Parks Victoria Rock Climbing Update Grampians FAQs

Parks Victoria have issued a FAQ page which more clearly states the current status of climbing sites in the Grampians National Park.

 

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Grampians Update 18 March 2019

We have been communicating regularly with PV over the past week and a half to obtain clarification regarding the closures. Further information provided by PV to some climbers have led many to believe that climbing could occur in the wider SPAs outside of the 8 key focus sites, if certain rules were followed but ranger actions on the ground and conflicting information from other PV offices showed this to be otherwise.

We can now provide the most recent email statement provided by Simon Talbot, COO of Parks Victoria. From our understanding, conditions are still as noted in previous statements but we have highlighted one clarification in Simon Talbot’s statement around infringements for climbing in SPAs.

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The Grampians National Park Management Plan outlines the Special Protected Areas that have been in place since 2003 where rock climbing is prohibited and hiking and picnicking is permitted. The recent maps released also include an additional 29 protected areas making up 1.2 per cent of the National Park. Protected Areas are assigned due to their cultural significance or flora and fauna values.

The increase in activity and changes in climbing techniques have impacted irreplaceable cultural and environmental assets to a level where enforcement is necessary to preserve these special areas. Parks Victoria is currently undertaking enforcement activities to prevent rock climbing at eight key locations where signage is installed.  Parks Victoria has a legislative obligation to protect these special values. At all times, we ask for your support in leaving no trace, using clean climbing techniques and encouraging your peers to do the same.

In broader Special Protected Areas, outside those eight key locations, Parks Victoria is sharing the information materials on rock climbing and undertaking enforcement activity relating to other activities not permitted in any National Park including cutting or damaging vegetation (for instance to make or enhance tracks), lighting fires outside of designated fireplaces, depositing litter, interfering with Aboriginal cultural heritage such as rock art or any damage to rock faces such as drilling holes. We are not enforcing no rock climbing activity in broader Special Protected Areas at this stage and will communicate if anything changes.

We acknowledge the physical, social and economic benefits that climbing brings to our communities and understand the rock climbing community cares passionately about the Grampians National Park.

Over the coming months, Parks Victoria will be reviewing the Grampians National Park Management Plan. A Stakeholder Reference Group will be established where Parks Victoria will meet with affected partners, Licenced Tourism Operators, stakeholder groups and local businesses – including the rock climbing community. Special Protection Area boundaries may change.

Simon Talbot
Parks Victoria – COO

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Our understanding at this stage is that:

  • Rangers will issue fines if you climb  at the eight key focus sites where signage has been put up
  • Rangers can inform you that you should not climb in the SPAs outside of the eight focus sites (blue squares on the first map issued by PV) as part of an education process, but will not fine you. You will be fined if you litter, cut, remove or damage vegetation, light fires outside of designated fireplaces, interfere with any cultural heritage or rock art in these areas,deface or drive off track. These rules and penalties are applied across the GNP, not just the SPAs.
  • Further assessments of other sites within the SPAs will be undertaken. If areas are deemed too sensitive and are to be closed, before this happens there will be ‘education’ and information provided to the community before signage and enforcement occurs.

We are investigating further the reports that signage has occurred in a non key focus site and will keep you up to date.
Some previous messaging also noted that damage to vegetation through the use of drop mats would be an offence. We would suggest that the use of bouldering mats is confined to rocky and non vegetated areas.

The messaging coming from PV has not aligned with information varying between Head Office and local staff members on the ground in the Grampians, and this has made it increasingly difficult to address the issues that we have been informed has led to the bans (i.e., cultural heritage and environmental protection). There have been some positive discussions about moving forward with the Stakeholder Reference Group that PV are initiating, and what the working group would like to achieve from this. The working groups hope is that the Stakeholder reference group is being established so that other sites within the wider SPA   areas can be investigated further in collaboration with us. The working group will continue to engage with PV, bringing with it the concerns of the wider climbing community and continue to ensure our involvement in these discussions and the feedback we have provided, is taken on board.

For us, the protection of cultural and environmental values within the park is still key and we don’t want to lose sight of some of the issues that have brought us to this place of change. We have much in the pipeline with regards to education for the climbing community that we will be sharing in the months to come. We hope this will  contribute to ensuring sustainable climbing and bouldering in the park. We also continue to work on building relationships with Traditional Owners. We continue to work on understanding the legislative framework that determines the rights and responsibilities of user groups to access the park,  both now and into the future.We will continue to do as we are doing now: working towards greater transparency in decision-making processes from land managers, ensuring that decisions are fair and right, reasons for closures are justified,  and that the cultural and natural values of that park are respected throughout this process.

