Camping fees at Victorian parks – Update

For all those wanting a little more info on the fees and online booking system being implemented on 1st July, please see here:

fee sign

Camping fee and system changes at Victorian parks – 1st July 2014

Hi All,

I thought I should remind everyone that as of 1st July, 2014 the camping fee system which includes the new prices and the online booking for sites will be implemented. For Mt Arapiles Tooan State Park this means that you can no longer pay your fees via the fee box. You will need to book a site online.

Fees for Arapiles will continue to be $5 a night with campers free to choose where they wish to camp within the designated campground area, but you will need to do this online.

The signs have been installed and the fee box will be removed soon. See the pictures below.

As yet, I have no official communication to get you any further info. I will post this as soon as it comes to hand. If if people want to make direct enquiries or give feedback then either call 131963 or email

Here is the link to the DEPI which contains the original information

For other parks though, the fees won’t be staying the same. Hefty hikes. Online booking system will also be go for obtaining a camp site

The post which the original proposal

photofee sign

Access & Environment Officer report April 2014


p1040352As the hot weather draws to a close, it’s time to start organising the work days ahead for the year. I recently had a conversation with Walter Braun, our stonemason who has been working on the Pharos Gully at Arapiles.It was only last week, that for the first time he stood on the track where he was working and he could see the section where the downhill part of the track ends. The two ends are now both in sight and the weeks can be counted off as he draws closer to connecting them. At this stage he still has enough rock up there that he can work with as he is digging up quite a lot of useable stone so there will be no need for a working bee come this Easter. Walter will be giving me a heads up when it comes closer to needing some bodies to haul up rock from below. At least it will be cooler by then. I know many of you are hanging out for your yearly weight lifting session – don’t worry, I won’t disappoint and forget you all 🙂

So….what’s happening in the Grampians. It may not seem like much but there is work and discussions going on. The job and road ahead is massive and I am in constant contact with those at PV to see at what stage the works are and how the climbing community can be involved.
 I have to say the feedback and suggestions from many in the climbing community has been brilliant and all of these are taken on and has definitely informed many of the processes. While the work involved to manage the park after a major fire like the Northern Grampians and the previous Vic Range one, is extensive and time consuming, it has also meant that PV are able 
to look at the bigger picture when it comes to repairing and realigning visitor areas in the Grampians. Rather than just fix up things exactly as they may have been before, the closures and work involved enable them to reassess as to whether the original may have been the best option or it was merely a best at the time/situation. It is an opportunity to start afresh. Obviously this
is not just limited to the climbing aspect of the park – there are many user groups to consider as well as the conservation values of the park. This should give you some idea of the grand scale of works that need to be considered. I am with many of you when it comes to frustration at areas being closed for long periods of time. I am in the better position though to actually see and 
hear much of the work that is going on and is needed to get areas open again. Not forgetting of course that many of the areas are closed because they are environmental unstable and sensitive. For most in the climbing community out there, it must seem often like nothing is happening because all seems to be quiet on the western front. Believe me, the work is going on and bubbling away but the list is so very long. I have outlined a few points of discussion I have had recently with my PV contacts:
• Another site visit will be occurring soon to Summerday Valley. This will confirm the realignment of the access track in and the loop track within the valley. A quote on work costs has now been received by PV. After funding has been established work will start on these jobs. Summerday has an approximate closure time of a year in order for it to recover from the fire but in the meantime the work that needs to be done to make it accessible will be ongoing over the year. Previous to the fire, the VCC were successful with a grant to help harden up the Main Wall area. Around near Waxman, the ground was particularly eroded and suffering from the heavy traffic it receives. Dates will be organised soon to undertake this job – most likely towards mid/end of May. I will be confirming these dates shortly.
• Now that Mt Zero car park and Flat Rock are open, this has thrown up the issue of cliffs and crags in the vicinity being accessible. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that they should be accessed yet. Having said that though there are more than likely some cliffs which may be okay for climbing as they weren’t impacted by the fire much. I will be attending a site visit next week to help assess the general area and work out what cliffs will be good to access and those that need to stay on the closed list. The important thing to note here is that the closures relating to those cliffs that are deemed to be in a closed area, need to be respected. If certain cliffs are opened and lead the way towards other climbing areas, the concern is that many climbers will head off to the closed areas regardless. Signage has been noted to be lacking by many in the climbing community. While I personally don’t think that we should be littering every single closed and open track in the Grampians, there is definitely a need to temporarily highlight some of
the areas and tracks into climbing areas with climbing specific info. Respecting these closures goes a long way to showing that the climbing community is onboard when it comes to looking after the park.
• The current closure to the Emu Foot Track (Jananginjawi) still stands and it is important that climbers respect this by only walking into the cliffs accessed along it. Cars must
 be parked outside of the gate. I recently reported that due to feedback from sections of the climbing community, that PV were willing to look at the situation again and see whether something a little more conducive to climbers accessing the cliffs may be found. To confirm – this is still on the table but like many things, it is not simply a matter of one person saying yay and then all is well. As I noted, this decision was one that involved Aboriginal Affairs and local indigenous groups and was decided on before the fires. There is a process that needs to be undertaken, discussions had with a number of groups and then a suitable outcome reached. And to put it into perspective time wise, this doesn’t sit at the very top of the list of things to do – considering the recent fires and the amount of new work that has been generated because of it. The Vic Range is a sensitive area with sensitive issues and must be respected and handled accordingly. I say this with a strong reference to climbing and indeed any other recreational pursuit that occurs within this area. Be patient and we will work through any issues bit by bit. Safe climbing to all, Tracey

