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.

Arapiles Rescue Locations

Zoe Wilkinson who is the Area Chief Ranger Wimmera and who is a climber herself, recently put together this article to explain the new Rescue locations system that has been put in place at Mt Arapiles. Whilst we hope of course that this doesn’t have to be used, the reality is that at some point an accident will happen, and knowing the best way to report this can save vital time when it comes to emergency services accessing the injured. Climbers might know where an area is, but expecting emergency services to, without any point of reference is a tricky one. Arapiles now has it’s own system that relates to climbs and staging points rather than the standard Emergency markers that are at many other parks and coastal areas. Take the time to acquaint yourself and then print off a copy. And pass it on.

Arapiles rescue reporting and locations

Improving emergency response

Rock climbing accidents
at
Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park

by Zoe Wilkinson – Climber, VCC Member and Parks Victoria Area Chief Ranger Wimmera

Do you know what to do if you have a climbing accident at Mount Arapiles that requires an ambulance and cliff rescue?

·       Call Triple Zero 000 – clearly stating the need for an Ambulance AND Cliff Rescue

·       Tell operator:

–        Accident location – Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park

–        Name of the climb (For example:- Spellbinder),

–        Climbing Area Name (For example:- Pharos Gully Right Side)

–        If known, name of nearest vehicular access point (For example:- Pharos Gully Carpark)

·       If possible send someone to the nearest vehicular access point to meet and direct the paramedics and other responding emergency agencies. These may include SES, CFA, VicPolice and Parks Victoria.

 

The emergency response problem

Rock climbing accidents requiring an ambulance to Mount Arapiles are fortunately uncommon. When they occur, Triple Zero 000 operators are likely to ask for information to verify the location of the incident to guide the ambulance. This may include the names of the nearest road intersection, the co-ordinates of the incident if known, the name of the climb and the name of the climbing area (eg Pharos Gully).

This is the standard way that the operators at Triple Zero 000 (ESTA – The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority) locate an incident. While effective for road traffic incidents, having the responding paramedic directed to the intersection of Summit Road and Centenary Park Road at Mount Arapiles is not going to be a great help in locating a climber having fallen off ‘Snow Blind’, for example, in the bottom of Yesterday Gully.

All too often the responding paramedics and emergency services providing cliff rescue have to drive around at Mount Arapiles until hopefully they come across the location of the accident or bump into someone who knows where the accident has happened. This is at best frustrating and at worst potentially a matter of life and death for the individual if they are suffering critical injuries.

Emergency Markers – Useful but not considered the best solution for Arapiles

Emergency Markers (managed by ESTA) with a code (see picture below) on them that link to co-ordinates back in the ESTA 000 databases are one response to this problem. You may have seen them in Melbourne, such as around the Botanic Gardens running track ‘The Tan’, or along the Victorian coast where they are used quite extensively. If someone collapses on ‘The Tan’ running track you simply quote the code of the nearest Emergency Marker to the operator when you call 000 and the ambulance will know exactly where to go. There is also an Emergency Marker at the Burnley Bouldering Wall in Richmond

A better solution – Using Climbing Area Names to guide rescue

Detailed location information already exists – the name of the climb and the climbing area itself, as listed in the commonly used rock climbing guide books and on online sites such as ‘The Crag’. Telling any climber who knows Mount Arapiles that there has been an accident up at ‘Beautiful Possibilities’ on ‘Central Gully Left Side’ is as good as giving them a precise GPS co-ordinate. The climber knows exactly where the nearest road access point is for the responding ambulance – at the top of the Pines – and how to get to the accident site from there. The challenge is conveying that knowledge, via the ESTA 000 centralised dispatch system, through to the paramedics and other responding agencies.

