINTS OF NOTE:

  • Minimal disruption as old track can be used until newer alignment is complete
  • Better, gentler, gradient
  • Less resources required ie time, labour, finance, due to the gentler gradient and utilisation of existing rocky platforms
  • More scenic walk with better views from the track
  • Reduction of erosion by moving the track alignment away from water drainage line
  • Revegetation of old track when old alignment is closed.
  • Rationalisation and clarification of informal climber access tracks off Central Gully Walking Track.eg One access track to Charity Buttress off Central Gully Track clearly identified etc
  • Central Gully Walking Track will be sustainable for many years to come
  • The project helps protects the natural, cultural and recreational values of the Mt Arapiles-Tooan State Park.

I will soon have a new section up on the CliffCare website regarding the project and further updates, so please check there regularly to keep yourself informed. https://cliffcare.org.au/arapiles/central-gully-repair-project/ Content will be coming.Temporary notices and signage will be placed on site and also in the campground toilets. Please refrain from using any of the new alignment until it is complete and its opening is announced. Please also take note of any guidelines on signage.

CentralGully

PHAROS GULLY
Now that the Pharos Gully Track work has been completed, we will be working with Parks Victoria in doing a little clean up work around the area where much of the rock was delivered near the Pharos Gully carpark. In order to move the rock up the gully we had to deliver it off the track and therefore we created a temporary track. We knew what the eventual issue would be with this – people would start using it as a track in its own right but it was the only option available to us. The time has come though, to close down this track and revegetate it to get it back to what it was before. On Thursday 5th May, Walter Braun and 4 volunteers from CMA will dig up the track, create some water bars and use many of the rocks that were rejects from the PG project. The fencing that was removed will be replaced and although a date is yet to be set, revegetation will take place by planting some Callitris. These plants have been lovingly grown from seed by a VCC member Ollie Sherlock. Seed was gathered from around the Plaque area in order to produce plants useful for revegetating. Very exciting that these are going in the ground and a perfect spot for them. Zoe Wilkinson has been organizing the volunteer manpower to assist with the workday and I will be liasing with her and Lou from Friends of Arapiles to get the planting happening sometime in the very near future.
There will be some temporary signage in place to alert people to the track closure and work occurring. Please do not use this track anymore. The proper PG track is mere metres away and it takes you no longer to get to where you want to go. Thanks for your care and understanding of this.