Proposed changes to camping & accommodation fees in Victorian Parks. Please have your say!

Many of you may or may not be aware that there is currently a proposal by the Victorian Government/DEPI to increase camping and accommodation fees in all Victorian parks managed by Parks Victoria. This is not the annual camping fee increases which occurs around November each year and has just seen the fees rise. This is a totally different set of fee increases and changes to the camping and accommodation fee system.  See the following:

Victorian National Parks Camping and Accommodation Fees – Regulatory Impact Statement
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has released a proposal for a user-pays approach to charges for camping and roofed accommodation in parks and reserves managed by Parks Victoria.
The new approach is designed to help fund ongoing maintenance and services to ensure that people can continue to enjoy these special places well into the future. Victorians are invited to provide comment on the regulatory impact statement by 22 November 2013.

The Victorian Climbing Club feels that these changes and increases are exorbitant, unmanageable and rather than encourage people to head out camping to the many parks on offer in Victoria, they make it difficult and for many, too expensive to do so. Another of the many downsides of this, is that for those that will continue to make regular trips, this will push more and more out into the park in search of bushcamps (although bushcamping is also set to be user pays) to avoid the fees. This will surely result in more environmental damage as there will be areas not set up to handle the traffic of many people and long term camping impacts. What their plans are for policing and managing the camp fee system is a mystery. Expecting the already resource (financial and people) poor Parks Victoria to police this is ridiculous and will mean that the important job of conserving the natural assets of the parks will be replaced by, what amounts to a parking officer.

The document is a lengthy one and with the variety of changes, many inconsistent, it can seem confusing to understand what this actually means for you in terms of camping fees.  I have attached the documents and relevant links but below are some salient points. The Victorian Climbing Club will be putting in a submission but this is no way counts for the many voices in the climbing community. What is imperative here is that you send in an individual submission. This is a proposal asking for comment. If you don’t like and agree with what is being planned you will need to say something – otherwise you will have to accept the changes they implement. Submissions by the public are often thin on the ground – people will complain on forums, around campfires but rarely does it make it into physical form to reach the people it needs to. Someone else won’t be doing it for you – the numbers will be less rather than more – so we need to turn this around. If you think this is important, not just for you, but for all those who love getting outdoors and camping now and into the future, you must say something. Submissions are required by Friday 22nd November. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy time consuming submission. A short well thought out one will count. I have also included an example letter of a VCC member here. This may give you an idea on how to write it. Try not to write it word for word. Too many of the same will end up only being counted as one. Besides explaining what you don’t like and maybe why, it can also be helpful for the future to explain what you do like. The current ‘special’ allowance that Mt Arapiles has and its special  individual user low fee should be pointed out as something that works and should continue.  I hope all of this helps and encourages you to put your thoughts forward. We are going to need it.

