Access & Environment Report June 2013

The Lookout

The Lookout

The Lookout at the You Yangs has been closed to climbing for the last 25 years or so. The area was developed in the early 80’s by a number of climbers – David Clarke, Mike Wust, Mark Walters and there is also a route there by Kevin Lindorff. With a good selection of low to mid grade slab climbs, some low beginner routes and a 20 or two to get the heart thumping, it was definitely an area that would have proved to be popular in the You Yangs. With a large selection of higher grade routes in the park, an area that can cater for those climbers learning the ropes of slab climbing whilst providing good routes is a definite plus.
Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons, climbing was banned at the Lookout in late 80s. At the time the structure at the Lookout was made of wood and quite old and its placement on the rock was not conducive to the climbers setting their anchors and top ropes from the structure legs. The structure itself was situated more forward than it is now so that climbers were climbing up directly under the Lookout and its visitors. There was also concern at the time that visitors might engage in the activities of the climbers.
Times have a-changed though -Following some discussions with Mark Urqhuart, ranger in charge at the You Yangs, the opportunity came up to look at the reasons why the Lookout was banned, its situation then and its situation now. Did it still need to be closed to climbing? Mark and his team at the You Yangs have been making great steps over the years to put the Youies solidly on the map as a great recreational park for a diverse range of users. Amongst the usual recreational visitors such as walkers, nature observers and picnickers, the park plays host to an awesome mountain bike track facility, horse riding trails and of course, our beloved climbing sites. All of these are encouraged, and engagement with the user groups have allowed the care and development of these areas to flourish, with the users taking an active role in site management.

The Lookout platform

The Lookout platform

The Lookout  was eventually rebuilt. Now made of seriously solid steel and sitting a bit further back on the cliff top, the whole structure is a lot more solid than it was in earlier years, and this, along with changing visitor demographic and a modern perspective of user groups and their leisure activities, were the main reasons why the fantastic decision was reached – that the ban on climbing at the Lookout would be lifted. Come July 1st  2013, The Lookout will now be open for climbing.

Gully access to Lookout climbing area

Gully access to Lookout climbing area


I will be providing route descriptions, access notes and fingers crossed, topos come the next Argus, but to let you know a few of the details.
The area will be open to individuals as well as commercial groups. Because of this, there will be four sets of double belays set across the buttress tops. This will provide monitored anchors for the commercial groups and will encourage climbers to use the fixed top protection rather than the structure legs. There will be small signage alerting climbers not to use the structure supports and there will also be some signage on the Lookout above alerting visitors to the fact that climbers are below so as to take care. An access track will be cleared and delineated approx. 8 metres west of the Lookout steps. This has been chosen as it is less steep and less prone to erosion. It then meets up with the small descent gully which will probably require a small amount of stabilization to handle the regular traffic that this area is sure to see.

Lookout climbing area base

Lookout climbing area base

Easy peasy access leads to a really nice flat area at the base which is treed. This will allow small groups of climbers to comfortably climb and relax in the area without too much impact to the surrounding environment. At the lookout area, there is currently a small length of fencing on either side of the steps parallel with the walking track. There will be an extension added onto this to limit access from the immediate lookout area. Where this ends will be the entrance to the climbers access track.
With regards to the fixed protection already on the routes, most of this is at least 25 years old, carrots and a variety of mild steel and stainless. After discussions with one of the FA’s of many of the routes, the advice was for all protection to be replaced and with best practice hardware and installation. This will mean that carrot bolts will not be replaced with carrot bolts. At this stage, no retrobolt on the routes is envisaged but there is still discussion occurring to ensure that for the most part, the wishes of the FA as well as present day climbing community is taken on board.
I am really excited about this area being reopened for climbing and very encouraged by the people that I have been working with at the park. Good vibes and good times ahead!

