FREE Skills Night for CAWA Members at Adventure Out


Keen to learn some tips and tricks to make you the most sought after belay bunny ever?

Want to know more about trad climbing but too afraid to ask?

Not sure how to use your equipment?

Do you know how to self rescue?

Does rope handling feel more like a B & D session gone wrong?

Experienced but looking to improve your knowledge?

Adventure Out (providers of outdoor training and activities) are very kindly hosting a skills night exclusively for CAWA members. It will be an informal evening where we will cover a smorgasbord of topics including but not limited to belaying, knots, self rescue, trad gear, correct use of equipment, rope handling and safety. There will also be some dodgy bits of gear on display to show you what to avoid.

The purpose of the evening is to give all climbers an opportunity to learn or review skills, ask questions and build on knowledge, including advanced techniques. It is therefore suited to everyone from novice to experienced climbers keen to do it better. Climbing, that is. We can’t help with the other stuff.

No matter how long you climb for, you will never know everything (even if you think you do). There is always something new and interesting to learn and who doesn’t want a broader skill set? It’s right up there with having a bigger rack.

It would be great to have  some of the crusty ‘old’ climbers come along and share some stories. Who knows, you might even be tempted to retire that twenty year old rusty cam in favour of some shiny new fandangled bit of gear. Or you can just bring your old relics for show and tell. Either way, a mix of experience always makes for an entertaining evening.

Everyone is welcome to bring whatever food and drink they would like (including a few beers). There is a fridge available for use.

There will also be an opportunity for CAWA members to access AO climbing courses at discounted rates.

When: Wednesday 2 December 2015

Time: 6 pm onwards for about 3-4 hours

Where: Adventure Out, Unit 5/324 Orrong Road, Welshpool

What to bring: Your usual climbing gear. BYO food and drink.

Don’t have a rack? Don’t panic! Just bring whatever you do have.

This event is one of the many benefits of being a CAWA member. If you are not yet a member, but keen to come along, joining is easy. Just follow this link: Become a CAWA member today.

RSVP essential by Friday 27 November 2015. Please send to

Look forward to seeing you there.


Dena Rao

CAWA President






Assistant Editor for Western Climber Magazine Needed

WC front cover page

Do you have experience with desktop publishing and creative urges you just can’t control? If so, we have the perfect outlet for you.

We need your help to produce our member magazine, Western Climber, three to four times per year.

It has previously been published using InDesign and MS Publisher, depending on what software our volunteer editors have available to them.

We would love to hear from anyone who has prior experience editing, a keen eye for detail and good spelling and grammar. There is a lot of scope to use your imagination and it would look great on your CV.

If you are willing to volunteer some of your time and creative flare to assist Kate Swain, our current editor, please contact her directly:

Thank you!


Dena Rao

CAWA President



CAWA Knot Night: Wednesday 20 May 2015


What on earth is a knot night, you ask?  From 6:30 pm onwards a few of our more experienced climbers will demonstrate how to tie and apply the basic knots commonly used for climbing. This is a practical evening for CAWA members to learn useful skills for the real world. If you are new to outdoor climbing or planning to make the move soon, this informal night is perfect for you. Even if you aren’t ‘new’ but not 100% sure if what you are doing is quite right or you’d like to pick up some handy tips, come and join us. Also an excuse to socialise, we would love to see some of you crusty old rock gods come and impress our newer members with your climbing prowess. 

What does any of that have to do with Gesa looking so happy about me cutting her rope? I guess you’ll just have to come along and find out. 

Based in the upstairs meeting room of Rosie O’Grady’s Northbridge (205 James Street), pub grub is conveniently available if you are coming straight from work. 

There is no set structure for this evening. Everything will be worked through at a suitable pace. 

Please note that this training is provided for the benefit of CAWA members and is a FREE event. 

Non-members can join online here: CAWA Membership.

What to bring: rope; large locking carabiners and a few non-locking ones; accessory cord and belay device. Don’t panic if you don’t have some of these items. Just bring what you have. 

Please bring proof of membership with you: your CAWA membership card or Register Now receipt if you have only just joined. 

The Perth Rock Climbing Guide and our awesome new CAWA t-shirts will be available for $25 each.

It would be appreciated if you could bring the exact amount.

Please RSVP to so that we have an idea of numbers.

Hope to see you there!

Dena Rao

CAWA President

Climbing at Wallcliffe Prohibited

Photo by Krish Seewraj
Photo by Krish Seewraj


Climbing started at Wallcliffe in the early 1990s. The cliff is located on Nature Reserve No. 8431. It is important to note that local government (Shire of Augusta-Margaret River), not Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) is responsible for the management of this reserve. In the late 1990s, the local council passed legislation banning climbing. The reasoning centred around minimising disturbance to the area and preserving Aboriginal heritage. The shire ignored the majority of CAWA’s numerous attempts to communicate with them, except for meeting representatives at the site once. Refusal to engage with CAWA resulted in us exercising our rights under the Western Australian freedom of information act 1992 (the FOI Act). An application was lodged to obtain the shire documents relevant to the issue. They revealed that the legislation had been driven by Mark Hohnen, then owner of Wallcliffe House and Helen Lee, owner of Bushtucker River and Wine Tours. They disliked sharing with another user group even though the reserve was gazetted for public recreation.