•    Charges will be introduced for bush camping in the Grampians – payable either per person at 9.70 or per undesignated ‘site’ up to 6 people for $19.30
•    Camping at camp grounds in the Grampians will be charged at varying fees depending on the ‘level of facility and service’

o   Stapylton, Plantation, Smiths Mill and Jimmy Creek are classed as ‘high’ and therefore charges will be $48.70 per site of 6 people plus a vehicle. There is no per person rate for campsites rated ‘high’. Individuals or groups smaller than 6 will need to pay the $48.70.
o   Buandik, Troopers Creek, Wannon Crossing, Strachans, Borough Huts, Boreang are classed as ‘mid’ with charges being $37.80 per site of up to 6 people plus a vehicle or alternative a per person fee of $18.90.
o   First Wannon Remote campground is classed as ‘basic/very basic’ and therefore charges will be 19.30 per undesignated ‘site’ up to 6 people for $19.30 or per person at 9.70
o   Overnight walking in the Grampians will be subject to a special fee of $10 per person per night, $9 per school group member plus a booking fee of $15 for groups or $10 per person
•    All camping in the Black Range State Park will be charged using a ‘camping pass’ that can be purchased for overnight a week, a month or annually. Charges for the pass depend on the vehicle with a standard car rate being overnight  – $17.40, a week – $46.40, monthly at $81.10 or Annually at $121.70
•    Mount Arapiles has been classed as a special camping site with special fees – a simple per person rate of $5, with no separate vehicle charges or options to pay per site
•    Brisbane Ranges and Cathedral Ranges – All camping areas classed at ‘mid’ therefore charges being $37.80 per site of up to 6 people plus a vehicle or alternative a per person fee of $18.90.

Mount Buffalo
o   Lake Catani – classed as ‘High’ so charges will be $48.70 per site of 6 people plus a vehicle. There is no per person rate for campsites rated ‘high’ individuals or groups smaller than 6 will need to pay the $48.70.
o   Mount Mcleod and Rocky Creek Camping areas are subject to a special fee – $12.50 per person, $9 per school group member plus a booking fee plus a booking fee of $15 for groups or $10 per person

Some extra points to note:
•    Traditional owners are exempt from fees. How will this be managed – no description in place?
•    Payment of fees is proposed to be via Online booking system with booking and payment to be made prior to camping
•    For those people who just turn up without booking, you will still be required to book online upon arrival. This probably means that you are expected to use your smart phone and pay by credit card. This is obviously assuming that everyone has a smart phone, that there is phone coverage and that you have a credit card. And that the campground is not fully booked out!
•    For those campgrounds without designated sites, like Arapiles, a capacity would need to be defined. How many this will be, is another question that will need to be answered. And once online bookings reach capacity does this mean the system will not accept your booking?
•    Conversely when you make a booking and then turn up but struggle to find a space – how that will be managed?


Written submissions should be forwarded by 5:00pm Friday 22 November 2013 via either of the following:

Camping and Accommodation Fees
Land Management Policy Division
Department of Environment and Primary Industries
Level 3, 8 Nicholson Street


DEPI RIS Page link:

Fact sheet:

RIS executive statement:

RIS statement:

Access & Environment Report(s) November, (Sept & Oct)

My apologies. It has been a seriously busy couple of months at the Access officer desk. Whilst I have been getting all information needed out via social media platforms such as Facebook and forums, I have neglected to post the monthly report. So this is a bumper post that includes my regular report that gets published in Argus

Posted latest report to the earliest, this is mainly for reference purpose and some of the issues have now changed status so will update in a new post shortly. Hmm, if I could just have a few more hours in the day….

