Access & Environment Report December 2017

Last Access officer report for the year.
Discussions are still ongoing with regards to the Black Range issues. As I noted in previous reports, this has thrown the discussion much wider than just the Black Range. Cultural heritage and how climbing may impact sites, is firmly on the table. This throws up many questions without as yet, answers. These questions are not just limited to climbing but obviously our focus is trying to provide some answers and sustainable options for climbing to co-exist with cultural heritage in the parks. And the Grampians is the top of the list when it comes to climbing and bouldering sites. And top of the list when it comes to cultural heritage. Especially around rock sites. As the sport of climbing and bouldering becomes more and more popular, the growth of gyms in the city increases and the push to get more people outdoors enjoying recreational pursuits – one of the biggest questions is ‘With rock a finite source, and climbers an infinite source, how do we manage this?’ For some, on either side of the table, maybe the answers are very simple – stop the recreational activity and on the other side continue the recreational activity as always. These are both the easiest options in many ways, but neither of them are fair nor sustainable in the long term. The middle ground or somewhere thereabouts is where we need to get to but this won’t be easy. There are a myriad of other queries and issues within the bigger question and these all need to be discussed. In the new year, I am aiming to ramp up these discussions and to get the climbing community asking themselves the harder questions. And coming up with some solutions that are agreeable to the majority.

One of my difficulties with this, is capturing feedback and collating it, and on some kind of platform that requires minimal management. There are numerous avenues such as CliffCare website, Chockstone, Facebook, theCrag that I visit regularly to gather info from the climbing community. But this can be very time consuming and fragmented. Any suggestions as to a platform that could work better in order to present topics and discussion on this subject to the wider climbing community would be great.
In the meantime, throw the question around in your head, discuss with your fellow climbers and come up with some starting point thoughts.
This Parks Victoria community update just arrived with some words on the issue GNP Community Update December 2017

Plenty Gorge Draft Master Plan is now out for community feedback. We have been in communication with Parks Victoria since the beginning of this and it’s good to see that climbing is to be considered. The particular area where climbing used to occur was under private hands and it was eventually banned by the private landowner. It is currently in the process of being handed back, to once again be public land. Once this has officially taken place, we will be able to engage in proper discussion with PV.  It would be great if people from the climbing community provide some feedback on this. The link for feedback is below. The area is Middle Gorge. Any positive words with regards to including climbing in the future of the park once acquisition is in hand, would be great. And for those that are into mountain biking, this is also a good chance to be involved in the future of the park.
http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/plenty-gorge-park/plans-and-projects/plenty-gorge-park-master-plan

The photos below show a few moments in the last 2 working bees in Central Gully, Mt Arapiles. Great progress being made getting a decent pile of rocks down the track for Walter to work on. One more working bee to go before the end of the year. This next one is being run in conjunction with a trip so check out the VCC trip calendar if you are wanting to join the trip. Otherwise drop me a line or just rock up. 9.30am 16th December. Meet at the top of Central Gully. Wear closed toe shoes and bring water. Simple as! Think of it as a big Christmas present to the Mount.
Great work all and many thanks for your support in Access work. See you all in the new year.
Tracey Skinner – VCC Access & Environment Officer.

This below wasn’t included in my report for Argus but was in Argus as a small photo essay from Michael O’Reilly on the memorial bench that was burnt in the Northern Grampians fires and it’s replacement. A thoughtful piece that not only shows the bench and plaque replacement for the climber who died at Summerday but also the new growth of the bush. Kind of works well together and I thought it worth showing.

 

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Access & Environment Report November 2017

The following is an edited and updated article of an announcement I put out to the general climbing community 3 weeks ago (25th October) https://cliffcare.org.au/2017/10/25/black-range-grampians-cease-bolting-request/ With a little more time, I have added some more information that gives you something further to add into your own conversations and will hopefully inform you better when you climb or when contemplating route development. This focuses heavily on cultural heritage especially given the recent issues noted below. Now, more than ever, cultural heritage informs much of how it can be used – whether you climb with a rope, boulder or develop routes.

