Quarrying Exclusion Zones – Taipan Wall

The right side of Taipan Wall has been designated a NO ENTRY zone to protect locations where ancient rock breakages have been found. This Taipan (South) exclusion zone includes Spurt Wall. Further smaller exclusion zones are also indicated at several locations along the base of the Taipan left side open section.

Taipan Wall Rock Climbing Information (link)

RIGHT SIDE NO ENTRY ZONE

Below the route, Naja, a tripod sign has been placed on the footpath, discouraging access any further along the footpath to Taipan Wall right side and Spurt Wall

The following photographs show the ‘quarrying’ rock scars below the route, Invisible Fist, believed to be the reason for the exclusion zone at Taipan Wall right side:

SEVENTH BANANA NO ENTRY ZONE (within the open section of Taipan left side)

A tripod sign discourages access to rock breakages beneath the route, Seventh Banana. There are several similar small zones within the open section of Taipan Wall left side:

Detail of this zone from the Parks Victoria information sheet:

The following photographs show the ‘quarrying’ rock scars below the route, Seventh Banana, believed to be the reason for this exclusion zone :

INFORMATION SIGNAGE FOR VISITORS

The following information signs have been installed at the Camp Sandy trail-head and at the Trackside boulders, beneath Taipan Wall:

TRACK WORK

Minor track work has been completed by Parks Victoria, to facilitate these arrangements:

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ACAV remains available to assist in the implementation of the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines.

Please support the work that we do at ACAV:

Join as a member for $15

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome: acav@climb.org.au

Ranger Interaction at Taipan Wall

We have received a report that Parks Victoria rangers in the Grampians National Park, approached a rock climber at Taipan Wall North on the opening weekend, Sunday 18.12.2022. The climber was following all the new recommendations after the wall had been previously closed for 2 years.

After a period of friendly conversation, one of the rangers took the conversation in a serious direction and read out the legal rights to the climber: “anything you say may be used against you in evidence”.

The ranger explained: “we can do this the easy way or the hard way.” The climber chose an interview on the track below Taipan Wall. The hard way was not specified.

The ranger’s questions related to recent sightings of the climber’s car within the Grampians National Park, and they advised: “Your face matches the vehicle owner details”. The climber’s car had been parked on public roads at various locations and had been noted to contain climbing equipment.

After further discussion, the climber was given a caution for not presenting photo ID, then released without charge.

We have also received a recent report of a boulderer being challenged by rangers for bouldering at a nearby location, The Citadel. The rangers were duly informed that The Citadel is not restricted in any way and the rangers left without further incident.

Climbers and boulderers would be wise to avoid ranger interactions at this time. We would advise staying completely silent under any questioning of a threatening nature. If pressed, it would be prudent to say only: “I want a lawyer”.

It is likely that a formal complaint will be made about the behaviour of these rangers, to ensure that Parks Victoria management policy is adjusted in line with Australian law. In 2019, ACAV made a formal complaint about ranger behaviour, after heavy handed practices were implemented over the 2019 Labor Day weekend.

Save Grampians Climbing: Parks Victoria Out In Force Over Long Weekend 2019

There was no further intimidating behaviour during 2019 – 2022 until this recent event. The affected parties are now considering their next steps.

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ACAV remains available to assist in the implementation of the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines.

Please support the work that we do at ACAV:

Join as a member for $15

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome: acav@climb.org.au

You are invited to join our Facebook group: ACAV Access Discussion

Parks Victoria is Failing to Protect Grampians Cultural Heritage

The Australian Climbing Association Victoria (ACAV) recently wrote to the Parks Victoria Chief Conservation Scientist, raising concerns that the widespread bans on climbing in the Grampians have not addressed the central issue of protecting cultural heritage in the region. Climbers were excluded from three quarters of the park as convenient scapegoats, representing illusory “protection”. We believe that Parks Victoria is mismanaging the situation to the detriment of all and we request a review by the responsible Minster.

Tourist vandalism, Hollow Mountain, Grampians

Letter to Chief Conservation Scientist

These are our five questions raised in the letter to the Chief Conservation Scientist. For those interested, more detail on the history of this situation is available in the full 7-page letter. We await a response from Parks Victoria.

Q1: How was it scientifically determined that historic quarry sites must be protected from climbers but not from tourist vandalism, feral animal damage and bushfires?