It has taken a while, but for the most part, many of the climbing areas previously out of bounds because of the Victoria Range fires are now accessible. Much of the access did hinge on the roads being closed and the listed roads below are now open which means that any of the cliffs accessible from them are open for climbing. Red Rock Road is still closed while it undergoes some final work but hopefully reopening shouldn’t be too far off. You are still able to access the cliffs along that road though by walking in from the Anderson Road intersection.

The cliffs in the Camp of the Emu Foot track area are still out of bounds. This particular area was burnt the worst and the ground really needs time to recover before it is opened to any kind of foot traffic. These cliffs include Eureka Wall, Lost World, Red Sail, Weirs Creek.

Rather than listing every single cliff that is open, the roads and walking tracks below will govern what is open for climbing. If you are not sure, drop me a line and I will let you know

The following roads, walking tracks and visitor sites are now open:
Harrops Track
Billywing Road
Syphon Road
Northern end of Sawmill Track
Victoria Range Track
Goat Track
Buandik Camping Ground and Picnic area
Fortress walking track
Ingleton Springs Picnic area
Glenelg River Road
Chimney Pots Walking Track

The following walking tracks and roads will remain closed until further works are completed:
Billimina walking track
Red Rock Road (you can access cliffs on Red Rock road by parking and walking in from Andersons Road)
Matthews Track
Strachans Campground
Manja Walking track

Just in before Argus sent to printers so have no time or space to add anything further. Keep an eye on the CliffCare and VCC site but please read up and send your comments in. If this goes through, it will mean paying a lot more for camping. In my opinion excessively so! NOTE: Information on this will be added to a new post in the next day or two but PLEASE read up and make your comment submission if you are able to as soon as possible. We really need as many people responding as possible.

Victorian National Parks Camping and Accommodation Fees – Regulatory Impact Statement.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has released a proposal for a user-pays approach to charges for camping and roofed accommodation in parks and reserves managed by Parks Victoria. The new approach is designed to help fund ongoing maintenance and services to ensure that people can continue to enjoy these special places well into the future. Victorians are invited to provide comment on the regulatory impact statement by 22 November 2013.

For more information go to


CLIFFCARE – 2012/2013 AGM Report

The last year has been an eventful but progressive and successful year for CliffCare.
Onground projects:
Working Bees –
Pharos Gully Repair Project – 5
You Yangs Boneseed Rip it Up day -1
Grampians Vic Range Fire Recovery – 5 attempts and 1 working bee for multiple areas.
Climbing Area Access Negotiations
You Yangs – After discussions with Parks Victoria at the You Yangs, a number of changes to restrictions were implented:
The Sunday closure to climbers on Big Rock has been removed.
The permanent seasonal closure of sites on the east of Flinders Peak from August to November was removed.
Particularly exciting though was the reopening of The Lookout at the You Yangs which had been closed to climbing for approximately 25 years.
Arapiles – Camp fee dispute, negotiations and successful outcome
Summerday Valley Repair Project – $
Arapiles Climbing Forum Display – $1,100
A successful partnership with the Banff and Radical Reels film festival running the bar as a fundraising and promotional exposure event. This is a partnership that will be continuing and goes a long way to help fund the projects and costs of CliffCare. It provides a great opportunity for the community to learn more about CliffCare, how it is run and the importance of it for continued access to the cliffs.
New CliffCare logo. Took a little while to get off the ground but CliffCare now has it’s own logo which will hopefully spread the word further out into the climbing community.
Future and Ongoing projects:
Arapiles 50th Anniversary Climbing Forum – Nati Frinj/Cup weekend 2013
Commercial climbing and the community – Bridging the Divide
Summerday Valley Repair Project


