Grampians Community Update April 24

A short update on some GAWG activities and further information from Parks Victoria. They have sent us copies of maps that enlarge the northern end of SPAs and included legend and grid references. This has been created following feedback and were used this weekend to help engagement activity.

VCC/CliffCare  have a meeting with Parks Victoria next week. We will be discussing the climbing data currently available, and next steps associated with establishing the reference group and the future of the Grampians National Park Management Plan. Parks Victoria and VCC/CliffCare are working together to share spatial information to help park users understand where climbing can and can’t occur. We will take this opportunity to question and discuss further the current closures in place and also follow up on our previous complaints about misinformation being put into the public sphere that adversely affects the reputation of the climbing community.

In the area of Cultural Heritage and Indigenous affairs – After initial contact with a number of Traditional Owner groups, we are working with our Reconcilliation advisor on next steps in this area. Once we have more substantive information we will share.

As always, we ask for your patience whilst we work through a multi layered process that requires thoughtful and respectful engagement.

Education. The launch of CliffCare’s educational campaign is just around the corner. This has been a long time in the making with many people offering their help. More on this soon.

Fundraising and Educational Awareness event. ClimbForGrampians May8 is a climber community initiative which CliffCare has been collaborating on with a number of gyms throughout Victoria and South Australia.

More on this on a separate post.

GrampiansNorth_RockClimb 23042019

GrampiansNorth_RockClimb 23042019

GRAMPIANS COMMUNITY UPDATE APRIL 18 2019

WHAT IS THE GRAMPIANS ACCESS WORKING GROUP (GAWG)

The Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG) was formed in February this year by the Victorian Climbing Club and CliffCare to respond to the unexpected closures to climbing in the Grampians. We want to provide an update to the climbing community about our approach, what we have been doing and how you can get involved. You can find out more about the group and the people involved HERE

The ban on climbing is an understandably emotive issue and there have been many individual responses from within the climbing community. GAWG believes that ongoing collaboration with Parks Victoria and the Traditional Owners is the way to achieve the best outcome for climbing in the Grampians. Climbers will always need to maintain a relationship with Parks Victoria as the legitimate managers of the Grampians and it is important that we recognise their very real concerns about the impacts of climbing on the park. We intend to work with PV to find a resolution that meets these concerns and provides the best possible outcome for climbing. In doing so we hope to build a positive reputation for climbers as responsible custodians of the environment and cultural heritage.

WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING?

We have written to PV to express our disappointment at the lack of consultation before the climbing bans were imposed and to point out the previous long history of cooperation between climbers, land managers and traditional owners to address access issues in the Grampians and elsewhere.

We have made contact with local MP Emma Kealy and Minister Lily D’Ambrosio to inform them of our concerns regarding the closures, highlighting our desire to work with PV to address any issues.

We have contacted PV to formally request written reasons for the 8 closures in the Victoria range and the subsequent 29 closures in new Special Protection Areas (SPA). This is in ongoing correspondence.

We are working with PV to ascertain precisely which climbing sites are banned, including in the older and the newly declared SPAs.

Our intention is to look at the specific issues at each climbing site with PV to better understand if there are genuine conflicts with cultural or environmental values – and how these might be addressed.

We have pointed out to PV some misinformation about climbing impacts on their website. This was acknowledged by PV and removed. We will pursue this issue further with PV.

We are preparing to participate in the PV Stakeholder Reference Group. This group is being set up by PV to address current access issues as well as longer term strategic planning for climbing both in the Grampians and the rest of Victoria.

Prior to the first SRG meeting, we will be meeting with PV to more fully understand the precise locations of concern as well as the processes that will govern the upcoming review of the Grampians Management Plan.

We are preparing a Climbing Management discussion report to help inform our conversations with PV.

We are working on the best ways to build our relationships with Traditional Owners which we feel is an integral part of moving forward.

Within the climbing community, we have hosted a change.org petition to demonstrate to Parks Victoria the number of people concerned by the bans. With 21,676 signatures, support was strong, thank you! On Wednesday 8th of May gyms in Victoria and South Australia will be hosting events to raise awareness, fundraise and educate climbers about issues that affect access. Make sure you head to your participating gym! Please follow updates from CliffCare and @climbforgrampians.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

Get informed

A Town Hall style session is coming to Natimuk’s Goatfest on 20th April in the Soldiers’  Memorial Hall. Here you can ask the presenters any questions that have been on your mind about the bans and CliffCare’s work.

Get educated

Gym workshops are coming to a climbing gym near you on May 8th, check out @climbforgrampians. Participate to get an understanding of best practices at the crag.
Ongoing workshops scheduled for gyms.

Get involved

If you have skills you think GAWG could use, get in touch via cliffcare@vicclimbing.org.au  Introduce yourself and your skills to get on our volunteer register.

Get generous

You can donate to CliffCare’s cause here.

Thanks,

GRAMPIANS ACCESS WORKING GROUP

Grampians Easter Update

What do I need to know to climb in the Grampians this weekend?