Please be assured that we will update you on our progress, and will continue to work toward greater certainty regarding access for climbers in the Grampians. We make a commitment to providing the climbing community with accurate updates, sharing  information that we feel is reliable and can be confidently shared with the community. CliffCare and the VCC remain committed to collaboration with all parties and to ensuring that the climbing community’s concerns are represented as we navigate through the challenges resulting from these closures.

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WHAT CAN YOU DO?

PETITION
The Grampians Access Working Group has created a petition.

PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE TO YOUR NETWORKS.

  • Most important: respect all bans that have been put in place by Parks Victoria. If you hear of anyone who is planning to climb in any of these areas, please inform them of the bans.
  • If you have skills that you think might be useful to the VCC, become a volunteer and assist our efforts. Contact cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au
  • You can become a member of the VCC here. The VCC is the organisation that administers CliffCare.
  • Donate directly to CliffCare and support our efforts in advocacy, environmental projects and education.
  • Share you concerns with your local MP via a letter, email or phone call. Consider sending a letter to the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio and Emma Kealy, local MP for Lowan (includes the GNP). In this letter you should highlight: your involvement in climbing, how the ban affects you and your community, and any concerns you might have regarding the lack of consultation by PV with the climbing community prior to introducing the bans. We think it is helpful for climbers to acknowledge the value and significance of environmental and cultural concerns, and that through proper consultation, we would like to work towards a win-win solution for all stakeholders.

If you have other questions that you feel are not answered here, please feel free to email us.

GRAMPIANS/GARIWERD UPDATE

Following a number of recent reports of rangers asking climbers to leave climbing areas in the Grampians/Gariwerd, more confusion has occurred around where people can and can’t climb.

The maps and information supplied by Parks Victoria (PV) note the old and new SPAs. It also contains eight focus sites contained within one particular SPA which is marked in blue where, as noted by PV, signs will be erected and enforcement activity will occur.

PV has said that in the coming months it will be working with stakeholders and the climbing community to review these areas. However, for many in the climbing community this messaging is ambiguous and many have taken it to mean that for now climbing is only banned in those eight areas, and the other areas will be up for review following a collaborative consultation process.

Climbers have respected the initial bans but with the recent ranger activity in other areas, this has further confused the situation.

Official clarification on the situation has not yet been provided, so at this point of time we can only reiterate what we have noted previously:

 

  • Please respect all bans that have been put in place by PV. If you hear of anyone who is planning to climb in any of these areas, please inform them of the ban.
  • The working group is committed to collaborating with land managers and other stakeholders to ensure a fair and transparent process.
  • We have submitted a formal request to PV seeking clarification on closures and process.

 

Interactions with Rangers

Rangers have reportedly been telling climbers to vacate crags across the Grampians/Gariwerd that are inside SPAs. If you do meet rangers either at the crags, campgrounds or car parks, please be courteous but inquisitive about the climbing bans. Ask them what they personally think of the bans and what actions they have been told by management to perform. Be a good spokesperson for climbers and let them know how much you enjoy the Grampians/Gariwerd.

An authorised officer of PV can only ask for your name or ask you to leave if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe that you’re doing something wrong.

What you can do

Given that penalties could be imposed, it’s important to be calm and polite when speaking to an authorised officer.

Ask them:

  • Who they are by politely asking them to produce identification.
  • To see a map of the banned areas.
  • About the legal position.
  • About alternative climbing locations that you can go to.
  • If you’re asked for your name and address or asked to leave, ask what their grounds are for doing so.

 

We have limited information about exactly why these areas have been banned so any information is important. IMPORTANT – Please send any info about interactions with rangers to VCC Cliffcare cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au.

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019

GRAMPIANS ACCESS WORKING GROUP

Grampians Access Working Group – New Map Statement

Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG)
New Map Statement

Parks Victoria (PV) has now released a set of maps that show the extent of new Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in the Grampians National Park/Gariwerd. Alongside the already identified SPAs in the Western end (Victoria Range), these newly outlined areas cover a substantial amount of the climbing sites in the park.

There is still some confusion and a lack of clarity around some of the information presented to the climbing community and there are answers we don’t yet have to give you. We are, however, committed to continuing to work hard and thoughtfully to bring you further information.

