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


Clean Up Australia Day – March 3 & 4 Grampians & Burnley Bouldering Wall


It is fast approaching. There will be a GRAMPIANS CLEAN UP Day on SATURDAY 3RD MARCH and once again, we are looking for some volunteers to help with some areas around the Grampians. As well as regular volunteers, we are also looking for a couple of accredited climbers(guides etc) that will be able to abseil in a couple of tourist locations to get to ledges where rubbish tends to accumulate. Please drop me a line if you can help in any instance. And for those who will be heading out climbing that day, it would be great if you could put aside a little time, take a bag for the walk in and around and clear any rubbish you may find. I’d love some photos!

And if you are city side? Ben Wright has organized a VCC cleanup at the Burnley Bouldering wall environs on SUNDAY 4TH MARCH. Many hands, light work as they say.…


Previous clean up days:

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.

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.



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


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.


Revegetation Project – Pines Campground & Beyond. The Planting #1

As noted in the previous blog post, the planting took place on Saturday 11th and Tues 14th June. On Saturday, members of the climbing community and park users turned up at the Pines Campground to put the callitris glaucophylla  in the ground. VCC member Ollie Sherlock who originally gathered the seed from around the Plaque wall area and grew the plants, was also in attendance. Many thanks to Louise Shepherd from Friends of Arapiles and Zoe Wilkinson from Parks Victoria who directed proceedings on the morning and with the perfect weather also turning up, it made for a great event. Huge thanks to all the volunteers, those who emailed me in response to the call out and those who read the posters and just rocked up. This project is a collaboration between CliffCare/VCC, Friends of Arapiles and Parks Victoria.

On Tuesday, the young kids of the area who attend the Bush Kinder helped to plant the remaining 8 trees in the Pharos Gully track area. Some were used around the newly rehabbed area to the right of the main track and others were used along the main track to help define the track line. Another fine weather day and the kids loved having a dig, hammering a stake and watering the young plants. Thanks to Jane Wilkinson, her assistants and all the lovely kids from the Bush Kinder. I certainly enjoyed it as much as they appeared to also!

These pines are indigenous to the area and whilst they do take a while to mature, they are the first of a number of plantings that will be occurring in the campground and surrounds.

If you camp at Arapiles and usually have left over water when you leave, take the opportunity to give the plants a water by using your leftovers