Grampians Millennium Cave Project Postponed After Community Concerns

A Parks Victoria project to remove climbing bolts from Millennium Cave in the Grampians has been halted at the eleventh hour.

Without getting too much into the whys and wherefores of the project, this article seeks to explore practical issues and provide background commentary for those interested in this story and who may have never visited these caves.

If you haven’t been to Millennium Caves, please take a look at the photos and scroll down to read more about this latest episode in the Grampians climbing access story. These caves have recently been placed off-limits to everyone. If you want to “see” this amazing place, details can be found below, along with some inspiring photographs.

Millennium Caves: The Crag Online Guide

The lower Millennium cave, tier 1 – The proposed work site
Millennium Cave tier 1 is in the middle of this photo – access route for contractors’ equipment would be up a sloping rocky ramp from the dense bushland below
The cave surfaces are incredibly steep

Rock climbing at Millennium Caves became the subject of restrictions in 2019. It was one of 8 “focus sites” singled out to protect cultural heritage. A small faded emu foot, painted in ochre has been well known to climbers for 25 years. The painting has been recorded in climbing guidebooks and has been carefully protected by climbers. We are not sure who first found it. The painting is difficult to spot, among the multi coloured rock surfaces. Adventurous bushwalkers quietly travel these areas along with other curious types such as birdwatchers, botanists, photographers and archaeologists.

The emu foot painting
Wider shot of the art location. The painting is visible if you know where to look
The art site is on the right side of the cave. The main steep part of the cave is further left.

Other, more subtle artifacts are rumoured to exist but nothing has been revealed to the public regarding this chapter of human history. Cliffs elsewhere in the Grampians have been hit with climbing bans to protect faded art or pre-colonial rock scars. Some of this art is invisible without image enhancement. Visible or not, this art must be somehow protected. Centuries of bushfires have significantly affected the landscape and the rock surfaces. A major bushfire will destroy any artwork at the cliff base, with the lower rocks being smoke damaged, burned or even exfoliated.

Parks Victoria staff attempted to remove bolts from Millennium Cave in 2019, using a ladder and basic tools. This initiative was eventually aborted, leaving behind a few messy and dangerous bolts, still in the rock. These world class rock climbs are documented in tens of thousands of printed guide books.

There is no permanent signage to clarify the latest climbing status. Travelling climbers may not be aware of local restrictions. The park manager causing damage to safety infrastructure in this way could be considered reckless. Thankfully, no one has been hurt, to our knowledge.

When a UNESCO world heritage register of rock climbs is drawn up, Millennium Caves will represent the best of Australia on that list (dreams)

In March 2023, Parks Victoria issued an Expression of Interest (EOI) document to Licensed Tour Operators (climbing guiding companies), seeking to employ climbers to remove climbing bolts from the lower Millennium Cave, paint over any chalk stains and fill unnatural holes with coloured silicone. This EOI was leaked to the climbing community via the company owners.

Save Grampians Climbing: PV Cuts Corners to Chop Bolts (Dodgy Tour Operator Proposal Revealed)

The EOI scope of work described bolt removal activity at only one of the four Millennium Caves that climbers have frequented in this immediate vicinity. We are unsure why only one of the four caves was singled out for these works. Access difficulty on foot is certainly a factor for 21st century city dwellers.

Community reaction to the EOI was mixed. The most mystifying issue was Parks Victoria’s apparent ignorance of the industrial high access industry. Qualified and highly paid rope access professionals are routinely employed to clean windows on tall buildings such as the Parks Victoria Bourke Street office, yet this complex, delicate and dangerous cave project was deemed to be within the remit of tourism companies and climbing instructors.

Of course, any head contractor would have the option to appoint suitably qualified subcontractors, deemed to be capable of the works. We have no confirmation of any high access subcontractor involvement or supervision to reassure the community over safety and environmental concerns.

Indeed many climbers are aware that Parks Victoria previously employed an Archaeologist and an Art Conservator in 2019 to supervise the repair of bolt holes that the parks service had made, years ago in a sensitive location.

We are unaware of the details of the tender process, however it recently became apparent that one of these tour operators had actually taken on this industrial high access project and was preparing to begin the bolt removal works on 22 May 2023, as originally planned in the EOI.

News of the impending workplace commencement became known to the wider climbing community and discussions ensued in person and on social media. No hard information was made available at this point.

The contractor then issued a statement on his blog, going some way to explaining his contract and his intent to proceed, but not his methodology.

Community debate continued, but for some reason, the project was abruptly cancelled, postponed or mothballed, four days before it was due to start on site.

