Grampians Flood Update 16 Sept

Latest update from PV. Park is once again open. Please take note though of various closures. See links following this update for maps, full official update etc

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Grampians National Park Recovery Update

  • This morning, VicRoads reinstated access to the Mt Victory-Northern Grampians road from Halls Gap to Mackenzie Falls. Unfortunately beyond Mackenzie Falls (to the west) the road closure will remain in place until next week.
  • Parks Victoria staff have cleared debris off roads and carparks and have now reinstated access to popular visitor sites such as Mackenzie Falls (lookouts only, not to the base), Reeds Lookout and the Balconies, Boroka Lookout and  the Wonderland area – including the Grampians Peaks Trail overnight walk. Water levels remain high in some creeks however and there is a track diversion around Barneys creek, just north of Borough Huts.
  • Other popular visitor sites such as Hollow Mountain, Mt Zero, Flat Rock and Mt Stapylton in the Northern Grampians will also reopen.  There northern section of Mt Zero road is closed however, so access is best from the Western Hwy, Dadswells Bridge and Winfields roads.
  • Access to Plantation campground and Heatherlie Quarry has been reinstated however the Mt Zero Road is closed north of Roses Gap Rd.
  • Mt William and the Major Mitchell Plateau overnight walk will reopen and access is available to the southern Grampians attractions such as Mt Sturgeon, Mt Abrupt and The Piccaninny.
  • Buandik campground, Manja Art shelter, Jardwardjali falls and Billimina art shelter are open in the West of the park, as is the Victoria Range overnight walk. However due to the Victoria Valley being closed, the best access is via Mirranatawa Rd, Jensens Rd , Glenelg River Rd, Henty Hwy and Harrops track.
  • The Mt Difficult Range (between Roses Gap Road and Northern Grampians road remains under a fire recovery closure).

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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.

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Early post fire Andersons

Early post fire Andersons

Climbing updates – Grampians Easter 2015

Hoping that many of you manage to check this before you head off for the weekend. As I  noted in the previous post, the main bouldering areas such as Andersons and Kindergarten are still closed but there have been a few new openings so check the post or download the official PV document uploaded to this site.

As always, please remember that many of the sites that have been opened are still recovering from fire. Take care to stay on the designated tracks, avoid going in with large groups and be mindful of your packs and gear and try to keep them off the vegetation as much as possible.

Grampians National Park Fire Recovery Update – Parks Victoria
For rock climbing and bouldering

Monday 30th March 2015
In January 2014 a large bushfire swept through the Northern Grampians causing widespread damage to visitor sites, roads and walking tracks. Many popular rock climbing and bouldering sites were also impacted including Hollow Mountain, Summerday Valley and Mt Stapylton. While three main visitor sites have since re-opened ( Flat Rock, Mt Stapylton return walk and Mt Zero), the majority of the Mt Difficult Range remains closed to visitation, this includes rockclimbing.

Environmental recovery in the Northern Grampians has been slow – shallow soils and lack of rainfall has meant vegetation has taken longer to regenerate. The landscape is still very fragile – Parks Victoria has been working closely with the local rock climbing community and CliffCare to ensure there has been a considered approach to re-opening rock climbing sites in the Northern Grampians, taking into account long term sustainability of climbing. Please support the long term recovery of fire affected areas by remaining out of any closed sites.

Open and accessible rock climbing and bouldering areas in the Northern Grampians:
(Accessible from Mt Zero Picnic Area, Flat Rock and Stapylton Amphitheatre areas only):
•    Wildsides
•    Spurt and Afterglow
•    Between the Sheeps
•    Plaza Strip
•    The Citadel
•    Caves Club
•    Central Buttress
•    Grey & Green Walls
•    Taipan Wall (Upper and Lower)
•    Epsilon Wall
•    Trackside Bouldering area
•    Snakepit
*Hollow Mountain (Gun Buttress to Andersons), Farside, all climbing areas on the Northern Side of Stapylton (Van Dieman’s Land to Sandinista) and other climbing areas in the Mt Difficult Range such as Eastside, Pohlners and Smiths Rd remain closed. Summerday Valley is currently only accessible via Licensed Tour Operators and school groups.

