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.

Planned Burns – Mt Arapiles & Grampians National Park

Some of these burns may impact your climbing plans. Info below and maps available for download. Register for the planned burn notification system if you want to be kept up to date. Sometimes burns will occur when a perfect weather window appears which doesn’t always give you much notice.

Planned Burns this Autumn at Mt Arapiles. See info below. Dates haven’t been announced yet but as of yesterday, there won’t be any done in the next 7-10 days at least, due to unsuitable weather conditions. Date will be announced when known.

Download here:

1 Fact Sheet_Mt Arapiles_Autumn2017

2 Community Map_Plan Burning Autumn 2017_Mt. Arapiles -Tooan State Park

Planned Burns in the Grampians National Park for this Autumn

Following is info provided:
A number of burns have been scheduled across the Grampians National Park, please see the map attached. These are planned for the Autumn months but FFMVic work closely with the Bureau of Meteorology to assess suitable weather conditions and burning will only go ahead when the weather conditions are suitable. Plans will often change at short notice.

Planned burning in the Grampians National Park is scheduled to take place this year predominately after the Easter School holidays, apart from the Grampians – Jimmy Creek Fuel Reduction Burn which may be actioned earlier to take advantage of favourable conditions. This burn however will result in very few impacts to visitors with no walking track closures, no impacts to visitor sites & limited road closures.

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.

Prior to any burning, notifications will be sent to land holders and stakeholders in the area.  Burn notification signs will be placed around the park and community engagement staff will be available for questions and feedback from the community.

Should you have any further queries do not hesitate to contact DELWP Horsham on 5362 0720.

Grampians CE Map

Download here:

Grampians CE Map

https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/bushfire-fuel-and-risk-management/planned-burns/planned-burning-notification-system

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.

18a2b0c2b186391fb7d6c58defe5d1cdac03146a

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

 

 

Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby

The Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby (BTRW) has been making the news recently. The program to reintroduce the wallaby was started in 2008. This involved closing an area to public access and the area included a couple of climbing sites. As you will see by the information provided, climbers agreeance to stay away from these sites has been a huge plus in the success of the BTRW colony surviving. Having areas closed to recreational use is never something that is taken lightly and reactions from the user groups range from understanding to anger and impatience. So this is a great opportunity to show the climbing community what, its understanding and patience, have allowed to prosper.

Being on the Grampians Advisory Group, I was lucky enough to see the ongoing progress and in the early days actually, the disappointment. The colony was not thriving with various adults disappearing and then pouch young doing the same. At one point, the program study was stopped with no more adults being introduced and the colony as it was, was left to proceed as nature intended. While the site was still monitored, especially in trying to manage the feral animals such as the fox, there was less human intervention. And lo and behold, the colony started to grow with more pouch young surviving. BTRW are notoriously shy animals and possibly less human contact has contributed to the success. The program has been a steep learning curve for all and the team at PV that were tasked with managing it in the park have done a brilliant job. Ryan Duffy who was the Program Coordinator – Biodiversity and Heritage, has now left PV Halls Gap but his enthusiasm and determination for the program to succeed, was a great thing to witness at the regular meetings on the program. Thanks to all that have stuck with it.

The colony now still has a long road ahead. In order for it to survive into the future, new genes need to be introduced. One of the issues now is inbreeding.

The larger area of land that was originally set aside for the wallabies was adjusted in late 2015.The area that was adjusted and removed appeared not to be used by the wallabies. It still includes sections of climbing sites although others are now accessible. Please continue to respect these closures.

https://cliffcare.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/rock-walllaby-reintroduction-site-access-restriction.pdf

CHECK OUT THE NEW UPDATED BRUSHTAILED ROCK WALLABY PAGE FOR A HISTORY OF THE PROGRAM. SEE HOW YOUR HELP IN STAYING OUT OF THEIR DESIGNATED AREA HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THE THRIVING COLONY.

https://cliffcare.org.au/grampians/brush-tailed-rock-wallaby/

2017_02_17_BTRW1_Ki1 and PY

Grampians Update 14th Sept 2016

Received this communication yesterday from the PV team at Halls Gap. As it notes, the park is temporarily closed until further assessments on Friday –

PARKS VICTORIA UPDATE

Parks Victoria would like to advise you that due to heavy rainfall, flooding and minor rock-falls The Grampians National Park is Temporarily Closed (for the next 48 hours).

We are asking local community and visitors to remain out of the park until staff can assess damage and ensure there are no public safety issues.

VicRoads have currently closed the Northern Grampians Road which means access to many popular visitor sites such as Zumsteins, Mackenzie Falls, Reeds Lookout and the Wonderland Range is not available.

There are also many road closures outside the Grampians National Park that are restricting access into the park.

  • Please do not drive past road closure signage – there may be dangerous road washouts behind them
  • Do not drive through flood waters – Creek crossings and floodways may be compromised
  • Road cuttings may continue to deposit large rocks and small mudslides onto roadways
  • With saturated soils, large trees may fall
  • Walking tracks may have fast flowing or impassable creek crossings.
  • Rainfall may continue to fall across the park over the next day or so bringing more issues.

A full report, including important closures or re-openings to visitor sites will be forwarded out  as soon as we can confirm details, but the park closure will remain in place until Friday afternoon at this stage.  

You can also visit the PV website explaining the same thing but with a few pictures

 

http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/about-us/news/parks-affected-by-flooding

 

Grampians – Heavy rainfall alert

The weekend coming up is  not looking the best to be out climbing but if you are considering heading to the Grampians for either a chance at a climb or even for walking, take note of the following.

Parks Victoria Grampians Update

With the heavy rainfall we have received in the past few weeks and with the forecast rain predicted for the coming days, Parks Victoria would like to ask the local community and park visitors to exercise caution within the Grampians National Park this week.

  • Creeks and waterways are at very high levels. This has caused washouts and high level creek crossings. Currently road closures are in place along Red Rock Road and Henham Track.
  • Some walking tracks may have high level water crossings to navigate. If there are further heavy falls in a short space of time some narrow gorges may be impassable.
  • The Northern Grampians Road has experienced some small rock falls from the road cutting. Vic Roads will be assessing risk this afternoon.
  • Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water have informed us that they are increasing the water release from Lake Wartook to 200megalitres today. This is likely cause the base of Mackenzie Falls to be inundated as well as sections of the Mackenzie River walk towards Zumsteins.
  • Emergency services will be pulling together response teams in preparedness for potential flooding in areas throughout the Wimmera.

With this in mind, Parks Victoria would ask all residents and visitors to be mindful of the need to travel within the Grampians over the coming days. Please keep safety in mind and only visit areas that are open and easily accessible. If you do not have an urgent need to visit the park please keep travel plans flexible.

We envisage there may be further road and walking closures throughout the coming days, particularly within the low lying areas of the park and recently fire affected areas such as the Northern Grampians and Black Range State Park. We will monitor conditions throughout today and tomorrow and notify you of any further closures and safety issues. We would encourage visitors to remain on the Sealed Road network and avoid the minor gravel road network through the Park. Please keep your travel plans flexible and stay updated with conditions through the Parks Victoria website or local Visitor Information Centres.