Sign of the Times – Protection Rules Relaxed for Profit?

  • Latest about Taipan from GWRN
  • New PV sign says tour operators can climb in Victoria Range SPAs
  • The Roses Gap Recreation Centre mystery
  • Minister’s letter confirms expiry of Interim Protection Declaration at Arapiles
  • Aboriginal Victoria denies Special Protection Areas are associated with Aboriginal Heritage Act or Regulations
  • Draft Grampians Landscape Management Plan “hoped to be out for public comment by the end of this year”
  • Graffiti rampant in Grampians according to PV
  • Roundtable 5 announced – then delayed?

Hello again. So much to cover and such limited time.

As we finish writing the rest of this article we have received yet another update from Grampians Wimmera Reconciliation Network (GWRN) about mega crag Taipan Wall. Have a read here.

This is only a small part of GWRN’s statement – read the full thing here.

New Signage – Tour Operators appear to get the go ahead to climb in the Victoria Range?

Over the Covid lockdown period Parks Victoria have replaced signage at several climbing areas in the Victoria Range (Grampians) that are covered by the legally dubious Special Protection Area (SPA) bans. On first glance the signs seem to be the same wording as the old ones – just replacing battered and faded laminated A4 that had become far from temporary after almost two years in place. There are more of these new signs as well – they are now placed at regular intervals along the main roads in the area in an apparent attempt to dissuade and shame climbers (they have been seen along Red Rock Rd, The Tower carpark and The Fortress).

New signage in the Victoria Range

Zoom in and ENHANCE!

But look very closely to spot something important has been added in fine print…it’s that bottom line we all need to pay attention to – “Unless with a Licensed Tour Operator“. This is an extraordinary statement to suddenly appear on a sign in the remote Victoria Range – an area rarely used by commercial climbing guides. PV are now openly admitting that it’s not a total climbing ban in Protected Areas – just a ban on recreational climbers who don’t wish to use a paid guide. Most climbers are entirely self sufficient and have no need for someone to “show them the ropes” for money. Who are the Licensed Tour Operators (LTOs) who can now guide rock climbing in the Victoria Range? We contacted several of the big players in the Grampians guiding business and none of them knew anything about this change that allows them to guide in places off-limits to lowly recreational climbers.

There is further info about PV’s wind-back of the big tough bans on this new sign. It’s all about the regulations.

Now don’t be tricked here! There is no such section in the National Parks Regulations 2013 that mentions anything about rock climbing, permits or events. This is a clever trick by PV to make it appear that this is all very above board and official. The Nat Parks regulations merely allow PV to create a “determination to set aside an area as an area in which an activity or conduct is permitted, required, restricted or prohibited“. So PV could ban bright pink pogo sticks being ridden on a Thursday at Arapiles if they chose to. It doesn’t mean it is a sensible or well thought out “determination”.

It appears they can change this determination without informing the community being affected. We only know about the original determination through patient and persistence requests to PV’s legal department – it took them almost six months to release this document to the public after the February 2019 bans were announced. See the original “determination” documents below.

Determination documents signed by Simon Talbot 1/2/2019

As you can see in the highlighted passage above there is no mention of an exemption for Licensed Tour Operators. So is there a new determination that PV have failed to announce that now allows the commercialization of Protected areas? It would be remarkable if they did this considering we are all being told that PV can’t change anything to do with managing the Grampians at this time and we all have to wait for the new Landscape Management Plan to be released. We all know that is bullshit as new bans keep rolling out with regular monotony.

Earlier this year Parks Victoria was so sure that climbers would never be allowed back into the Victoria Range area they hadn’t even bothered including ANY of that area’s crags in the Cultural Heritage surveys they have conducted at considerable expense elsewhere in the Grampians. It was like the Vic Ranges ceased to exit as a climbing area despite 70 years of climbers using the area. The Special Protection Area enveloping the Northern Victoria Range, where we spotted these new signs, is gigantic compared to what we have seen up in the Stapylton Area. It covers an area 14km by 10km and includes over 1400 climbs spread across some of the most famous and spectacular climbing areas in the world including Muline, Eureka Wall, Lost World, Gilhams Crag, Mt Fox and Millennium Caves. Prior to the “temporary” closure of Taipan Wall this was probably the most significant loss to world climbing full stop. We don’t think Parks Victoria, Traditional Owners and the Victorian government quite understand that fact. These are not readily replaceable areas for the global climbing community and these areas are what attracts international and interstate visitors. The fact these climbing areas still seem to be considered “off the table” in negotiations with PV almost two years later is astounding.

According to this new signage there is now a possibility of guided commercial “licensed tour operators” doing rock climbing, abseiling and bouldering in these treasured climbing areas. But if we refer to Park Victoria’s own website (sure to be updated as soon as they read this article) we can see they are very clear that the only places with an exemption that allows for LTO guided climbing in SPAs are Summerday Valley, BARC Cliff and Lookout Point Wall (Stapylton and Halls Gap regions).

Screenshot from PV’s website 19th October 2020

No other exemptions” – that sounds definitive. But we have further evidence of other SPAs being used by commercial operators – revealed later in this article. We have contacted PV about the wording on these new signs and are yet to receive a response after four days. To be fair we are waiting for quite a few responses from them… the list is growing.

The Second Sign

Now let’s look at the second of the two signs. This is an all new sign that we haven’t seen before. It is based on information that PV has published on it’s own website over the last two years in a section titled Rock climbing in the Grampians National Park. This website has the remarkable ability to be conveniently updated with more accurate information after each Save Grampians Climbing article is published.

Now the probable reason they have put up these signs is not to actually inform climbers, but to further destroy the reputation of climbing in the general public’s eyes and to big note the reasons for the bans. It’s so transparently obvious this is a propaganda campaign billboard against climbing – not an information sign aimed at climbers. Let’s break it down:

Yawn. Thanks for the history lesson. Did you know modern rock-climbing first began in this part of the Victoria Range in 1952 and the greater Grampians region in 1910? That was 75 years before it was a National Park. The National significance of these climbing achievements and areas are not to be mentioned though. Shhhhhh.

Parks Victoria is now saying that “Rock climbing activities are prohibited“. This wording is key. Is there any legal basis to this? Previously PV has been very circumspect about saying this outright on signage and public statements. And this statement isn’t even true. As the sign immediately above this one clearly states it is totally possible to climb in Protected Areas – “with a Licensed Tour Operator“. Big fail there. But it sure looks good to scare away those climbers and impress passing tourists with PV’s “tough on climbers” stance.

Sigh – drop matts. Now we have the usual list of crimes that climbers have done. This is a list created to justify the bans. Any casual tourist walking past these signs will certainly know that climbers are evil people and PV is entirely justified in kicking them all out. Especially galling to climbers will be the reference to them creating “graffiti”. Visit any climbing area that is away from tourists and you will not see graffiti or rubbish. The funny thing is signage such as this does not exist at major tourist sites – the places that are regularly littered, spray-painted and crapped all over. PV looks the other way whilst bleating tourists good – climbers bad.

#notclimbers Spray paint graffiti in Hollow Mountain Cave – an area still open to tourists who are still doing this.

At least this part of the sign isn’t claiming a 10 fold increase in climbing growth like they once claimed in media releases and on their website. The other odd thing to point out with a sign like this is that these “reasons” for a ban should apply to areas outside of Protection areas as well as within them. A National Park is a protected space by default. By saying these “crimes” are not acceptable in Protected Areas (SPAs etc) it implies they are acceptable in the non-Protected Areas. It’s dumb logic. The same penalty dollar amount applies for damaging the park landscape inside or outside of Protected areas. About that…

This is the “stick” that PV is trying to club climbing to death with. They threw the carrot away a couple of years ago. Right now a penalty unit is valued at $165.22 so the fine is $1652.20 in total. But what is this a fine for? This fine is presumably for breaking the Regulations 10(1) and 65(2) of the National Parks Regulations 2013 as referenced in the top sign. But without a detailed map or fence there is no way anyone can make a well informed decision about if they are or are not in a Protected Area. A typical climbers track may go kilometers into the bush. At what stage does the Protected Area start and end? These kind of Protection areas were designed to be used for tiny areas (think Brain Death Boulder at Arapiles) that are easy to signpost or fence – not massive SPA areas stretching 15km or more across like the one shown in poor detail on the sign. They didn’t even bother including a “you are here” dot.

