Continue reading Park Vic ranger’s harassment & intimidation of climbers – a personal story
“you do not have to do or say anything, but anything you may say or do may be given in evidence. Do you understand that?“Not the words you expect to hear when going about a day’s climbing in the Grampians…
Nanny-State Rules coming soon to YOU
Following on from our previous article, a broader article appeared in The Australian on the weekend (subscribers only). The article by John Ferguson covers a lot more than climbing – as now hiking and swimming are in the firing line – and that’s plenty for regular folk to get upset about… and didn’t they just (see twitter, R).Continue reading Nanny-State Rules coming soon to YOU
World Class No More – Days Roll By
Where are we at? It’s been a bit quiet over here at SGC as the dust settles from the big Plan of Management reveal and the “players” work away from the public eye to implement it. Plenty of people are burnt out from the whole affair and are just going climbing and forgetting the last three years ever happened.Continue reading World Class No More – Days Roll By
GGLMP – This is all we can manage folks
Well, the final Greater Gariwerd Landscape Management Plan (GGLMP) has been released to little fanfare on Wednesday 21st Dec. Perhaps they figured Christmas eve (a Friday) would be just too comic.
The info was posted immediately to the socials, and a flurry of responses quickly faded to… silence.
However, given the blood, toil and tears put into all the letters, campaigns and submissions, we ought to at least provide a summary and attempt to cover some angles.
We can’t really tell you what it all means however… that analysis is ongoing, and likely to change as we find out more about the management plan, and how it’s going to be managed.
Download the documents from this page: https://engage.vic.gov.au/gariwerd-management-plan
Note: Climbing Starts: P98 (118 of the PDF).
Major Points – General Info
- PV commit to ongoing dialogue with climbers after the release of the GGLMP. PV preference is to liaise with a single representative peak body.
- Bush camping will no longer be available from 2024. P92.
- Maps Series 3 – show “Provisional” camping areas, which will either be closed or made into formal camping areas.
- Campfires: “Investigate only permitting solid fuel fires from 1 March to 30 November” (High Priority).
- Interesting to note that “Camp Sandy” is designated as a Carpark (Map 3A).
- Hiking (Class 1-3) vs Climbing (Class 4-5) is defined on P99. What may not be known, is that Australia already has a walking track grading system (used by PV), but this has been conveniently replaced by the American system in order to control climbers / scramblers – and has resulted in the closure of popular ascents like the Fortress and Chimney Pots.
- Off track walking is still permitted except in Special Protection Areas – but a permit / permission required. This could result in closure of popular ‘alternative’ walking routes like the Hollow Mt to Stapleton Traverse, described as “one of the most spectacular day walks in Victoria”, which could now be regarded as ‘rock climbing’ due to the classification system above.
- Waterworks Track has been listed as CLOSED (Management vehicles and walkers only), severely limiting the access to the remaining ‘permitted’ climbing in the Vic Range. P158.
- No Dingos.
Climbing and Climbing Areas
- Only areas that are permitted to climb in are listed in the Management Plan. The areas previously banned (red crags) are now nowhere to be found. Permitted areas are listed in Appendix 2 – P147.
- 275 Crags are now listed as “Climbing Areas for review”. P149-151. A little more on this later.
- Taipan is listed to re-open – pending completion of ‘site works’. Some route closures are likely.
- Clicke Wall appears to be now banned – despite previously being a permitted area in the draft plan (this could be a mistake due to how theCrag map data was interpreted).
- Crankstart Ampitheatre and Pacific Ocean Wall are now Permitted Areas after specific written “Reg 67 requests” were put forward by climbers.
- The Rockwall near Roses Gap is also now a permitted crag.
- A change in language around bolting: “Within designated climbing areas, fixed and temporary fixed protection are an important feature for climbing.” Also gone is the threat to close areas if more routes are developed. P102.
To the delight / relief of many boulderers, the GGLMP has gone from a total annihilation of bouldering to something resembling a mere catastrophe.
13 Permitted bouldering areas have been identified, including some that were listed as ‘not permitted’ in the Draft document. Including: Between the Sheeps, The Bleachers, Cave Club, The Citadel, Legoland, Trackside Boulders, Venus Baths, Wildsides, and Andersens West.
“Each bouldering area will have defined site controls to regulate and mitigate the impacts. Bouldering will be able to take place at each site once the works necessary (if required) to implement these controls are completed”.
It is as yet unclear what these site controls are. Bouldering won’t be permitted at other designated climbing areas. Also noted was the potential to promote Venus Baths as an “all-abilities” bouldering area (and identify a new location outside of SDV for roped all-abilities access). (P85)
The Maps supplied by PV are comprehensive and ‘well researched’ on one hand (claps) and next to useless on the other. We’ll assume everyone has downloaded the PDF maps onto their phone, and also overlaid maps from theCrag or guidebooks so they can tell one crag from another, or where a permitted area ends and a banned section starts. No?
