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.
http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/plenty-gorge-park/plans-and-projects/plenty-gorge-park-master-plan

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.

 

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Access & Environment Report November 2017

The following is an edited and updated article of an announcement I put out to the general climbing community 3 weeks ago (25th October) https://cliffcare.org.au/2017/10/25/black-range-grampians-cease-bolting-request/ With a little more time, I have added some more information that gives you something further to add into your own conversations and will hopefully inform you better when you climb or when contemplating route development. This focuses heavily on cultural heritage especially given the recent issues noted below. Now, more than ever, cultural heritage informs much of how it can be used – whether you climb with a rope, boulder or develop routes.

Black Range and Black Ians (Lil Lil) Cease Bolting Request
After some concerning emails from cultural heritage teams, traditional owners and Parks Victoria, I am now putting the request out that all further route development requiring xed protection, cease in the Black Range. This Cease Bolting request also includes Black Ians (Lil Lil) in the Red Rock Bushland Reserve.

BLACK RANGE – It appears, the phrase ‘build it and they will come’ has taken o in the general Black Range area with more bolted routes appearing. The most recent was discovered, by cultural heritage teams and other park users in October. This is in the Black Range proper area There are a number of routes, one adjacent to a hand stencil in the cave/rock shelter where a large amount of rock art exists and one which is next to the art site. Actions are being put in place to remove these bolts and look at rock repair. Due to the very sensitive nature of the area, extreme care must be taken in the removal and repair to prevent further damage. This particular shelter site contains a large amount of rock art motifs. There are also also a number of other registered sites in the general area that contain artwork. Whilst specifics aren’t and often can’t be given, it is noted on the Black Range park notes that the area is one of significant cultural values and spiritual connection for traditional owners.
https://wordpress.com/page/cliffcare.org.au/1865

BLACK IANS – As many of you may be aware, there were recent issues with graffiti in the cave at Lil Lil (Black Ians) which also houses artwork. A major graffiti removal workday took place. This required specialist work to look after the sensitive artwork. At the time, there was also concern over the amount of fixed protection that had been placed in the cliff in recent years. One bolted route in particular was directly over another art site. This particular route after discussion with developers, had the bolts removed. There are in fact 5 registered cultural heritage sites at last count at Lil Lil/Black Ians. As noted on the Welcome sign at the site, it contains significant cultural values.
https://cliffcare.org.au/grampians/black-ians-lil-lil/

GRAMPIANS – This has brought the discussion of bolting practices in the parks, being the Greater Grampians (this includes Mt Arapiles), firmly back into the limelight, but this time there is a definite push to put some processes in place. This topic is now on the table and I invite you all to think about it. I will be putting out more communications in the very near future and I’m thinking some kind of simple forum platform where the climbing community can provide feedback. For all of those who do engage in route development, I would like to suggest, considering the current climate, to be thoughtful. I am also keen to hear your thoughts be it online or via email.

The Grampians and the parks within that greater area are important to all of us be we climbers, walkers, 4wders or those who work looking after the park as land managers. And we all want to do what we do and how we want to do it. But compromises will be part of this discussion.

For Traditional owners and this land, there is an even bigger spiritual connection. Moving forward, joint management of the parks will take place and indeed already, engagement with the land managers occurs. Traditional owners concerns about this site and others ongoing, need to be taken on board

Please remember, that these discussions will involve a number of parties so respectful conversation is encouraged.

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FOR YOUR INFORMATION. EDUCATE YOURSELF.

All of this information is out there. Part of being a climber is being a responsible outdoor user. Do more than just climb or develop a route. Find out about what and where you are climbing and what rules, regulations, guidelines and sensitivities are attached to the site/ park. CliffCare updates information regularly, route databases are starting to contain more access info and Parks Victoria website has park notes for most of its parks. Cultural heritage sites occur throughout the Grampians and although not restricted to just caves and shelters, these locations do have a higher likelihood that some kind of cultural heritage will be found, especially artwork.

All Cultural Heritage is managed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act (2006) which places rules and restrictions around registered sites including Rockart, Shelters and other values(Scarred trees etc). This is on public and private land.

Red Rock Bushland Reserve

Black Ians/Lil Lil is a part of Red Rock Bushland Reserve. This is a Crown Land Reserve which means there is a balance between values and recreation. Cultural heritage within this reserve though, is managed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act (2006) which places rules and restrictions around registered sites – rock art, shelters and other values such as scar trees etc. This reserve has significant cultural values so care and respect should be taken when climbing. Please refrain from developing climbs that use fixed protection. This will impact access. CEASE BOLTING REQUEST currently in place https://cli care.org.au/grampians/black-range/ Please do not camp in the cave. Do not have campfires in the cave. Do not graffiti the rock.

Black Range State Park

Black Range State Park is scheduled under the National Park Act which means it is similar to the Grampians and Arapiles Reservation. These parks have management plans which inform how they can be used.

Significant Aboriginal cultural places including rock shelters, rock art, quarries and scar trees occur here. Traditional occupation centred on natural resources such as water, plant and animal foods and rock outcrops for shelter, artwork and stone tool manufacturing.

Again, Cultural heritage within these parks is still managed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act (2006)

Please do not camp in the caves/rock shelters. Do not have campfires in the cave/rock shelters. Do not graffiti the rock.

 

Obligations of rock climbers and land managers under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006

For the appropriate protection and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage in areas utilised by rock climbers, Aboriginal Victoria considers it crucial that rock climbers and land managers are aware of their obligations under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (the Act). All Aboriginal places and objects in Victoria are protected by the Act. The Act states that a person must not do an act that harms or is likely to harm Aboriginal cultural heritage. It is important that rock climbers realise that climbing related activities like touching rock art panels, inserting a bolt, and lighting campfires in rock shelters have the potential to interfere or even destroy Aboriginal places, especially rock art sites. Very often the rock art is faded and difficult to see and it is very easy to accidentally cause harm to these significant places. The loss of these sites, and the resulting loss of Aboriginal history, culture and heritage, would be a loss to all Victorians and cause great distress to Traditional Owners. Current maximum penalties for harming Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria is $1,585,700 (as of 1 July 2017).

Please contact local land managers at Parks Victoria on 131963 or DELWP on 136186 for further information to ensure that Aboriginal heritage is not accidentally harmed by your activities.

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One of the many examples of rock art that occur in the Black Range. Some are not so noticeable as this one and are faded and often only seen once one is aware it is there.

Grampians Bouldering Festival Fundraiser

Huge thanks to Vertical Life and the participants of the Grampians Bouldering Festival. Participants dug into their pockets for comp entry donations and the team from Vertical Life have further donated some funds from the festival. A total of  $500 is now winging its way to the CliffCare coffers. I was invited by Ross and Simon to give a quick early morning speech to the slightly awake masses. I’m not sure the coffee had kicked in yet but I think I got a few words out that made sense.

Great to have been involved in some small way and from all accounts, it was a great success. Thanks all for taking on board the ‘Please don’t do this’ speech.

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Good morning wake up speech. Photo: Kamil Sustiak

North Grampians Reopening Update Sept 2015

This update is a more detailed one than the previous one that circulated on Facebook late last week. The update is also available to download.

People – it has been a long time coming, and the recovering areas thank you for your patience. As of the 18th September, most of the climbing areas in the North Grampians still closed, will once again open. These areas though, are still fragile and deserve to have a little extra thought given, if and when you decide to head there. The Mt Difficult Range is still in a very fragile state and because of this, some of the closures here will remain in place, except for those cliffs listed. Check out the list below and please continue to read the care info following it. Thank you all in the climbing and bouldering community who have been understanding of the closures and have been actively promoting it to others. Lots of other areas have seen renewed interest. Whilst Nature will continue to throw these events at us, it is obvious that there are always enough cliffs and boulders to go around.

To aid the long term recovery of the Northern Grampians there is a general closure in place for rock climbing throughout the Mt Difficult Range, except for the main climbing areas stated below. Please support the long term recovery of fire affected areas by remaining out of any closed sites. See closure map for further detail. While Parks Victoria regrets the need to enforce closures, substantial fines will be imposed on those found in any closed, fire affected areas.
Open and accessible rock climbing and bouldering areas in the Northern Grampians
Hollow Mountain Area
Barc Cliff
, Gunn Buttress
, Battlescarred Blocks / The Ammo Shop, Amnesty Wall Area
, Andersens
, Clicke Area (incl. Kindergarten routes) The Kindergarten (bouldering) Expedition Crag, 
Turtle Rocks, 
Sandinista Cliffs, 
Pensioners Wall Area, 
Red Wall Area incl Echoes Block, Loopeys
, Hollow Mountain Cave, 
Legoland, 
Cut Lunch Walls
, Koalasquatsy Wall
Tribute Wall
, The Dungeon, 
Bad Moon Rising Wall
Van Dieman’s Land, Rambla Wall,  A-Frame Boulder