I’m a lost climber – get me out of here!

Or are the hefty fines only for climbing in the areas marked as blue dots on the sign – the “Eight focus sites where signage will be installed and compliance actives are occurring“? We cross-checked the maps that PV has online and they make it even more confusing. This map below, dated 27th August 2020, no longer refers to eight focus sites, but instead has yellow and black dots marked “no climbing permitted” thus implying that the rest of the big red section is “climbing permitted“. Or do they mean it is permitted for Licensed Tour Operators only?

Can you see why people are confused PV?! We have been following this saga in minute detail for two years and even we are baffled. So could you be fined $1652.20 for climbing in the red zones? That’s very doubtful indeed. Let us know if you get a fine! Or if you choose to stay away from red zones the next section of the new sign lets you know the places PV says are a-ok as alternatives to the Vic Ranges. And what a selection of crags it is…

Oh dear god. No mention of actual world class climbing areas such as Stapylton, Rosea or Bundaleer. Just terrible awful zero star Halls Gap misery crags. If their strategy was to fling climbers into a fit of depression and send overseas vertical tourists to the Blue Mountains, Frog Buttress and Moonarie then they have succeeded.

Let’s go back and look at one depressing anomaly in this signage – and it involves the physical signs themselves. It is actually twice as expensive to “interfere” with a star picket and a bit of corfulte than it is to do the actual offense they are putting the sign up about. Very odd.

So why are the new signs being installed now? It certainly doesn’t bode well for a reversal of the SPA bans when they go to the expense of printing and installing them across the Victoria Range only months before the Landscape Management Plan is to be released.

One theory going around is that the Victorian Ombudsman has been in touch with PV because of various complaints from the public about PV’s application of the law and informing the public of the bans. PV has not previously implemented the procedural element of the Set Aside Determination, thus the prohibitions were not correctly implemented, thus climbing was not really prohibited. In short their previous attempts to signpost were subpar and did not follow the letter of the law.

There is a judicial review in the Supreme Court coming up on the 28th October (one week away) based around the application of these Protection zones and gaining a permit to climb in them – so there is a good chance PV is trying to clean it’s nest before the heavy gaze of the judiciary turn onto them. We hope this website acts as a reasonable depository of information for the lawyers.

Roses Gap Recreation Centre – a missing part of the puzzle?

We have never written about this before despite it being well known about in inner circles and at Parks Victoria. It is now more relevant as we see PV start allowing more and more exemptions to the so called Special Protection Area determinations banning rock climbing and abseiling.

Roses Gap Recreation Centre is a “school-camp” tucked away between Mt Difficult and Stapylton in the middle of the Northern Grampians – just north of Bee Hive Falls. It has been in existence for many decades and tends to fly under the radar of most climbers. The Recreation Centre buildings are located on private property but it is surrounded by the Grampians National Park.

Roses Gap Recreation Centre – hidden in the bush north of Beehive Falls

There are actually a couple of very obscure climbing crags along the north facing escarpment to the west of the Roses Gap Recreation Centre land – dubbed The Rockwall and Barr’s Buttress. According to detailed Northern Grampians Council maps these crags are located in the Grampians National Park but are only easily accessible via the private roads through the Recreation Centre.

SGC map showing National Park (green) and the private land of Roses Gap Recreational Centre (white). Climbing crags highlighted in blue.

In the ’90s it was possible to pay a $2 entry fee on weekends to access these cliffs and they were reasonably popular due to the one minute walk from the road below (as seen in map above). Access using these private roads for recreational climbers has been shut for the last few decades due to a crackdown on random people driving through the school camp (a totally legit reason). However it is still technically possible to access these public cliffs by walking 400m over the hill from the south-west.