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

• 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:

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 mossbeds. Don’t create short cuts or new 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:

Only climb in open and accessible areas and keep group numbers low – Avoid taking large groups into area where there are no designated tracks.

•    Respect fragile environmental areas and cultural heritage
•    Keep an eye out for aboriginal art sites – report to Parks Victoria if you find anything
•    Be mindful of cleaning
•    No chipping or bolting
•    Avoid excessive chalk
•    Take your rubbish home with you.

* Visit http://www.cliffcare.org.au/ for rock climbing access and environmental reports.
* For detailed information on open and accessible climbing areas please refer to relevant guide
books or websites. Please note park closures.

* 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 appropriate.

Further Information
For updates on the many camping, walking and driving opportunities in the park, call into Brambuk, the National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap, visit the local Visitor Information Centre or call Parks Victoria on 13 19 63.

While Parks Victoria regrets the need to enforce closures, substantial fines will be imposed on those found in any closed, fire affected areas. For fire recovery updates, maps and further information on activities, campgrounds and car touring options in the Grampians National Park please visit http://www.parks.vic.gov.au phone 13 1963 or call into Brambuk the National Park and Cultural Centre, Halls Gap, open 9am-5pm daily.

Grampians National Park Update 31.03.15

March 2015 Grampians National Park Rock Climbing Update

Map

Grampians_Road_Report

Red Rocks Road closure – 5/5/14 – approx 2 weeks. Weirs Creek access.

Due to resurfacing works being undertaken on  Red Rocks Road, it will be closed for the next two weeks. Closure is from 5/5/14

For the duration of the works it will be okay for climbers to access the area by parking at the end of Andersons Road where it intersects with Red Rocks Road. This is the same area we used to access the cliffs after the Vic Range fires when the reopenings began. See below for details.

Most of the works will be concentrated between Matthews track and Muline Creek however they may extend south of Muline Creek to Andersons Road.

Note: Because of Matthews Track closure for the next two weeks, this means that the new access in for Weirs Creek is now not possible also.

It is due to heavy vehicles working in the area and because the road is impassable to the north, that people are being asked not to drive through the road works. So this does mean a longer walk in for some of the cliffs in that area.

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.
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.

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. https://cliffcare.org.au/grampians/victoria-range/red-rocks-creek-area/ (scroll down to page bottom on this link)

Muline
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.

Access & Environment Officer Report May 2014

In early April, I attended an area inspection  with Tammy Schoo and Kyle Hewitt from PV, of Flat Rock and the Stapylton Ampitheatre to help ascertain whether it was possible to open up any of the climbing  and bouldering areas in the vicinity in time for Easter. Also attending were Simon Mentz, Tori who runs a commercial guiding company and Rhys, a local boulderer. We were all really hoping that it would be possible to open up some of the climbing areas off Hollow Mountain for Easter visitation (such as Clicke, Guernica and the Kindergarten). We threw around lots of ideas, trying really hard to find options and reasons why it would be suitable to open up some of these areas but unfortunately try as we might, there were too many  compelling reasons not to.
•    Access through burnt areas
•    Hazardous trees and unstable surfaces
•    Lack of toileting areas
•    The need for extensive signage
•    The need to give the area time to recover environmentally
•    Confusion that may result from opening up only part of Hollow Mountain (the   Kindergarten), the potential overuse of this one popular site and lack of safe access to Guernica and Clicke wall from Flat rock

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Guernica wall area

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View from Kindergarten ledge

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Area surrounding Kindergarten

