Parks Victoria will restrict access to certain parts of the Grampians in an effort to protect areas of significant Aboriginal cultural heritage in the national park from rock climbers.
Members of the Victorian rock climbing community met with Parks Victoria representatives last week to discuss damage being done by climbers in the Grampians.
The Grampians has become a popular destination for people practicing the hobby, but Parks Victoria said as more and more people visit, more damage is being done – especially with activities such as bolting.
Eight key locations in the western part of the Grampians have been identified as at risk, with people unable to rock climb in that area from now on.
“Our main priority is protecting the natural and cultural values of this precious landscape that is the Grampians National Park,” Parks Victoria chief operating officer Simon Talbot said.
“We are working to support climbers and other park users to find alternate locations in the Grampians to climb.
“We’ll also work with local businesses and Licenced Tour Operators over the coming months to clearly identify where climbing can continue.”
Signage will be posted at the eight sites where climbing is now prohibited, with those caught ignoring the restrictions to face fines.
A statement from rock climbing group CliffCare Victoria read climbers should follow these new restrictions which have been put in place for a reason.
“With more information, we hope to be able to prevent other areas being closed to climbing and find ways to work together to protect the park,” the statement read.
“The potential for more closures is a real possibility and Parks Victoria told us they plan to look at the impacts of climbing and bouldering in other areas.
“We are a legitimate user group of the Grampians National Park and climbing, like many other activities, can exist in a way that doesn’t impact negatively on cultural or environmental values.”
Rock climbing is banned in special protection areas in the Grampians, but those areas have not been updated in the Grampians National Park management plan in 10 years.
Grampians Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman said he believes the bans won’t impact visitation to the national park.
“For us it is business as usual,” he said.
“There are lots of rock climbing sites open so I think it will have a miniscule impact if any. We know our key attractions for the majority of visitors is that key corridor of The Pinnacle, Boroka, Zumsteins.
“We have got a great relationship with Parks (Victoria) and they have responsibility to care for the environment which we understand and appreciate.”
Mr Talbot said Parks Victoria will continue to work with climbing groups to discuss where the activity can continue in the Grampians, setting boundaries.
“A stakeholder reference group will be established to involve the community and rock climbers in next steps and the part we can all play in protecting our cultural heritage and environment and to identify where in the Grampians climbing can continue,” he said.
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