The Recreation Centre has historically used the Rockwall cliffs to conduct climbing and abseiling activities as advertised currently on their website. They appear to be the sole organization using this site due to the limited access for others.

Roses Gap Recreation Centre website listing abseiling and rock climbing as activities held at the camp. Both of these photos are from The Rockwall.

Now why does any of this matter? It’s just one of many obscure crags that has lost appeal to the modern generation and is no great loss isn’t it? But it’s more important than that. It’s about double standards once again from PV. Why? Let’s look at the maps supplied by Parks Victoria showing the Special Protection Areas where, in PV’s own words “bushwalking and picnicking are the only permitted activities“. Sorry about the poor quality – that’s all they have ever supplied the general public.

Red hatched areas are Special Protection Areas where according to PV “bushwalking and picnicking are the only permitted activities

Now let’s overlay this poor quality map onto a much more detailed Council satellite map of the Recreation Centre area. We will also mark the location where the Centre conducts it’s rock climbing and absieling activities for school groups (shown in the photos on it’s website above). This is visible on the map as a green gazebo if you zoomed in closely. We have confirmed this location with several guides who know the area.

The red area is our interpretation of the SPA overlayed over the PV managed land. It’s shown as a circle in the poor quality PV maps – but we have removed the sections located on private land.

That doesn’t look good does it. So is Parks Victoria allowing Roses Gap Recreation Centre to conduct climbing & abseiling within an SPA? And are they failing to mention this exclusion on their own website and signage? We found photos on social media of school groups being guided at the Rockwall as recently as November last year – and have also confirmed with one guide that they were operating this activity up until March this year before Covid forced the Centre to close.

Could the Centre not know about this SPA? Or are the Council and PV maps wrong and the cliffs being used by the Centre actually on private property? When we asked Roses Gap Recreation Centre about this situation we got a fairly non-committal response.

Email 21st October 2020

Their acknowledgment that there was an “SPA issue” that needs clarifying is a fairly telling statement. It appears since the Covid disasteer they are no longer conducting climbing activities (as there is no schools going to school camps).

We sent a similar request for information about The Rockwall, the SPA and the Recreation Centre’s operations to Parks Victoria and await a detailed response. Stay tuned.

Oddly the Recreation Centre has not attended or been involved in any of the LTO meetings about the rock climbing issues that have been going on for almost two years despite being an apaprent well-known player in the Grampians outdoor education sector. We can’t even find evidence that they are actually “licensed” as a Licensed Tour Operator for rock climbing in the Grampians – something that requires a yearly fee and a per person per day fee to be paid to PV. This is the current list we obtained from Parks Victoria’s LTO website.

No sign of Roses Gap Recreation Centre?

We aren’t saying that Roses Gap Recreation Centre is doing the wrong thing. It is likely that PV is fully aware of their operations and this is approved in a “commercial in confidence” type arrangement. We want schools to be able to utilize the Grampians National Park for outdoor education freely and fairly. The cliffs at the Rockwall are convenient and excellent for teaching kids to climb. Lots of recreational climbers “found” their love of climbing through camps such as these. Pre-2019 everyone used to be able climb in Special Protection Areas unhindered by PV’s recent bureaucracy overkill. The issue we have here is another example of double standards. It is not like Parks Victoria is unaware of the climbing activities being conducted on The Rockwall. They have allegedly been using the Recreation Centre’s private roads over the last year to truck in construction crews for the much hyped Grampians Peak Trail that is being slashed down the creek just to the west of The Rockwall.

Grampians Peak Trail runs just to the west of the Rockwall SPA and Roses Gap Recreation Centre

This construction work includes the installation of the Barigar Campground, located less than a kilometre west from Roses Gap Recreation Centre (and most likely to be serviced via the Centre’s private roads). It would be hard to drive along that road and not notice the climbing activities happening at the Rockwall.

So why is Parks Victoria failing to police yet another one of it’s much publicized SPA rock climbing and abseiling exclusion zones? We know that Special Protection Areas were introduced in the 2003 Grampians Management Plan and there is no mention of exemptions for Licensed Tour Operators in that document. The SPA on The Rockwall is so small it was not visible in the original 2003 maps but appeared in the first maps released by PV in early 2019.

