Tour operators that offer rock climbing and abseiling at Summerday Valley in the Grampians National Park have been issued a variation to their existing licences for three months by Parks Victoria.
This decision allows existing Licensed Tour Operators who currently offer climbing in Summerday Valley to work with Traditional Owners to understand and protect Aboriginal cultural heritage unique to the Grampians.
The agreement will allow Parks Victoria, Traditional Owner groups and key stakeholders additional time to work together to ensure the ongoing review of the national park’s management plan is thorough and considered.
The licence provides strictly conditional authorisation for the tour operators to continue undertaking their activities in three designated areas – Barc Cliff, Back Wall and a section of Wall of Fools – within Summerday Valley until 30 September 2019. Additional three-month extensions could be offered if strict conditions are adhered to.
Conditions will ensure that harm to natural and cultural areas in Summerday Valley, which is in a designated Special Protection Area, is minimised.
Conditions include: a limit on operating locations; compulsory completion of an Aboriginal cultural heritage induction program; ongoing education for operators and their tour groups; identification for tour guides and their customers; use of a booking system to manage and monitor access; and reporting of visitor data to help with planning and review.
Tour operators found in breach of the conditions will have their licences suspended or cancelled. Any breaches will put access to Summerday Valley for all operators at risk. Anyone causing harm to natural and cultural values will also face financial penalties and referral to other authorities for possible further action.
With close to eight million hectares of national parks, state forests, beaches, waterways and pristine bushlands on their doorstep, Victorians are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding space to enjoy the great outdoors and the Grampians National Park is the fourth largest park in Victoria.
In partnership with Traditional Owner groups, Parks Victoria is preparing a new management plan for the Grampians landscape, an area that covers the Grampians National Park and adjacent parks and reserves. People can register their interest to be part of the process at engage.vic.gov.au/grampians-management-plan
Parks Victoria Chief Executive Officer, Matthew Jackson said, “The Grampians National Park has long held a place in the hearts of Victorians and visitors from further afield as a place where they can enjoy a range of activities, like bushwalking, camping, rock climbing and cycling.
“Summerday Valley is located in a Special Protection Area that excludes activities like rock climbing and abseiling, and Traditional Owners understand the pressure licensed tour operators might face while we work through the long-term future of the park, so we thank them for their consent.”
“We continue to welcome all visitors into this precious part of the world, sharing the natural and cultural wonders that make this park so special.”