Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park has a new plan of management (POM) in the works – and National Parks is looking for ways to improve it. Why is this important? This National Park not only contains the popular northern Sydney climbing area of Barrenjoey, it’s also home to great deep water soloing at Jerusalem Bay, two roped crags of Kalkiri and Planet Clare plus a myriad of bouldering locations such as Jurassic Park, Akuna Bay, Challenger, Three Star Threes and Temple of Doom. This is a really diverse mix of climbing styles in a convenient location to many of us – but there is one major problem.
Most of these climbing areas are to be prohibited according to the recently released draft plan of management. The fact is this new plan does not include any climbing areas outside of Barrenjoey Headland – it’s all off-limits. This is our chance to tell National Parks we value the other cliffs and boulders in this region. If climbers don’t have their say then a great climbing opportunity for current and future generations will be missed.
Public comment on the draft plan closes this coming Tuesday 22 November. We need your help to change this draft.
What is a plan of management?
A plan of management directs the management of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The plan includes a scheme of operations consistent with section 72AA of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. Once the plan is adopted, no management operations can be undertaken that are not consistent with the plan and its scheme of operations. To be blunt – once this plan is in place it may be decades before it can be changed again (the previous plan is 20 years old).
What does this mean for climbers?
At present the only designated area for climbing is the existing area on Barrenjoey Headland. While this is good, this area is difficult to access for most people, and there is significant bouldering, roped climbing and deep water soloing potential throughout Kuring gai Chase National Park. Many of these areas would need assessment, reequipping and formalisation of access, but many areas are close to existing trails and have no registered Aboriginal sites near by so climbing seems feasible and consistent with National Park values.
Why is climbing not included?
This is a good question. It seems the key issue is that National Parks are unwilling to MANAGE climbing. The reasons stated are not mentioned in the draft plan, but are revealed in an accompanying planning document (p 48):
“Rock climbing, bouldering and abseiling often occur in places where there is high potential for Aboriginal sites, including rock overhangs. If not properly managed, these activities can damage Aboriginal cultural heritage, rare plants and fragile rock features such as caves and outcrops. The creation of multiple tracks between the top and bottom of cliffs and disturbance of cliff-nesting bird species can also be a problem.”
In the same plan, other recreations such as horse riding trails and mountain biking are given extensive consideration with new tracks and trails being developed. A recreational strategy document for the park had significant climbing input in 2019 by ACANSW (and many local climbers) yet the planning document and draft PoM make no pretense at management and reflects an unwillingness to manage a community that has demonstrated its ability to assist in stewardship of cliff environments and a desire to learn about and respect Aboriginal cultural heritage.
How can I help?
Climbers need to write their own submission and email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 22 November. Not tomorrow, not next week – we need your submission sent today!
Key points to mention are:
- Despite significant climber input to the draft recreational strategy, no further climbing opportunity has been provided to climbers in this draft plan with climbers only permitted at the long established area at Barrenjoey Head.
- The draft PoM fails to consider recreational opportunities for rock climbing when high quality and suitable areas for recreational rock climbing exist.
- There is a long history and invested culture of climbing in Kuring-gai Chase NP
- Climbing should be given the same consideration afforded to other recreational activities.
- Rock climbing is a low impact recreation suited to National Parks that results in appreciation of Parks values.
- Climbing can coexist with ecological and cultural preservation.
- Climbers have demonstrated stewardship including within Kuring-gai Chase NP.
If you want to read more about it the 2 documents are linked: