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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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

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.

Planned Burn Mt Arapiles 15th May

As noted in a previous post, there are planned burns scheduled for Mt Arapiles. This will be occurring on Monday 15th May. Please note details below – in short Bushrangers Bluff and Campbells Kingdom will be closed and access to other climbing areas will be limited to bottom up only. Acquaint yourself with the specifics in the notes provided by Parks Victoria below.

Parks Victoria Update

Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) conduct planned burns to reduce the bushfire risk to communities and the environment. Our crews include staff from DELWP, Parks Victoria and Vic Forests and the burning will only go ahead when the weather conditions are suitable.

Two Planned Burns have been been scheduled in Autumn this year for Mount Arapiles – Tooan State Park.

PLANNED BURNS SCHEDULED FOR AUTUMN 2017
Name Location Planned Area (ha)
Arapiles – Summit Road 8KM SW OF NATIMUK 120
Dyrrite – Wanjap 8KM WSW OF NATIMUK 9

Monday 15 May 2017 – Arapiles – Summit Road Planned Burn

On the day of this burn Summit Road into the park will be closed, including vehicular access to walking tracks from Summit Road and the Basin Creek area west of Summit Road.

The following areas are Open:

  •        All climbing areas apart from Bushrangers Bluff and Campbell’s Kingdom (Note – only bottom up access to all open climbing areas as Summit road is closed)
    ·        Natimuk Golf Links Road
    ·        Central Gully Walking Track (bottom up access only with closure at the top)
    ·        Pharos Gully Walking track (bottom up access only with closure at the top)
    ·        Declaration Crag/Taylors Rock
    ·        Mitre Rock
    ·        The Centenary Park campground and picnic area

The following areas are CLOSED to cars and walking access:

  •        The Ring road around Arapiles block
    ·        The Bushranger – Melville Cave
    ·        Campbell’s Kingdom
    ·        The Summit Picnic Area
    ·        The Bluff Lookout and the Fire Tower Lookout
    ·        The bluff lookout unsealed road

Traffic management will be set up in the area and surrounding communities and visitors may see and smell smoke.

Tuesday 16 May 2017 – Dyrrite – Wanjap Planned Burn

No park or road closures are expected on the day but traffic management will be set up in the Mt Arapiles- Centenary Park Campground area and surrounding communities.

Visitors may see and smell smoke.

There are many ways to find out where planned burns are happening in your area. You can sign up online by searching for the Planned Burn Notification System (PBNS), which you can customise to suit your notification needs, or contact the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.  Alternatively you can contact the Horsham DELWP office on 03 5362 0720.

Map below available for download

Mt-Arapiles-Summit-Rd-burn-closures

Dogs and Cats at the Crag

We love our pets. So much so that we want to take them everywhere. And therein lies the problem. Sometimes that everywhere includes the cliffs you climb at. In Victoria, most of the climbing areas are in National or State Parks. And apart from a few State parks and reserves that will allow leashed dogs, everywhere else is a no go. And no exceptions whatsoever for National Parks. There have been a couple of reports recently of climbers taking dogs and cats on leashes to the Grampians.

Short and sweet – Don’t do it. Politely – Please don’t do it. Below are a few bulleted points as to why these rules are in place. They are in place for everyone from day visitors to overnight campers to climbers. From a climbing community perspective, and from my perspective as someone who deals directly with access issues and land managers, this is not cool. It does influence non climbers and land managers opinions on the climbing community and it doesn’t bode well when I go in to bat for the community about the responsible actions of climbers. It’s also illegal and worth a hefty fine.

There are many reasons as to why it is not appropriate nor allowed, to bring animals into the park. In most cases, dogs have been the pet of choice to bring but it appears that pet cats have now joined the visitor list. Feral cats are a growing problem in the parks with a number of control programs currently being discussed. Their impact on the native wildlife is extensive. Bringing a pet cat into a park can attract feral cats merely through their scent.

  • Animals are not allowed in National Parks to ensure that the park is managed in accordance with its objectives, which is to preserve and protect the natural environment and to conserve flora and fauna.
  • They can compete with or harass, chase, trample or prey upon native fauna, especially ground-dwelling species.
  • They can also disturb wildlife by their scent, sounds, scratching and digging. They may also transmit diseases and parasites to native fauna.
  • Their urine and excrement can attract wild dogs, foxes and feral cats.

Please don’t think that because your animal is on a lead and well behaved that it is an exception to the rule. And understand that by bringing your pet in, you will have influenced someone else to do the same with their beloved pet.

Note: The responsible actions of fellow climbers were to thank for the reports of these incidents. If you do see a doggie or moggie at the cliff, even if the owner is a friend and a generally all around nice person – please let them know it’s not right and to leave the furry family member at home.