Double Standards

What is galling to other Licensed Tour Operators we have spoken to is that Roses Gap seems to be exempt from the insane levels of bureaucracy everyone else is put through to be able to continue to operate rokc climbing guiding at the three other Grampians Special Protections Areas of Summer Day Valley, BARC Cliff and Lookout Point Wall. These other LTOs are now forced to attend compulsory inductions, sign draconian nondisclosure agreements, are subjected to surprise site inspections and made to book clients in using an antiquated and unworkable system that can take up to a week to confirm a simple booking. They are also required to not use or install bolts or let their clients use chalk. On top of that they are told they have to sign up to a Code of Conduct (below) which includes complying with a dizzying array of Acts and Regulations including The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act (2001), Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (2007), Australian Human Rights Commission Act (1986) and the Racial Discrimination Act (1975). With that list the casual observer must expect climbers are the biggest racists on the planet that require strict re-education. Remember these are just a couple of poorly paid climbing guides taking school kids for a climb – they aren’t lawyers or political science majors. If they or their customers breach this Code of Conduct it “may result in cancellation of this license“.

Without this license their business is doomed as they cannot operate in the Grampians National Park. Many guides have found these new restrictions so demanding that they are pulling out of the industry all together (and Covid lockdowns are certainly not helping their business viability).

So if all these LTOs are having to jump through such hoops to climb in Special Protection Areas – why is Roses Gap Recreation Centre operating without any of this? No code of conduct, no inductions, not even a license to operate in the park potentially.

This fails the fairness test on a huge scale.

Again lets revisit Parks Victoria’s own website statements that seem to fly in the face of the revelations above.

We don’t agree with the convoluted current system forced on Licensed Tour Operators and would like to see a reversal of many of these new rules from PV and TOs. Let’s level the playing field to whatever level that Roses Gap is operating at.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs confirms Dec Crag Interim Protection expires

After writing to the Minister last month we have finally received the following response confirming the Interim Protection Declaration over the Dyurrite 1 [Brain Death boulder] has “ceased to be in effect“. We covered this unannounced change in last weeks article.

In the letter from the Minister above it clearly states that “Dyurrite 1 continues to be protected from harm by the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006“. So it sounds like they consider it protected using this Act and no longer need the Interim Protection Declaration. The Act is the legislation that can hand out significant fines for damaging Aboriginal cultural heritage and applies anywhere in Victoria – not just in National Parks. This Act does not automatically restrict certain recreational actives (i.e. climbing) or ban people from entering areas. If you want to do that you need a Protection Declaration (the thing they let expire).

But then the Minister’s letter goes on to mention that Parks Victoria has also decided to “established an Aboriginal cultural heritage protection zone which prohibits public access at Taylors Rock“.

You would be forgiven to think that PV’s “Aboriginal cultural heritage protection zone” is connected to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. But you would be wrong. They actually aren’t connected at all. When we asked Aboriginal Victoria, the Victorian government department tasked with administrating the Aboriginal Heritage Act, about the details of these types of zones they sent us this illuminating response.

Handball! Oh dear. So Parks Victoria is out on its own with these “protections zones” and it has nothing to do with the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. But PV are super sneaky in the way they have created signage about climbing bans to make it appear that the climbing restrictions are directly referenced in the Act. Let’s look at the current sign at Declaration Crag as an example.

In big words they announce “No Access” and then go on to describe that it is protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. These two statements are not connected. The Act does not allow Parks Victoria to restrict access on a whim. They did the same thing at Taipan Wall and on the Around the World Boulder at Arapiles.