Parks Victoria has issued no new information since their original EOI request in March and we have no idea why the bolt removal scheme was halted.

In response to a fact checking request for this article, the contractor declined to comment. We have received no response to our technical or safety queries. No information was offered to reassure concerned climbers over safety or environmental damage. Experienced climbers and high access professionals still cannot perceive how these bolts can be safely removed using industrial workplace methods, without significant damage to the cave, including further drilling into the rock.

Parks Victoria responded to our written correspondence with their customary brevity.

It is possible that the project plan may have failed to achieve a Safe Work Method Statement during the planning stage. In hindsight, it may be fortunate that the climbing community stepped in to ask questions. The work method statement may be a problem or there could be other obstacles such as budget constraints, insurance difficulties or a gathering perception of a lack of community engagement

We would also expect further compliance challenges ahead for Parks Victoria, should they wish to proceed. Where is the Environmental Impact Statement? Will environmental offsets be used as a management tool, as was attempted for the construction of the 160km Grampians Peaks Trail through the same remote country?

Industry insiders have raised a likely need for greater focus on traditional worksite access methods such as scaffolding and even the use of helicopters to fly in materials. Although new rock drilling to stabilise the work platforms would be essential for any safe access method. The budget could escalate into hundreds of thousands of dollars for the contractor’s works alone. The program in this case would extend far beyond the estimated 2 weeks. Environmental damage would scale up accordingly.

Cost for land council attendance would, in all likelihood, surpass the dollar total for the engineering side of the works. Representatives from each of the three surrounding land councils would expect to attend at Parks Victoria expense.

Access to the proposed worksite can be difficult

Qualified experts in the high access field have raised concerns that any attempt to remove the cave bolts in any workplace-compliant manner, may cause significant damage to the cave walls, the cave ceiling, the cave floor and the wider local environment.

Our fact check inquiry was also sent to a handful of climbers who, from their public statements, appeared to have inside knowledge of the project. None of these individuals was willing to go on the record or confirm any involvement.

The proposed work methodology remains a mystery and a cause for concern among those who know and love this place. It would be interesting to review an approved safe work document if and when it becomes public knowledge. A project of this nature has never been done before, to our knowledge.

It is worth noting that very few climbers have the requisite skills to carry out bolting works at these steep angles. Climbers have a range of recreational climbing techniques available to them that would not be compliant with the more stringent requirements of workplace safety standards.

A climber up on the third tier of the cave complex
The large caves of the second tier

The future of the Parks Victoria bolt removal concept remains unknown as the first cave tier has not, as yet, become a work site. It is possible that this proposal will be revisited in the new financial year, before the Parks Victoria budget is fully committed to more traditional activities. Although spending up to half a million dollars on just one of four caves, may not present acceptable value to the Parks Victoria CEO.

After four years of closure, there are rumours around the archaeological significance of the cave. The botanists, birdwatchers and everyone else must give up their curiosity and care, for the sake of secretive archaeology.

New Signage

New temporary signs were installed at the cave yesterday, including this one:

Temporary sign at the cave – Page 109 of the 185 page Grampians management plan

The meaning of this sign will be lost on most visitors. Certainly without the context of the other 184 pages. Thankfully there is a QR code link on another sign but sadly there is no mobile coverage in the region.

Keep out

The absurdity of this “exclude everyone from a national park” legal framework has been highlighted previously by ACAV in this article: ACAV Calls For Withdrawal of “All of Park” Access Bans

Nobody knows the origin of the individual who mixed up an ochre paste and painted an image of an emu foot in a remote cave all those years ago. The actions of this man, woman or child have certainly echoed down the ages, causing us to reflect on the lessons of history.


Rock climbing is successfully managed internationally, using collaborative management methods, as described within the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines.

Please support the work we do at ACAV

Join as a member for $15

To renew an expired membership, please visit the membership portal:

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

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome:

The Outdoor Recreation Advocacy Group

The ACAV has joined several outdoor organisations in support of a new advocacy group, convened by the ETU – Electrical Trades Union of Australia, Victorian Branch.

The union has grown increasingly concerned about restrictions on members’ outdoor recreation activities outside working hours. The catalyst for this group formation was recent renewed pressure to ban duck hunting in Victoria.

Members of the group include hunters, fishers, the bush user group, prospectors and several others. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union is on board and support from other unions is anticipated. Target group membership is 500,000.

On Wednesday 26th April 2023, the ETU funded full page advertisements in the major Victorian newspapers:

The message to the government:

ETU Vic Facebook post

Yes the Animal Justice Party is coming after salami and bacon!