Black Range and Black Ians (Lil Lil) Cease Bolting Request
After some concerning emails from cultural heritage teams, traditional owners and Parks Victoria, I am now putting the request out that all further route development requiring xed protection, cease in the Black Range. This Cease Bolting request also includes Black Ians (Lil Lil) in the Red Rock Bushland Reserve.

BLACK RANGE – It appears, the phrase ‘build it and they will come’ has taken o in the general Black Range area with more bolted routes appearing. The most recent was discovered, by cultural heritage teams and other park users in October. This is in the Black Range proper area There are a number of routes, one adjacent to a hand stencil in the cave/rock shelter where a large amount of rock art exists and one which is next to the art site. Actions are being put in place to remove these bolts and look at rock repair. Due to the very sensitive nature of the area, extreme care must be taken in the removal and repair to prevent further damage. This particular shelter site contains a large amount of rock art motifs. There are also also a number of other registered sites in the general area that contain artwork. Whilst specifics aren’t and often can’t be given, it is noted on the Black Range park notes that the area is one of significant cultural values and spiritual connection for traditional owners.
https://wordpress.com/page/cliffcare.org.au/1865

BLACK IANS – As many of you may be aware, there were recent issues with graffiti in the cave at Lil Lil (Black Ians) which also houses artwork. A major graffiti removal workday took place. This required specialist work to look after the sensitive artwork. At the time, there was also concern over the amount of fixed protection that had been placed in the cliff in recent years. One bolted route in particular was directly over another art site. This particular route after discussion with developers, had the bolts removed. There are in fact 5 registered cultural heritage sites at last count at Lil Lil/Black Ians. As noted on the Welcome sign at the site, it contains significant cultural values.
https://cliffcare.org.au/grampians/black-ians-lil-lil/

GRAMPIANS – This has brought the discussion of bolting practices in the parks, being the Greater Grampians (this includes Mt Arapiles), firmly back into the limelight, but this time there is a definite push to put some processes in place. This topic is now on the table and I invite you all to think about it. I will be putting out more communications in the very near future and I’m thinking some kind of simple forum platform where the climbing community can provide feedback. For all of those who do engage in route development, I would like to suggest, considering the current climate, to be thoughtful. I am also keen to hear your thoughts be it online or via email.

The Grampians and the parks within that greater area are important to all of us be we climbers, walkers, 4wders or those who work looking after the park as land managers. And we all want to do what we do and how we want to do it. But compromises will be part of this discussion.

For Traditional owners and this land, there is an even bigger spiritual connection. Moving forward, joint management of the parks will take place and indeed already, engagement with the land managers occurs. Traditional owners concerns about this site and others ongoing, need to be taken on board

Please remember, that these discussions will involve a number of parties so respectful conversation is encouraged.

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FOR YOUR INFORMATION. EDUCATE YOURSELF.

All of this information is out there. Part of being a climber is being a responsible outdoor user. Do more than just climb or develop a route. Find out about what and where you are climbing and what rules, regulations, guidelines and sensitivities are attached to the site/ park. CliffCare updates information regularly, route databases are starting to contain more access info and Parks Victoria website has park notes for most of its parks. Cultural heritage sites occur throughout the Grampians and although not restricted to just caves and shelters, these locations do have a higher likelihood that some kind of cultural heritage will be found, especially artwork.

All Cultural Heritage is managed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act (2006) which places rules and restrictions around registered sites including Rockart, Shelters and other values(Scarred trees etc). This is on public and private land.