Q2: Are any further protections planned for the hundreds of quarry sites, or will you proceed at risk of harm from tourist vandalism, feral animal damage and bushfires?

Q3: Do you propose the same, minimal protection for cultural art sites in the region?

Q4: Are you confident that your protection strategies are fully compliant with the ATSIHPA 1984 and the AHA 2006?

Q5: How have you managed any contradictions between the ATSIHPA 1984 and the AHA 2006?

Furthermore, the Chief Conservation Scientist has been put on notice:

We contend that your present cultural heritage protection strategies are not compliant with the ATSIHPA 1984 and the AHA 2006. Please consider this letter as notice, confirming that, under AHA 2006 Division 1: 27 (1) you are now aware that your omission to act accordingly is likely to cause irreparable harm to cultural heritage artefacts.”

This matter has recently been taken up in the Victorian Parliament and we will report on progress in a follow up communication.

ACAV remains available to assist in the implementation of the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines.

Please support the work that we do at ACAV:

Join as a member for $15

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome: acav@climb.org.au

You are invited to join our Facebook group: ACAV Access Discussion

Grampians Green List

“Where can I boulder and climb in the Grampians?”

We are often asked this question. Here are the Parks Victoria lists of 13 Bouldering Areas and 89 Designated Climbing Areas, transcribed from the Greater Gariwerd Landscape Management Plan.

Maps 

* UPDATE: The complete spreadsheet of green list locations can be found here:

https://vicclimb.files.wordpress.com/…/grampians-green…

Parks Victoria Signage Plan, July 2022

Rock Climbing in Gariwerd (updated July 2022)

Many other Grampians bouldering and climbing locations, not shown on the lists above, are unidentified in the management plan and will remain unidentified on the ground. These locations are presumably deemed to be not-permitted by default. There are no Bouldering Areas or Designated Climbing Areas listed for the Black Range State Park.

The Climbing Victoria Advisory Council attends quarterly meetings with Parks Victoria and we understand that discussions are ongoing to potentially increase the number of Designated Climbing Areas. Parks Victoria prefers to communicate only with CVAC. We are advised that no additional Bouldering Areas will be permitted. CVAC does not appear to be fully formed at this stage. We have been advised to contact Outdoors Victoria for representation within this process.

It appears unlikely that Parks Victoria would be prepared to issue a legal infringement notice should anyone be found to be bouldering or climbing outside the listed locations or in violation of any future permit conditions. Parks Victoria is relying on park users to “do the right thing”.

Climbing permits are not available and not required at this stage. They will be introduced in the future. This is the latest advice on permits.

The permit will be free and can be completed online. There are still more logistics to work through and it could take up to a year before it is implemented. More details will be provided as the process is finalised.” Parks Victoria, July 2022

This management approach is cumbersome, restrictive and expensive. Overcrowding at a limited number of bouldering and climbing locations may lead to environmental harm. This is already occurring at popular tourist spots. Yet this containment strategy does nothing to protect important cultural sites from the far greater threats of bushfire, feral animal damage and tourist vandalism. We believe that there are far better ways to manage bouldering and climbing in the Grampians.

ACAV remains available to assist in the implementation of the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines.

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Please support the work that we do at ACAV:

Join as a member for $15

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome: acav@climb.org.au

You are invited to join our Facebook group: ACAV Access Discussion

Parks Victoria Equipment Ban Challenged

ACAV has written to Parks Victoria raising concerns over safety instructions given by a Parks Victoria Director, in a letter to Open Spaces Publishing:

“A rope may be used to assist hikers on a designated trail. However the use of additional equipment outside of a designated climbing area is not permitted.”

Letter from Parks Victoria to Open Spaces Publishing 18022022

Any prohibition of safety equipment presents a glaring safety risk, exposing Parks Victoria and its policy-makers to litigation in the event of an accident. We see it as our duty of care to raise this matter.

Tragedy on the first ascent of the Matterhorn, 1865 – drawn by Gustave Doré

Many experienced climbers and hikers will be aware of a tragedy that occurred on the first ascent of the Matterhorn, Switzerland in 1865. Four people died on the descent when one person slipped and pulled three others off the mountain to their deaths. They were simply roped together with no point of attachment to the rock.

The present ruling allows a fine of $1817 for carrying karabiners, slings or rock protection while deemed by a ranger to be doing the wrong kind of walking / hiking / scrambling / climbing, in the wrong place.

