The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) has published a scathing review into Park Victoria’s procurement process in regards to assessing Aboriginal rock art sites at rock climbing areas in the Grampians and Arapiles by the archeologist Robert (Ben) Gunn and Parks Victoria staff member Jake Goodes. These two key players in the climbing bans are not named in the report but we are very happy to name them here. We knew this was suss all along and it’s good to see this has actually caught the attention of the government department responsible for checking how “effectively public sector agencies are providing services and using public money“.Continue reading Auditor-General investigates Parks Victoria and archeologist Ben Gunn
In between bemoaning Covid lockdowns and the excitement of celebrating climbing in the Olympics, there’s a few items of interest that have popped up in the last few weeks to update the access situation in Victoria.Continue reading New management plan delayed indefinitely – PV out of cash for surveys
No news yet from Parks Vic about the final management plan. We can only hope they are taking their time to consider all the submissions very carefully. There is definitely pressure on PV to develop a reasonable plan, one that is actually manageable (Tip: It’s in the title, PV). But there is no indication yet as to whether they are LISTENING to this advice. Which, it should be said is coming not just from climbers.
Keep an eye out this weekend on the Climbing Discussion Forum (Facebook) for a post from Mike Rockell, who will be running a last ditch email campaign to ensure PV make sensible determinations, and not just ‘full-steam ahead’ with their own corporate agenda.
The Goal: That the Minister ensures that the Final Plan properly allows for rock climbing to continue in the future, without excessive limitations beyond what is truly necessary to protect cultural heritage and environmental values.
Note: There’s a temporary pause on this, but we’ll post when more info becomes available.
Save Grampians Climbing just ran a T-Shirt Crowdfunding campaign (a few more shirts are available – see below); and we’re proud to announce that over $1,300 has been raised, and donated to Crag Stewards Vic (and from a few coloured chalk sales). The campaign also covered SGC hosting costs for another year. Thanks everyone who contributed.
Crag Stewards Victoria – Official Launch
Crag Stewards Victoria is having it’s official launch this weekend.
It’s on this Saturday at 5 – 6:30pm at the NC2, (62 Main St), Natimuk. There will be 1h of presentation / discussion – followed by some Q&A. All welcome (you’ll just need to scan the QR code on the way in), and wear a mask.
Crag Stewards Victoria is all about climbers taking action to protect the cultural and environmental values at the places we love to climb for future generations to enjoy.
- Establish a Network of Crag Stewards
- Assess and monitor the impact of climbing on cultural and environmental values
- Collaborate with Traditional Owners and Land Managers
- Promote understanding and respect for traditional cultures
- Encourage best climbing practices with the climbing community
If you can’t make it, then you read more about what Crag Stewards is about by visiting the website: https://cragstewards.org.au
A few more T-Shirts available!
If you missed out on one, or someone asks where they can get one – then for a limited time, they still can: Please direct them to the Arapiles Mountain Shop, who has a good range of sizes and colours available for sale. Also, Dick from Rock Adventures in Geelong has a few, and you can also order direct from us (very limited numbers).
They $39 ea plus $10 postage.
1 x Small (Natural colour)
3 x Med (Black)
1 x Large (Black)
You can order these via our contact form (we’ll reply with purchase information).
Save Grampians Climbing asked climbers what climbing areas that are now on the banned list (either permanently or temporarily) are most important to them. See survey results here.
We organised the hundreds of responses into a ‘Word Cloud’, and the resulting image is especially powerful, so we decided to get a T-Shirt printed to be reminded about what is at stake, and to never forget these amazing places.Continue reading GRAMPIANS t-sHIRT cROWDFUNDING
Back in Dec/Jan, Save Grampians Climbing invited climbers to complete a survey on the Gariwerd/Djurite access situation in order to gauge community attitudes and understanding of the issues, and gain feedback about these.Continue reading Climbers Survey Results
Submissions closed 24th January 2021
Parks Victoria gave the community 10 measly weeks to give them feedback on their diabolical plan to gut climbing in the Grampians – the submission deadline was Sunday 24 January 2021.Continue reading Management Plan Submissions Have CLosed
This survey has CLOSED and results are being analyzed.
Save Grampians Climbing have put together a climber’s survey and we’re inviting all climbers that have visited Arapiles or the Grampians to fill it out, or as many as possible. Please share to your friends, clubs and networks. Survey will remain available for a few weeks over the Christmas / New Year period, but it only takes around 10mins to fill out.Continue reading Climber’s survey – Have your say
We have crunched the data on the proposed route closures as detailed in the draft Greater Gariwerd Landscape Management Plan and the results are pretty shocking. Parks Victoria didn’t list individual route closures – instead they used the misleading term “climbing areas” when announcing what was being closed. Why is it misleading? Because each area can vary wildly in how many routes/problems they contain. 32 “areas” on PV’s list contain less than 5 routes, whilst come areas contain over 100 (the average per area is 25). Even worse 26 “areas” out of 86 on their approved list contain less than 5 “ticks” on the crag – a good judge of an area’s popularity (is a crag with 5 ticks even worth assessing for climbers damage?) We extracted data from thecrag.com to get the real figures on the potential climbing losses if this management plan goes forward (which is highly likely).Continue reading Off the Charts – the real route losses in the Grampians
- PV to only allow access to 2000 routes out of 8700
- Trackside, Bleachers, Valley of the Giants & Snake Pit bouldering added to banned list
- Climbing permits to be introduced – and they can be revoked at PVs discretion
- Ban on white chalk – coloured ok?