In recent years the Victorian government has used various measures to lock up land and heavily restrict healthy and wholesome pursuits. The Grampians all-of-park set aside bans are a prime example of this and we contend that Parks Victoria is contravening the National Parks Act 1975. We are pleased to be in alliance with strong outdoor groups to lobby for reasonable access for our outdoor recreation activities. Further developments will be reported as events unfold.


Rock climbing is successfully managed internationally, using collaborative management methods, as described within the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines.

Please support the work we do at ACAV

Join as a member for $15

To renew an expired membership, please visit the membership portal:

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome:

Covid Regulations Abused to Ban Grampians Climbing

Inspiring climbing achievements are happening in Europe. Ground-breaking ascents of athletic and adventurous climbs are reported regularly on climbing news channels.

Melissa Le Neve completing the first female ascent of Action Directe,
Frankenjura, Germany, 2021 (Photo: Fabi Buhl)

Youtube – Melissa Le Neve – The 9a That No Woman Could Do – Reel Rock

Things are much quieter in Australia. International climbers generally perceive that in Australia, everything is banned. The world has moved on, leaving Australia behind.

All of Park – The World’s Most Extensive Rock Climbing Bans

In March 2022, Parks Victoria banned more than three quarters of rock climbs in the world-famous Grampians National Park. To bring this about, they flipped on its head, the concept of National Park Access. In a highly irregular and controversial move, Parks Victoria introduced all-of-park access bans, banning everyone and everything by default, before deeming some activities to be “allowed” under tightly controlled rules, drawn up in a management plan.

ACAV challenged this legal precedent in June 2022.

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

The all-of-park ban methodology has also been challenged on the floor of the Victorian Parliament. The impacts are now being felt by walkers and other groups.

Victorian Legislative Council – Grampians track closures 21 Feb 2023

“Prior to March last year, the whole park was deemed accessible, with only small parcels ruled off-limits, or ‘set aside’. Since then, the whole park is now deemed off limits, and access only granted to smaller parts.”

Bev McArthur MP, 24 Feb 2023

The Park Regulations Were Amended in 2020 – Under Cover of Covid

To bring about the Grampians all-of-park bans in 2022, it was first necessary for the Victorian Environment Minister to approve an amendment to the National Parks Regulations 2013.

Amendments to the Regulations are normally made for sound, long-term operational reasons. However, in this case, the December 2020 amendment was made for a temporary emergency: “in order to manage risks to public safety related to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

National Parks Amendment (Safety) Regulations 2020

Title page and summary of the National Parks (Safety) Regulations 2020

There may be short-term reasons why entire parks should be closed (e.g. bushfire) but there can be no long-term justification for an all-of-park closure.

Victoria’s Covid-19 state of emergency ended on Wednesday 12th October 2022. Associated restrictions have since been lifted, across all walks of life. The Covid-19 safety amendment to the park regulations can no longer be applied. Parks don’t need to be closed for infectious disease control. Any associated all-of-park access bans must now end.

We note that several other methods of Covid-era enforcement turned out to be legally invalid and thousands of fines have been withdrawn.

The Guardian – More than 33,000 Covid fines withdrawn in NSW after adverse court ruling

The National Parks Amendment (Safety) Regulations 2020 is Obsolete

It is unfortunate that the all-of-park set aside instrument, invoked within Parks Victoria’s 2021 Greater Gariwerd Landscape Management Plan, is no longer viable.

  • Significant restructuring of the Greater Gariwerd Landscape Management Plan will now be required to properly protect vulnerable locations. Parks Victoria must revert to small, discrete set asides in accordance with the intent of the legislation.
  • Any associated climbing permit system is untenable.
  • Any access restrictions proposed for other Victorian parks cannot utilise the all-of-park set aside instrument.

We note that the quarterly meetings occurring between Parks Victoria and the CVAC collective of climbing groups, appear to have become hamstrung. A quarterly meeting came and went on 28th February 2023. There has been no meeting report. There is no apparent progress on opening up Grampians cliffs, the introduction of climbing permits or the future of climbing at Mount Arapiles.

What is the Legal Position?

To further review this regulatory muddle, our legal advisors have prepared a paper to clarify broader inconsistencies and limitations of the safety amendment and the all-of-park bans, overlaid within the context of The National Parks Act 1975.

ACAV – How does this amendment to the National Parks Regulations serve the public good?

We have previously documented the legal fragility and management challenges involved in Parks Victoria attempting to sustain the world’s most extensive rock climbing bans.

