Sunday the 5th March is Clean Up Australia Day – a long running effort by volunteers to make our natural places nicer. Although there aren’t any official events being hosted by ACANSW at climbing areas this year – there is plenty that YOU and your friends can do to make our crags better on the day. Here are some suggestions…Continue reading
Northern Sydney climbing needs YOUR help!
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:
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park Draft Plan of Management-220452.pdf
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park Draft Planning Considerations.pdf
Point Perpendicular Closure Access Alert
[update 1 November 2022: the access issues described in the below article have been partially resolved thanks to a massive climbing community letter writing campaign, mainstream media attention and a large community meeting that was held in the town of Currarong with the Defense department top brass. For more info read this ABC news story. More media stories related to this story are end bottom of this page]
This article was first published on October 23, 2022
Public access to world class climbing at Point Perpendicular on the Beecroft Peninsula is under threat due to recent changes to entry procedures and safety concerns from the land manager, the Australian Department of Defence. Anyone who has climbed at Point Perp over the last couple of decades has seen the slow erosion of access to this area year on year – from gates, guards, area closures, night curfews, only weekend access, user number limits and now it appears compulsory inductions and restrictions to all areas outside of the lighthouse enclosure. It is getting to be a bureaucratic nightmare for anyone who wants to visit. To get a glimpse into the endless closures check out their Facebook page.
Point Perpendicular contains over 700 established climbing routes across a vast 80m high cliff-line that stretches 14km along the northern side of Jervis Bay. The majority of routes are single pitch trad and mixed climbs – approached by rapping from the top down to ledge belays and climbing back out again. It is one of the great sea cliff climbing destinations in the world – an international draw card that should be on every climber’s wish list.
Over 100 routes have been off-limits since the 1990s, when access was removed due to perceived safety risks associated with unexploded ordnance (UXO). A small area (10% of the total park) is used by Defence for testing bombs, missiles and other explosive devices. This is not at any of the current popular climbing areas.
This week’s surprise announcement of an access ban to almost the entirety of Point Perp seems to be a rehash of these old concerns around unexploded ordnance. Climbers are not the only target, access is currently denied to any member of the public unless they agree to only stand behind the fence in the lighthouse enclosure and stay away from beaches or other areas in the park. Visitors now have to agree to this in writing and attend a compulsory induction before being allowed entry through the guarded security gates. This induction process needs to be completed every day you visit the site – it is not a one off. Climbers have been turned away in recent days as their activities were deemed not appropriate to the new rules. Imagine Xmas holidays when 100 cars can be lined up to get into the park and each and every one of them has to do a 15 minute personal induction?
The reason for this recent wholesale closure we have been told is a newly commissioned survey for unexploded ordnance. ACANSW have not been able to find out the timeline for this survey, whether there are plans to sequentially open areas as they are cleared or whether any other user groups were informed of this process. We don’t even know if the cliff face is actually in any danger from unexploded ordnance. Climbers certainly haven’t been communicated with nor has the local community. Other warnings about UXOs already exist and have been considered sufficient for years.
One direct question we have is – why, if the lighthouse precinct is considered safe enough, cannot climbers access the cliffs in that area? Climbers have been safely using this area for decades and these cliffs are no longer in the live firing range. The decision to prevent access to these cliffs seems to be an administrative overreach by an overly cautious land manager. The lack of public consultation, work plans and timelines is disturbing.
The land is under control of the Department of Defence ie federal jurisdiction. We would encourage everyone to email the Federal member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips MP (email@example.com), the Minister for Defence Richard Marles (firstname.lastname@example.org) and their local federal member outlining:
- Their love of recreation, especially rock climbing, on the Beecroft Peninsula and Point Perpendicular.
- Concerns that access has been progressively diminished over the past few years.
- That the current access restriction is excessive, and that the cliffs in the lighthouse precinct be reopened immediately.
- The induction process is onerous and unnecessary when existing warnings are clear and unambiguous.
- That the Defence Dept needs to consult with the climbing community via ACANSW on any closures and changes to management plans that would affect access.
- The Defence Dept needs to publish clear timelines and plans for this UXO survey.
- And ask what assurances can be provided about ongoing public access.
