Back in the day (not far back, only 2018) climbers and park rangers drank cups of tea around the camp fire while telling stories and sharing knowledge: “we cleared away that fallen tree on the Waterworks Track”, “nice one, thank you”.
Everything changed in November 2018. Something shifted within Parks Victoria and climbers have been seen in a negative light since then. Save Grampians Climbing and this ACAV website have all the background on the Grampians access crisis.
The Labor Day 2019 Incident
See article by Save Grampians Climbing:
PARKS VICTORIA OUT IN FORCE OVER LONG WEEKEND
The Taipan Wall, December 2022 Incident
This incident at Taipan Wall on ‘opening day’ is described in an ACAV article:
Ranger Interaction at Taipan Wall
The “aggressive rangers” story was subsequently reported in the press and questions were asked in Parliament.
A formal complaint has recently been submitted to Parks Victoria by the complainant, over the behaviour of the two rangers at Taipan Wall.
Climber complaint To Parks Victoria 21-Feb-2023
This shocking story has also been published on Save Grampians Climbing:
HARASS AND INTIMIDATE: Parks Victoria Goes Cops on Climbers
ACAV RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE EVENT OF A RANGER INTERACTION
In light of these confronting events, we would advise ACAV members to learn more about the limited authority of park rangers in their work as public servants under the law. If a park ranger approaches and asserts any official authority, we make the following recommendations:
- Remain polite, respectful and calm. Do not answer questions or volunteer information.
- The ranger must first produce formal identification before proceeding. Take a photograph of both sides of the ranger’s ID card. The card must show that the ranger is an authorised officer under the National Parks Act 1975. We understand that most rangers are suitably authorised.
- Record the whole interaction on video. Give prior notice of this. Ask the ranger to start again for the camera. Establish your authority in this situation.
- For any formal interaction to continue, the ranger must assert an appropriate offence under the National Parks Regulations 2013, e.g. climbing offence, camping offence, bushwalking offence, damaging vegetation etc. Further information on the limitations of potential offences can be found in this ACAV article:
Can I Be Fined For Climbing Rocks?
DO NOT ALLOW THE INTERACTION TO PROCEED WITHOUT “AUTHORISED OFFICER” ID AND THE ALLEGATION OF AN OFFENCE UNDER THE NATIONAL PARKS REGULATIONS 2013.
If these two conditions are not met, you may wish the ranger a “good afternoon” and continue with your day.
If an offence is formally alleged, the ranger is likely to proceed as follows:
- You may be ‘read your rights’. Rangers have recently described this procedure as a ‘caution’. The Parks Victoria script includes: “you do not have to say or do anything, but anything you say or do may be given in evidence, do you understand that?” Do not acknowledge understanding. Do not accept the terms of any ‘caution’. Do not say or do anything. Take the legal advice from the script and do not risk providing evidence against yourself while you are taken aback and under pressure. Remain completely silent at this point. You are protected under the law. This is not an interview. You are not required to answer questions.
- The ranger may ask your name and address. You are required to verbally state your name and address. You are not required to carry formal ID. You are not required to provide proof of identity in a park.
- The ranger may direct you to leave an area or a park. You are required to leave the area or the park as directed.
- The ranger may issue you with an infringement notice, stating your name and address and alleging an appropriate offence under the National Parks Regulations 2013.
If you receive a climbing-related infringement notice, please contact ACAV for further advice. It may be beneficial to challenge the alleged offence in the Magistrates Court, with assistance from ACAV. Members will be supported to the extent of funds available over this critical issue of public park access.
We understand that Parks Victoria has never issued an infringement notice for any offence associated with rock climbing.
National Parks Regulations 2013 (at 15 Dec 2020)
National Parks Act 1975 (at 01 Sept 2022)
Rock climbing is successfully managed internationally, using collaborative management methods, as described within the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines.
Please support the work that we do at ACAV
To renew an expired membership, please visit the membership portal: https://vicmembers.climb.org.au/portal
Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome: email@example.com