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/

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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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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.

VCC Access & Environment Report – February

Earlier last year, after a number of meetings and discussions on the Arapiles Advisory Group, we decided to actively pursue a project on the revegetation of the Pines Campground. The issue of erosion and lack of shade for campers has been an ongoing one. As with any kind of State or National parks, there is a process to go through and while immediate decisions and acting upon it sounds like the way to go, the reality is that it always takes a little longer than hoped for. Our hope to get some plants in the ground last planting season didn’t eventuate for a variety of reasons but in the end, the bad rainfall would have severely impacted our ability to do this. At our last meeting in January, we spoke of the need to get the ball rolling on this project asap. We are hoping that rainfall this year will help us out in order to get plants in the ground. CliffCare also put out a survey to the general climbing community and park users to get their feedback on some of the issues and topics which climbers have certainly brought up to me over the years. There were also more indepth suggestions via the survey and emails that I received and I hope to be able to put these into something a little more readable in the near future. Survey results were actually quite close to the general feedback I have received over the years when discussions like this have come up with various members of the climbing community. Hopefully what this means is that the end result of revegetating the Pines will be an acceptable outcome for the majority of park users. I will continue to fill you in as decisions are made.

Along with the Pines revegetation project, we discussed the next trackwork project for Mt Arapiles. There are many areas requiring a bit of TLC in the park, especially as climbing becomes more popular. Louise Shepherd who heads Friends of Arapiles, Zoe Wilkinson who is Head Ranger at Mt Arapiles and myself, recently got together outside of the Advisory Group, with our whizbang stonemason, Walter Braun to discuss the starting date and course of action for Central Gully track. While this certainly doesn’t have the steepness of the Pharos Gully track and therefore the excessive erosion that often goes along with steep tracks, it does suffer from the same ‘loved to death’ syndrome. It is used extensively by climbers to access various climbing areas as well as walkers. Some sections will require little work whereas others will definitely need stonework to keep the track where it belongs. Some work was done on the track many years ago using concrete. This won’t be removed excepting where it has broken (concrete is wont to do this after time). Any work now done, will work with what was put in place previously. Following our meeting, we have decided that first workday will be sometime in March. Weather will have cooled by then (hopefully). I will be putting out a date shortly so keep an eye on your inboxes and on social media/websites as volunteers will be required. And whilst we are on the subject of volunteers, we have another smaller project that will require a few for a morning. Around the Pillars of Hercules area, between top of Dracula and Preludes,there are a lot of loose rocks and rubble that are starting to come down more often. Louise Shepherd has suggested a date in March and thinks that using a human chain method might be the best way to get the rocks moved. The larger rocks would be moved hand to hand well to the back of the Pillars. The smaller loose rubble could be gathered into buckets and then deposited at the back of Pillars cave. Again, a date will be announced for this shortly so keep an ear open.

There is also a further project around the Dreadnought Gully which has a loose dirt and rock shelf. This will need to be further assessed though and there is a good chance we may need to engage a little more than just volunteers to get this sorted. I will keep all informed as to the situation with this.

Survey results here Centenary Park Campground (The Pines), Mt Arapiles Questionnaire – Google Forms

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Checking out Central Gully with Area Chief Ranger Zoe Wilkinson