• Earlier this year, a group of up to 30 balaclava-clad men gathered on sacred land at Gariwerd and chanted white power slogans while burning a cross. (Supplied: Parks Victoria)Source: Supplied: Parks Victoria
A new draft management plan for Gariwerd (Grampians) sets out 66 areas where rock climbing has been ruled 'incompatible', but the sport will still be permitted in 89 areas of the park.
17 Nov 2020 - 3:10 PM  UPDATED 17 Nov 2020 - 3:10 PM

Sixty-six areas of Gariwerd (Grampians) have been identified as 'incompatible' with climbing as part of a new draft management plan for the area, however, rock climbing will be able to continue in 89 areas with 'minimal or manageable impact on the environment and cultural values'.

The Barengi Gadjin Land Council, Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation and Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (GMTOAC) worked with Parks Victoria to develop the Greater Gariwerd Draft Management plan.

On Country Operations manager at Barengi Gadjin, Stuart Harradine, said Gariwerd means a lot to him and local Traditional Owners.

"It's what you might call a living cultural landscape," he said.

"It's environmental, cultural, spiritual. It's a lot of things to myself and other Traditional Owners and incredibly important to us that is often hard to express to non-Aboriginal people."

The Barengi Gadjin Land Council said it is proud to have worked on delivering a plan that sets out proposals to protect the landscape, environment and cultural heritage of Gariwerd over the next 15 years.

While 89 areas have been deemed okay for climbers, a further 126 are still being assessed.

The plan also includes strategies to recognise Aboriginal place names, help visitors understand the cultural significance of the area and utilise traditional land management practices, like cultural burning, in the park's upkeep.

Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation Bio-Cultural Landscapes manager John Clarke said Gariwerd National Park is "profoundly significant" to local Traditional Owners.

"It's iconic both in a cultural sense and a spiritual sense," he said.

"It's definitely a place of solace, reflection, it's also a place of learning and teaching. We believe that there's an opportunity for the broader Victorian community to have an understanding of that and to actually walk that landscape with that lens as well.

"Here's an opportunity to have a relationship with Country in the context of how it should be."

The plan is available online for public comment and Parks Victoria and local Traditional Owner groups will also host public information sessions in the coming months.

Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation said it is looking forward to hearing from the public.

The corporation's CEO Damein Bell said it is important to work together on this plan.

"Gariwerd is such a heart for all our Country," he said.

"It connects us, the Gunditjmara, the Wotjobaluk, the Djab Wurrung. It all comes together and we're very respectful of that.

"But we also know we've had 200 years of colonisation, so a lot more people love Gariwerd. A lot more people are involved with Gariwerd and they need to have that connection as well.

"With landscape planning it's got to bring everyone into the tent and we need to work together to get the best outcomes.

"Not only for us, but for Country itself."

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