A Short Poop in the Woods*

The following is a public submission to Save Grampians Climbing from a local Grampians climber who has spent the last 40+ years establishing many of the climbing areas we all love. They have seen immense change in the landscape during this time, some positive and some negative. It’s an interesting perspective on where Park Victorias’ priorities lie in the 21st century and how millions are being spent upgrading parts of the park to attract bulk tourism at the expense of the environment. For those attending the new management plan meetings in the next few weeks this is what the future is looking like for the rest of the Grampians if the current plans are continued. Big dollars spent on building showpiece infrastructure but no money being spent maintaining the people that come with this infrastructure. We have long argued on this blog that government money should be spent managing the current users (like climbers) rather than attracting new users with schemes like the Grampians Peaks Trail. Do you like our header image? That’s PV’s own Simon Talbot lording over his infrastructure empire…

Continue reading A Short Poop in the Woods*

#notclimbers – PV’s Double Standards for Environmental Destruction

Parks Victoria’s claim that climbing should be banned because of environmental impact flies in the face of their own actions. The biggest group damaging the Grampians is Parks Victoria. It’s all part of a push from the government and commercial tourism groups to attract more visitors and thus more dollars. As Kevin Costner so famously said “if you build it they will come”. A bigger carpark attracts more cars. Make it easier to walk to somewhere by installing a paved track and ladders and more people will walk there. The following photo essay is snapshot of the kind of damage PV is routinely allowing in the name of “progress” and “growth”. Much of the recent damage they so proudly promote is from the Grampians Peaks Trail® – a 144km walking track being constructed over the next few years – with attached luxury lodges. This isn’t just connecting old walking trails together – over 83km of new track is being cut, bulldozed and jack hammered through virgin bush to attract more tourists and their $$$. You can watch some of the private contractors working on the Peaks Trail in this promotional video:

This is the ugly truth behind how supposed low impact bushwalking tracks are created. So when someone complains about some climbers chalk, safety bolts or a foot pad – show them this. #notclimbers

Clawing it’s way through the bush in a so called “ecologically sensitive” way – Peaks Trail construction

“the team is clearing at a rate of 120 meters per day in dense sections and up to 600 meters per day in lighter sections. Clearing typically involves carving a path through foliage, removing bushes and, where necessary, trees to create a navigable path for the track construction.”

Grampians Peak Trail Community Update April 2019
Track needs to be wide enough to drive on. Need to supply those future luxury lodges!
The roadkill expressway taking tourists to the heart of the Grampians – a little bigger than a climbers track.

“We also expect an additional 35,000 visitors to the region annually…”

Simon Talbot – Parks Victoria
The sweet sound of growth. Tracks are made from local stone… what about the animals that live under them?

“Construction will involve stone masonry techniques to install hundreds of rock steps ensuring the path is ecologically sensitive and sympathetic to the landscape”

Parks Victoria – April 2019
How good are drones! At least it offsets the sound of construction generators in the bush.
Being “sympathetic to the landscape” is all about digging a trench and ripping up rocks
Crowbarring rocks down hills. PV approved track making.

“Thousands of hand-built steps are being shaped from sandstone which has been mainly sourced on-site.”

Grampians Peak Trail Community Update March 2018
Need a better view? PV have a quick fix for that.
Who needs a map anymore when you can just follow PV’s silver highway slashed straight through the bush.

“This year, Dirt Art will construct 35 kilometres in the north, from Roses Gap to Halls Gap, and 22 kilometres in the south, from Cassidy Gap to Dunkeld. The remaining 45 kilometres in the central section will be completed by the end of 2020.”

Stanwell Times – April 2019
PV’s head ranger – not afraid to self promote the destruction of 80+ kilometers of bush to build a tourist trap on Channel 9

Watch this Ch9 video where PV talks up their environmental destruction.


Smoke on the water

“Contractors have completed work on over 1.5km of steel walkway on the remote Major Mitchell Plateau”

Friends of the Grampians April 2019
Got to keep those ankles dry and those tourists happy

“the concerns remain about where the money for the upkeep of the trail will come from, and whether that money will come at the expense of other pressing needs of our Park.”

Friend of Grampians July 2015
Chainsaws being used in the Grampians,? We all know who does that. Peaks Trail.
The peace and quiet of nature
The new Peaks Trail. Visible from space?

