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.

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Access & Environment Report April 2017

Drones. Love them or hate them. Love them for their ability to provide some amazing video perspectives. And we have all, oohed and aahed over amazing climbing footage. Hate them for – well, there appears to be a variety of reasons as to why people/climbers hate them. The main one seems to be that they are extremely noisy and invasive. And the privacy factor is also high on the scale. A sure fire way to ruin some quiet enjoyment at the cliff . For those of you who have had the opportunity to have a drone hang around you or nearby whilst leading up a route, will more than likely attest to the fact that it’s not something you can ignore. And more than likely attest to the fact that it pissed you off .

Regardless of personal opinions, the reality of drones in parks is becoming more prevalent as they become more affordable for the general public. Which means that the rules on drones and their usage in parks starts to come into play. These rules – which are highlighted in the poster below – have been in place for quite a while but like lots of issues that have rules attached to them (and there are many) they often won’t see the light of day until it becomes…….an issue. And here we are.

Early days yet, but already there have been unpleasant murmurings from some in the climbing community about the use of drones. And from my interaction with various people – not many are aware that in fact, you can’t just buy a drone and go fly it. As opposed to kites. And certainly not go fly it in parks.

So in the interests of good climber discussion, which is always much better than abusive climber discussion – be aware.

For those who have a professional interest, my advice would be to get the permit and make note at the park, via social media etc that you will be fiming and in what general area. Possibly that way, people can organize their climbing for the day and there will be less pissed off people.

I foresee that there will be more discussions on this via land managers, park users and drone operators. If you have something to say about it – drop me a line
cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au

NOTE: THE POSTER BELOW HIGHLIGHTS MT ARAPILES TOOAN STATE PARK BUT THIS IS ALSO INDICATIVE OF ALL NATIONAL /STATE PARKS.

Arapiles DroneUsageSign

Access Report – Dec 2016

This is a belated posting of the December Access report. It made it onto CliffCare’s social media sites as well as others social media but not on the CliffCare website. Following a recent site visit in March 2017 to Black Ians (Lil Lil) that I had with Darren from Barenji Gadjin Land Council and Parks Victoria rangers,  I thought it pertinent to post this here as there will be ongoing posts and discussions about the site.

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Black Ian’s amongst many other sites in the Grampians and nearby, has suffered from Graffitti incidents over the years. CliffCare has been in discussions with PV over time in relation to these, and we are committed to working with them and the Traditonal Owners to educate users.Whilst some graffti is not the work of those in the climbing community, some more than likely is. It’s not cool full stop to be scratching and drawing names and pictures into the rock.

https://cliffcare.org.au/2015/12/08/access-report-dec-2015-part-1-grafitti-at-black-ians/

Add to the fact then that a huge amount of Indigenous art is in caves and overhangs and what you are doing when you write your name is tantamount to destroying some of
the last remaining history of our State’s indigenous people’s. As uncool as you can get! Hopefully we can all work together to stop this.

In November and December 2016, Barengi Gadjin Land Council, Parks Victoria Rangers and staff from Aboriginal Victoria met onsite to start the process of removing the graffiti. A long and painstaking job.

The following info  has been supplied to me via Parks Victoria and Traditional Land Owners.

Article for Argus_Parks Victoria_Grafitti removal

 

 

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.

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.

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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.

Access Report April

On Saturday March 5th, Bec Hopkins was our VCC/CliffCare rep for the Grampians Clean Up day in the Pinnacle area. She was one of a number of volunteers from a variety of groups that regularly use the Grampians National Park. The Pinnacle area near Halls Gap sees a huge number of tourists each year and unfortunately, with that comes quite a lot of rubbish. Some of this ends up being quite inaccessible to later retrieve due to it landing on ledges below. Bec and a couple of volunteers from Absolute Outdoors  donned their gear and abseiled down to the dirty areas to clean up. Six large bags of rubbish later and much sweat lost, the area was once again clean. Thanks to all who put up their hand to help out on the day and Tammy Schoo at Halls Gap PV who organized the event. Thanks also to the volunteers who helped out at Mt Arapiles clean up day – notably Keith Lockwood and Kieran Loughran and Zoe Wilkinson from Parks Victoria who encouraged all to help out with the Summit Road cleanup.

Access Report March: Clean Up Days at Mt Arapiles and The Grampians

With the Clean Up Australia event happening this coming weekend 5/6th March, it’s a great opportunity to do a little cleaning up in a couple of our favourite parks for climbing. CliffCare and the VCC  is jumping onboard and helping out. Have a look at the rubbish we have collected at other times in the photos below.

Tammy Schoo from PV in Halls Gap, The Grampians, is organizing a number of events at various locations around the park. http://www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au/Grampians+National+Park One particular area, The Pinnacle sees a lot of human traffic and therefore collects its fair share of rubbish. Bec Hopkins (who was CliffCare’s 2015 raffle organizer extraordinaire) will be our Rep for the day. Bec will be getting on the rope to get to various ledges to help remove accumulated rubbish.

You can do your bit too. On your way to your favourite crag and at the crag itself – do a rubbish clean up. Take along a bag and fill it with any rubbish you find along the way. At the end of the day either deposit the rubbish in a public bin or take home and deposit with the rest of your rubbish.

At Mt Arapiles, we will also be running a Clean Up day with Friends of Mt Arapiles and Parks Victoria. Details are following

CLIFFCARE/VCC, FRIENDS OF ARAPILES AND PARKS VICTORIA IS RUNNING A CLEAN UP ARAPILES DAY AS PART OF THE CLEAN UP AUSTRALIA DAY EVENT. AND IT’S ON THIS SATURDAY 5TH MARCH STARTING AT 9AM.

We’re not looking for whole day commitments – just an hour or so is more than enough. If you have ever enjoyed Mt Arapiles as a climber, camper, day visitor, please spare this time and join us to give a little back. We will be picking up general rubbish around the campground areas particularly The Pines and also Bushrangers Bluff and along the Summit Road. And following the rains, the dreaded Bindi’s have reared their ugly, spiky heads in a few locations around the park, so we thought we would remove that rubbish as well.

MEET AT THE WASHING UP TROUGH LOWER PINES CAMPGROUND AT 9AM.

KEITH LOCKWOOD IS OUR COMMUNITY REP AND ZOE WILKINSON (AREA CHIEF RANGER) FROM PARKS VICTORIA WILL BE THERE TO MEET AND GREET AND HAND OUT BAGS AND ANY DIRECTIONS THAT MAY BE REQUIRED.

If you aren’t able to attend at this time, take a bag with you and keep an eye out for rubbish on your walk around the park or on the way to the cliff. It would be great to have some kind of tally of rubbish picked up, so if you are able to, take a photo of your collection before depositing in park bins. Any further info required or photos to be sent cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au

If you are planning on coming, dropping me a line would certainly help with preparations. Thanks!

AREAS TO BE TACKLED

Pines Campground and general camping areas
Bushrangers Bluff
Summit Road
Bindi (3 cornered jack) picking. Locations to be advised at morning meetup)

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Clean Up Arapiles day 2008

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Some of the rubbish we collected in 2008 on Clean up day. Lots of micro rubbish.

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This was found a number of years ago in the Grampians.

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More recently (2015) at The Gallery, Grampians