Major Submissions by the climbing community to the draft Greater Gariwerd Landscape Management Plan (GGLMP)
The following summaries (in no particular order, they are all important) of group submissions has been compiled, along with the key points and recommendations made by the respective groups.
The VCC has also done a comprehensive summary presented in handy table format (PDF), which is well worth downloading to see all the common themes among submissions.
The VCC has put forward an extremely detailed and comprehensive submission that includes economic analysis and, presents practical options for the management of climbing within Gariwerd, and challenges many of the claims made about climbing in the draft GGLMP.
- Calls out the double standard of management of climbing, vs other recreational pursuits (eg Walkers).
- Suggests to open some climbing areas with restrictions (rather than having them banned), eg no bolts, etc.
- Suggests Breaking up of larger areas, where some smaller areas could be quite separate to areas with Cultural Heritage.
- PV should construct and sign cliff access tracks to priority / popular cliffs.
- Does not support a Permit System for climbing.
- Advisory body for fixed anchor maintenance, and any proposals for new climbs or areas [and proper consultation generally].
- Focusses on the Economic Impact of the loss of climbing / climbers*
- Individual boulders should be assessed, and if no CH found, bouldering should be allowed.
- Restrict number of boulderers (popular sites), rather than outright bans.
- PV Should remove the threat to close areas where a single climber may cause an issue (eg bolt replacement).
- Climbing clubs should be able to use LTO areas like Summerday Valley
- Lower impact climbing should be allowed in some SPA’s.
The VCC have also issued a media release about the submission.
*The detailed economic analysis completed for VCC (partly using the results of the SGC climbers survey) is available in a separate paper on the VCC website.
“The estimated direct and indirect rock climbing tourism benefits to regional communities in 2018 are $12.3 million for Mount Arapiles (Dyurrite) and $11.9 million for the Grampians (Gariwerd)”
The ACAV have put forward a detailed submission that backs climber’s ability to self-manage (within limits), and suggests that PV taking a ‘precautionary’ approach to protecting Cultural Heritage is unnecessary and unjustified.
The ACAV also strongly advocated for PV to adopt the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines, which seeks to address concerns that PV has, and to minimize or mitigate climbing impacts.
- Take a climb-by-climb approach to managing climbing.
- Legal set-asides to be sought and legally compliant signage to be installed at each restricted location.
- The presence of stone quarrying must not be used as a blanket justification for excluding public access.
- Designated rock climbing areas and permit plans to be abandoned.
- Safety bolts to be managed and maintained by climbing groups.
- Bouldering mats must not be prohibited as they are essential to reduce the risk of injury and death.
- Chalk use to be accepted, subject to guidelines.
- Proposed ban on new climbing locations to be removed from the GGLDMP.
- Off-track walking restrictions to be cancelled to allow off-track walking and the use of game trails.
- Parks Victoria to work with Crag Stewards Victoria and Cliffcare to maintain walking tracks and cliff bases.
- Bush camping to remain permissible subject to existing conditions.
Crag Stewards Vic (CSV)
Newly formed Crag Stewards Victoria has put in a strong submission that highlights the positive steps climbers can take to protect areas, and work with PV and Traditional Owners to ensure CH is protected, and any climbing impacts are mitigated or minimised. They also highlight inconstancies in the plan, and point out areas where the plan might fail to achieve it’s objectives.
- Proposes some areas are reclassified as ‘wild areas’ (where climbing is allowed, but under certain restrictions).
- Focusses on the good things that climbing groups can bring, like track maintenance and repair and reporting of issues via ‘Crag Stewards’.
- Supports fixed anchors where natural gear doesn’t exist, and in places where it will not impact CH, natural environment or visual experience of other users.
- Supports a climbing permit for the purposes of education or cultural induction, but not as mechanism to police climbers.
The Grampians Wimmera Reconciliation Network (GWRN) sumbission is “fully supportive of the need to enjoy Gariwerd in ways that are respectful, promote healing and cultural renewal, and enhance the serenity of Country” But also highlights how the plan can avoid contributing to division, and suggests ways in which cooperative management can achieved.
- Supports respectful climbing in a variety of Gariwerd landscapes, where climbers can positively contribute to the cultural renewal and healing of Traditional Owners.
- Suggests a review process for climbing, whereby areas or practices could be re-assessed, including where errors were made by PV in gathering information. Many examples of how this might work are found in the submission.
- Include the possibility of a trusted 3rd party to assist in managing climbing sites (including perhaps, groups like Crag Stewards Vic).
- Mitigation measures could allow climbing and cultural values to co-exist.
- Suggests that creating a decision making body that includes the input of recreational users will lead to higher compliance.
- Transparency around decision making, including giving appropriate reasons for area closures.
- GWRN consider that the draft plan will be more effectively implemented if reconciliation-led conversations and solutions agreed between Traditional Owners and community groups are acknowledged proactively by PV.
Former ACAV committee member Mike Rockell, has put together a 38 page submission detailing all aspects of the draft GGLMP, where it is lacking, and suggests improvements and ways the climbing community could proactively contribute to the protection of Cultural and environmental values. Over 840 climbers have signed on to support this submission.
- Require formalised ongoing consultation with representative climbing groups.
- That PV engage with Cliffcare and/or Crag Stewards to carry out grass-roots maintenance, stablization, rubbish removal etc.
- PV should make corrections to the observed impact of climbing, where they have been shown to be exaggerated / false.
- PV should prioritise the urgent assessment and (re) opening of many more locations, and suggestions are made for at 36 priority areas.
- If Permits ARE implemented, climbers with permits should be permitted to use LTO areas like Summerday Valley.
- Areas should remain open where funding does not exist to assess them, and access to some areas could easily be reconsidered (eg Muline, Hollow Mt Cave, Bundaleer South….)
- Allow Bouldering to take place, but develop effective management strategies.
- Support for Permit system, provided it is for education / cultural induction, remains free, and some conditions are revised or reconsidered.
- Chalk minimisation should be a priority, rather than a sudden move to coloured chalk, and considerations should be given for cleaning of chalk by climbers, eg with soft brushes, vinegar and water etc.
- PV should supports establishment of track to popular locations, but still allow access to other more remote climbing locations.
- Suggests PV needs an independent ruling about whether bolting is permitted or not, as safety bolts have been known to exist for decades, and they of minimal impact, and are an essential part of keeping climbers safe.
- Submission allows for the use of fixed anchors to lessen environmental impact from descents, replacement of old fixed protection, and ‘some’ new routes at approved locations where sport or mixing climbing already exists, but not at ‘Trad only’ climbing locations.
- Allow for more free camping throughout Gariwerd.
A submission from the heart
Finally, there’s a submission from Ash Hendy, which we’ve included as a personal story, as it speaks to the passion that many feel about climbing in Gariwerd, and is something a little different.
We won’t list everyone’s submission here… but we thank all climbers that have made a submission to the draft GGLMP, or added their name to one.
Regarding HOW the submissions will be read and analyzed by PV:
- Will each submission receive confirmation that the submission was received?
- How will the data be analysed?
- Is there a structured and documented Parks Victoria procedure regarding analysis of the submissions?
- How will submissions be weighted?
They have responded to a request for this information link below.
Parks Victoria… you asked for feedback.