Parks Victoria must step back from banning “additional equipment” under any circumstances and must publish updated advice at the earliest opportunity, to ensure that outdoor enthusiasts feel able to equip themselves properly, without fear of prosecution. Any group, in any part of the Grampians may be hit by bad weather, become lost, experience illness or may encounter another emergency. Group leaders must have the freedom to carry equipment as they see fit.

ACAV remains available to assist in the implementation of the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines.

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Please support the work that we do at ACAV:

Join as a member for $15

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome: acav@climb.org.au

You are invited to join our Facebook group: ACAV Access Discussion

ACAV Calls For Withdrawal of “All of Park” Access Bans

ACAV has called for the withdrawal of newly-introduced “all of park” access bans on legal and regulatory grounds.

Link: ACAV Letter to Parks Victoria 30 May 2022

Arapiles / Dyurrite as the sun sets

Recent modifications to the National Parks Regulations 2013, allow Parks Victoria to ban everyone from all parks across the state if they wish to do so. The Victorian parks comprise 4 million hectares or 18% of the land area of Victoria, including 70% of our coastline.

On 9th March 2022, Matthew Jackson, CEO of Parks Victoria, implemented a “whole of a park” legal instrument to execute new set aside determinations for the Grampians/Gariwerd National Park, banning more than three-quarters of the climbing.

There is concern that this new legislation may soon be applied at Australia’s premier rock climbing location, Mount Arapiles / Dyurrite.

ACAV has requested that Parks Victoria:

  1. Withdraws the implementation of all-of-the-park set asides, pending a review of legal and regulatory compliance.
  2. Instigates an internal review of the justification for this proposed all-of-the-park exclusion approach.
  3. Suspends the implementation of the associated rock climbing and bouldering measures prescribed within the Greater Gariwerd Landscape Management Plan.
  4. Collaborates with climbing groups to modify Parks Victoria strategy in this area, guided by the well-established principles described within the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines.

Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines

As further restrictions are introduced, we can only reflect upon what may be gained by this approach, and what may be lost.

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Please support the work that we do at ACAV:

Join as a member for $15

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome: acav@climb.org.au

You are invited to join our Facebook group: ACAV Access Discussion

Auditing Parks Victoria: Let’s Do Another

In September 2020, a request for audit was submitted to VAGO, the Victorian Auditor General’s Office:

https://acav.climb.org.au/2020/09/02/time-for-an-audit-parks-victoria/

It took 12 months for the query to be addressed but a result was eventually achieved in September 2021. The Auditor General found major problems with the manner in which Parks Victoria procured Archaeological reports pertaining to perceived rock climbing damage in Grampians/Gariwerd and at Arapiles/Dyurrite. Their procurement findings are summarized in Section 5 of this VAGO report (follow link and scroll down).

Managing Conflicts of Interest in Procurement

Parks Victoria was compelled to improve procedures, much to their inconvenience and embarrassment. However, past indiscretions were never addressed.

We are now requesting a VAGO Performance Audit of two key archaeological reports that led to the rock climbing bans. This is the audit request:

VAGO Performance Audit Request

Excerpt from the May 2022 VAGO Audit Request

Hopefully it doesn’t take as long this time to hold our park managers to account. They are compelled to demonstrate an evidence-based scientific approach and they have failed to do this.

We contend that the climbing restrictions noted within the Greater Gariwerd Landscape Management Plan are based upon false information and we again assert a management approach based upon the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines.

ACAV remains available for consultation on this matter.

Reference links:
Rock Art and Rock Climbing: An Escalating Conflict
https://acav.climb.org.au/2020/09/21/victorian-climbing-management-guidelines-version-4/
Parks Victoria Statement of Obligations
https://savegrampiansclimbing.org/2021/09/09/auditor-general-investigates-parks-victoria-and-archeologist-ben-gunn/
https://www.onsight.com.au/2020/02/rebeka/
https://acav.climb.org.au/2020/05/25/archaeologist-complaint-lodged-by-acav/

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Please support the work that we do at ACAV:

Join as a member for $15

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome: acav@climb.org.au

You are invited to join our Facebook group: ACAV Access Discussion




Greater Gariwerd Grampians Management Plan – A Practical Review

The Plan was published in November 2021 and it is likely to remain active for 15 years.