Big Rock & Flinders Peak, You Yangs. Change of Conditions/Reopens

DSC02974 (567x425)I have been working recently with Mark Urqhuart and his team at the You Yangs. The You Yangs really is shaping up to be a great recreational resource close to Melbourne. The park provides valuable space for a number of user groups to pursue their recreational activities. Besides the obvious walking, nature sights and picnic facilities, groups such as the horseriders, mountain bikers and us, the climbers can do what we love doing best. Following on from recent discussions please see the official announcement below regarding some great changes to a couple of areas at the You Yangs.
Parks Victoria has recently reviewed rock climbing arrangements at the You Yangs Regional Park. Through discussions with CliffCare, Licensed Tour Operators and park staff, a number of restrictions have been changed. These changes are consistent with the changes with the Parks’ usage, visitation and demand for recreational experiences, along with the absence of Peregrine Falcons from the east side of Flinders Peak for a number of years.

  • The Sunday and Public Holiday closures to climbers on Big Rock has been removed.
  • The permanent seasonal closure of sites on the east of Flinders Peak from August to November has been removed. A temporary closure of sites may be invoked if the birds return, with closures posted on site and within Argus.

Further changes to increased access are being investigated and will be posted in due course.


Mark Urquhart
Ranger in Charge – You Yangs & Serendip

Access and Environment Officer report June 2012

It does seem that every Argus report more recently I am rabbiting on about the latest working bee.  I know, same, same but different. Well I won’t be rabbiting on too much……but I do need to always thank the generous people who give up some of their time to help look after the cliff environments.  This time it was the You Yangs. Urinal Wall to be precise. With a grant that we were successful with in 2010 and then work postponed because of the floods and closures at the You Yangs, we have finally started the work. Contractors will be actually creating the small retaining wall at the base end of Royal Flush but we spent a couple of hours sourcing rocks from around the area to be used in the wall. With a small crew of 8 we waded through boneseed (gee, that plant was born to survive) and hunted for suitable sized rocks for the wall.  I did tell Mark Rippingale that his injured shoulders would be safe as the rocks we were sourcing didn’t need to be as big as the Pharos stock, but everytime I looked they seemed to have bigger and better rocks. Who was I to tell them to go smaller. Steve Toal and his partner Paula had rocked up earlier to get a few climbs in and brought along a haul bag.  Which I saw Paula using later, to great effect. As a backpack with rocks in it.
Mike Poore and his young family of two were there with chupa chups – as a reward for helping out.  Wilhem the two year old seemed determined to collect as much dirt as he could on the chupa chup. For a 2 year old he was putting on a pretty good show walking up and down the slightly steep track to the cliff base.
And true to form – the sun always shines at the You Yangs – it was a glorious day and at 11.00 the crew stopped and spent the rest of the day climbing. Perfect! Thanks to Ben Wright, Mark Rippingale, Michael Dowling,Josh Mills, Anthony Ulrich, Steve Toal and Paula, Mike Poore and future climbers Wilhelm and Mikayla. For more photos of the day, please visit out Smugmug site and check out the You Yangs gallery

Recently I was invited to join the Grampians and Surrounds Stakeholder Roundtable which meets about 4 times a year as a representative of recreational users and the climbing community. Below is a basic blurb about what the roundtables aims are. It is sponsored by PV and DSE. As you will read, it doesn’t formally influence the policies as such but can impact on the way that the policies may be administered. What I think will be really useful is being able to work with other usergroups on these issues and also being able to deal directly with those that our activities can sometimes impact on. I see this as a really positive move.
In order to truly represent the climbing community, it is important that I receive feedback from the climbing community.  Whilst I try at all times to keep an ear close to the ground when it comes to the thoughts and needs of climbers, please feel free to drop me a line.

Grampians Roundtable
The Grampians National Park and Surrounds Stakeholder Roundtable brings together a range of people who are interested in, or impacted by planned burning and other land management practices.
It aims to:

  • improve communication between stakeholders, land management agencies and the community
  • develop a shared understanding of complex land management issues, including fire management

The Roundtable does not formally influence government land management policy, but it can influence the way policies are put into practice.

