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Parks Victoria implements Grampians climbing ban

The Grampians.

The Grampians.

By Colin MacGillivray
Parks Victoria has committed to working with rock-climbing groups to find a compromise after a ban on climbing to protect Aboriginal heritage sites in Grampians National Park.
Parks Victoria announced on Friday it had expanded special protection areas in the park and indefinitely banned rock climbing at eight locations, including The Gallery, Gondwanaland,
Millenium, Billywing Buttress, Billimina Area, Little Hands Cave, Cave of Man Hands and Manja Area.
The rock-climbing practice of bolting – where permanent, fixed anchors are drilled into a rock face – has concerned authorities.
In 2017 separate incidents of climbers placing bolts within metres of culturally significant sites in the Black Range angered Aboriginal groups.
Parks Victoria chief operating officer Simon Talbot said the bans would help protect culturally significant Aboriginal sites.
He said rock climbers and other users of the park had not taken adequate steps to ensure it was preserved.
“Our rangers observed instances of impact to cultural and environmental values which prompted these changes,” he said.
“This included instances of damaged rock faces through use of bolts, chalk and graffiti, damaging plants by pulling them from cracks in the rock, using drop mats and cutting new access tracks through forested areas and leaving rubbish as well as establishing campfire rings.”
Parks Victoria will install signs notifying climbers of the bans next month and carry out ‘compliance activity’ – which could include fines for people who continue to climb.
Mr Talbot said Parks Victoria would continue to work with rock climbers to try to achieve a satisfactory outcome for all parties.
“We will be reviewing the Grampians National Park management plan, including special protection-area boundaries, to determine where climbing activity can and cannot take place,” he said.
“The plan will be reviewed in partnership with stakeholders, local businesses, licenced tour operators and park users and we will share updates as they occur. If and when we identify additional areas where enforcement activity needs to be carried out, we will communicate this broadly.”
Several rock-climbing groups expressed concerns the bans would damage tourism in the area.
Rock climbing magazine Vertical Life’s editor Ross Taylor said climbers were concerned they might be banned from more sites in the park.
Victorian Climbing Club’s CliffCare program officer Tracey Skinner declined to comment, but said the club was preparing a statement in response to the bans.
CliffCare’s website posted a short statement on Friday notifying climbers of the bans.
“At this current time, climbing can continue at other sites as long as park rules are followed. We would like to stress that further climbing and recreation sites in the Grampians are undergoing assessment and review and care should be taken as always. Please respect all environmental and cultural values in the park. If you are not sure, don’t do it.  Please respect all closures and any other park rules and regulations. Ignoring these could jeopardise access to other areas and affect access negotiations,” the statement read.
Mr Talbot said the bans were unlikely to affect tourism in Grampians National Park and left plenty of leeway for climbers.
He said other activities such as bushwalking would not be affected.
“There are still hundreds of known climbing areas available for international and domestic visitors to enjoy and only a small percentage of climbs are currently affected,” he said.
Detailed maps and information sheets are being prepared to assist and inform climbers.

The entire February 20, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Feb 20 2019

Posted by on Feb 20 2019. Filed under Environment, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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