Climbers push for returned access to Grampians national park
Plans to form a peak governing body representing rock climbers in Victoria have been fast-tracked as climbers continue to push for returned access to sites in Grampians National Park.
Parks Victoria announced the closure of several ‘special protection areas’ in the park in February, citing concerns about the cultural and environmental impact of rock climbing activity.
The Grampians region, known as Gariwerd to local Aboriginal groups, is home to about 90 percent of known Aboriginal rock art sites in Victoria.
Parks Victoria said the actions of some climbers had angered Aboriginal groups, with fixed bolts and corrosive chalk found within metres of art sites.
Climbing groups argued the bans were reactionary and made without proper consultation, putting financial strain on licensed tour operators who run rock-climbing schools in the area.
A meeting between several tour operators and representatives from Parks Victoria, Aboriginal Victoria and the state government was held in Halls Gap earlier this month.
Victorian Climbing Club, VCC, president Paula Toal said the meeting had been a positive step forward, but still left uncertainty for tour operators.
Climbing permits for Summerday Valley in the northern Grampians expire on June 30, and there are no plans to renew them.
“If we lose Summerday Valley in the long term, I think tour operators are really going to suffer,” Mrs Toal said.
“It is a destination for people who come to Victoria to go climbing, and if they only climb modest grades it’s one of the few places with quality modest grade climbing. It also impacts not just the licensed tour operators, but businesses in that area.
“I’m sure this is having a huge impact on places like Mount Zero Log Cabins, because that business really caters to the climbing community.
“We’re ticking up to a deadline that is now less than two weeks away and I don’t know that any further communications or assurances have been made to the LTOs.
“It’s one of those situations where, having worked with government before and the bureaucracy involved, these things take time.
“I’m not alarmed or concerned, but it’s obviously a bit dissatisfying that we’re not necessarily moving forward as quickly as we’d like to.” A Parks Victoria spokesman described the meeting as ‘constructive’.