Red Rock Bushland Reserve

Black Ians/Lil Lil is a part of Red Rock Bushland Reserve. This is a Crown Land Reserve which means there is a balance between values and recreation. Cultural heritage within this reserve though, is managed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act (2006) which places rules and restrictions around registered sites – rock art, shelters and other values such as scar trees etc. This reserve has significant cultural values so care and respect should be taken when climbing. Please refrain from developing climbs that use fixed protection. This will impact access. CEASE BOLTING REQUEST currently in place https://cli care.org.au/grampians/black-range/ Please do not camp in the cave. Do not have campfires in the cave. Do not graffiti the rock.

Black Range State Park

Black Range State Park is scheduled under the National Park Act which means it is similar to the Grampians and Arapiles Reservation. These parks have management plans which inform how they can be used.

Significant Aboriginal cultural places including rock shelters, rock art, quarries and scar trees occur here. Traditional occupation centred on natural resources such as water, plant and animal foods and rock outcrops for shelter, artwork and stone tool manufacturing.

Again, Cultural heritage within these parks is still managed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act (2006)

Please do not camp in the caves/rock shelters. Do not have campfires in the cave/rock shelters. Do not graffiti the rock.

 

Obligations of rock climbers and land managers under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006

For the appropriate protection and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage in areas utilised by rock climbers, Aboriginal Victoria considers it crucial that rock climbers and land managers are aware of their obligations under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (the Act). All Aboriginal places and objects in Victoria are protected by the Act. The Act states that a person must not do an act that harms or is likely to harm Aboriginal cultural heritage. It is important that rock climbers realise that climbing related activities like touching rock art panels, inserting a bolt, and lighting campfires in rock shelters have the potential to interfere or even destroy Aboriginal places, especially rock art sites. Very often the rock art is faded and difficult to see and it is very easy to accidentally cause harm to these significant places. The loss of these sites, and the resulting loss of Aboriginal history, culture and heritage, would be a loss to all Victorians and cause great distress to Traditional Owners. Current maximum penalties for harming Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria is $1,585,700 (as of 1 July 2017).

Please contact local land managers at Parks Victoria on 131963 or DELWP on 136186 for further information to ensure that Aboriginal heritage is not accidentally harmed by your activities.

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One of the many examples of rock art that occur in the Black Range. Some are not so noticeable as this one and are faded and often only seen once one is aware it is there.

Grampians Bouldering Festival Fundraiser

Huge thanks to Vertical Life and the participants of the Grampians Bouldering Festival. Participants dug into their pockets for comp entry donations and the team from Vertical Life have further donated some funds from the festival. A total of  $500 is now winging its way to the CliffCare coffers. I was invited by Ross and Simon to give a quick early morning speech to the slightly awake masses. I’m not sure the coffee had kicked in yet but I think I got a few words out that made sense.

Great to have been involved in some small way and from all accounts, it was a great success. Thanks all for taking on board the ‘Please don’t do this’ speech.

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Good morning wake up speech. Photo: Kamil Sustiak

Central Gully Working Bees 2017

With the hot weather approaching, we are engaging in a big push to get some work done on the Central Gully track at Mt Arapiles before end of year. After that our stonemason and haulers go into summer hibernation. Three working bees planned and the first one is soon – Saturday 11th November! Drop me a line if you can. It’s always fun. You engage in strength training. And may the warm fuzzy feeling be with you.

central gully working bee 11 Nov 17

Black Range, Grampians. Cease bolting request.

Please see updated post https://cliffcare.org.au/2017/11/23/access-report-october-2017/

After some concerning emails from cultural heritage teams, traditional owners and Parks Victoria, I am now putting the request out that all further route development – more specifically those requiring fixed protection, cease in the Black Range. This includes Black Ians (Lil Lil) As many of you may be aware, there were recent issues with graffiti in the cave at Lil Lil (Black Ians) which also houses artwork. A major graffiti removal workday took place. This required specialist work to look after the sensitive artwork. At the time, there was also concern over the amount of fixed protection that had been placed in the cliff in recent years. One bolted route in particular was directly over another art site. There are in fact 5 sites at last count at Lil Lil/Black Ians. This particular route after discussion with developers had the bolts removed.

