The Victoria Parks Authority has published a draft of a plan that would permanently ban rock climbing in sections of Grampians National Park
The impressive sandstone mountain range is made up of forests and rocky outcrops that stretch across 167,000 hectares in western Victoria and attract more than a million visitors each year
Known as Gariwerd to Eastern Maar, Barengi Gadjin, and Gunditj Mirring groups of traditional owners, the mountain range contains the largest concentration of indigenous rock art in Victoria, with human occupation dating back 22,000 years
Victoria Parks Regional Director Jason Borg said the draft Land Management Plan – the first to cover the Grampians since 2003 – was an attempt to « celebrate and protect this heritage landscape »
« Wanting to ensure that both cultural and natural values are protected, but also to look for opportunities for how people use Garyward or Grampian »
The draft plan outlines a framework for managing threats to the landscape, including weed infestation, overgrazing, « unsuitable fire systems », water use and pressure from visitors – including the creation of more dedicated camp sites
Also proposes to introduce management overlays to reduce noise and light pollution, aiming to restore locally extinct wildlife, including dingo.
“Traditional owners give us their thoughts on what that means for them, and we also take a look at the risks of harm Then we determine the appropriateness of the access «
The plan also aims to address the ongoing conflict between Victoria parks and climbing groups over land use and management in the Grampian
The area is home to some of Australia’s most iconic rock faces and has attracted climbers from around the world for decades, but climbing has been banned in major sections of the park since 2019, after concerns were raised about the threat to cultural heritage.
Hundreds of sites are now blocked, including the world-famous Taipan Wall – referred to as « Bell Beach Climbing » among enthusiasts – which is one of 126 areas whose accessibility has yet to be assessed.
Mr Borg said the plan aims to create a more permanent arrangement that defines and mapped out areas where climbing is permitted.
The President of the Victorian Climbing Association, Kevin Lindorff, said Victoria Gardens made some attempts to be more detailed in their responses to climbers
He explained: “They basically talk about a four-tiered classification system: areas where there will be no climbing due to cultural heritage or environmental concerns; areas where climbing is possible, but only for licensed tour operators; areas where people can climb; and areas where there may not be climbing. It is fully evaluated after «
The Parks Victoria proposal would create a free pass system for climbers, prohibit the use of white chalk (only colors are allowed) and require climbers to obtain approval from land administrators before using fixed anchors or engaging in rocks.
“Bouldering and the use of rock mats will not be permitted in some designated climbing areas unless the potential for managing potential impacts on natural and cultural values is determined,” the plan states
He also said there are several hundred sites in the mountain range that climbers love to reach more than those listed in the numbers listed in Parks Victoria.
“We were estimating that there would be approximately 600 different regions across Grampian, so we would have to work through these and see what the details tell us,” he said
« There is a lot we think can be unlocked [for rock climbing] that may not be accessed in the draft plan. »
Victoria Parks listed 66 sites it deems to be « incompatible with climbing, » including the south side of a cliff known as the Bundaleer, world-famous for elite climbers. However, it does list the northern side of the cliff as one of 89 « dedicated climbing areas » p>
Licensed tour operator Matt Brooks said the decision was « very confusing », as areas that were « meters away » from open areas were closed.
“Bundaleer is a site that has been accessed by bushwalkers since 1950 and will remain so,” he said
“The climbing community has worked alongside the Victoria parks and traditional owners in the past to ensure the protection of Bundaleer’s cultural heritage values”
But Mr. Brooks said Parks Victoria “made no real effort to work with the climbing representatives” while preparing the draft plan.
Parks Victoria said she will conduct community consultations on her draft plan later in the year, accepting comments through January 24, 2021
Traditional owners groups welcomed the plan and said in a statement that they had recognized the « deep attachment » that the scene has provided for thousands of years.
“We are Gariwerd’s rights holders,” the groups said in a collective statement included in the introduction to the plan
“Gariwerd is a member of our family – like our grandmother, mother, sister, and daughter
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Grampians National Park, Victoria Parks and Climbing
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