Grampians Update – PV meeting 1st May

Yesterday VCC/CliffCare representatives – Tracey Skinner (Access & Environment Officer), Philipp Hammes (VCC Vice President) and myself (Paula Toal, VCC President) – met with Simon Talbot and other Parks Victoria (PV) staff. The meeting was positive overall. PV outlined the consultative process for the development of the new Grampians National Park management plan which will have representation of the climbing community through a Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) to facilitate the needs and rights of climbers to be protected in the new management plan and secure the legitimacy of climbing in the Grampians.

PV and the Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG is a working group of VCC/CliffCare) have been analysing spatial data to provide clarity as to which crags currently sit within Special Protection Areas (SPA) so that the climbing community has accurate information. The updated map and list of crags will be available soon, as we are only awaiting the PV analyst’s final cross-referencing of the data.

The VCC has taken legal steps to clarify the reasons for the existing bans as a means to understand on what legitimate and ethical basis we could seek to renegotiate access. We are anticipating the formal response to that legal request from Parks Victoria by the end of this week and PV confirmed that response is on track to meet that deadline.

We communicated to PV that we believe the essential next steps include that we have the opportunity to engage with them and Traditional Owners to understand and discuss the reasons for the SPAs and negotiate changes to those boundaries that allow access to our important world-class climbing areas.
 
We also communicated the negative impact the SPA restrictions are having on visitation to the Grampians and crowding at open crags. We particularly highlighted that the loss of many more moderate grade climbing areas is particularly difficult. We spoke at some length about Summerday Valley and PV acknowledged the confusion about this area and asked for us to leave this issue with them for immediate internal consideration. We will follow up on next steps in this regard.

We agreed with PV to commence development of a joint communication strategy to ensure correct representation of the collaboration between the climbing community and PV and address the negative impressions that have been made by the reports in the mainstream media. Simon Talbot also advised that PV plans to disengage with the mainstream media to prevent further confusion and misrepresentation.

PV also shared an update on its activities including the three compliance weekends in the Grampians where rangers were brought in from across the state to undertake compliance activities in the park. PV indicated it spoke with more than 700 individuals and identified 67 offences, only a handful of which were attributed to climbers. The offences attributed to climbers included driving around a locked management gate, driving off track, improper disposal of toilet paper, removing vegetation, climbing in a SPA and an instance where three individuals were found climbing in one of the eight key focus sites which can attract a fine. PV indicated that as yet they have not issued any fines however they are still considering how best to deal with the specific infringement related to the focus sites.

The VCC feels strongly that the best way forward is through a positive collaboration with Parks Victoria and the Traditional Owners. A respectful dialogue between all parties will have the best outlook regarding climbing access in Victoria.

The VCC/Cliffcare and GAWG will continue to update the climbing community about further progress and has commenced a process to engage with other clubs and representatives of the climbing community to develop an effective structure to support representation on the Grampians National Park management plan Stakeholder Reference Group. If you have ideas and suggestions, please let us know.

Paula Toal
VCC President

VCC – https://vicclimb.org.au/?p=1372

Grampians Community Update April 24

A short update on some GAWG activities and further information from Parks Victoria. They have sent us copies of maps that enlarge the northern end of SPAs and included legend and grid references. This has been created following feedback and were used this weekend to help engagement activity.

VCC/CliffCare  have a meeting with Parks Victoria next week. We will be discussing the climbing data currently available, and next steps associated with establishing the reference group and the future of the Grampians National Park Management Plan. Parks Victoria and VCC/CliffCare are working together to share spatial information to help park users understand where climbing can and can’t occur. We will take this opportunity to question and discuss further the current closures in place and also follow up on our previous complaints about misinformation being put into the public sphere that adversely affects the reputation of the climbing community.

In the area of Cultural Heritage and Indigenous affairs – After initial contact with a number of Traditional Owner groups, we are working with our Reconcilliation advisor on next steps in this area. Once we have more substantive information we will share.

As always, we ask for your patience whilst we work through a multi layered process that requires thoughtful and respectful engagement.

Education. The launch of CliffCare’s educational campaign is just around the corner. This has been a long time in the making with many people offering their help. More on this soon.

Fundraising and Educational Awareness event. ClimbForGrampians May8 is a climber community initiative which CliffCare has been collaborating on with a number of gyms throughout Victoria and South Australia.

More on this on a separate post.

GrampiansNorth_RockClimb 23042019

GrampiansNorth_RockClimb 23042019