What are the potential impacts of climbing on Aboriginal cultural heritage values?
Grampians National Park and other areas such as Black Range, Mount Arapiles-Tooan, Red Rock and Mount Talbot, are deeply important cultural landscapes for Victorian Traditional Owners. They contain many important cultural places including the majority of surviving Aboriginal rock art sites in south-east Australia.
Protecting cultural heritage is not just fundamental for Aboriginal people’s identity and wellbeing, it is also important to all Victorians. It is a part of Victoria’s heritage – our shared story of how we have grown and evolved as a society. It can help us understand the past so we can prepare for the future and it can connect us to the past in profound ways that arise from the spiritual values of these places for Traditional Owners. Some Traditional Owners describe these places as their cathedrals.
Since 2013 about 40 rock art sites have been rediscovered in the Grampians, taking the tally in the area to about 140, which is about 90 per cent of all known such sites in Victoria. Some of these sites date back more than 20,000 years.
Aboriginal rock art can be clear and obvious, but some can be very difficult or impossible to see with the naked eye, although it may be visible with imaging technology. The same is true of other cultural places such as quarry places and places holding other cultural artefacts.
Rock climbing can result in damage to rock faces – and this precious cultural heritage including rock art - through use of bolts and chalk and from the weight of people putting pressure on small ledges causing pieces of rock to break away.