Summerday Valley
Flying Blind. Wall of Fools, Back Wall Bowler Boulder

  • *Note closures are in place to Main wall, Left wall, Bird wall and Calcutti crag and others east of Summerday Valley due to threatened plant species regeneration, cultural heritage protection and trail degradation.Mt Stapylton Amphitheatre
    Northern Wall, Central Buttress, Sabre Gully, 
Grey and Green Walls, Taipan Wall
    Spurt Wall, 
Bouldering Buttress, Lower Taipan, 
Afterglow Wall, Afterglow Boulders
,The Plaza Strip,
The Snake Pit
, Trackside Boulders. Citadel
. Ground Control Caves, Cave Club, 
Between the Sheeps, Spurt Wall (Bouldering), The Titanic (Bouldering)
    Flat Rock Area
    West Flank / Wall of Fuels, Bellepheron Wall
,Epsilon Wall
,Bouldering
    Cloud Cuckoo Land
,
    Note: new access track between flat rock, the kindergarten and Andersons via Bellepheron wall.Mt Zero Area
    Pangaea Walls, Toolondo Waters, 
4 Cornered Crag, 
Mt Zero Summit Cliff, Mount Zero West WallsIskra Crag
    Flower Power Block, Shadow Buttress,  Emu Crag
, Sunstroke Area
, Pigs in Space Buttress, Main West Face, Dolgoruki Wall
    First Tier, 
Second Tier, 
Third Tier
, North Western Outcrop, Eastern Walls
    36 Chambers
, Dolgoruki Wall and Three Tiers

    Asses Ears Area
    Sunset Crags, 
The Secret Crags
, Cherub Wall
, Maul Wall, 
Wallaby Rocks, 
Conifer Wall
, Geranium (Brim) Springs, Porcelain Wall
,Wallaby Rocks
,Joey Blocks

    Pohlner track and Smith Road Area
    The Rust Bucket, Martini Rock, Worship Wall, Point 447 ,Bordel Buttress, Mt Emu
    The Crows Nest, The Eyrie
, The Unnamed Cliff, An Unnamed Cliff, Olive Grove,
    Cave Of Ghosts Cliffs, Ghost Block,
The Olive Cave,
The Ravine

  Mt Stapylton Campground area
Campground Boulders

  • *******************************************

    CLOSED CLIMBING AREAS

    Eastern Mt Difficult Range
    No Mans Land, Heatherlie Heights, Cape Canavera,l Woomera
    The Promised Land / The Pine Plantation, Cliff Lebanon,
The Heavens, 
Lower Heavens,
    Lunar Walls, The Tim Tams

  • North West Mt Difficult Range
    Sickle Wall
, Mawson Slab, 
Mt Difficult Cliff, Epaminondas Buttress, Troopers Creek Cliff, Mt Difficult Summit ,Mt Bloody ImpossibleMt Stapylton Campground
    Cave
, Sentinel Wall
, The Guardhouse,  Warden Wall , Titanic Boulder, Doddery Rock, Mt Pleasant
,The Rockwall Area ,Briggs Bluff AreaNE Mt Zero Range
    Golton Rocks -
Cave Cliff
, Wave Wall (aka The Sundeck) / The Sun Deck  The Sun Gate,
Golton Wall, 
Gog-Magog Crag, 
G-Land, 
Watchmen Wall, 
Coppermine Track Cliff
    *NOTE – The Black Range and Mt Talbot (west of the Grampians) remain closed due to fire.
You can help support sustainable climbing in the Grampians by considering the following:
  • Keep in mind that any damage caused now will remain long term. Stay on designated tracks – any off track walking can impact soil stability and the regeneration of vegetation. Spread of weeds and other pathogens can occur by foot traffic in fragile soils and recovering moss and seed beds. Please don’t create short cuts or new tracks, particularly in steep gullies
  • Only climb in open and accessible areas and keep group numbers low – Avoid taking large groups into small crags or areas where there are no designated tracks
  • Consider other options – There are many climbing and bouldering sites within the Grampians. By giving these fire affected areas some time to recover they will be here to enjoy in the future
  • Think about your safety – tree risk and unstable soils are present across all fire affected areas.
    Please remember your climbing etiquette when in the Grampians National Park:
  • Respect other climbers and park visitors
  • Stick to established tracks and avoid damaging or removing vegetation
  • Many areas have significant Aboriginal cultural sites, please respect this unique cultural landscape by 
only climbing in established areas
  • Avoid excessive chalk and be mindful of cleaning
  • No chipping of rock or new bolting
  • Carry out all rubbish
  • Use toilets provided
  • Other accessible rock climbing areas in and around the Grampians:
  • Victoria Range (Please respect cultural heritage and recovering fire affected areas
  • Mt William Range (Seven Dials area)
  • Serra Range (Including Bundaleer and Mt Rosea)
  • Wonderland Range
  • Mt Arapiles
    For up to date climbing access reports visit http://www.cliffcare.com.au
    For up to date fire recovery information sheets and general park information visit http://www.parks.vic.gov.au phone 13 1963 or call into Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap, open 9am-5pm daily.
  • The closest camping option in the National Park is Plantation Campground, approximately 10km north of Halls Gap, or private accommodation in the Northern Grampians area.
  • Bush camping in closed fire affected areas is not permitted.