Following a very successful workday in the Victoria Range on the 24th August, I am pleased to let everyone know that we are able to access a few of the areas. First up, though, I must thank the 26 people that rocked up on a perfect working bee weather day. (This was about the 5th attempt to get this day off the ground). We had a great selection of people with the local Halls Gap crew, Nati crew, Melbourne and Warrnambool volunteers. Big thanks also to Ross and Simon from Vertical Life/Adventure Types for getting the word out in their circles and helping with providing info. The team I work with at Parks Victoria and Claire being there on the day once again proved the great working relationship we have with them. Please remember that these areas have been impacted by fire. While they may have been the least damaged of the climbing areas, there are sections that have still been quite badly burnt, so extra care really does need to be taken. Don’t go in with large groups, really keep an eye on the track markings such as tape, cairns and delineation. Just be a little more vigilant about keeping to the one track. The teams have assessed each area and for the most part, tracks are the same but there have been some realignments. These are the better, more sustainable options with what we have to work with. Please don’t decide otherwise by creating new tracks and new cairns. Some follow up work will be done on these tracks in another couple of months when more regrowth has been established. Point to note: The Victoria Range has a strong indigenous cultural heritage content and all visitors should be aware of this and take due care and respect when visiting the area.

Due to the recent weather and rainfall, unfortunately much of the planned works by PV for the roads hasn’t eventuated and some of the roads and tracks are definitely bogworthy, so at this present time, roads are still closed. A small extra walk is all that is needed to access a couple of the cliffs. Others require a bit more motivation.

NOTE: In the case of Red Rocks, this access is the new access approach that was established before the fire. Do not cross the paddock – this is private property and no longer allowed. TEMPORARY (Due to road closures)- From the Henty Highway, take Andersons Road. Follow this all the way through to where it intersects with Red Rock Road. Park up here on Andersons Road not Red Rock Rd. This is closed so please respect this closure even though it may seem super easy to just park on it or drive a little way down. We are trying to establish some kind of road access but for now it is not possible.

Red Rocks Pinnacles
Mt Fox
Hollywood Bowl

Turn left and walk a short distance (150m) to a sandy track on the right. This track leads you to all of the above climbing areas and is the permanent access track after the road closures finish. Follow this track for approximately 500m to the intersection. Turn right. Another 70m will get you to the Mt Fox track(cairned) and a further 450m along will get you to the access track to Red Rocks area.
Emu Rock/Emu Cave
Muline and environs is as before (some track realignment) but will require a longer walk from Andersons road to get to the start of the access track.
Gallery/Buandik area – Track here has been cleared and re-established (no foot bridge) but with the road closures, you are going to need to be keen, as access at the current time is only by foot. A big walk. This area can be accessed by the Tower but this area is very wet and boggy at the moment, and we couldn’t get in to assess the track. Once road closures are lifted, I will provide further info on areas such as The Fortress, Chimney Pots and environs. Cliffs around the Camp of the Emu Foot Track will remain closed even after road closures are lifted. These areas were really badly burnt and need to recover. Please respect this.
Cheers, Tracey



Access & Environment Officer Report July 2013

Wow people – I am a bit late in uploading this report. It’s almost time for the August
Sorry. It has been a crazy busy time for me and only seems to be getting busier. Amongst other things, read below and you’ll see why.

2013 is a year of anniversaries. And therefore celebrations. This will be the 60th anniversary of the Victorian Climbing Club. From it’s early beginnings climbing at the Cathedral Ranges all the way through to the development of climbing areas throughout Victoria, from Grampians to Arapiles, Hanging Rock to Black Hill, Werribee Gorge to You Yangs……the list goes on. Look at any guide book and you can be pretty positive that the names you see on many of the first ascents belonged to club members. It took the lead when it came to engaging with land managers also. Those early days were rough in this department – when the rebellious climbing community and often non climbing friendly park managers were not a good mix. But throughout the years, through both positive and negative outcomes, these relationships have grown and matured on both sides, and the club and the community it strives to represent, has for the most part, given access a good name. In 1998, the club made its access position formal by setting up CliffCare and employed an Access officer. While the work done previously by volunteers in the access area was certainly noteworthy, expecting volunteers to commit to longer term engagements with projects and land manager relationships would always be something that could suffer from inconsistency of commitment. And for the evergrowing need and importance of continued access for climbers, this progressive move would ensure that our status as a responsible user group was acknowledged. While I think most people would agree that climbing access in Victoria is on a good wicket at this present time, and I do hope this continues – I do have concerns with the way the park system is heading and maybe the access issues we deal with now will be different to the issues in the future, ie hunting, development etc. Anyway, that’s another story – back to the celebrations.
vcc colour logo (2)Yes, a celebration of everything the club has managed to achieve for itself over these 60 years and for those in the climbing community through its involvement in access. Whether a club is your thing or not, and for many of you reading this in the Argus newsletter, it obviously is – The club still plays a vital role in the bigger picture, its existence has pushed forward climbing in a positive way and I do hope as time goes on, that support for the club continues through its membership as well as in the broader climbing community.

