Parks Victoria Rock Climbing Update Grampians FAQs

Parks Victoria have issued a FAQ page which more clearly states the current status of climbing sites in the Grampians National Park.

 

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Grampians Update 18 March 2019

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.

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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.

Simon Talbot
Parks Victoria – COO

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Our understanding at this stage is that:

  • Rangers will issue fines if you climb  at the eight key focus sites where signage has been put up
  • Rangers can inform you that you should not climb in the SPAs outside of the eight focus sites (blue squares on the first map issued by PV) as part of an education process, but will not fine you. You will be fined if you litter, cut, remove or damage vegetation, light fires outside of designated fireplaces, interfere with any cultural heritage or rock art in these areas,deface or drive off track. These rules and penalties are applied across the GNP, not just the SPAs.
  • Further assessments of other sites within the SPAs will be undertaken. If areas are deemed too sensitive and are to be closed, before this happens there will be ‘education’ and information provided to the community before signage and enforcement occurs.

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.

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WHAT CAN YOU DO?

PETITION
The Grampians Access Working Group has created a petition.

PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE TO YOUR NETWORKS.

  • Most important: respect all bans that have been put in place by Parks Victoria. If you hear of anyone who is planning to climb in any of these areas, please inform them of the bans.
  • If you have skills that you think might be useful to the VCC, become a volunteer and assist our efforts. Contact cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au
  • You can become a member of the VCC here. The VCC is the organisation that administers CliffCare.
  • Donate directly to CliffCare and support our efforts in advocacy, environmental projects and education.
  • Share you concerns with your local MP via a letter, email or phone call. Consider sending a letter to the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio and Emma Kealy, local MP for Lowan (includes the GNP). In this letter you should highlight: your involvement in climbing, how the ban affects you and your community, and any concerns you might have regarding the lack of consultation by PV with the climbing community prior to introducing the bans. We think it is helpful for climbers to acknowledge the value and significance of environmental and cultural concerns, and that through proper consultation, we would like to work towards a win-win solution for all stakeholders.

If you have other questions that you feel are not answered here, please feel free to email us.

Grampians Access Working Group – New Map Statement

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:

  • PV will be implementing the Special Protection Areas at eight key focus sites. These sites are as follows: Gondwanaland, the Gallery, Millennium Caves, Billimina Area, Billywing Buttress, Cave of Man Hands, Little Hands Cave and Manja Area. PV has informed us that these sites have been closed as rock climbing activity has resulted in impacts to environmental and cultural values and evidence of damage has been assessed and documented. Signage will be placed at these locations by mid-March that explain the reasons why and the law that pertains to it. Penalties will occur at these sites if closures are ignored.
  • PV has noted that, while immediate action is required to address current impacts, a review of the Grampians National Park Management Plan including SPAs is needed. They have noted their intention to work with the climbing community via a Stakeholder Reference group. Members of the the Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG) will be part of this. This group will provide insight and evidence, of the importance of a diverse range of climbing opportunities in the park and will seek to identify if there are any issues of environmental or cultural significance where climbing could impact. The work of the reference group will then help to guide how PV manages climbing access across the park including that in the current SPAs.

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?

  • Most important: respect all bans that have been put in place by Parks Victoria. If you hear of anyone who is planning to climb in any of these areas, please inform them of the ban.
  • If you have skills that you think might be useful to the VCC, become a volunteer and assist our efforts. Contact cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au
  • You can become a member of the VCC here: https://vicclimb.org.au/join/. The VCC is the organisation that supports CliffCare, or you can donate to CliffCare directly here: https://cliffcare.org.au/about/donate/

If you have other questions that you feel are not answered here, please feel free to email: cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au


Thank you
GRAMPIANS ACCESS WORKING GROUP

 

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019-1

 

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019-2

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019-3

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019-4

 

 

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019

Grampians Closed Climbing Sites Map

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:

CLOSED
The Gallery
Gondwanaland
Millenium
Billywing Buttress
Billimina Area
Little Hands Cave
Cave of Man Hands
Manja Area

Grampians NP-Focus area final map

Grampians NP-Focus area final map

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.

Thank you.