Today a group of climbers met with Parks Victoria representatives in Halls Gap to discuss the issues facing the southern Grampians after the fires that raged through the Victoria Range. After a very positive and frank discussion involving the head ranger, Dave Roberts, and climbing representatives, Steve Monks, Malcolm Matheson and Tracy Skinner (on behalf of the Victorian Climbing Club), this is how it stands.
The Victoria Range will remain temporarily closed for the next four to six weeks, meaning that Easter revellers will have to look elsewhere for camping and climbing opportunities. Priority for reopening will be given to areas that can be cleared and made safe quickly. Many of the climbing areas look unaffected from aerial photographs that have been taken, including the Gallery, Millenium Caves, Red Rocks and Muline – but they have yet to be assessed on foot. Much of the damage is to the roads and was caused by heavy vehicles responding to the fire, but these roads are a high priority for repair. Buandik campground survived relatively unscathed, but the same cannot be said for the pedestrian bridge leading to the Gallery. Parks is keen to have the area open as soon as possible, but are waiting for a rapid assessment team to report back.
It seems that the Lost World, Eureka Wall and the Red Sail area have borne the brunt of the fire and will be closed for a longer period of time. Climbers are asked to please respect the closures, and to not enter any of the closed areas. Gates have been placed throughout the range, meaning there is no access to any of the areas within the Victoria Range at this stage. Parks have asked that people be made aware that Mt Rosea and Bundaleer are now open for climbing, as well as Redmans Track, meaning that there is access to Barbican Wall and Barbican Rocks. Further details will be available from www.cliffcare.org.au. Park users wanting to help out with track repair or site visits can contact the VCC for more information.