In response to requests made at Rock Climbing Roundtable 4 on 5 March, Parks Victoria have released updated maps of the SPAs in the Grampians (north and south), a list of names of the SPAs, and a list of the 125 areas assessed for tangible cultural heritage. They have also answered questions arising from the meeting.
Key takeaways for climbers from these new documents:
- Of the 125 climbing areas assessed, additional Aboriginal heritage was rediscovered in 28 of these climbing areas. Eight of these climbing areas are outside current SPAs and 20 of these climbing areas are within current SPAs.
- The areas assessed were chosen based on the number of climbs in each area, the importance of these areas to climbers, and PV knowledge of area usage.
- It looks like climbs might be lost from Bundaleer (from a point 30m to the north of Manic Depressive, then south of this point). This is particularly disappointing because PV have been aware of the existence of cultural heritage at this site for years and seemed happy with the steps taken to protect it without restricting climbing. In 2007/8, PV and VCC built a floating boardwalk around the base of Manic Depressive to protect cultural heritage and still allow climbers access.
- Changes to SPAs are unlikely to be made outside of the Grampians Land Management Plan process. The draft plan is still set for the end of June.
- On the new maps, a ‘focus area’ encompasses the whole of the Northern Victoria Range, when previously the term referred to eight specific areas of high cultural significance.
You can read the meeting notes here, as well as the Gariwerd Assessment Update, presented to RT4. This update is an interesting read, as it shows the cultural and environmental heritage process used by PV to determine whether sites should be made available for climbing.
For a comprehensive summary of RT4, please see the April Argus.