And I did say Anniversaries didn’t I? Plural! Well, this November, Arapiles celebrates its 50th Anniversary of climbing at the mount. We have all heard the stories of Bob and Steve Craddock seeing a photo of Mitre Rock on a poster on a train, and heading out to discover that Mitre was a mere pimple compared to the much larger Mt Arapiles next to it. And the rest is history.

Come the Nati Frinj Festival in Natimuk on the Melbourne Cup weekend in November, there will be a few activities and events to celebrate these two anniversaries.

Photo exhibition – Climbing and Community – Mt Arapiles – presented by the Victorian Climbing Club
50th Anniversary pictorial of climbing at the mount
. From FA on that first weekend through to iconic moments across the years and the people that lived it. This will also be the first stage of an ongoing project to collect and digitalize many photos of Victorian climbing and community.

50th Anniversary Climbing Forum. – presented by Friends of Arapiles, CliffCare, Victorian Climbing Club and Parks Victoria.

This small scale climbing forum will look at climbing at Arapiles over the last 50 years from the sport itself to the environment we use to explore it. Static displays set up within a meeting place (at this early stage, the picnic pavilion area at Araps) across the weekend will encourage people to visit within their own time frames. These displays will cover the many aspects that climbers engage in when they climb. This will culminate in a presentation Monday 4th November evening by a number of notable climbers from the early years, followed by a Q & A style discussion. A lively attitude will be encouraged!  An entertaining and thoughtful approach to climbing then and now, what has and hasn’t changed and what do climbers want and expect from their climbing and the environment they engage in.

VCC 60th Anniversary Dinner

An opportunity for members new, old and past to meet, socialize  drink, eat and celebrate the history of the club. With the 50th anniversary of climbing at Arapiles inextricably linked with the Victorian Climbing Club, these two celebrations will happen together. A toast to many more years to come.

Pharos Gully Repair Project working bee – Sat 27th April, 2013

There will be another working bee at the Pharos Gully on Saturday 27th April. Anzac Day is on the Thursday and many people are planning to take the Friday off as well and make it a great long weekend. Spare an hour and come to the gully to help move a new pile of rocks.
The end of this project is inching ever closer and Walter is going great guns. He can’t do the work though without our help getting the rocks to him.

I will be holding a BBQ for all the volunteers and Bogong Equipment, The Wilderness Shop and the Victorian Climbing Club have donated some prize/giveaways for those who do help out. Update: Mosaic Myotherapy have come on board and given $20 off vouchers to all the volunteers who attend for one of their sessions. Fab! I am keeping my fingers crossed we can make this working bee a big one. Means we don’t have to have another one for quite a while then 🙂
Drop me a line and let me know and for catering purposes if you are attending the bbq whether you are carnivore, vegetarian or vegan. Would hate to not have enough to feed the masses!

WHERE: Mt Arapiles, Pharos Gully
WHEN: Saturday, 27th April 3 -5 pm.
MEET: Bottom of the Pharos gully

If you are looking for some partners to climb with, the VCC are running a combined trip/working bee weekend. See below for the link

More info here:
vcc colour logo (2)