ACAV – Can I Be Fined For Climbing Rocks?

ACAV – What’s the go with Grampians Rangers?

We believe the widespread bans are fundamentally non-compliant with the principles of The National Parks Act 1975. In addition, the scale and topography of the Grampians makes enforcement impractical, especially under these legal limitations. Public cooperation and support is essential for the effective management and protection of these precious environments.

We contend that, in the absence of Covid-19 public safety restrictions in National Parks, the all-of-park set aside legal instrument is null and void. We believe that the Grampians all-of-park access bans are illegitimate.

ACAV – March 2023

Anyone receiving a climbing-related infringement notice is advised to contact ACAV for further advice. It may be beneficial to challenge an alleged climbing offence in the Magistrates Court, with assistance from ACAV. Defending an individual infringement is inexpensive. All members will be supported to the extent of funds available over this critical issue of access for all park users.

We would like to see the appropriate application of small, discrete set-aside areas for the proper protection of the most valuable cultural sites, especially rock art sites. We also support the set-aside protection of delicate environmental zones within our parks. 


Rock climbing is successfully managed internationally, using collaborative management methods, as described within the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines.

Please support the work we do at ACAV

Join as a member for $15

To renew an expired membership, please visit the membership portal:

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome:

The Demise of National Parks in Victoria

Last week in the Victorian Legislative Council (Upper House), Bev McArthur MP raised alarming concerns over National Park access during a Constituency Question.

“My constituency question is for the Minister for Environment. Parks Victoria has recently closed some of the best and most historic walking tracks in the Grampians, including Briggs Bluff, Dellys Dell, Mount Difficult and Mount Rosea. Wild camping and scrambling across rocks has also been banned. These walks are in terrific condition, but their closure and the camping ban forced tourists to the $33 million Grampians Peaks Trail at a cost of nearly $50 a night. Can the minister confirm that the closure and banning of these traditional walking paths and activities has got more to do with reducing the management needs of the park and directing people to government money-making options and say whether these changes represent the blueprint for the demise of other national parks in Victoria.”

Bev McArthur MP – 21 Feb 2023

Hansard record

Video of the question in the house

Bev McArthur expanded further in a subsequent media statement:

Media Statement: Be Alert – And Alarmed

“The Victorian Government’s increasingly draconian controls over the Grampians National Park continue to be revealed. In recent weeks, Member for Western Victoria, Bev McArthur, has questioned the Andrews Government’s ‘set-aside’ regulations for the park which effectively reverse public access rights provisioned in the National Parks Act 1975.”

Bev McArthur MP – 24 Feb 2023

While climbing groups try to improve behavior and attempt liaison with Land Councils, Parks Victoria is systematically shutting down more and more locations to all user groups. Dispersed camping is due to be banned in 2024. The only approved multi-day walks will be on the (paid) Grampians Peaks Trail.

We note that approval to build the GPT required environmental offsets. Did Parks Victoria sacrifice existing walking tracks to allow a single large track to be newly constructed through virgin bushland? We suspect that GPT deals may have brought about the closure of many of these historic walking tracks. We contend that such management practices would contravene the National Parks Act 1975.


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

Join as a member for $15

To renew an expired membership, please visit the membership portal:

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome:

What’s the go with Grampians Rangers?

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:


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

“After this meeting I had trouble sleeping. I have met with a social worker to discuss the situation and the effect it had on me. Both me and my partner are still feeling distressed about the events that happened. We feel anxious about going to the Gariwerd National Park now, which hurts because it is important for both my physical and mental health. I am extremely concerned that I will be approached by Parks Victoria Officials in a National Park with further accusations.”

Quote from the Climber’s complaint letter

This shocking story has also been published on Save Grampians Climbing:

HARASS AND INTIMIDATE: Parks Victoria Goes Cops on Climbers



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?


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

Join as a member for $15

To renew an expired membership, please visit the membership portal:

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome:

Can I Be Fined For Climbing Rocks?

After four years of escalating climbing restrictions across the Grampians National Park, the time has come to ask this question. Recent restrictions at Australia’s premier climbing location Taipan Wall, have prompted ACAV to query Parks Victoria, over the consequences of being approached by a ranger and potentially fined for entering the Taipan Wall right side zone and for climbing the rocks. No fines have been issued in Victoria, for climbing rocks or for entering restricted areas.

Taipan Wall, Grampians National Park

We have not been made aware of any rock art discoveries at Taipan Wall

These 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. The sharp edge of the rock shelf has been broken off in multiple locations to create small cutting tools, leaving a wavy, scalloped appearance to the edge of the rock. The resultant scars appear to be 5cm to 10cm in length. These markings have weathered over a long period of time to take up the same orange varnished colour as the surrounding rock.