Ethan Pringle on The Groove Train (33) on Taipan Wall in the Grampians (photo : Simon Carter)

Sadly, Parks Victoria has failed to genuinely consult over the new climbing rules.  Parks Victoria has recently informed us that “Consultation continues, with Parks Victoria regularly meeting with the newly established Climbing Victoria Advisory Council.” This organisation does not exist.

Several practical and legal failings affect the proposed rules:

  1. Many of the “open” cliffs cannot be accessed via the proposed “designated tracks” under the proposals to limit off-track walking.
  2. The “closed” cliffs are not identified anywhere in the plan.
  3. The mapping provided by Parks Victoria is inadequate. Climbers remain unaware of key location details.
  4. Widespread closure signage is impractical, yet it is required by law, to clearly identify the hundreds of “closed” locations.
  5. If Parks Victoria went ahead and issued climbing permits, they would become legally responsible for bolt integrity and bouldering pad safety. In the event of a serious accident, any disclaimers would be deemed invalid in court.
  6. The provision of only 13 bouldering locations will lead to overcrowding.
  7. Coloured chalk is impractical – see title photo.
  8. Discriminating against and excluding one user group (climbers), runs contrary to Parks Victoria’s responsibilities under the National Parks Act.
  9. Parks Victoria must demonstrate “evidence-based park management” under their Statement of Obligations. Their Archaeological reporting does not meet this standard (referred to the Auditor General).
  10. Parks Victoria cannot issue a legal infringement notice for climbing or walking in the wrong places and hence cannot police the new climbing rules.

Climbers and boulderers seeking clarification will be disappointed and they face a choice to either selectively break rules or continue to stay away from the Grampians.

Recent correspondence from Parks Victoria has been dismissive i.e. read the Plan.

ACAV remains available for consultation and will continue to support its members.

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In this election year, you are encouraged to email your local member of parliament to make your feelings known on this issue. Lily D’Ambrosio is the Victorian Minister responsible for this portfolio lily.dambrosio@parliament.vic.gov.au

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Please support the work that we do at ACAV:

Join as a member for $15

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome: acav@climb.org.au

You are invited to join our Facebook group: ACAV Access Discussion

ACAV Submission – Draft GGLDMP

Have your say on the future of climbing and bouldering in the Grampians/Gariwerd National Park. Template available below.

Submissions responding to Park Victoria’s Greater Gariwerd Landscape Draft Management Plan (GGLDMP) close on Sunday 24th January 2021.

The GGLDMP is a critically important document as it will direct management of the Grampians for possibly the next 15 years and it may also used as a template for management of rock climbing in other areas. Climbing in the Grampians/Gariwerd is going to be absolutely decimated if this plan is implemented in it’s present form.

The ACAV has prepared a 22-page Submission to Parks Victoria in response to the draft plan. We have major concerns over these proposals and we have made a number of recommendations. Our response has been prepared in-line with international precedent and best practice for climbing and bouldering management around the world.

We have formatted our recommendations into a Word document, linked below, which you may wish to use as a template for your own submission to Parks Victoria. Simply download the Word document, fill out your details, edit accordingly, add your own recommendations if you wish, and most importantly email it to Parks Victoria by Sunday, 24 January. Email address: parkplan@parks.vic.gov.au

Template of recommendations for your submission

Thank you for making your voice heard to help protect future climbing access in the Grampians/Gariwerd National Park.

Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines – Version 4

Following a period of consultation, the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines document has been updated to version 04.

The Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines V04

This document has been issued to interested parties at all levels. It is intended to inform and advise with a view to establishing excellent climbing management practices for the benefit of everyone.

We are indebted to Matt Brooks, who took on the lead role of pulling all this information together, managing the consultation process and closing out this major piece of work to produce a high quality document and a forward plan for rock climbing and bouldering in Victoria, Australia.

The Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines has been developed in accordance with international best practice, factoring-in comprehensive advice from climbing bodies around the world, including Access Fund USA:
A Guide to Climbing Issues and the Development of a Climbing Management Plan

This approach is a continuation of work done by Cliffcare for many years: https://www.cliffcare.org.au/

Victoria also has a new stewardship organisation, Crag Stewards Victoria, described in the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines.

Ongoing feedback is always welcome for future updates to the Guidelines: acav@climb.org.au

You can also provide feedback on our Facebook group: ACAV Access Discussion