Now we are sure some of you are thinking that these are small areas and this is the only way they can be protected by Parks Victoria. We counter that with two points. Why did they go through with getting an Interim Protection Order originally if the Act itself is now considered sufficient? The other point is this – the same logic behind these “virtual” bans are being applied to the massive SPA areas in the Grampians. You are being told by PV not to climb in the Victoria Range because it’s in a made up zone that has no basis in actual Cultural Heritage legislation and has nothing to do with Aboriginal Victoria or the Acts it administrates. They can write the name of the Act in all of their signs banning climbing but it still doesn’t make a “no access” sign true. You cannot be fined for walking up to Taipan Wall and going climbing (providing you don’t directly damage any Aboriginal cultural heritage). That fine would apply with or without a big ugly scary sign from Parks Victoria at the trail head. And it would be Aboriginal Victoria handing out the fine for damaging cultural heritage – not Parks Victoria.

Head Ranger report to Friends of Grampians

In the October newsletter from Friends of the Grampians there was a couple of interesting bits of information relevant to the climbing situation. The Head Ranger of the Grampians, Rhonda McNeil, gave a brief update on activities in the Park.

Rhonda needs a sub-editor. There was some mangled sentences in there! Anyhow. This report continues the false line that PV has been spouting in the press about Taipan Wall – that they have been “working with… affected recreational groups such as rock climbing to determine longer term management of these sites“. The only climbers they have spoken to about Taipan are also members of the Grampians Wimmera Reconciliation Network who have made statements that they should not be considered a rock-climbing group. For the rest of us PV have only been “informing” of bans (on the day they occur) and failed to have any actual discussion with climbing groups about future plans. Dictating a pre-determined end point to climbers is not “working with”.

Also of note in Rhonda’s report is the “hope” that they will have the draft Management Plan ready by the end of the year. That sound of a deadline flying by must be getting pretty repetitive. It is already several months behind schedule…

PV admits “steep rise” in Grampians graffiti

A keen eyed observer spotted this news item in a Parks Victoria Grampians community newsletter recently…

Good to see Parks Victoria acknowledges they have a serious graffiti problem caused by tourists but still appears to fail to join the dots on why. They keep pumping people in to major tourist sites – bigger carparks, bigger walking tracks and bigger marketing budgets. And it’s not just spray paint left behind by tourists.

Check out this photo taken in the official “Oasis Camping Cave” on the way to The Fortress for an example of indiscriminate tourist graffiti along PV built and publicized walking trails.

Rock art crudely emulated by tourists at Oasis Camping Cave. When will PV ban walkers?

What is very odd about this officially signposted Oasis Camping Cave is the fact that camping in caves is a broadly prohibited activity according to Parks Victoria due to the potential to damage Aboriginal cave art. Just take a look at the Oasis Cave and it is clear this is a possible Aboriginal occupation site as it fits all the criteria – nearby drinking water, flat base for sleeping on, smooth surface for rock art and protection from rain and wind.

Preliminary research has unearthed stone scatter and a possible real hand print in this cave. So it does seem odd that PV is actively encouraging people to camp in this site.

Grampians Peak Trail – what does it mean for climbers?

In a 25th August 2020 meeting regarding the progress (you can’t stop it) of the Grampians Peak Trail there was a few interesting developments. One slide detailed the “offsets” Parks Victoria is using to counter the vegetation removal created by the construction of 100km of new tracks through previously untouched bush. See some of this hack hack chop in our old article Destruction by the Book. One line in the presentation slide really stood out.

There have been rumors abounding for years now that Parks Victoria wants to consolidate the way users move around the Grampians. In their ideal world they want to see people shuffling along a couple of “hardened” tracks whilst the rest of the Grampians is off-limits to everyone – including bushwalkers. Off track walking is to be phased out, and that would of course involve the trails climbers use to access our crags. These climbers tracks are rarely more than a single file path and are not “constructed” but just form over time by footfall. If PV can “offset” these climbers and bushwalkers tracks by saying they are now closed that’s a win for the bean counters. Do nothing and win big (who cares about the smelly climbing community).

BGLC to become a Grampians LTO

We also see in the slides from the presentation that Barengi Gadjin Land Council are now intending to become a Licensed Tour Operator in the Grampians. This is the same Aboriginal corporation recognized as as the Registered Aboriginal Party for Arapiles. It will be a slightly odd situation that the same organization who signs off on heritage assessments and inspects LTOs operating in Summer Day Valley – is also an LTO. Watch this space.