The information we currently have:

  • PV will be implementing the Special Protection Areas at eight key focus sites. These sites are as follows: Gondwanaland, the Gallery, Millennium Caves, Billimina Area, Billywing Buttress, Cave of Man Hands, Little Hands Cave and Manja Area. PV has informed us that these sites have been closed as rock climbing activity has resulted in impacts to environmental and cultural values and evidence of damage has been assessed and documented. Signage will be placed at these locations by mid-March that explain the reasons why and the law that pertains to it. Penalties will occur at these sites if closures are ignored.
  • PV has noted that, while immediate action is required to address current impacts, a review of the Grampians National Park Management Plan including SPAs is needed. They have noted their intention to work with the climbing community via a Stakeholder Reference group. Members of the the Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG) will be part of this. This group will provide insight and evidence, of the importance of a diverse range of climbing opportunities in the park and will seek to identify if there are any issues of environmental or cultural significance where climbing could impact. The work of the reference group will then help to guide how PV manages climbing access across the park including that in the current SPAs.

GAWG are committed and hopeful that this  map release is the beginning of a collaborative process with land managers and the Traditional Owners of Gariwerd and that a nuanced approach will create an effective access framework that works for all.

As explained above, GAWG are working on many of the concerns that climbers have noted. We are very mindful of the sensitivities involved and wish to be as respectful as possible to all parties. We would also ask the climbing community to be patient while our team of dedicated volunteers work on immediate issues as well as long term sustainable climbing options. It deserves a well considered and thoughtful approach and we intend to continue on this path. We are committed to sharing information that is helpful to the community rather than unsubstantiated comment.

Climbers care deeply about Cultural Heritage and acknowledge the strong connection Traditional Owners have to Country. They are sensitive to environmental values in the park and we believe that with the right information provided to us, we can be a great ally. We would welcome the opportunity to work together through a consultative and collaborative approach to climbing access in the Grampians National Park/Gariwerd.

What can you do to help?

  • Most important: respect all bans that have been put in place by Parks Victoria. If you hear of anyone who is planning to climb in any of these areas, please inform them of the ban.
  • If you have skills that you think might be useful to the VCC, become a volunteer and assist our efforts. Contact cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au
  • You can become a member of the VCC here: https://vicclimb.org.au/join/. The VCC is the organisation that supports CliffCare, or you can donate to CliffCare directly here: https://cliffcare.org.au/about/donate/

If you have other questions that you feel are not answered here, please feel free to email: cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au


Thank you
GRAMPIANS ACCESS WORKING GROUP

 

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019-1

 

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019-2

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019-3

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019-4

 

 

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019

Queens Birthday Annual Planting Event 2018

What the….? A year already! The Annual Queens Birthday Planting (Campground Revegetation Project) event at Mt Arapiles is only 10 days away. You’ve done it before and you know it’s a good time to be had. Playing in the dirt, building mud castles, sprinkling mulch and easing those baby trees into the ground. It’s like a big love fest for future greenery. Get loved up and roll on up. There is also a VCC club trip happening to coincide with it.
https://vicclimb.org.au/…/queens-birthday-weekend-tree-pla…/

What are we planting this time?
20 White Cypress Callitris glaucophylla
10 Port Jackson Pine Callitris rhomboidea
20 Drooping Sheoak Allocasuarina stricta
20 Yellow Gum Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp leucoxylon
3 Wallowa Acacia calamifolia
All gathered seed from Mt Arapiles and grown by Ollie Sherlock

reveg poster june 2018

Fixed Protection & Development Guidelines Grampians

UPDATE: 5/9/17
Conversations via the Chockstone forum have slowed down but discussions are still ongoing. Some are public, some are private so if you have something you would like to provide feedback on, please feel free to comment either way. What are your thoughts on climbing areas in the Grampians? On development of newer areas, trad, sport and bouldering? Do you see any issues? Do you have ideas on solutions. All goes into the pot. A more recent Access report gives a little more on the topic. Give it a read. Link is here: https://cliffcare.org.au/2018/08/01/access-environment-report-august-2018/
A survey is also in the pipeline which will provide some questions for people which will enable us to get a better idea of numbers, thoughts and ideas to work with moving forward. Fixed protection and development is just one element of the sustainable climbing conversation we need to be having but it is one that is perhaps a little more pressing.

