On Tuesday 12 February, we attended a meeting with Parks Victoria and representatives from the climbing community and the Western Victoria Climbing club to talk about rock climbing access in the Grampians.
Parks Victoria advised that eight areas in the western Grampians will be closed to rock climbers. The exact locations of the areas were not provided at the meeting, however, we were told to expect this information within 48 hours.
Signage will be put up at the eight closed areas over the next two weeks and people ignoring the closures will be issued with fines.
As soon as we receive information about the exact locations of the closures, we will make this available. We anticipate the majority are located in the Victoria Range.
Parks Victoria are banning climbing in these areas because Aboriginal Victoria—the organisation responsible for cultural heritage management and protection—believes Parks Victoria have failed to protect cultural sites. Aboriginal Victoria can place large fines on Parks Victoria in these cases.
There are ongoing concerns about damage to cultural sites due to the impact of climbing and bouldering. Two cases of bolting occurring close to rock art in the Black Range have added to the problems.
As well as the exact locations of the closures, we asked for information about the size of the closed areas (where the bans will extend to) and the reasons climbing bans are being placed on these particular areas.
With more information, we hope to be able to prevent other areas being closed to climbing and find ways to work together to protect the park.
The potential for more closures is a real possibility and Parks Victoria told us they plan to look at the impacts of climbing and bouldering in other areas.
As well as damage to cultural heritage, Parks Victoria are very concerned about environmental damage occurring in the park, in particular the active removal of vegetation around boulders, impacts due to bouldering mats on vegetation, and the use of fixed anchors and track clearing.
Parks Victoria plans to create a stakeholder group to help develop a state-wide climbing policy. And also provide input to update the 2003 park management plan for the Grampians, which currently doesn’t include guidance for activities like bouldering.
It’s essential that our response is clear, coordinated and respectful.
We are a legitimate user group of the Grampians National Park and climbing, like many other activities, can exist in a way that doesn’t impact negatively on cultural or environmental values.
Please respect these bans as they will be policed and ignoring the closures could jeopardise access to other areas. We strongly encourage you to familiarise yourself with the information Cliffcare has provided to date about access issues in the Grampians. It can be found on the CliffCare website.
Further information about the locations of closed areas will be provided as soon as we receive it.
Vertical Life have also provided a statement https://www.verticallifemag.com.au/?p=9835
VCC/CliffCare Access & Environment Officer