You Yangs Work Day Saturday 12th May, 2012

There is a work day happening tomorrow at the You Yangs – Urinal Wall. Couple of hours in the morning sourcing and moving some rock to the Urinal Wall area to build the new rock retaining wall near the base end of Royal Flush. This will help to control further movement into the vegetation. With it being such a busy group climbing area, this section sees groups of people congregating there. While we won’t be building the wall itself we will be sourcing some rock from the area to be used in it.
Don’t be thinking huge arse Pharos gully kind of rocks – these will all be manageable.

Where: Urinal Wall area
When: 9.30 -12
Bring: backpack to carry rocks if possible and wear closed toe shoes

any enquiries:

For some pics on the You Yangs see here

Access & Environment Officer report March 2012

With the hot part of summer mostly out of the way, it was about time to slot in a few working bees. And as you will see, there are quite a few. I thought it best to look at the next 6 months or so and lock them into dates. As I noted in a previous Access report, Dave Roberts – acting Ranger in charge in the Grampians is keen for the climbers access tracks to be maintained by CliffCare and the climbing community. Besides repairing any damage to them as a result of a natural event be it fire or flood, the idea is also to check on a regular schedule, these tracks that we use to access the cliffs.  I am keen to get a few ‘custodians’ of various areas to report back to me each year on the state of climbers tracks in that particular area. Those that happen to frequent a particular cliff would make sense. If you would be happy to keep an eye on things at your favourite cliff, drop me a line please.

The You Yangs project – which we received a grant for in 2010 for early work in 2011 has now been locked in. Due to the floods, the park ended up being shut for a good part of the year so we were able to put the grant on hold until a more suitable time.  Some of the work we were originally going to do ended up being fixed due to further damage to the floods so after further consideration we have decided to work on a retaining wall at the Urinal Wall site.  This site is heavily used by groups as well as individuals and sees a huge amount of traffic. Standing area for people is getting progressively pushed further and further back into the vegetation. Using the same concept as the retaining walls at Summerday Valley, we will be constructing, with the help of a stonework contractor, a retaining stone wall that will stop further encroachment on the vegetation.

And now for dates for this years working bees.  I will be sending out reminders as each one approaches, but please, if you see any dates that suit, drop me a line.

Mt Arapiles Pharos Gully Project:
25th February 2012
28th April, 2012
9th June, 2012
18th August, 2012
pharos gully working bee

The Gallery, Grampians – access track repair
26th May, 2012

Mt Rosea, Grampians – access track repair
14th April, 2012

Rosea climbers track damage

Urinal Wall,You Yangs – retaining wall
12th May, 2012
You Yangs retaining wall site
Further information can be found on these work days on the VCC events calendar.

Cathedral Ranges logging season has begun again. Logging of the central pine block at Cooks Mill started this week. Two thirds of Cooks Mill sites are closed along with Little River track and St Bernards track.

There is also a  new track (Messmate track) linking Sugarloaf Saddle with Cooks Mill and  construction will being in March, with an aimed completion by Winter.  Volunteers will be needed for this project also so please contact me.  Although I haven’t scheduled a working bee for this as yet, I think it is something that would be good to have a climbers presence at.  Contact me for further details and hopefully I will have enough to put a group together.

Hope to hear from many of you soon!
Safe climbing,



You Yangs reopened

Well it’s certainly been a while since the You Yangs was last open.  After the flood damage and what seemed like a never ending list of hurdles which kept cropping up, the park is now open and although I haven’t yet checked it out myself, I have been told that many of the tracks around the busiest climbing areas, have received a bit of tlc.  Stay tuned for some pics.

While granite might not be everyones cup of tea, the You Yangs offers some great days out closer to Melbourne.  And if you’re into MTB, well, you can combine the two for an even better day