We finally have physical confirmation of “no climbing” signs having been installed in the Grampians. A group of visiting North Queensland climbers went to The Tower crag in the Victoria Range today and were confronted with a large sign at the carpark. It’s important to note that The Tower is not one of the 8 banned crags mentioned by Parks Victoria in their media releases – but it is located inside one of the Special Protected Areas (SPAs). The wording of the sign is interesting as it’s the first time we have seen the legal language being used to enforce the bans, and the fines that can be handed out if these bans are broken ($1,611). The sign reads:
Rock Climbing Prohibited
Under Regulation 65(1) of the National Parks Regulations 2013, Parks Victoria has determined that the area shown hatched red on the map above is an area for which a sport or recreation area is prohibited.
Under the provisions of Regulations 10(1) and 65(2) of the National Parks Regulations 2013, a person must not engage in free or aided rock climbing, or bouldering, up, down and /or across natural rock formations unless authorised to do so by a permit, or when participating in an event conducted by a person authorised under a permit.
Penalty: 10 Penalty Units [1 Penalty Unit = $161 = $1611 fine]
For more information on where rock climbing is permitted call Parks Victoria on 13 1963.
It is an offence to interfere with this sign. Penalty: 20 Penalty Units
Not only does this sign say they that all the SPA areas are banned within the Victoria Ranges (shown as red on the map), it also states that they will be enforcing these bans with substantial fines. This seems to directly contradict previous press releases from Parks Victoria and emails received by several climbers. This ban would include Weirs Creek, Eureka, Muline, Mt Fox, Red Rocks, The Tower etc. We can only assume the same rules apply to the SPA areas elsewhere in the park – but have yet to see physical signs at these crags.
The legal sounding language about what constitutes rock-climbing is actually not in the legislation. People have questioned if bushwalkers can get in trouble by scrambling on rocky areas in these SPAs. Anyone who knows the Grampians knows that walking on rock formations is very common. Certainly the difference between bouldering and bushwalking would be a grey one.
It does appear that commercial companies and their clients are excluded from these bans if they have the required permit. What that permit involves we don’t know. That is a chilling state of affairs where money buys access to areas that are otherwise off-limits to recreational climbers.
In other news from down south we have received reports of further ranger interactions last Sunday. Four rangers in two vehicles drove down the closed dirt road leading to Clean Cuts (Eureka Area) and spent two hours watching the climbers from the road. It appeared the rangers (some wearing military style vests) were the same that hassled climbers up at Stapylton. They get around!
So right now we can only advise not climbing at any area in the Special Protected Areas and expect to be hassled by rangers if you do so. If you planned on climbing in the Grampians, especially over Easter, and have or are considering canceling your plans please make sure you send letters to politicians and local businesses saying why. We know many who are choosing to climb elsewhere this holiday period.
Please keep those reports coming in by commenting below. And those letters going out…
For the latest on the bans check our Closed Area Info page regularly.