On their way to a gym near you.
Today is the day people! ClimbForGrampians. All the listed climbing businesses in Victoria and South Australia have come together to help raise funds and awareness around the access work happening for the Grampians. Get on down to one of the gyms or buy yourself something nice. Today is also the official launch date of the ACCESS IS NO ACCIDENT – CliffCare Education Project. This is not just about the Grampians. This is about what we need to do as a user group for sustainable climbing into the future in the Grampians or wherever else we may climb. CliffCare would like to extend a huge thanks to all who have been involved in organizing this and the accompanying education campaign launch of posters and workshops and to all the climbers taking part
ACCESS IS NO ACCIDENT. Developed by Tracey Skinner (@CliffCare), Simon Madden & Ross Taylor (@verticallifemag), Florence Seow & Indie Ladan (@northsideboulders), the campaign highlights actions that you can take to minimise your impact as a climber on the environment and help protect your access to crags. Along with the poster launch there will be workshop sessions at a number of gyms on crag etiquette. The workshops have been developed by Florence Seow, they are free and run by volunteers.
For every person who climbs at one of the participating gyms listed below, $5 will be donated to CliffCare.
Show up and show your support!
See below for a list of participating gyms and details. Each participating gym’s in-house event activities may vary. Contact the gym for further details.
Adelaide’s Bouldering Club
Cliffhanger Indoor Rock Climbing Gym
The Lactic Factory
North Walls Indoor Climbing
The Rock Adventure Centre
Urban Climb Collingwood
The Wilderness Shop*
9 Degrees Lane Cove
*Participating retailers donating %10 of retail sales revenue.
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….
WANT TO PRINT THE POSTERS FOR DISPLAY?
We have been communicating regularly with PV over the past week and a half to obtain clarification regarding the closures. Further information provided by PV to some climbers have led many to believe that climbing could occur in the wider SPAs outside of the 8 key focus sites, if certain rules were followed but ranger actions on the ground and conflicting information from other PV offices showed this to be otherwise.
We can now provide the most recent email statement provided by Simon Talbot, COO of Parks Victoria. From our understanding, conditions are still as noted in previous statements but we have highlighted one clarification in Simon Talbot’s statement around infringements for climbing in SPAs.
The Grampians National Park Management Plan outlines the Special Protected Areas that have been in place since 2003 where rock climbing is prohibited and hiking and picnicking is permitted. The recent maps released also include an additional 29 protected areas making up 1.2 per cent of the National Park. Protected Areas are assigned due to their cultural significance or flora and fauna values.
The increase in activity and changes in climbing techniques have impacted irreplaceable cultural and environmental assets to a level where enforcement is necessary to preserve these special areas. Parks Victoria is currently undertaking enforcement activities to prevent rock climbing at eight key locations where signage is installed. Parks Victoria has a legislative obligation to protect these special values. At all times, we ask for your support in leaving no trace, using clean climbing techniques and encouraging your peers to do the same.
In broader Special Protected Areas, outside those eight key locations, Parks Victoria is sharing the information materials on rock climbing and undertaking enforcement activity relating to other activities not permitted in any National Park including cutting or damaging vegetation (for instance to make or enhance tracks), lighting fires outside of designated fireplaces, depositing litter, interfering with Aboriginal cultural heritage such as rock art or any damage to rock faces such as drilling holes. We are not enforcing no rock climbing activity in broader Special Protected Areas at this stage and will communicate if anything changes.
We acknowledge the physical, social and economic benefits that climbing brings to our communities and understand the rock climbing community cares passionately about the Grampians National Park.
Over the coming months, Parks Victoria will be reviewing the Grampians National Park Management Plan. A Stakeholder Reference Group will be established where Parks Victoria will meet with affected partners, Licenced Tourism Operators, stakeholder groups and local businesses – including the rock climbing community. Special Protection Area boundaries may change.
Parks Victoria – COO
Our understanding at this stage is that:
We are investigating further the reports that signage has occurred in a non key focus site and will keep you up to date.
Some previous messaging also noted that damage to vegetation through the use of drop mats would be an offence. We would suggest that the use of bouldering mats is confined to rocky and non vegetated areas.
The messaging coming from PV has not aligned with information varying between Head Office and local staff members on the ground in the Grampians, and this has made it increasingly difficult to address the issues that we have been informed has led to the bans (i.e., cultural heritage and environmental protection). There have been some positive discussions about moving forward with the Stakeholder Reference Group that PV are initiating, and what the working group would like to achieve from this. The working groups hope is that the Stakeholder reference group is being established so that other sites within the wider SPA areas can be investigated further in collaboration with us. The working group will continue to engage with PV, bringing with it the concerns of the wider climbing community and continue to ensure our involvement in these discussions and the feedback we have provided, is taken on board.
For us, the protection of cultural and environmental values within the park is still key and we don’t want to lose sight of some of the issues that have brought us to this place of change. We have much in the pipeline with regards to education for the climbing community that we will be sharing in the months to come. We hope this will contribute to ensuring sustainable climbing and bouldering in the park. We also continue to work on building relationships with Traditional Owners. We continue to work on understanding the legislative framework that determines the rights and responsibilities of user groups to access the park, both now and into the future.We will continue to do as we are doing now: working towards greater transparency in decision-making processes from land managers, ensuring that decisions are fair and right, reasons for closures are justified, and that the cultural and natural values of that park are respected throughout this process.