PLEASE NOTE: CAMPGROUND BOULDERS NOTED AS CLOSED IN THE PV UPDATE IS OPEN. THIS OFFICIAL DOCUMENT WILL BE UPDATED SHORTLY.

Sept 2015 Grampians National Park Rock Climbing Update v2

Sept Fire Recovery Map Nth Grampians_010915

Grampians National Park Update Sept 2015 v2

Grampians Update – Re-openings and Bouldering August 2015

As Spring approaches, the number of enquiries  I am receiving regarding closures and re-openings in the Grampians has increased. I am hoping to have some solid dates for this very shortly but, the indicators are good – aiming for a Spring re-opening in many of the areas. And first up, let me say that the response and care from the climbing community, of the closed areas has been impressive. And duly noted. For your interest please find the most recent update regarding climbing and bouldering areas following this article.

What is also very obvious is that the popularity of bouldering continues to grow., and quite noticeably at that. While this is great for the sport, for encouraging people to get outdoors and get physical with nature, it also means that there will be more human traffic that the areas and tracks in have to deal with. And this is really where we need to work hard to get some mindsets in place with those using the areas now and also those that will come in the future. This is so important when it comes to the environmental impact that these areas will inevitably have to deal with. We should do everything we can to minimize it – for the sake of the environment we love to climb in and those that will come after us, and also for the continued access that we currently enjoy. I don’t believe that the land managers we currently deal with want to just blanket ban climbing and bouldering so that the issues don’t occur and it doesn’t have to be dealt with. I do believe though that some of the concerns they have around traffic levels and impact, especially in more sensitive areas, are real and deserve to be addressed thoughtfully. This does mean taking into account the rights we have as recreational users, but there are also a suite of other rights and park values that land managers are required to manage. The Grampians is a National Park and one of its main goals (and for those that manage it) is to conserve its environmental values. So anything that contributes to more human usage immediately will be a concern. It is also an area that contains the largest amount of cultural heritage sites and has a strong indigenous community attachment to it. Again – anything that contributes to more human usage has the possibility of hindering the preservation of these sites and therefore destroying precious indigenous history in the process. All of this must be taken into account when managing the park.

Climbing and bouldering is now a very accepted form of recreational activity in the park, and for the most part, does not occur in visitor managed areas. Visitor managed areas = hardened surfaces, tracks etc.and budgets for staff and resources (minimal as they are!) And for climbers and boulderers – that probably sits a bit better for their experience. But if we want this, it also means we need to take on a role whereby we are constantly assessing our behavior and also the environment we are accessing. And when need be, we need to make adjustments – sometimes maybe even a little unpopular with others. I also believe that we can continue to engage in our recreational activity and still look after the environmental values of the park. As always, education is the key. And it’s not a one poster, one season kind of thing where the information gets put out there and that’s it. It’s a constant as new people continue to enter the sport.

Harking back to the first sentence of the second paragraph – very obvious is that the popularity of bouldering continues to grow. New areas are being developed around the Grampians. Some are in areas that can handle the traffic and impact more, and others less so. Getting people to understand this and adjust their behavior willingly, I think, is the key to continued access over time. CliffCare will be working on an educational campaign around bouldering and I am hoping that individuals and climbing related businesses will provide feedback and help when needed. And yes, there will be some posters but more importantly the issues and how to address them is information that is so easily passed on from one person to another. In general conversation the fact that a particular area may be closed at a particular time, and why that might be so. Areas that don’t handle larger groups as well. Suggested behavior when you can see activity of the negative kind. This is the kind of education that has more chance of sinking in.

There will be more of this over the coming months. Any thoughts you may have feel free to drop me a line, write a comment on the blog or facebook and just keep the dialogue going.

Grampians-rock-climbing-update

Early post fire Andersons

Early post fire Andersons