My job as the A&E officer for VCC/CliffCare requires me to submit a report to committee each month as well as the report for club members in the monthly Argus newsletter and for the overall climbing community. I will be putting up the report each month here on the CliffCare site. You will also find that any updates will have been added to the various tabbed cliff categories.
By the time you read this the new CliffCare website (www.cliffcare.org.au) will be up and running. Still lots of work to do on it – a work in progress you might say. But the basic skeleton is there and I am really keen for people to comment on what they like or don’t like. This has been a project I have been pottering around on for a while. Which is not an unusual thing for me or for CliffCare. So many projects, so little time and so little money. I suppose that’s what its like for many small not for profits. Anyway, I decided I had pushed it to the end of the queue for long enough. I am using the WordPress.com platform for this website as I have experience with this at my Open Spaces job. Originally I thought I would use the WordPress.org platform which allows for greater flexibility and more customability. And I still think that I will probably end up moving the site eventually to this as its popularity grows(which I really hope it does!) The .org platform is a paid one which also requires a number of other ongoing things whereas the .com is free. While it is predominantly a blog platform it can be used more like a straight website. I have tried to adapt and make use of the blog setup though as I think this will work well. Everything may not be completely ideal but as I said, a work in progress. You can make comments directly on the site itself. About the site and what you would like to see. And this also means you can query an access issue if you need to. While you may not get an immediate reply it will certainly be within the week.
What the site is for?
Basically everything to do with Access in Victoria. It will be updated regularly and hopefully the format will allow you to check quickly and easily, what the situation may be with a cliff you are planning to climb at. It will also give a brief outline of the rules and guidelines of each individual park. Any of its idiosycransies and any issues we are trying to fix or even prevent from occurring in the future. There is no reason why people need to be ill informed when they head out to climb. All the information is out there. Hopefully this site will contain all the relevant info you need in one place or at least have links to where you can find more. While this site is dedicated to Victoria, there are pages for all the other states which will have links to other sites where you can find out specifically about access there. And any call to arms for climbers across the board.
It will also have Resources to help keep people up to date on all the issues that do affect cliffs, climbers and their access. Relevant articles from a broad range of climbers that will give people something to think about rather than a blanket ‘don’t do this’ kind of approach. Some of this information is and has been on the VCC website for a while now but the format I am able to present it in on that website is very limited. CliffCare has been needing it’s own website for a while now and I feel encouraged that this is the way forward to ensuring that the climbing community, in the majority, will know what is going on out there. I am hoping to tie it in with all the relevant social media so that it can be as accessible as possible. As I said, feel free to comment. www.cliffcare.org.au
In the Grampians, work is still ongoing and the Vic Range areas around Buandik and Red Rocks are certainly the next to be opened, but they are still a month or two away. The roads are the issue and more than likely, when they do open there will be sections that are down to one lane with barriers obstructing the sections which are weak and require more work. This is the best option in order to open some of these areas rather than have them closed until completed. Much of the delay is related to all the geotech, insurance evaluations, sign offs etc. etc. It’s a long path down a line of different people and organizations that all needs to be ticked off and from what I hear, there have been upsets along the way. The Northern Grampians has certainly been getting a flogging but there are a multitude of areas within it to spread the load. While Summerday, the Ampitheatre, Taipan etc are the first that spring to mind for many, there are cliffs that have seen a little more traffic than usual and offer the opportunity to try somewhere different in the Northern Gramps for a change.
At Arapiles, the recent Arapiles Advisory Committee decision to propose a longer campfire ban to Parks Victoria has not been popular with everyone. Arapiles currently has a ban on campfires from Nov – April. Collection of firewood in the park is also banned and has been for a long time. As noted on the recent CliffCare code of conduct, campfires and also the collection of firewood were the most contentious issue that had feedback response. I won’t be going too deeply into discussion about this on this particular report but would like to submit something for the next one. But to snip a few points I made in a post or two on Chockstone – The campfires and wood collection rules didn’t stop anyone from having campfires – it just required people to have a little more forward thought. What they did try to do was to look at the bigger picture(and this is not just about climbers) and know that people coming into the outdoors and using facilities is never going to get less, just more. Therefore proactive measures need to take place. Proactive measures never seem to be popular because it requires people to make some effort and look forward, take more into account than just themselves and that particular moment in time and more often than not, accept something that they would probably prefer not to.
Things such as firewood sale, campground hosts etc are and have all been on the table as well. And who knows, somewhere in the future, something might be able to be worked out there. But as simple as these things sound, they are not in the logistical sense, easy to set up and to keep working.
Short of having absolutely massive signs in every corner of the park, entrance etc, it really is up to campers, climbers whoever to make a little more effort for the greater good and to work with the rules that we have that are not debatable ones. And I find it difficult to understand that smart people really can’t differentiate between the reality of a situation as opposed to what they would like to have. This campground campfire rule change proposal need never have happened.
More on this later. What I would like to say though is that a large component that we have to work with, when we are dealing with land managers always comes down to budgets. Parks Victoria do not get a large budget and each of the parks vary themselves with what they have to deal with. And their budgets aren’t getting bigger each year, they are getting smaller. So another and better option that we think may work when an issue arises, can be a non starter because there isn’t any money to do that. And that’s the reality of it. I’m all for putting in the hard yards, but sometimes when the hard yards are all calculated it’s a disappointing no go. So maybe it’s time for people to start pressuring the governmental powers that be to stop cutting budgets to parks.
Safe climbing to All,