To make it just slightly less tedious; here’s the overview map, and the corresponding download links (direct from SGC).
Permits & Compliance
A Permit system to be developed “within 12 months”. Permits will be free, and involve an online cultural induction, but will also come with a range of conditions about permitted crags, track use, chalk use, etc which are yet to be specified.
“Climbing permits will take awhile to establish, until they are established rock climbing can occur in designated areas without a permit”*Note: A previous version of this statement said that “chalk colours” will also take a while to establish, but this has been removed.
A climbers survey in 2021, showed that most climbers were actually supportive of a permit system. Many liked the idea of a cultural induction or education about how to look after the environment, but there were some caveats.
We think many climbers were ok with the permit when they didn’t really understand what it would entail. There was an assumption by some that the permit would grant access back to some closed areas. But it’s actually the reverse – the permits will specifically deny access to all but the 105 permitted crags, and include a range of other conditions climbers will need to sign.
The permits are of course, designed to fully control a particular user group, and that climbers cannot be trusted, unlike other recreational user groups. We think this is discrimination.
Compliance is mentioned on P101. To “Monitor rock climbing and bouldering areas and compliance and consider further management as required”. It should be noted that PV have been known to use remote operated cameras in other parts of the state, but it remains to be seen what strategies and resources PV are willing to throw at the ‘climbing problem’.
Climbing Areas for review
The 275 Crags still to be surveyed represent another major loss of climbing areas – as with the release of the GGLMP they are now effectively banned – even popular, low-impact crags like Centurion and Cave & Wave, and even a stack of crags along the creek in the township of Halls Gap. However the list also includes many crags previously banned as being in SPA’s – including Weir’s Creek, Red Rocks, Barbican Walls and even Gondwanaland, which was one of the ‘original eight’ (to name just a few).
What’s particularly galling is the cavalier way PV have described the possibility and time-frame of further assessments “within the life of the management plan”. Gee, thanks.
No doubt it’s a daunting task, but Minister Lily D’ambrosio is on record saying that lack of funding for such assessments is not an issue. So despite PV’s reluctance, climbers can and should keep pushing for ongoing assessments (not just the handful that might ensure an easy life for a lazy bureaucracy).
In the next article, we’ll dive into the reasoning that has caused these 275 areas to be effectively banned until proven otherwise – the “precautionary-approach”.
So, where can you climb?
If there’s one upshot of the extensive and unprecedented bans in Gariwerd, it’s that a whole host of rarely visited crags are receiving a bit more attention. The downside of course (apart from the loss of actual crags) is that the remaining popular cliffs like the Ravine, Trackside, Tribute etc are going to receive even more traffic – and only adding to environmental pressures. PV will need to be on the front foot with climbing reps and access org to ensure the sustainable use of these areas.
When it comes to prohibiting climbing at any place that is not on the “Permitted List”, PV have absolved themselves of responsibility. That is, the risk is on you. Stay well away from and report any findings of Cultural Heritage, do not damage flora / fauna, and generally adhere to leave-no-trace and low impact climbing principles.
We’ll also update the ‘Closed Areas‘ page with more information shortly.
Continue the Advocacy
The GGLMP is not the end of the road for climbing access. There is (unfortunately) much advocacy still to do. PV also have a short corporate memory – many of the rangers who championed the bans are no longer with PV, and even the former head of PV – Simon Talbot has moved onto another role. In 5 years, the rocks will still be there. In 5,000 years, the rocks will still be there.
Join / Support the VCC, The ACAV is still there somewhere, and Crag Stewards Victoria is getting going with potential to be a major force of positivity when it comes to looking after our crags.
A few of these limited edition T-Shirts are still available – and yes, currently everything is still facing bans, despite some prospect of part re-opening.
All $40 including delivery Australia Wide. Note some may also be still available at The Rock in Geelong, and Arapiles Mountain Shop.
- Small – White (1 left)
- Medium – Black (1 left)
- Large – Black (1 left)
To order, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Auditor-General investigates Parks Victoria and archeologist Ben Gunn
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
Off the Charts – the real route losses in the Grampians
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
New management plan delayed indefinitely – PV out of cash for surveys
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
July: Crag Stewards, campaigns and T-SHIRTS
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).
GRAMPIANS t-sHIRT cROWDFUNDING
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
Climbers Survey Results
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
Ashlee Hendy – A submission from the heart
We wanted to share this story (permission obtained) from Ashlee Hendy, of Natimuk, who is a long time climber, and is super passionate about climbing, Gariwerd (Grampians), and Djurite (Arapiles). This is her submission for the GGLMP, which is a bit different and tells a personal story that we can all identify with, even if sometimes it’s hard to put those feelings into words.Continue reading Ashlee Hendy – A submission from the heart