Where can I climb?
All closures as noted previously are still in place.
Please respect all bans in place. Take a copy of the map that show the SPA’s.

Enforcement can occur at the following key focus sites
The Gallery
Gondwanaland
Millenium
Billywing Buttress
Billimina Area
Little Hands Cave
Cave of Man Hands
Manja area

There have been questions from the community regarding regarding signage around the key focus sites in locations that aren’t noted as key focus sites. Parks Victoria has provided the following information in response to my queries –

What is scope of the blue squares area? ie does it just apply to the actual cliff as noted The Gallery?
The blue dots indicate approximate locations where compliance activities will be occurring for rock climbing
What are the total number of signs pertaining to the 8 focus sites?
In total, there are 11 signs installed in the Victoria Range SPA to identify the eight key locations where enforcement activities are occurring.
Are there 2 signs in place at each sign installation site?
There is a minimum of one sign installed at each site. There are multiple entry points to some sites with some sites having lengthy approaches by walking. Where this is the case, additional signage has been installed. There are:

o Three signs at locations leading into Gondwanaland

o Three signs at locations leading into Manja Area

o Four signs at locations leading into The Gallery area

o One sign at Millennium

Does one of these signs at each installation site note the names of the key focus sites so that people are aware the fines only apply to those 8 focus sites?
The names of the key focus sites are detailed on the signs so that park users are aware where compliance activities are occurring.
What can I do to protect the environment and respect Aboriginal cultural heritage?

  • Stick to tracks. Don’t create new ones.
  • Be careful about vegetation on the way into or at the crag – be sure to place your gear and boulder mats on surfaces without plants. Don’t remove vegetation from climbs or boulders.
  • Pack everything out
  • This includes your toilet waste! Or bury it at least 15 cm deep and 60m away from water sources.
  • If you are bush camping, make sure you camp in allowed areas only.
  • Use chalk sparingly and brush off any chalk marks that you make
  • Avoid trying to remove built up chalk or bolts. Removal of both requires consultation and permits to ensure no damage occurs to possible environmental and cultural values.
  • Lighting fires outside of official metal fireplaces, littering, interfering with Aboriginal cultural heritage such as rock art or any damage to rock faces such as drilling holes, cutting or removing vegetation are all offences under the National Parks Act and you can be fined.

What should I do if I’m approached by a ranger?
Be an ambassador for climbing and stay friendly and curious about their concerns. Follow their directions.

What should I do if a ranger tells me to leave or asks my name and address?
Under law they are entitled to do both if they have reasonable grounds to do these things.
Ask for their reasons and comply with their requests
Ask for their name, repeatedly if necessary
Make a record of what happened and what was said. Get someone who was there to sign your it if possible
Let CliffCare know what happened and use Parks Victoria’s complaints process if you think you were wrongly told to move on or to identify yourself.

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.

 

Rock-Climbing-Grampians-National-Park-FAQs-20-March-19-1

Rock-Climbing-Grampians-National-Park-FAQs-20-March-19-2

Rock-Climbing-Grampians-National-Park-FAQs-20-March-19-3

Rock-Climbing-Grampians-National-Park-FAQs-20-March-19-4

 

Rock-Climbing-Grampians-National-Park-FAQs-20-March-19

Bush Camping in the Grampians/Gariwerd

For many climbers heading to the Grampians, dispersed camping/bush camping is their preferred choice. As always, it pays to be informed. There are areas you can’t disperse camp and in the places where you can, there are rules and regulations.

The more recent Grampians visitor guide clearly shows the areas where bush camping is not allowed. Check this out and know where you can go. Read the rules – most importantly around campfires as we start coming into cooler weather.

Dispersed or bush camping is not permitted inside the hatched areas displayed on the park map.
While bush camping, remember Campfires are not permitted –fuel stoves only
Only camp in previously cleared areas
Leave no trace of your visit –take all rubbish home with you
Camp at least 25m from waterways and 1km from campgrounds.

*Campfires are only allowed in the park in the official metal ring fireplaces

Keep yourself informed.
*Visitor guide including bush camping area restrictions available to download at end of post.

Grampians-NP-visitor-guide-1

Grampians-NP-visitor-guide-2

Grampians-NP-visitor-guide-3

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Grampians-NP-visitor-guide

Grampians Petition

CliffCare, the Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG) with help from Kelly Boladeras have created a petition on Change.org

Please take a moment to sign

We believe that as a community, armed with the right knowledge and empowered by strong, constructive working relationships, we can all share the Grampians/Gariwerd National Park in a positive and harmonious way.

CliffCare and GAWG acknowledge and respect the connection Traditional Owners have to Gariwerd and that important cultural and environmental issues need to be addressed within the park, however, we believe that these issues can be managed with co-operation, understanding and education.

https://www.change.org/p/stop-climbing-from-being-banned-in-the-grampians?recruiter=346887748&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

 

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.

*****

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

*****

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.

STAY IN THE LOOP

Keep up to date by signing up to the CliffCare website blog. You will receive each update direct into your inbox. Just click on sign up on front page.

Follow CliffCare’s Facebook page and share our updates far and wide.

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.