It appears, the phrase ‘build it and they will come’ has taken off in the general Black Range area with more bolted routes appearing. The most recent was discovered, by cultural heritage teams and other park users on this past weekend 21/10/17. This appears to be in the Black Range proper area. Burrunjil area (confirmation pending) There are a number of routes, one of which is next to the art site and adjacent to a hand stencil. Actions are being put in place to remove these bolts.

This has brought the discussion of bolting practices in the parks, being the Greater Grampians, firmly back into the limelight, but this time there is a definite push to put some processes in place. This topic is now on the table and I invite you all to think about it. I will be putting out more communications in the very near future and I’m thinking some kind of simple forum platform where the climbing community can provide feedback. For all of those who do engage in route development, I would like to suggest, considering the current climate, to be thoughtful. I am also keen to hear your thoughts be it online or via email.

The Grampians and the parks within that greater area are important to all of us be we climbers, walkers, 4wders or those who work looking after the park as land managers. And we all want to do what we do and how we want to do it. But compromises will be part of this discussion.

For Traditional owners and this land, there is an even bigger spiritual connection. Moving forward, joint management of the parks will take place and indeed already, engagement with the land managers occurs. Traditional owners concerns about this site and others ongoing, need to be taken on board

Please remember, that these discussions will involve a number of parties so respectful conversation is encouraged.

IMG_9305

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Mt Arapiles Campground Repair Project – Pines Revegetation June 11th, 2017

Saturday 11th June saw approximately 30 volunteers rock up to the Pines campground at Mt Arapiles to plant out 100 young trees and shrubs – 80 of which were grown from seed collected from the area, by Ollie Sherlock. Ollie ran a VCC trip that weekend and recruited helpers from the trip for a couple of hours before they headed out climbing. A number of locals turned up. Louise Shepherd who runs Friends of Arapiles was there to help guide some of the planting and put her digging skills to the harder ground around the Squeeze Test Boulder. This area was also suggested to help reveg the area and provide a barrier to the cars driving in closer. Zoe Wilkinson and colleagues from Parks Victoria were also on hand to welcome everyone and go over safety briefings and planting advice with volunteers. Many thanks to everyone involved. It’s great to see such a fantastic turnout. I like this quote that Ollie used in his trip invite – An old Greek Proverb says it all: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

Thanks people! More photos in the Smugmug gallery here https://vicclimbingclub-cliffcare.smugmug.com/Access-Environment-at-Climbing/Mt-Arapiles/Revegetation-Pines-Campground-and-Beyond-2/

Access & Environment report May 2017

Central Gully Repair Project is travelling along nicely. Walter Braun has been at the mount a number of times working by himself or with someone else he has managed to recruit for a day of volunteer work. Cameron Abraham, Steve Monks and Steve Findlay have helped shift rocks via the power barrow. And a cast of thousands helped out on a working bee on 1st April. Awesome turn out and a huge thanks to all who gave up a few hours of their time. This really makes the difference about getting the project finished in a decent time frame. The power barrow can bring the rocks to a certain point on the old track and then humans need to carry the rocks down. Most of the last rock pile at the top had been carried down to the intersection where the new track benching starts. This work day had the volunteers moving the rocks down the new track site so that Walter could start creating the hardening of the track. We are almost ready for a new load of rocks to be delivered – so we can start the process all over again. Stay tuned!

This Saturday 10th June (Queens Birthday long weekend) sees another working bee. This time it’s the revegetation of the Pines campground and beyond. Ollie Sherlock has been doing a brilliant job of growing and nurturing the little treelings from the seed collected at the mount. We will be supplementing these plants with some others sourced from the local nursery. Predominantly in the Pines campground but we also have a number of other sites where we will plant. See the details below and please rock up at 9.00 to give a hand. Those who have already contacted, you will receive a confirmation email shortly.

Fabulous work climbing community! All of this work will last for years to come and help manage the impact that our ever growing numbers have on the sites.