- Bouldering mats to be banned at most “open” areas
- No new areas to be developed & no new bolts
- Huge new bans on bouldering in remote areas
If you tuned into Park Victoria “webnair” last night you would have experienced a cavalcade of questions regarding tourists at Hollow Mountain. We hope this primer helps answer a few questions on what it is all about.
What is the problem?
Parks Victoria allows tourists to damage Aboriginal sites at Hollow Mountain Special Protection Area. PV denies knowledge of the problem and refuses to close area to tourists despite closing numerous climbing sites for the same reason. This proves PV’s vendetta against climbers.
What is Hollow Mountain?
Hollow Mountain is the top end of Mt Stapylton (the same rock formation as Taipan Wall) and is located in the far north of the Grampians National Park. It is an area of caves, cliffs and lookouts visited by thousands of tourists a year via an approved and constructed trail built by Parks Victoria. It would probably be the most popular tourist walking track outside of the Halls Gap area and is heavily used by tour bus companies and school groups. There is sometimes a literal conga line of backpackers making their way up to the summit on sunrise or sunset.
You can find official info about the walk up to Hollow Mountain on the website of Parks Victoria, Visit Grampians and even the Victorian State government official tourist website Visit Victoria. #hollowmountain on Instagram features almost 3000 photographs of the area.
Rock climbing is banned – but tourists are all over the rocks.
Hollow Mountain sits entirely inside a Special Protection Area (SPA) that was put in place in 2003 . This SPA lists rockclimbing and absieling as “not appropriate“. However it is not hard to find photos on social media of tourists crawling, climbing and standing in caves and on top of cliffs at Hollow Mountain.
Tourists and websites describe the experience as “climbing”
Scrolling through Tripadvisor reviews and the phrases “climbing” and “rock climbing” are often used by tourists to describe the way they get to the summit of Hollow Mountain.
Even the governments own tourist website describes it as a “climb”
“The track leads you to the base of an iron-stained cliff. It’s a steep and strenuous climb through fallen boulders and along exposed ledges. A short uphill scramble completes the climb to the wind-scoured caverns of Wudjub-guyan (Hollow Mountain) with views overlooking Mount Stapylton and the Wimmera plains. “Quote from Visit Victoria’s website
Tourists are damaging Aboriginal art and quarries at Hollow Mountain
These sanctioned summiteers are indiscriminately and directly damaging rock art and rock tool quarries at Hollow Mountain area on a regular basis.
Parks Victoria has refused to act despite previous recorded incident in 2016 and being informed of new damage in 2019
The ACAV first informed Parks Victoria on October 4th 2019 about damage to cultural heritage by tourists at Hollow Mountain in a face to face meeting with PV COO Simon Talbot (MIA?) and PV Head of Planning Stuart Hughes. Subsequent written correspondence to PV from members of the public about this damage has been largely ignored or brushed off with a “We will get back to you on this“. A year has passed since Parks Victoria was made aware of the problem and nothing has been done.
Parks Victoria denies knowledge about Aboriginal cultural heritage in the area
In Tuesday night’s Park Victoria “online event” Will Cox (Senior Manager Strategic Projects) denied knowledge of Aboriginal cultural heritage in the Hollow Mountain area when questioned. He informed the audience that they would have to investigate the claims put to them about damage to cultural heritage in this location. He acted as if they didn’t know anything about it. Other questions related to this topic were ignored by the moderator.
Their claim is bollux. PV knows all about cultural heritage at Hollow Mountain – they banned climbers because of it!
Remember PV’s claim of no knowledge is a full year after ACAV informed them about new damage and four years since the spray paint episode where PV was quoted in the newspaper as saying “graffiti has been found on a shelf at Hollow Mountain in the Grampians, only 100 metres from a significant Aboriginal cultural heritage site“. They certainly knew about cultural heritage in Hollow Mountain in 2016.
But there are plenty of other reasons they know and just don’t want to admit there is a problem brewing in allowing tourists to wander and climb at around Hollow Mountain rock face and caves.
Their own 2003 Grampians Management Plan lists the Hollow Mountain SPA as an “aboriginal site”. This is the very reason why they say they can ban climbing at Hollow Mountain – it’s in the plan!
In a 2016 Rock Climbing and Bouldering Update document published by Parks Victoria after a series of major bushfires – they list Hollow Mountain climbing areas as “OPEN” but also says it is a “significant site for Aboriginal people“.
In a document issued to the Rock Climbing Roundtable earlier this year, Parks Victoria lists a Cultural Heritage assessment as having been conducted at Hollow Mountain. After this assessment the area remains closed to climbers.
Why doesn’t Parks Victoria close Hollow Mountain to all as a precautionary measure?
They seem happy to close off nearby Taipan Wall and huge sections of Arapiles to everyone as some sort of “temporary protection zone” whilst they sort out the details of assessments and devise new management solutions with TOs. We have been told this could take years to sort out. But don’t forget these are predominantly climbing areas not tourist sites listed on Visit Victoria. Why is Hollow Mountain any different to Taipan Wall? Tourists are walking over and writing on important cultural heritage sites. Parks Victoria – ignore this at your peril.
There are plenty more examples of damage to cultural heritage found at other Grampians tourist areas in this recent investigative article by Glen Tempest – Bushwalking Bans Looming in the Grampians/Gariwerd. Check it out!
Please share this article and don’ t forget to check out the other 60+ articles on this blog for further background reading. Stay tuned for further updates…