Thanks for helping to restore climbing access to such a significant climbing area. Contacting politicians and land managers has been a proven and effective way to change our climbing access at several other sites in NSW. The more feedback they get from the general public the better chance we have of changing the outcome.
Enjoy the magic that is Point Perp in the photo gallery below. Don’t let it slip out of reach!
Update 1 November 2022 – Letter writing works! Due to hundreds of emails being sent from ACANSW members to politicians and other recreational user groups (fishing, boating, bushwalking, conservation etc) the media published significant articles and news stories about this issue. Below is a selection of these media stories.
ABC News – Defence denies it plans to block public access to Beecroft Peninsula
ABC News – Defence Department reveals unexploded ordnance to blame for closures at Beecroft Peninsula
WIN News – Public to enjoy Beecroft Peninsula once unexploded ordnance has been removed
Illawarra Mercury [paywall] – What’s going on at Beecroft Peninsula? Rumours of closure quashed by Defence
Daily Telegraph [paywall] – Shock reason climbers fear world class site could close
Outdoors NSW & ACT – Active recreation gets turned away
Illawarra Escarpment – Draft Amendment to Allow Climbing?
In what appears to be a fantastic win for the climbing community – the extensive 13km cliff-line that runs from Bulli Pass north to Stanwell Park is set to be re-opened to rock climbing according to a draft amendment to the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area Plan of Management. This is great news, as this area has some fantastic climbing at crags such at Stonehaven, Coalcliff, Scarborough Cliffs, Whale Watchers Wall, Scarface and Fear Wall. Lush forest, amazing orange rock and exciting multi-pitch routes – both sport and trad – are potentially on offer. There are hundreds of already established routes in this area that came under a cloud a few years ago when a new Plan of Management was applied that effectively banned all rock climbing outside of Mt Keira. This is set to change.
ACANSW representatives met with the land managers a few years back and lobbied for this area to be open as a recreation area for the local climbing community. It appears these meetings may have hopefully given the green light for such a great area to be recognized for it’s climbing.
The relevant rock climbing sections from the draft amendment are:
Promoting recreational opportunities
“The escarpment between Bulli Pass and Stanwell Park has a longstanding history of rock climbing. Rock climbing is currently only permitted on the south- and west-facing cliff lines of Mount Keira under the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area Plan of Management, subject to safety and environmental acceptability. An amendment to the plan of management is proposed to provide additional opportunities for rock climbers by allowing rock climbing in areas north of Bulli Pass. “
Plan reference: pages 26-27, under Other activities
“Rock climbing and abseiling will be allowed on the west- and south-facing cliffs of Mount Keira and north of Bulli Pass. Basic amenities are available near Mount Keira at the Mount Keira Summit Park, and access is provided via the Dave Walsh Track.
New bolts or anchors may not be installed, and park infrastructure such as safety railings may not be used as anchor points as they have not been designed for this purpose.
Locations where rock climbing and abseiling are allowed may be reviewed to address safety issues, risks to visitors or impacts on cultural values or environmental values.“
What does this mean for climbers?
In general, this appears to open up 13km worth of cliff to rock-climbing for the Wollongong and Sydney climbing community. These cliffs are so good they will also attract interest from climbers from further afield. This should be applauded.
A ban on new bolts or anchors hampers vital rebolting work – upgrading old and dangerous safety bolts and chains that may have been in place for 30 years or more. ACANSW suggests that there should not be a blanket ban on new bolts – as this will cause significant safety issues in the long term.
The rest of the amendment seems to be focused on allowing huts and other “roofed” structures and commercial operators into the area as part of the Great Southern Walk – a new proposed multi-day walking track in the area. The document allows groups of 40 people to be in a single group (!) and opens up the public land to commercial interests – it’s best summed up in their own words “NPWS may engage commercial operators to provide support services to walkers on the Great Southern Walk. This could include guiding, food and supply drops, facilities maintenance of walker accommodation and hiker pick-up and drop off services.”. This is the same game National Parks have been playing all round Australia – including the infamous Grampians Peaks Trail. ACANSW does not believe this to be in the best interests of future climbing access as these types of glamping “trails” usually come with trail fees and caveats that make it illegal to walk off them – thus shutting down informal access to climbing areas. There will also be land clearing associated with a proposed new Maddens Plains campground, huts and vehicle service roads. This campground is positioned directly above an established climbing area.