Roundtable 5 postponed – for another Arapiles big announcement

The 5th and apparently final Rockclimbing Roundtable meeting between PV and various climbing groups has been postponed for 3 weeks until the 11th November. The reason? Parks Victoria is instead keen to announce more news about Arapiles cultural heritage assessments and their “roadmap” for the future. Read their email announcement and agenda below. Get ready to bend over and be informed!

It is somewhat confusing that the 5th Roundtable is being touted as the last one considering the draft of the Landscape Management Plan we have all been waiting for has yet to be released for review. Surely PV wants feedback on this draft from the Roundtable? Oh hang on – of course they don”t!

Arapiles Online Community Session
27 October 2020

Further to the meetings happening above – Parks Victoria and Barengi Gadjin Land Council (BGLC) are hosting an online event titled Mount Arapiles–Tooan SP: cultural landscape and recent rediscoveries next week. When they first advertised this event (which requires people to sign up for free tickets to view it) it “sold out” in less than an hour. This is a pretty damning indictment of PV and shows they still lack the understanding of just how important Arapiles is to the international climbing fraternity (and local Wimmera community). Did they only expect 10 people would be interested? They have now ditched the original concept of an online meeting that allowed a two way conversation – and have switched over to their usual style of “inform” rather than “consult”. So grab a ticket at EventBrite and tune in on the 27th October for whatever comes our way. Their blurb is below…

“Parks Victoria and Barengi Gadjin Land Council (BGLC) have been undertaking assessments of known registered rock art sites in Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park and surrounds. Recent rediscoveries near known rock art sites provide further insight to the connection that Traditional Owners have to these lands that they have occupied for thousands of years.

Feedback from the community information session in Natimuk earlier this year was that you would like to understand plans for the park, specifically the timelines for cultural heritage assessments.

To assist, Parks Victoria and Bareng Gadjin Land Council have developed a broad roadmap for the coming years – which is subject to funding and the current settlement process between the Victorian Government and Barengi Gadjin Land Council.”

ABC interviews about Arapiles & Grampians bans

Last week ABC Wimmera radio featured two excellent and informative interviews about the climbing bans in the Grampians and Arapiles. The first featured local Natimuk climber Michael ‘Muki’ Woods who gave a passionate account of how these restrictions are affecting the Natimuk town and the wider climbing community. He nailed it in our humble opinion.

The second interview was with Victorian National Party leader (and shadow minister for Aboriginal Affairs) Peter Walsh. He recently met with the Arapiles District Community Group (whose membership includes several climbers) in Natimuk, and they expressed their concerns about the future of Arapiles. The meeting obviously had the desired effect. He strongly voiced his concerns to the ABC about PV’s mismanagement of the whole affair and the damage that the uncertainty is having on the local community. It is great to hear some solid support of the climbing community among local politicians.

The audio links to both these articles have been deleted by the ABC. If anyone managed to extract the audio before they went offline please contact us so we can link them here.

UPDATE: Response from PV to article above

We have received the following email response on the 26th October from Will Cox – PV’s Senior Manager Strategic Projects Will Cox.

Please share this article and don’ t forget to check out the other 50+ articles on this blog for further background reading. Stay tuned for further updates…

One thought on “Sign of the Times – Protection Rules Relaxed for Profit?”

  1. Thank you for your dedicated and detailed advocacy.

    Should any governing body and/or bodies be found to be using their privaliged position to discourage and/or disenfranchise existing user groups whilst at the same time maintaining the possibility that access may be granted to individuals and/or organisations that could reasonably be seen to be affiliates, associates or friends of any governing body and/or members of any governing body tasked with determining access to natural locations for any purpose, then a conflict of interest exists and must be fully disclosed.

    Any governing body and/or bodies and/or individuals that could be reasonably assumed to have a conflict of interest must remove themselves from any discussions and relinquish any potential to vote upon or influence any outcomes in line with governance legislation.

    While nepotism may find a way to circumvent this objection … it will make the right people nervous:)


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