• After visiting Thompson's Point to recharge on country, Yuin man Owen Sharman started a petition to ban climbing in the area. (Supplied.)Source: Supplied.
More than 13,000 people have signed a petition to ban rock climbing at Thompson's Point on the NSW south coast, a site rich in ancient Aboriginal art and rock shelters.
Keira Jenkins

4 Dec 2020 - 3:27 PM  UPDATED 4 Dec 2020 - 3:27 PM

Owen Sharman was shocked when he decided to visit Thompson's Point one weekend as part of a trip to recharge on his Yuin Country and was met with dozens of people using the area for climbing.

"I was going through some personal things and I just really wanted to go back down to Country and reconnect and recharge," said Mr Sharman.

"When I went down to Thompson's Point, there were probably 30-odd people climbing and I didn't have the opportunity to recharge because there were people climbing all over our sites.

"Instead of going down and relaxing, I went the other way and got pretty angry about it."

Mr Sharman said when he spoke to some of the climbers, they told him they were going to climb a route called 'the pocketed wall'.

This area contains artwork, and the online climbing guide, 'The Crag', lists part of this climb as 'closed' due to cultural heritage concerns.

Mr Sharman said the current protections in place are "just not good enough" and decided something needed to be done about it.

So he started an online petition.

Three weeks later, the petition has more than 13,500 signatures.

"I've never done anything like this before," Mr Sharman said.

"I was only expecting like 100 signatures, that sort of thing and then two days later it was already over 5000 so I was taken back by that but I'm really happy it's got the response it has."

Mr Sharman has also made contact with a number of state and federal Ministers, including NSW Minister for the Environment Mathew Kean and Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.

Mr Sharman is waiting for their responses, but said he is hopeful his petition will help bring about action. 

"I can't see it being ignored anymore," he said.

"That's why I thought a petition was a good way of doing it, because if you see 13,500 people want it stopped, if the community is speaking to you and the community elected you, you can't keep ignoring that."

Gariwerd management plan to 'balance' cultural heritage and recreational use of park
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.