What offence may be alleged on any climbing infringement notice?

Infringement Notice Sample, showing an alleged offence (not climbing related)

To issue a ticket, the authorised officer (park ranger) must allege an “offence” under a specific clause of the relevant legal instrument, The National Parks Regulations 2013. These regulations are utilised to enforce The National Parks Act 1975.

We recently asked Parks Victoria this question in relation to the restricted sections of Taipan Wall:

Is there a feasible offence code that can be alleged by Parks Victoria or is damage to ancient rock chips the only option for prosecution? Since these highly durable rocks are largely impervious to harm, would you attempt an allegation of harm to intangible cultural values

ACAV 20 Jan 2023

Regardless of the inherent durability of quarried rock remnants, we fully support all initiatives to protect and revere archaeological findings by maintaining a safe and careful distance and fostering a culture of education and respect.

In their reply, Parks Victoria suggested three potential offences, only the first of which would appear feasible as an allegation against a rock climber:

  1. Fail to comply with the conditions of any relevant SET ASIDE INSTRUMENT put in place to protect environmental and cultural values in Parks.
  2. Interfere with rocks or similar natural objects, archaeological or historical remains and vegetation. (UNLIKELY – Climbing over rocks does not “interfere” with rocks any more than walking over rocks interferes with rocks. Walking over rocks and even over ancient quarry sites, occurs throughout the park.)
  3. Harm to Aboriginal cultural heritage set out in the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (NOT APPLICABLE – Parks Victoria is not the regulator under this Act and hence cannot allege this offence. Other departments may seek to prosecute if harm was to be be established.)

We have not been made aware of any material harm to Grampians cultural heritage artifacts during more that 100 years of rock climbing activity.

It would appear that the only “offence” that could be alleged by Parks Victoria would be disobeying park rules, as defined within the management plan (a plan, not an Act). Such an allegation would be open to challenge in the Magistrates Court in the same way a person would challenge an inappropriate traffic infringement notice. Do the park rules have a legal and valid purpose if interference or harm does not occur and cannot be plausibly alleged?

Inappropriate use of the Set Aside legal instrument

ACAV has previously registered objection to the all-of-park set aside as being a park management blunt instrument that is non compliant with The National Parks Act 1975. The set aside legal instrument prompting offence allegation No.1 is clearly intended to protect defined locations within a park. Set aside administrative determinations must include a detailed map of the discrete area being set aside e.g. rock wallaby habitat, rare orchid zone or rock art site. It is disproportionate to set aside the whole park to exclude the public from everywhere by default.

Parks Victoria has appropriate authority to set aside and close an entire park under emergency circumstances e.g. bushfire. The misuse of this authority as an everyday basis for control is disproportionate, divisive and unmanageable.

We contend that a regulation made under The National Parks Act 1975 should not enable the land manager to deny public access as its default position. To do so is in clear contravention of the will of Parliament in passing the Act into law. The objects of the Act under s4(c) make this abundantly clear. It is the view of our legal advisors that all-of-the-park prohibitions or restrictions fail to satisfy the requirements of this overarching legislation.

4 Objects of Act
The objects of this Act
(c) to make provision
in accordance with
the foregoing for the
use of parks by the
public for the
purposes of
enjoyment, recreation
or education and for
the encouragement
and control of that

Note that the legality of any future climbing permit system would come under similar scrutiny as the Objects of the Act are being violated.

To further our query on this matter we have written to the Victorian Minster for The Environment as follows.

ACAV request for Ministerial review

We respectfully request a review by your department of this bullish and unworkable all-of-park approach for restricting public access to the entirety of a National Park.

ACAV 03 Feb 2023

Furthermore, the Minister has been made aware that “Rock climbing is successfully managed internationally, using collaborative management methods, as described within the Victorian Climbing Management Guidelines“.

We await the response of the Minister and we remain prepared to advise on any suitable challenge in the Magistrates Court over any inappropriate infringement notice that may be received by an ACAV member.

This all-of-park restriction methodology sets a worrying precedent for all public access to all Parks.

Opposition politicians and media representatives have been copied-in to the ACAV correspondence.


Please support the work that we do at ACAV:

Join as a member for $15

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome:

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)


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 :


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


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


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:

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.


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:

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:

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.


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


Please support the work that we do at ACAV:

Join as a member for $15

Ongoing feedback and assistance is always welcome:

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