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04 December 2019
Public access to a site called Taylors Rock at Declaration Crag in Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park has been temporarily suspended after Aboriginal cultural heritage, including rock art, was discovered at the site.
Parks Victoria announced the closure yesterday and said it would help protect rock art sites holding dozens of painted motifs, plus artefact scatters and quarry sites.
The sites have been added to the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register.
Parks Victoria chief executive Matthew Jackson said both Parks Victoria and Barengi Gadjin Land Council, who co-manage the park, have a legislated responsibility to protect the area from visitor impacts.
“While longer-term protections are explored, we’re asking visitors to respectfully stay off Taylors Rock,” he said.
“We appreciate that Taylors Rock has previously been a popular spot for rock climbers and tour operators. It’s our hope that the rock-climbing community, Traditional Owners and land managers can all work together to protect, celebrate and communicate this rich Aboriginal history.”
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Opinions among Victoria's rock-climbing community – which has been attempting to work more closely with Parks Victoria and traditional owners following rock climbing bans in Grampians National Park – have been divided.
While some climbers took to social media in anger, others have welcomed the announcement as a chance to help protect cultural heritage.
In a statement on its website, the Victorian Climbing Club said Barengi Gadjin Land Council shared this news about the discovery at a rock climbing roundtable discussion
prior to making a public statement.
The VCC descirbed it as 'a positive story of celebration and a demonstration of their faith in the climbing community to do the right thing'.
"The VCC and CliffCare are humbled by this gesture of trust towards climbers and welcomes this amazing discovery. We are exited to learn more about this rediscovered Cultural Heritage and look forward to help preserving it for future generations."
Barengi Gadjin manager of on-country operations Stuart Harradine said
“The identification and registration of cultural heritage sites at Taylors Rock is exciting news for our traditional owners, the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk peoples,” he said.
“We have cultural obligations to ensure the protection of these sites within the Dyurrite cultural landscape, as we and our ancestors before us have done for tens of thousands of years.
“Their protection is supported by the Aboriginal Heritage Act and regulations, in which our organisation, Barengi Gadjin Land Council, is recognised and has responsibilities for managing and protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage.
“We hope that visitors to Dyurrite respect our wishes and avoid entering this particular location to ensure its protection.”