“These works involve the pruning and removal of trees and vegetation and are carried out to ensure the corridor is cleared for construction of the walking track. Track clearing requires contractors the most efficient access points and the most effective means of removing all vegetation from the alignment”

Grampians Peak Trail Community Update November 2018
It’s fine to chop the trees down and smash the rocks up if the tourists are paying big bucks in return.
Parks Victoria is happy to get their photo in front of their latest environmental destruction project!

“there is significant harm… because you’ll end up with these private enclaves within what is essentially publicly-owned land. Ninety-nine years is essentially private ownership in a sense. We also know that if something starts small, even if it starts environmental friendly, it inevitably grows.”

Matt Ruchel, Victorian National Parks Association
The cutting & blasting of this one block probably adds up to the entire rock removed for every single climbing safety bolt installed in the Grampians. But don’t lets facts get in the way of a good story.
Who installs more bolts in the Grampians? No prizes for guessing.

“Parks Victoria is looking at how the fully facilitated walks can include accommodation, food, beverage and landscape interpretation.”

Grampians Peak Trail Community Update July 2018
Walkers need huge ugly metal handrails for protection from a 2m cliff – but climbers can’t use tiny safety bolts to protect themselves from 50m cliffs?
Rebolting PV style. Every lookout looks like this.
Instagram worthy destruction. At least that tree is safe – for now.

“Mt Stapylton and Mt Abrupt walking tracks continue to be upgraded with the addition of over 500 new hand-built rock steps, flagstone paving, new drainage, a retaining wall, removal of trip hazards and track resurfacing.”

Grampians Peak Trail Community Update July 2018
Just a casual digger in a creek doing good.
Just a bunch of chainsawed trees and a metal box. Low impact.

“The Grampians Peaks Trail is a walking experience and does not offer rock climbing tours.”

Parks Victoria
Damage to the environment around art sites? We have a winner!
Let’s count how many bolts are in this art site shall we…

“The areas, some of the
most spectacular locations in the park, have
provided evidence of people camping on
or near the peaks for thousands of years.
Previously unknown occupation sites, scar
trees, surface scatters, greenstone originally
from the Lancefield area nearly 250km away
and rock art have all been rediscovered.”

Grampians Peak Trail Community Update September 2017
Subtle. That drop must be at least 4m.
Should climbers be railing against damage to cliffs like this? You bet we should!
Good bye trees. Hello PV’s new official Peaks Trail campground.
Parks Victoria protecting SPA areas at Hollow Mountain by building a huge carpark and sending in the tourists
Ladders certainly make climbing easier for all involved. Maybe PV should build one on Taipan Wall?
More steel than all the climbing safety bolts in all of the Grampians.
“Getting on with it” is the government’s big growth mantra clearly at play here
Rust scars are a nice touch
The sign could have been bigger PV. We can’t read it.
As nature intended – metal and paving stones.

“Any new trail to be constructed as part of the Grampians Peaks Trail should be offset by closures of trails, tracks and/ or roads elsewhere in the park if possible. “

Grampians Peak Trail Master Plan 2014
Of course the highest mountain in the Grampians needs a bitumen road and a radio tower on top.
Tourist graffiti at Hollow Mountain. We presume they will ban tourists then?
Typical tourist scribbles at Beehive Falls – right near the Peaks Trail and no where near climbing. #notclimbers
Fires cause 99.9% of the vegetation damage in the Grampians – #notclimbers
Floods cause significant tree and rock damage – #notclimbers

Disengage Victoria – Will climbers get a real say?

Next Wednesday is a new beginning for the future of rock climbing in the Grampians. Or is it?

A lot of climbers have expressed frustration with the lack of progress in the Grampians climbing situation. This angst has been brought about especially by the replies many of us have received to our letters of concern directed to State Ministers and Parks Victoria. Almost without fail these replies have come straight from the public relations textbook – a couple of nice platitudes about rock climbing and then cookie cutter mention of a new Grampians National Park management plan that is in the process of being created as the “solution” to any concerns from climbers.

Continue reading Disengage Victoria – Will climbers get a real say?

ACT NOW – SIGN UP FOR MANAGEMENT PLAN WORKSHOPS

You have probably signed the petitions, sent letters to State and Local Government, joined an access organization and donated to various funds. Now is your chance to have your say on the new Grampians Landscape Management Plan. PV have announced workshops open to the public at various locations in the Grampians district and North Melbourne next month.

Continue reading ACT NOW – SIGN UP FOR MANAGEMENT PLAN WORKSHOPS

Assist efforts in restoring access to world renowned climbing areas in the Grampians National Park