Help us to secure our climbing future!
ACANSW has already sent a detailed submission to National Parks – download & read it here [IESCA climbing submission.pdf]. But we still need YOUR HELP to send an individual submission to make sure this draft amendment regarding climbing is confirmed. The more submissions they receive the better chance we have of gaining access to climbing in this area. It doesn’t need to be War and Peace – just write a few sentences letting them know you think allowing rock climbing in this area is an excellent idea and one you broadly agree with. Mention that safety bolts should not be prohibited due to safety risks regarding lack of maintenance to already existing anchors. If you don’t agree with commercial huts then mention this as well.
Submissions close on the 28 October 2022.
You can download the plan at this link.
You can provide your written submission in any of the following ways:
- Post your written submission to:
Manager, NPWS Planning and Assessment
Locked Bag 5022
Parramatta NSW 2124
- Email your submission to: email@example.com
- Use the online form on this page.
Diamond Bay & Rosa Gully – community feedback required!
Waverley Council is inviting the community to provide feedback on its development application (DA) to upgrade the Clifftop Walkway at Eastern Reserve, Dover Heights and Diamond Bay Reserve. This includes the access to the popular Eastern Suburb’s climbing areas of Rosa Gully, Diamond Bay and Bow Wall. Submissions close this coming Tuesday the 19th October – we need YOUR help to secure climbers access rights into the future.
Among the works proposed in the DA is the creation of four new viewing platforms and the relocation of the existing Diamond Bay viewing platform to “capture coastline views in a safer location”. They also propose replacement of boardwalks and fencing along much of the coastline in this area. Current access to Diamond Bay involves climbing the fence pictured below.
Why does this matter to climbers? Access to climbing areas in this area involves negotiating fences, informal tracks and ignoring signage that appears to state access is not permitted on the cliff side of the fence. There has been continued access issues in recent years, often involving the police or Waverly Council rangers telling climbers they should not be on the far side of the fence. This is despite Council agreeing informally in recent meetings with ACANSW that climbing is a valid recreational activity in this area. A 2002 document detailing some of the past issues with Council and rock-climbing can be found here.
What are we asking for? ACANSW wants Waverly Council to factor in the access of climbers to these cliffs into any proposed changes to fencing and signage.
We ask climbers to make a submission about the proposed Diamond Bay development application by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and quoting DA-378/2021.
Key points to make in YOUR submission could be:
I’ve been climbing on the Waverely sea cliffs since…..
This area is an important and popular climbing destination and popular alternative to traveling to the Blue Mountains.
Modern climbing techniques and equipment make climbing a safe activity.
I’m worried about/ have previously been, stopped by rangers or police despite understanding that it was a legal activity.
I’d rather not jump fences and disregard signs to pursue the sport. Could Waverly Council consider climber access points in its construction of the new boardwalk and fence. These might be gates, or signs warning walkers that suitably equipped climbers are only permitted to access the cliff edge.
Waverly Council should discuss specific climber access requirements with the Australian Climbing Association NSW.
Submissions close Tuesday 19 October, 2021.
Mt Piddington – help stop the chop!
Blue Mountains City Council is planning to remove over 60 mature trees along the approach trail to Mt Piddington (the Hourn Point Trail) in the next couple of weeks. Anyone who has climbed there recently will have noticed spray painted Xs and 0s on tree trunks all along the 800m track. An X means total tree removal, and an 0 means limb removal. Of particular note is the planned removal of all trees in the area at the end of the trail just before the rock platform lookout to create a turning circle for trucks.
We understand that there may be some need to prepare this section of road for upcoming fire seasons – but the scale of works proposed seems out of step with the important environmental and recreational values of the area – it is a much loved walk for locals and visitors alike.
Write to the Blue Mountains Council and request a stop work order!
They plan to start this work in the next couple of weeks – your help is needed today! We people to write to the BMCC and ask for this work to be restrained to a level that does not do major harm to the environmental and recreational values of the area. Do all these trees really have to be removed? Does there really need to be a major turning spot for trucks at the lookout?