As you will see by the photos I have included, the area is badly burnt and still very sensitive. While the Kindergarten bouldering area proper is obviously on rock platforms (which is a definite plus for future opening) the area surrounding it is fragile and would not cope well with human traffic and most definitely not from toileting practices. Just this one aspect causes a mountain of troubles – there is literally no where to go without using the fragile areas. Our hopes that we could find a solution to this as well as encouraging people to not do the inevitable wandering off to another area close by (Andersons) by way of multiple temporary signs proved to be just that – hopeful but not realistic.
So for the time being the closures in the area will stay in place. As I noted in a previous report, there is much discussion occurring around the North Grampians as not only a walking visiting area but focusing much more now on the climbing popularity of the area. Looking at the longer term management of encouraging visitors into the area and providing better facilities be it tracks, campgrounds and more suitable access to visitor sites. It is a much bigger picture rather than the very small, immediate fix up of a damaged area. This has been proven to not always  be the best thing for an area. One of the positive things to occur from natural events to visitor areas is that due to the destruction and the need to repair and rehabilitate, it gives land managers a much cleaner slate to work with. To reassess. Much of the visitor infrastructure in place in parks, is there from a time past when requirements and visitation were much different.  A good enough reason to not immediately rebuild as it was before.  Granted, with the Grampians National Park they are still working with a very old Management Plan – which hinders rather than helps but that’s another story. …..
Another positive note to add to this is that the Grampians National Park has just been given $3 million dollars (part of a $13.5 million government funding investment in Victoria’s parks). This starts rolling out in July.
I must say a really huge thanks to the team past and present at GNP. They take all of my (which are yours) thoughts on board and set up meetings and site visits to look at possible options when they have minimal time to spare and long, long lists of challenges to try and get through. In more recent times -3 major events in as many years!
Whilst the following may not be major areas, there are a few sites off Flat Rock that we inspected, that have not been damaged and follow along rock platforms for the most. These are able to be used for climbing with the important note to not access any further beyond them. If this appears to be happening then this will threaten their use.  Please pass the information along if questioned – this does not mean the North Grampians is open for climbing though. These are exceptions to the rule.
These include:
The Play Pen
Wall of Fuels (this is  not Wall of Fools in Summerday. Note it is also called West Flank – noted in Neil Monteiths guide)
Bellepheron Wall – Lower (Western End only)

Victoria Range Reopening update Jan 2014

It has been a while between official updates posted on the site so see below:

img_4029-1024x683The Billimina Art Shelter was impacted by fire with the complete destruction of the timber boardwalk adjacent to the art site. In consultation with Traditional Owners, a replacement structure will be installed to provide access to the art site. Parks Victoria are currently discussing the type of structure to be installed with the potential to stone pave the area instead of a timber boardwalk to be more in keeping with the setting of the art site. They aim to have this site re-opened prior to Easter. Please note that the walk to Buandik Falls that follows part of the Billimina walking track is open (see below).

Buandik Falls – OPEN
The walking track to Buandik Falls has been re-opened following repairs to the pedestrian footbridge along the path.

Strachans Campground -CLOSED
Plans are in place to repair and re-open Strachans Campground prior to Easter. Quotes are currently being obtained for the construction of a new toilet facility immediately adjacent to the campground, and for repairs and a subtle upgrade to the campground itself.

Chimney Pots Carpark and Walking Track
The Chimney Pots walking track is open for to visitors. However the Chimney Pots Carpark is currently closed to allow some minor works to take place. Visitors are advised to park along the edge of Glenelg River Road or the entrance to the carpark.

Please note that all other visitor sites, walking tracks and roads in the fire recovery area are open, except for Sawmill Track between Glenelg River Road and Victoria Range Track. This road will remain closed until Strachans Campground is repaired.

Update 1st January, 2014 – Access to all  previously closed climbing areas – with the exception of those along the Emu Foot track – are now possible. All the roads are open. Please remember though that these areas have been impacted by fire, so treat and tread in the areas with care. Follow the established tracks, many of which have been marked and delineated. If you do come across and area or track which is severely eroded please email me at cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au. These climbers tracks are maintained by VCC/CliffCare and the climbing community and it helps if we can repair or stabilize a track before too much damage is done. At early stages, the solution is often easily and quickly done.
As noted above, the cliffs along the Emu Foot Track area are still closed due to the area being the most severely burnt. The ground is still very sensitive so we are asking climbers to respect these closures and give enough time for regrowth to establish itself.