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MAY 19 2018. As noted in a number of Access reports last year, the time was fast approaching that the climbing community would need to start asking themselves the harder questions and the new year would see some of these conversations put in place. Following some issues in the Black Range (Greater Grampians area), where cultural heritage was directly impacted by new development and fixed protection, ensuing discussions with Parks Victoria, Aboriginal Victoria and  Traditional Owners involved not only these sites and the seriousness of it, but threw the conversation net much wider. PV’s concerns(which have been ongoing) about the amount of new development in the park, especially that involving fixed protection was much more than a just a passing comment. Solutions would need to be found. Climbing community feedback and involvement would be encouraged.

Fixed Protection and Development guidelines for the Grampians are now being developed by the climbing community and climbers are invited to provide feedback to come up with a draft framework. We can then finesse this further and my discussions with land managers will also shape the final set of guidelines. There are other elements to this and progressions will be updated as this occurs.

Getting the information out there and getting it back in, is in itself, no easy task, being the fragmented lot we are.We are currently using the Chockstone forum to discuss and provide information to develop a draft. I encourage you all to provide some feedback. Please be respectful and keep any personal slanging to yourself so that we can keep the discussion on track. As we all know, this is an emotive subject for many. There are a number of climbers that are trying to collate the information as it develops and finesse the draft further. At least scan through a good section of the conversation that is developing. This conversation will eventually move on from Chockstone when it becomes too unwieldy and I shall keep you informed on this. This draft will be developed and used in future discussions about climbing and it’s sustainable future in the Grampians. As the GNP is where the bulk of issues are coming from currently, and this is a complex process, working on the Grampians is a good place to start. This will then make it much easier to put together an overall one in the future that may have specifics for certain parks.

I will be setting up another section on the CliffCare website to provide ongoing reference material and links. So keep checking back. This one conversation is part of a bigger one.
https://cliffcare.org.au/grampians/fixed-protection-development-grampians-guidelines/

Chockstone link – Fixed gear guidelines in the Grampians http://www.chockstone.org/Forum/Forum.asp?Action=DisplayTopic&ForumID=1&MessageID=132730&Replies=118#NewPost

If you feel that commenting on a public forum is not your thing, please feel free to drop me a line cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au

Access & Environment Report March 2018

On Saturday 3rd March, CliffCare took part in CleanUp Australia day at the Grampians. Along with Parks Victoria, Friends of Gariwerd, Halls Gap Primary School and community members, we managed to collect a whopping 64kgs of rubbish. Great work but sad that the public still finds it acceptable to throw that one piece of rubbish……

Rebecca Hopkins, Adam Demmert and Cameron Abraham scored the job of abseiling down some of the lookouts. Because that’s the best place to piff rubbish off. As all are accredited climbers ie guides, rope access, it means their skills can be used to access the hard to get to places. Not being an accredited climber, I scoured the car park areas and walks in to the Balconies. Fellow climber Neil Kelman from Ballarat also came for the day and he joined the Friends of Gariwerd team in and around Halls Gap.
Bec, Adam and Cam scored piles of bottles and cans along with the usual papers and packaging. As well as some randoms such as boomerangs (which obviously didn’t come back), fluffy toys, camera and large bits of metal. I feel I had the choicest finds of which the bulk was….toilet paper. Thank goodness for those large long handled tongs! At the end of our day we had 8 bags of rubbish.
After the work was done, we headed back to Hall’s Gap to a yummy bbq and told our tales of interesting finds, the excited audiences at the lookouts we attended and had a bit of a moan about the laziness of some of the public and what was the world coming to etc etc.
Great day all round. Huge thanks to Conor Smith and Hannah Auld who are Summer rangers with PV in Halls Gap. They organized the event and it worked like clockwork.We had some great convos and laughs with Conor at the Lookouts and Hannah held the fort back at the Gap. Thanks to Rod and Judith for filling the stomachs upon our return.

People, clear your calendars for the date next year – Sat 2nd March.
Biggest thanks to Rebecca Hopkins, Adam Demmert, Cameron Abraham and Neil Kelman who put their hands up straight away and helped out on the day. Thanks also to Kieran Loughran who put his hand up but some unfortunate admin requirement stopped him from attending. Next year Kieran!
CliffCare looks forward to being involved with the event next year. Wouldn’t it be great though if we only came back with a bag or two next time.
Tracey Skinner
VCC Access & Environment Officer