Send complaint letters to:
Peter Belshaw – PBelshaw@bmcc.nsw.gov.au
Matt Chambers, Natural Areas Manager – MChambers@bmcc.nsw.gov.au
Rosemary Dillon, CEO – RDillion@bmcc.nsw.gov.au
Share this page with friends and ask them to send a letter. Join the Hornes Point Action Group on Facebook for the latest news.
Diamond Bay and Rosa Gully access alert
Access to this area is in jeopardy! Please read this important information before climbing here.
Diamond Bay and Rosa Gully access requires climbing a fence that is marked “Keep out, no access”. This fence has been erected to stop suicides and risky selfie takers. In recent years climbers have been approached by NSW Police and Waverly Council rangers when crossing this fence. In 2021 police have reportedly issued fines for climbers crossing this fence during the Sydney Covid lockdown.
A November 16, 2020 Waverly Council meeting confirmed that climbers are not supposed to be receiving infringement notices for accessing climbing areas but authorities will intervene if they believe that members of the public are putting themselves at risk.
“Council enforcement staff have been applying a discretionary approach to enable rock climbers, slack liners and fisherman to access areas at Diamond Bay and Eastern Avenue Reserve. Rangers will not issue infringement notices to this group of people.”
Police attend more than 50 suicides a year along this coastline. A woman fell to her death whilst partying on the cliff edge of Diamond Bay in 2020 and Council rangers and police have been instructed to stop this happening again. The fence is part of their enhanced community safety plan. Below are some examples of what authorities are trying to stop.
Guidelines for climbers
- Do not cross the fence in front of walkers and sightseers. Don’t create a false alarm by hanging around at the top of the climbing area on the wrong side of the fence. Bystanders may mistake you for a potential jumper and report it.
- Make it obvious you are a climber by wearing a harness and helmet at all times – put them on in the carpark so there is no confusion about your intentions to outsiders. Always remain harnessed up and attached to anchors when near cliff edges.
- Be discrete and low key – this is not the place to pose and perform in front of bystanders.
- Actively discourage any bystanders from climbing the fence to see what you are climbing or to take selfies. The cliffs are for experienced climbers and slackliners only – not a place for tourists to take photos.
- As a climber please avoid taking photographs of your mates climbing from the cliff top – this will just encourage non-climbers to join you.
If you are approached by police or rangers please follow their instructions and report any interactions to Sydney Climbers Facebook group and Australian Climbing Association NSW (ACANSW) via email email@example.com
ACANSW suggests you print out page 5 from the 2020 Waverly Council meeting notes and keep this on you when climbing in the area to show to any police or rangers. A screenshot is below:
ACANSW continues to discuss these access issues with Waverly Council and local police in the hope we can maintain access for climbers in future years.
Royal National Park climbing? Help make it happen!
Submissions from the general public about the proposed new Plan of Management for the Royal National Park, Heathcote National Park, Garawarra State Conservation Area are due by August 2nd. The 2021 proposed draft plan bans rock climbing entirely – we believe this needs to be changed and this can only be done with overwhelming community feedback.Continue reading
Blue Mountain’s climbers – we need your help!
Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) is creating a new masterplan for land they manage between Kings Tableland and Katoomba – the Southern Escarpment Masterplan. This would include carparks and approach trails for many well known climbing areas such as Sublime Point, Echo Point, Dog Face and Boars Head. BMCC is asking for feedback from residents and visitors to these areas on how they could manage these sites better. This is an opportunity for the climbing community to request infrastructure improvements to these well used areas.Continue reading
Blue Mountains Conservation + Culture Forum – May 1st 2021
Australian Climbing Association (NSW) proudly announces the very first Blue Mountains Conservation + Culture Forum – to be held in Wentworth Falls on the evening of Saturday 1st May.
Are you concerned about climbing access issues and want to know how positive change can give climbing a sustainable future? Throughout the evening you will hear from leaders in the climbing community, ecology experts as well as land managers and Traditional Owners. Speakers will include Chris Tobin (Darug), Wayne Brennan (Dept of Environment), Carol Probets (BM Birding), Gavin Phillips (Royal Botanic Gardens) as well as climbers Hugh Ward, Warwick Baird, Neil Monteith and Ian Brown.
This is not an online seminar – it’s a real bums on seats ticketed event with limited numbers – book now at this link to avoid disappointment.
This event is supported by Climbing Anchors and Mountain Equipment. Door prizes from Nomad and Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym.