Poster campaign launch – CliffCare Education Project

In the early years of my role as VCC Access & Environment Officer, I started developing an idea for an education project for climbers and climbing. The CliffCare Education Project (CEP). For me, education was always the key for a sustainable climbing future. Being told that you can’t do something, that you can’t climb at a, b or c without having a real understanding of why this might be, seems to me like a lesson in failure. It was around the time of my discussions and negotiations for The Ravine – back in 2009 that the idea was put down on paper. You can see the project outline here – https://cliffcare.org.au/about/education/cliffcare-education-project/

After the 2014 fires in the Grampians, concerns about climbing and bouldering impacts moving into the future, were more present in discussions with land managers. Following a report I put out to the community on bouldering and the education project, Jimmy and Reuben from Lactic and Northside Boulders contacted me offering help with design work for the poster campaign.

And here we are. It’s been a long road (there were a number of stalls) and many thanks must go to those who have put volunteer time and ideas into it over the years. Reuben and Jimmy, Indie Laden(designer), Simon Madden, Ross Taylor, Brett Williams and more recently Florence Seow.

I hope that a stronger education campaign continues on from this. The operative word being continues. The poster campaign represents some key issues we face as a user group and the impacts we need to manage. These are our impacts that we need to educate ourselves on – it is our responsibility. The posters are a visual conversation starting point with the opportunity to provide further educational possibilities as we discuss them in more detail. You can download the posters, print them for display or maybe share with club members etc. With a new CliffCare website on the way, more information on the various issues will be available. In the meantime, posters will soon be up on the current website under the Education tab. www.cliffcare.org.au About > Education.

Now onto the handbook….

 

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All rights reserved © 2019 CliffCare. Illustration by Indie Ladan of Northside Boulders. Content by Tracey Skinner, Simon Madden, Ross Taylor and Florence Seow.

AINA Heritage

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All rights reserved © 2019 CliffCare. Illustration by Indie Ladan of Northside Boulders. Content by Tracey Skinner, Simon Madden, Ross Taylor and Florence Seow.

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All rights reserved © 2019 CliffCare. Illustration by Indie Ladan of Northside Boulders. Content by Tracey Skinner, Simon Madden, Ross Taylor and Florence Seow.

AccessIsNoAccident_FA1000x1000SM_WEB

All rights reserved © 2019 CliffCare. Illustration by Indie Ladan of Northside Boulders. Content by Tracey Skinner, Simon Madden, Ross Taylor and Florence Seow.

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All rights reserved © 2019 CliffCare. Illustration by Indie Ladan of Northside Boulders. Content by Tracey Skinner, Simon Madden, Ross Taylor and Florence Seow.

AINA Overview

WANT TO PRINT THE POSTERS FOR DISPLAY?

DOWNLOAD HERE:

PDF Access Is No Accident – Print

Grampians Update – PV meeting 1st May

Yesterday VCC/CliffCare representatives – Tracey Skinner (Access & Environment Officer), Philipp Hammes (VCC Vice President) and myself (Paula Toal, VCC President) – met with Simon Talbot and other Parks Victoria (PV) staff. The meeting was positive overall. PV outlined the consultative process for the development of the new Grampians National Park management plan which will have representation of the climbing community through a Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) to facilitate the needs and rights of climbers to be protected in the new management plan and secure the legitimacy of climbing in the Grampians.

PV and the Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG is a working group of VCC/CliffCare) have been analysing spatial data to provide clarity as to which crags currently sit within Special Protection Areas (SPA) so that the climbing community has accurate information. The updated map and list of crags will be available soon, as we are only awaiting the PV analyst’s final cross-referencing of the data.

The VCC has taken legal steps to clarify the reasons for the existing bans as a means to understand on what legitimate and ethical basis we could seek to renegotiate access. We are anticipating the formal response to that legal request from Parks Victoria by the end of this week and PV confirmed that response is on track to meet that deadline.

We communicated to PV that we believe the essential next steps include that we have the opportunity to engage with them and Traditional Owners to understand and discuss the reasons for the SPAs and negotiate changes to those boundaries that allow access to our important world-class climbing areas.
 
We also communicated the negative impact the SPA restrictions are having on visitation to the Grampians and crowding at open crags. We particularly highlighted that the loss of many more moderate grade climbing areas is particularly difficult. We spoke at some length about Summerday Valley and PV acknowledged the confusion about this area and asked for us to leave this issue with them for immediate internal consideration. We will follow up on next steps in this regard.

We agreed with PV to commence development of a joint communication strategy to ensure correct representation of the collaboration between the climbing community and PV and address the negative impressions that have been made by the reports in the mainstream media. Simon Talbot also advised that PV plans to disengage with the mainstream media to prevent further confusion and misrepresentation.

PV also shared an update on its activities including the three compliance weekends in the Grampians where rangers were brought in from across the state to undertake compliance activities in the park. PV indicated it spoke with more than 700 individuals and identified 67 offences, only a handful of which were attributed to climbers. The offences attributed to climbers included driving around a locked management gate, driving off track, improper disposal of toilet paper, removing vegetation, climbing in a SPA and an instance where three individuals were found climbing in one of the eight key focus sites which can attract a fine. PV indicated that as yet they have not issued any fines however they are still considering how best to deal with the specific infringement related to the focus sites.

The VCC feels strongly that the best way forward is through a positive collaboration with Parks Victoria and the Traditional Owners. A respectful dialogue between all parties will have the best outlook regarding climbing access in Victoria.

The VCC/Cliffcare and GAWG will continue to update the climbing community about further progress and has commenced a process to engage with other clubs and representatives of the climbing community to develop an effective structure to support representation on the Grampians National Park management plan Stakeholder Reference Group. If you have ideas and suggestions, please let us know.

Paula Toal
VCC President

VCC – https://vicclimb.org.au/?p=1372

GRAMPIANS & CHALK CLEANUPS – A COLLABORATIVE PROCESS

There have been some recent conversations on social media in light of climber impacts and how the community could manage them as we move forward. Many of them make sense and have been used successfully in other parts of the world. We just need to take on board a few aspects not previously considered. And for the time being, hold off those brushes on buildup.

Chalk  buildup and it’s removal is a hot topic on many social media forums. Advice I have received suggests that people do not undertake it at this present time. I have explained a little further below. There will be a time and place for this but let’s do it the right way.

Chalk use and its impact and the conversation around removal has been something that people feel is a very immediate action they could take. Stewardship has always been an integral focus of CliffCare and throughout the years have worked with land managers in this respect. Following a conversation on a social media group about a chalk cleanup, and wanting to further encourage stewardship in the community, I contacted the Rock Art Specialist in the Grampians a while ago to discuss the best way to go about this.

The Climbers method is  scrubbing. Chalk buildup requires scrubbing. A lot of it. With water and maybe some kind of cleaning solution. The issue here is that what lies beneath the chalk could be sensitive be it cultural or environmental and the removal of the chalk buildup could cause damage.  In a park like the Grampians which contains a lot of Cultural Heritage we need to take extra care. Conservation work that has taken place on these kind of impacts previously is a specialised process to ensure that further damage doesn’t occur in the removal.

There also isn’t enough known about the chemical impacts of chalk on either cultural heritage or environmental values. As we move into a space and a process of education and understanding, we need to take this on board. The conversation I had was a positive one. Those cleanups will need to be done but we do need to do it the right way and with the right skills. Let’s be involved in this in an informed way.

Stay tuned in this space.  If anyone would like to be a head research guru in this area, drop me a line cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au

In the meantime, minimize your use of it and gently brush any residue so it doesn’t lead to buildup.

Rockclimbing article and misinformation

Disappointingly, much of the content in the below from Parks Victoria once again fuels the misinformation out there. 

It doesn’t give an informed account of what rock climbing is and provides nothing about the extensive history of the climbing community engaging with land managers.

The comments from PV unjustifiably paint the climbing community as reckless, damaging and unthoughtful. We have engaged PV previously on the misinformation they put out there, and they continue to misrepresent the situation. 

Cultural Heritage and its protection and preservation remain at the forefront of the work we do and we know that the climbing community supports this. PV is also well aware of this through the many years of work and during more recent concerns.

We will be addressing this continuing misinformation at our next planned meeting with PV. We will keep you updated.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/grampian-ban-follows-claims-of-rock-art-damage-in-mecca-for-climbers-20190426-p51hgg.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed

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.

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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.