So Parks Victoria has been working on an innovative but common sense solution based on a good understanding of how climbers use Arapiles. The aim is to use existing climbing area names, to improve climbing accidents rescue response at Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park. Co-ordinates and names for 57 climbing areas (For example:- Pinnacle Face, Left Watchtower Face, New Image Wall, The Organ Pipes ) and 13 nearest vehicular access points (officially called Rescue Staging Points, for example Pharos Gully Carpark – see Map) have now been collected and uploaded to the ESTA 000 database (as part of the state-wide Common Place Names geo-dataset).

All emergency response and rescue organisations – Victoria Police (who under the Emergency Management Act are legislatively in charge of all rescues in Victoria), Ambulance Victoria, the SES Horsham (which includes members of the former local Arapiles Rescue Group), CFA, ESTA (Triple Zero 000) and Parks Victoria – have been involved and informed about this process. Documentation and maps for incident management purposes have now been completed. Kieran Loughran (local climber and longstanding local rescue group member) has updated ‘The Crag’ (https://www.thecrag.com/climbing/australia/arapiles) to include a specific reference to the climbing area names that has been used in the ESTA Triple Zero 000 database (For example:- Emergency Location – Voodoo Area, Mount Arapiles). Maps and information for climbers on what to do in case of an accident have been made available on the new Visitor Information Boards and in the Toilet Block at Mount Arapiles.

The final step has been the installation at Mount Arapiles of normal low-key park signage (see below) clearly identifying the 13 nearest vehicular access points (Rescue Staging Points) for all 3000 climbs at all 57 climbing areas. The primary aim of these signs is to confirm the location for the responding paramedics and emergency agencies without being too intrusive. On a normal day to day basis the signs will help orientate visitors in the park.

Now the new system is in place, following the notification process at the beginning of this article should lead to a more informed response from emergency services. The next unfortunate climbing accident will test the system and hopefully benefit from improved emergency response times. We would like to be waiting a long time to test it.

ArapilesRescueStagingPointsMap

 

 

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Grampians Flood Update 16 Sept

Latest update from PV. Park is once again open. Please take note though of various closures. See links following this update for maps, full official update etc

silverband-falls

Grampians National Park Recovery Update

  • This morning, VicRoads reinstated access to the Mt Victory-Northern Grampians road from Halls Gap to Mackenzie Falls. Unfortunately beyond Mackenzie Falls (to the west) the road closure will remain in place until next week.
  • Parks Victoria staff have cleared debris off roads and carparks and have now reinstated access to popular visitor sites such as Mackenzie Falls (lookouts only, not to the base), Reeds Lookout and the Balconies, Boroka Lookout and  the Wonderland area – including the Grampians Peaks Trail overnight walk. Water levels remain high in some creeks however and there is a track diversion around Barneys creek, just north of Borough Huts.
  • Other popular visitor sites such as Hollow Mountain, Mt Zero, Flat Rock and Mt Stapylton in the Northern Grampians will also reopen.  There northern section of Mt Zero road is closed however, so access is best from the Western Hwy, Dadswells Bridge and Winfields roads.
  • Access to Plantation campground and Heatherlie Quarry has been reinstated however the Mt Zero Road is closed north of Roses Gap Rd.
  • Mt William and the Major Mitchell Plateau overnight walk will reopen and access is available to the southern Grampians attractions such as Mt Sturgeon, Mt Abrupt and The Piccaninny.
  • Buandik campground, Manja Art shelter, Jardwardjali falls and Billimina art shelter are open in the West of the park, as is the Victoria Range overnight walk. However due to the Victoria Valley being closed, the best access is via Mirranatawa Rd, Jensens Rd , Glenelg River Rd, Henty Hwy and Harrops track.
  • The Mt Difficult Range (between Roses Gap Road and Northern Grampians road remains under a fire recovery closure).

grampians-np-northern-grampians-fire-recovery-update-september-2016

16-sept-park-road-report

grampians-np-roads-open-closed-sept-16-2016

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.