Please be assured that we will update you on our progress, and will continue to work toward greater certainty regarding access for climbers in the Grampians. We make a commitment to providing the climbing community with accurate updates, sharing information that we feel is reliable and can be confidently shared with the community. CliffCare and the VCC remain committed to collaboration with all parties and to ensuring that the climbing community’s concerns are represented as we navigate through the challenges resulting from these closures.
STAY IN THE LOOP
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WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The Grampians Access Working Group has created a petition.
PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE TO YOUR NETWORKS.
If you have other questions that you feel are not answered here, please feel free to email us.
Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG)
New Map Statement
Parks Victoria (PV) has now released a set of maps that show the extent of new Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in the Grampians National Park/Gariwerd. Alongside the already identified SPAs in the Western end (Victoria Range), these newly outlined areas cover a substantial amount of the climbing sites in the park.
There is still some confusion and a lack of clarity around some of the information presented to the climbing community and there are answers we don’t yet have to give you. We are, however, committed to continuing to work hard and thoughtfully to bring you further information.
The information we currently have:
GAWG are committed and hopeful that this map release is the beginning of a collaborative process with land managers and the Traditional Owners of Gariwerd and that a nuanced approach will create an effective access framework that works for all.
As explained above, GAWG are working on many of the concerns that climbers have noted. We are very mindful of the sensitivities involved and wish to be as respectful as possible to all parties. We would also ask the climbing community to be patient while our team of dedicated volunteers work on immediate issues as well as long term sustainable climbing options. It deserves a well considered and thoughtful approach and we intend to continue on this path. We are committed to sharing information that is helpful to the community rather than unsubstantiated comment.
Climbers care deeply about Cultural Heritage and acknowledge the strong connection Traditional Owners have to Country. They are sensitive to environmental values in the park and we believe that with the right information provided to us, we can be a great ally. We would welcome the opportunity to work together through a consultative and collaborative approach to climbing access in the Grampians National Park/Gariwerd.
What can you do to help?
If you have other questions that you feel are not answered here, please feel free to email: email@example.com
GRAMPIANS ACCESS WORKING GROUP
Grampians access: What is happening?
Some climbers have expressed concern or confusion about who the people or organisations are that are representing climbers’ interests. As a user-group, we’ve flown under the radar for a long time, which has meant we’ve had a lot of freedom, equally it means that we’re not very well prepared for an event such as the banning of climbing in some areas in the Grampians. However, that situation is changing, and there are a lot of people very busily working to organise a response to Parks Victoria’s recent actions.
As part of that response, we realise it’s important for climbers to understand who is representing them and what is being done on their behalf.
WHO IS REPRESENTING CLIMBERS?
Victorian Climbing Club (VCC)
Tracey Skinner, the VCC’s Access Officer in charge of running CliffCare, the body that works to manage access state-wide
Paula Toal, VCC President
Steve Monks, long-time member
Nina Scott-Bohanna, communications
Western Victorian Climbing Club (WVCC)
Adam Merrick, committee member and editor of The Bolder
Local Climbing Representatives
Adam Demmert, roped climbing representative
Simon Weill, bouldering representative
VCC is seeking legal assistance to better understand the regulatory landscape.
Vertical Life magazine
Simon Madden, Editor; Ross Taylor, Editor
WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPLES THAT WE THINK ARE IMPORTANT TO CLIMBERS?
In negotiations with Parks Victoria and other groups, we think that the following principles are important to recognise:
We are working hard to ensure we put in place – and effectively communicate – further guidelines and processes to ensure that we protect and care for these sensitive sites and our beloved climbing areas. As part of that, we believe the following steps need to be taken to peacefully resolve this situation:
As part of a respectful process, we do not believe that these bans can be overturned quickly, climbers will need to be patient as we work through this process. But, if we want long-term access to these areas and to ensure we can maintain access to other areas, it is worth taking our time to understand the problems so that we can come to solutions that work for all parties.
WHAT IS BEING DONE TO REPRESENT CLIMBERS?
HOW CAN YOU FIND OUT WHAT IS HAPPENING?
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Parks Victoria have now sent us the map on the 8 key areas that they noted would be closed to climbing. There are 8 sites identified by blue squares that are the closed sites. At this stage we don’t have any information accompanying the map that notes that other areas in the area are out of bounds. We have interpreted this that climbing can occur in the other areas. We have asked for information to clarify this further but we are interpreting the map provided as:
Little Hands Cave
Cave of Man Hands
At this current time, climbing can continue at other sites as long as park rules are followed. FYI, please also note new Special Protection Zones. If this information changes, we will update immediately. We would like to stress that further climbing and recreation sites in the Grampians are undergoing assessment and review and care should be taken as always. Please respect all environmental and cultural values in the park. If you are not sure, don’t do it. Please respect all closures and any other park rules and regulations. Ignoring these could jeopardise access to other areas and affect access negotiations. VCC and CliffCare along with other representatives from the community will continue to work with land managers and other parties, to ensure that the best outcome for the parks values and climbers interests can be obtained.