With climbing and bouldering becoming more popular in the cities now – through the growth of climbing and bouldering gyms – it means that more people are heading out to the parks to try it outdoors. On rock. Needless to say, quality rock is of huge importance here.
Rock also plays a huge part in the history of the indigenous people. They used it for shelter. They held ceremonies on and under it and of it. And they told their stories on it. With so much indigenous history now gone, ensuring that what remains is conserved, is of the utmost importance.
And this is where the co-habitation of climbing/bouldering and indigenous cultural heritage can be a delicate and sensitive path that we must tread.
Maybe in years gone by, cultural heritage wasn’t so much of a priority when it came to people getting outdoors and pursuing their activities. But hopefully we know better now. And we know more. Awareness of cultural heritage has been something that, we at CliffCare, have been trying to encourage the climbing community to engage it. With Traditional Owners now in joint and co-management a variety of parks, the conversation is one that is coming up more regularly.
There will be more discussions on this and hopefully many climbers come to the table to help us progress on workable solutions to use many of the same places whilst protecting the history of the indigenous people. Below are a variety of thoughts, articles and info downloads to start you thinking.
Picture this. The city that you and your friends and family have lived in for hundreds of generations has just been taken over by other people. Very different people. Massacres, murder, rape and new diseases have decimated your kind to a fringe dwelling existence where once you were free. Your sports stadiums, war memorials, churches and art galleries have largely been destroyed or defaced beyond recognition… There’s no reason for us as boulderers to add to this dispossession. Please don’t climb over or near rock art sites. Not only is it illegal but morally wrong to do so. It is culturally arrogant for us to pass ill informed judgement on the quality, merits and value of rock art sites.
No fires, particularly not in caves. If you’re cold put on more clothes or go home.
Wherever you go in the Grampians – if you know what to look for – you will find evidence of the Indigenous peoples who lived in the area, from rock art, tree scarring to the quarrying that you will see at nearly every crag in the Grampians. This heritage is extremely precious, and as boulderers we have a particular responsibility to tread carefully because rock art often occurs in the kinds of places where we like to climb – overhanging caves. If you have even a suspicion there is rock art in a cave, don’t climb in it. There is plenty of rock, and no single boulder problem is worth damaging rock art for, or risking our access to these areas.
First Grampians Bouldering Guide
Should you discover any site that looks like it may have cultural heritage contact:
Barengi Gadjin Land Council Cultural Heritage – RAP Manager – Darren Griffin 03 5381 0977
Parks Victoria – Area Chief Ranger – 8427 3505
Also please feel free to drop me a line with any queries and I will endeavour to help or pass them onto the relevant persons.
The following links contain reference to a number of articles and indigenous cultural heritage issues.
INDIGENOUS CULTURAL HERITAGE IN THE GRAMPIANS
A RECORD TO THE GARIWERD (GRAMPIANS) LANDSCAPE
(this article (slightly edited) was written by Suzy Scurrie – Cultural Heritage partnership ranger at PV Halls Gap) and was published on the Friends of Gariwerd website
The Grampians (Gariwerd) landscape of western Victoria is renowned for its spectacular landforms and scenic beauty, its diverse flora and fauna and its significant Aboriginal heritage places.
The Gariwerd landscape holds the imprint of thousands of generations of Aboriginal people’s connection to the land.
This connection to country refers not only to archaeological artefacts, but also to the cultural landscape, the dreaming tracks and trade and travel routes, significant and sacred landscape features and to the mythological association with a place or the location of a spirit being, all of which remain strong today.
There are over 200 archaeological sites recorded in the Grampians National Park. These sites consist mostly of stone artefacts, quartz scatters, scarred trees and rock art sites, but stone quarries, fish traps and burials have also been previously recorded.
Approximately 60% of Victoria’s rock art can be found in Gariwerd.
The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage within Gariwerd is protected under ‘The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006’. The main purpose of this Act is to provide for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.
Key objectives of this Act are*-
(a) to recognise, protect and conserve Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria in ways that are based on respect for Aboriginal knowledge and cultural and traditional practices;
(b) to recognise Aboriginal people as the primary guardians, keepers and knowledge holders of Aboriginal cultural heritage;
(c) to accord appropriate status to Aboriginal people with traditional or familial links with Aboriginal cultural heritage in protecting that heritage;(Registered Aboriginal Parties)
(f) to establish an Aboriginal cultural heritage register to record Aboriginal cultural heritage;
*Not all objectives are listed
In accordance with this Act Parks Victoria work closely with the Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAP applicants) and Aboriginal Affairs Victoria (AAV) to record, protect and manage these places and objects. Over the years there has been specialist training in the areas of site identification, recording, mapping and survey opportunities for the RAPs and Parks Victoria indigenous staff
At a local level, Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) are the voice of Aboriginal people in the management and protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage under the Act.
There are new sites recorded regularly through surveys and parks works. The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 requires Aboriginal places and objects to be recorded on the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register (VAHR)
The Register holds the details of all known Aboriginal cultural heritage places and objects within Victoria, including their location and a detailed description. This helps build a picture of how the Aboriginal people used the landscape and is a very useful management tool to monitor and protect places and objects. However there are restrictions on who can access the Register because it contains culturally sensitive information.
The public can help with the identification and protection of sites within the park.
If you discover a potential cultural heritage place or object, please do not disturb the site or remove any material.
Record its location if possible, write a brief description of its condition and note whether it is under threat of disturbance.
Indigenous cultural heritage sites no matter how big or small, are an important record of the past occupation of the land by Aboriginal people, so it is important that these sites are protected for the future.
Below are downloads of flyers explaining the kinds of Indigenous cultural heritage that you may come across: