Grampians Fire Update

While the VL hierarchy were seeking cooler climes at Mt Buffalo and in Tasmania all hell broke loose in the Grampians on 15 January, with major fires starting in the northern Grampians and burning great swaths of the park and private property.

A satellite image showing the burnt areas of the northern Grampians. Image by http://m.earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=82934

A satellite image showing the burnt areas of the northern Grampians. Image by earthobservatory.nasa.gov

In the wake of the fires it seems like there is some confusion amongst climbers about what is open and what isn’t, particularly since this is the second major fire in the last year or so, and there are still closures in place for climbing since the big fire that burnt through the Victoria Range in February last year.

To make it clear, the entire northern Grampians is closed at present – for climbers and tourists alike. Extremely popular areas like Summerday Valley, Hollow Mountain and Mt Stapylton (including Taipan Wall and the Amphitheatre) have, from all accounts, been quite heavily impacted. Climbing areas such as Mt Difficult, the Asses Ears, Bundaleer and Rosea are also all closed.

You can find a pdf map here showing the closed areas and listing areas that are open. (Tracey Skinner from CliffCare has also posted about what is open here.)

An aerial photo of Summerday Valley. Image by Parks Victoria.

An aerial photo of Summerday Valley. Image by Parks Victoria.

There are still many areas that remain open for people to climb, particularly in the Victoria Range where only those crags that are accessed of the Camp of the Emu Foot Track are closed (the Lost World, Eureka, Weirs Creek, etc, which were all badly burnt, are all off limits). Crags like Muline, Emu Rock, Mt Fox, Red Rocks and the Gallery are all open, although climbers need to be mindful that these areas are still fragile environments (see the photo of the ground at Mt Fox) and make sure that they stick to the marked tracks.

Crags in the Waterworks areas in the southern Victoria Range are also worth a visit, places like Curiosity Crag, Slander Gully, Ruined Castle, the Flatiron, Tortoise Wall and Gilhams Crag offer a great range of grades, and trad and sport climbing possibilities. The Black Range (Black Ians Crag, for instance) and the Wonderland are also open (although there is still an active but under control fire near Halls Gap).

Fire damage at Mt Fox, about nine months after the 2014 fires. Image by Ross Taylor

Fire damage at Mt Fox, about nine months after the 2014 fires. Image by Ross Taylor

How long the northern Grampians will remained closed is anyone’s guess. Parks Victoria will have to go in and assess the damage and replace any critical infrastructure. In the meantime, it is important that climbers not climb in closed areas. Last year quite a few climbers ignored bans on climbing and bouldering in the Victoria Range, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Parks Victoria, and we have already heard reports that climbers have been found by Parks staff climbing in Summerday Valley.

Unfortunately, the Grampians has suffered a number of major natural disasters that have affected large parts of the park, for instance, half the park burnt in 2006, then there was massive flood damage in 2011, followed by the Victoria Range fire in 2013, which burnt the other half of the park, followed by this year’s fire. Basically there are few parts of the park that haven’t been burnt in the last eight years. On top of these natural disasters Parks Victoria are struggling with ever decreasing resources and funding, all of these factors mean that climbers will need to be patient while waiting for some of these areas to reopen. It may also mean that if we want to see these areas open sooner, climbers will have to volunteer to help with track works.

As areas reopen we will try to keep climbers informed as to what is happening, but also keep an eye on the CliffCare website.

4 thoughts on “Grampians Fire Update

  1. pissed_off_park_user

    As a frequent user of the Grampians I’m getting more irritated by Parks Victoria. Why are camping fees increasing yet climbers still need to be patient and also be volunteers??

    Also, I can assure you that the so called “extensive floods in 2011” were no so extensive. Many of the northern Grampians roads were drivable, with only one road blocked by fallen trees, and none of the roads had extensive water erosion. Further, we witnessed Parks Vic staff spending 2 hours erecting two posts and a plastic barricade at the entrance of Stapylton campground when clearly, if they had driven (even walked) around the campground they could have seen that the campground was unaffected by flood.

    I’m tired of Parks Victoria dictating to tax payers when, where and how we can use our national parks! And as an adjunct, I’m tired of Vertical Life constantly writing unresearched, single-sided views and publishing it as lore. When will VL hierachy become writers with a perspective on good climbing journalism? Why haven’t you guys written a pertinent article investigating the increasing parks fees and the impact that will have on climbers and national park users?

    Pissed_off_park_user

    Reply
  2. AdventureTypes Post author

    Pissed Off Park User, maybe you need to get your facts correct. It’s not Parks Victoria that has made the decision to increase camping fees, it’s the Victorian government.

    We agree that there wasn’t much flood damage to the northern Grampians, but there was extensive damage to many other parts of the park, it was this damage that took up a lot of Parks resources.

    Reply
  3. pissed_off_park_user

    Perhaps you, VL writers, need to set a better standard of journalism. Write more informative articles??

    Reply

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