Climbing Bans in the Grampians

On Tuesday this week various members of the climbing community, including representatives of the Victorian Climbing Club, Western Victoria Climbing Club and others, met with Parks Victoria. There we were informed that eight areas in the western Grampians are going to be closed to climbers. In the next two weeks, signs will be put at the closed areas and the closures will be policed with fines.

We were not given the specifics of what areas are to be closed or the extent of the closures, but we were told that information would be passed on to us in the next 48 hours (which would be today). While we were not given specifics, we can be fairly certain that the areas will primarily be in the Victoria Range and will encompass many of the best crags in the Grampians.

An art site in the Victoria Range.

An art site in the Victoria Range.

We were told that Parks has been compelled to issue the bans because Aboriginal Victoria has accused them of not doing enough to protect cultural sites. Aboriginal Victoria has the ability to place substantial fines on Parks Victoria if they fail to protect cultural sites, and there are ongoing concerns about climbers and boulderers damaging cultural sites, no doubt inflamed by two cases of a climber placing bolts close to rock art in the Black Range.

As soon as we get the specifics of what areas are closed we will pass on this information. We are also hoping that we will be given specific information as to why climbing is being banned in these areas so that we can propose solutions that negate the need for long-term large-scale bans.

At the meeting, it was also mentioned that further climbing areas are going to be assessed for cultural heritage and environmental impacts, so this may only be the beginning of bans.

Parks Victoria also expressed serious concerns about the environmental impact of bouldering on vegetation, particularly with the massive increase in the number of climbers bouldering, while there was also concern about the use of fixed anchors within the park.

Parks is setting up a stakeholder group and will be working to develop a state-wide climbing policy, it will also need to update the park management plan for the Grampians, which dates from 2003 and currently doesn’t cover activities like bouldering.

These bans are unprecedented, and as a user group we are going to need to respond in an organised and forceful fashion. There’s no doubt that climbing can happen in the park in a culturally respectful and environmentally responsible fashion without wholesale bans.

We would ask that all climbers respect these bans absolutely while we come up with a response to their implementation.

We will pass on further information once we have it from Parks Victoria.

You can read a statement from the Victorian Climbing Club here.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of how we’ve arrived at this point, we suggest you go here

8 thoughts on “Climbing Bans in the Grampians

  1. Carol Ranft

    Good luck with negotiations. However the reaction is sadly understandable if people have been so disrespectful and quiet frankly stupid to place bolts near rock art and the environment is being damaged in other ways by climbing activities. National Parks exist to protect the environment and Aboriginal cultural heritage. We must realise climbing in these areas is privilege not a right. Hopefully with education and some basic common curtesy this privilege can be maintained.

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  2. Damion

    We need an enforceable bolting policy document, that all climbers and climbing clubs commit to, that ensures full stakeholder engagement and agreement before bolting is permitted. Stakeholders being climbing clubs, Parks and potentially indigenous groups.

    There has to be give and take if climbing is to be conducted responsibly, sustainably, and maintain a place in the outdoor community; to that end we must take steps to remove the rogue element that is causing the angst that lies behind these bans, and an enforceable bolting policy document is a step toward achieving this in a way that shows commitment to respecting and addressing all stakeholders’ concerns.

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  3. john fischer

    I agree it was stupid to place bolts near Aboriginal art sites. I propose that it was criminal. If bushwalkers vandalized an art site and the police knew who they were the vandals would get fined. But bushwalking would not be banned through the entire Victoria Range. I don’t see why Parks does not simply prosecute the bolter as a vandal.

    Sure there are other issues with climbing such as erosion etc. that need to be dealt with. However, as far as I know the ban is almost entirely driven by the 2 bolts near Aboriginal art. It is well known who placed these bolts. I am totally stumped as to why this person is not being charged and instead the entire WORLD is getting corporal punishment.

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  4. Brett

    There’s more to this story. I have lived and worked out of Halls Gap as a climb guide and visited pretty much most cliffs within the National Park. The Black range is outside of the parks boundary. Its still a park but its not a national park. If people know who did this bolting they should be named and shamed. As most know most routes in The Gramps are trad.. I know of only 2-3 dedicated sport climbing areas. One being in The Victoria range the other in north gramps. The bolts that are placed are in 99% of cases minimal and only when necessity demands. I would send Parks to other climbing ares around the world to get a better understanding of ‘over bolting’. Climbers in my experience (climbed for 40 years) are wholesome and respectful, particularly of flora and fauna…not all..but again 99%. The Gramps is a world climbing destination and this decision is very poorly thought out. I was a liason often between parks and the native local aboriginal peoples….never did I hear a complaint from the elders or the younger crew about climbers or climbing. I’m going to suggest its about budget $$$s and reducing the number of parks emplyees.

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  5. Crazy Frog

    I’ve been a user of Victorian State Parks for over 30 years now and I have NEVER seen Parks Victoria do anything but shut bridges down, bulldoze huts, close roads, and let blackberries grow wild. Over Easter they had all the entire Avon closed due to “public saftey”.
    They have no interest in the users of the Parks what so ever. They only have political interests.
    I don’t climb but I feel sorry for you guys. You will never legally climb their again.

    Reply

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