Access Report September 2016

On Friday 19th August, I attended a meeting organized by Parks Victoria Halls Gap. I was invited to represent the climbing community and attended with a number of other user group reps. The North Grampians Community Workshop was an opportunity to discuss openly and workshop, possible ideas on future developments in the North Grampians area of the park. Topics would include:

· Grampians Peaks Trail – Opportunities, alignments, camping on offer and planning requirements

· Fire Recovery – campground upgrades, rock climbing, four wheel drive and bush walking experiences

· Day use sites, picnic areas and trailheads – including Coppermine and Golton Gorge area discussions

So the main topic that came up that would primarily interest climbers was camping and campgrounds. And indeed, from many of the other user groups, this seemed to be a big issue. With the extra visitation expected from the Grampians Peaks Trails as well as just general growth in user groups, having enough camping spots to suit all could forseeably be a problem. Be it individual sites, vehicle based sites, bush camping etc and not to mention one of the biggest issues with this – toilet or waste disposal.

TROOPERS CREEK CAMPGROUND

Troopers Creek Campground which is the campground that climbers tend to use if they are climbing at Mt Difficult for the weekend is slated for permanent closure with the GPT being the impetus for this. I have had discussions with the PV team on this a number of times. Amongst a variety of concerns, the campground as it is currently, is a small one that will not be able to cater for the extra people that the trail brings through. It also has some cultural heritage sensitivities close by which add further issues. I explained my concerns re the closure in original discussions on this in an advisory group meeting a while ago. The new campground further up the road, although much larger, would add another 45 minutes on top of the 45 mins it already takes to walk up the track. As I explained, this campground is used by climbers and Mt Difficult is historically an important cliff. After some discussion, I have been assured that climbers will be able to park near the old Troopers and still walk the track up to Mt Difficult as they did before. This track though has been extensively damaged by the fire and won’t be repaired. Whilst I have not had the opportunity to check out the track, climbers in general are not adverse to walking tracks that aren’t maintained. It might be an idea at some point in the future though, to head in and check that the alignment is clear enough for people to find their way to cliffside. The new campground will have more tent sites and group camping areas and some vehicle based camping as well as toilet and fireplace facilities.

Bush camping in the area will also still be available.

STAPYLTON CAMPGROUND

Stapylton Campground is due to open just before the September school holidays. Opening has been held up by the slow supply and delivery of the timber used in the remaining works in the campground. Stapylton was always seen as a group camping site and the new improved one will be no different in that regard. Group camping will have even more of a focus although with some separated communal areas rather than the one main one that was there before. Vehicle based camping will also be catered for.

GOLTON GORGE BUSH CAMPING

This campsite will continue to be available as a bush camping site.

CAMP SANDY AND BUSH CAMPING

Due to Stapylton Campground being closed, a number of bush campsites have been developed and have grown in size. Camp Sandy in particular has been seen and noted by a number of other user groups and park locals. Feedback ranges from just interest to concern. Once Stapylton re-opens, there is a strong feeling that this particular bush camp will be closed down.

BOOKING SYSTEM AND FEES

Following on from this, discussion was then had around the fact that for many the booking system and fee structure doesn’t work for them and the possibility that bush camping will continue to grow be it for financial reasons or the simple requirements that some have in regard to camping. As was noted, the booking and fee system is not a PV strategy and wasn’t actually on the table to discuss at this meeting. This is a State government system. Still, it was an important thing to note, for PV to understand some of the continuing issues and thoughts of visitors to the park. Of note: State government is currently looking at the booking system of the parks so Watch this space!

Space doesn’t permit me to highlight every point discussed at the meeting but other topics did include Bouldering and its sudden growth and what that might mean for the park. The other user groups had the opportunity to learn a little more about it although personally, I think that there is probably room for some more education in this department.

All in all, the workshop was a good opportunity to hear other stakeholders interests and concerns in the park and what their suggestions might be for moving forward. Thanks must go to the Halls Gap Parks Victoria team for continuing to involve the community in discussions around forward planning. It is not an easy process to balance budget and resources with the needs and wants of the many diverse users. I look forward to discussing further many of the topics we broached.