Climbers demonstrated both in town and at the reserve. It was argued that climbers were responsible and respectful of the environment. At the time, the crag was not listed as an Aboriginal site of significance.

CAWA made a submission to the parliamentary committee that oversees local legislation, complaining that the shire had discrimminated against one user group and their solution to managing the reserve was to ban climbing. We were fortunate at the time to have the assistance of a climber who was also a lawyer. The legislation was deemed to be discrimminatory against climbers and was overturned. While the shire has the right to manage the reserve, management by banning a user group and refusing to communicate with them was considered unacceptable.

The local government passed subsequent legislation prohibiting placing any new bolts (not replacement bolts) or new climbs. And climbing continued.

Recent Developments

In the course of research for the new south west guide, two issues affecting climbing at Wallcliffe have come to light:

1. Local government property local law 2013, Part 2 – Application states:

‘Protection of foreshore environment
2.2 (1) No person is to—
       (a) climb on a cliff face on local government property without the prior written approval of the local government;
       (b) deface a cliff face on local government property;
       (c) resist an authorised person impounding climbing equipment used in contravention of subclause (a) and (b).

(2) A person, who an authorised officer suspects of climbing on a cliff face or defacing a cliff face, must leave the area of the local government property where the cliff is situated if the authorised person makes such a request.’

2. The rock face and cave are listed as an Aboriginal site of significance and protected under the Aboriginal heritage act 1972. The act states that it is an offence to excavate, destroy, damage, conceal or in any way alter an Aboriginal site in a manner not sanctioned by relevant custom.

Unfortunately, CAWA has not been approached, consulted or even advised of the above developments by the relevant governing bodies. It is possible that the local government restriction may have been in place for some time before 2013 but it is not clear exactly when it was enacted or whether those involved had knowledge of the previously agreed access or that similar legislation had already been overturned. As with all government departments, staff change over time and communication is often poor. Whilst this is disappointing, it is not entirely surprising. However, the far bigger issue is point 2. The listing on the Aboriginal Heritage Enquiry System does not indicate when registration of the site came into effect.

What this means for climbing

CAWA’s official position is that all climbing activities at Wallcliffe should cease until further notice. It is possible to seek permission to climb on registered Aboriginal sites. However, any perceived disrespect for the area (for example, by continuing to climb there) and protections will negatively affect any application made. It is pointless tackling the local government legislation, before seeking and obtaining approval for climbing access from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

Unless all climbers are willing to respect the current restrictions, it is also pointless for any group to spend months working hard to regain access. Our collective behaviour as a user group will impact significantly on any application.

The next step

Permission must first be obtained from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to climb at Wallcliffe. Only then is it worthwhile to commence negotiations with the shire. The former is a complex process, involving applications and appearances before panels and where a decision may not be made for twelve to eighteen months. For this reason, the assistance of a lawyer who is also a climber and willing to give their time to the cause, is almost critical. Not just to assist with all of the red tape but to provide support at presentations where the panels will have their own lawyer present. It is also important to be presenting a professional case to any panel.

The process is long, labour intensive and requires complete focus. For this reason, CAWA is not in a position to take on this issue alone. We simply don’t have the resources and committees change over time. There are limits to what a small group of volunteers can do. What is required now is for a group of articulate, committed and experienced climbers, preferably including locals, who are willing to take this on and see it through until its conclusion, however long that takes. Ideally, the group would be comprised mostly of professionals (including a lawyer), at least some of who also have experience of dealing with legislative processes and ideally heritage issues. Being a very specific local issue, the application will benefit greatly from the involvement of local climbers with strong ties to the area, when presenting the case to Aboriginal Affairs. It will also make any on site meetings much easier to achieve. There are very sound reasons for being so specific about the recommended composition of the group who takes this on. In short, it’s not my personal opinion. I have it on good authority that it will impact on the outcome.

CAWA, along with other individuals who have significant experience in this area, will provide support and guidance to the group who steps up to take this on. Just to be clear, CAWA is not putting together this group. Climbers need to take responsibility for doing this themselves and then approach CAWA for discussion once a group has been formed. It is up to the climbing community to decide whether Wallcliffe is important enough to them to stand up and fight for access.

Dena Rao
CAWA President

President’s Report 2014

Frenchman Cap area, Canada
Frenchman Cap area, Canada

Welcome to the New CAWA Year!

It’s been a pretty hectic but successful twelve months or so. We’ve achieved a lot with a small committee, who all deserve a big pat on the back.  I didn’t write a long presidential monologue for the AGM, instead presenting a slideshow with photos of ticks, chipmunks and poutine. Hazel Findlay’s talk was well received and the photo competition was a huge success. Thanks must go to all of those involved in assisting with not only the AGM but the general workings of the association: my committee; Mandy Bowler and Kate Swain (Western Climber); Ross Weiter (guide book distribution) and the climbing gyms. My friends have also provided invaluable support, for which I am very grateful.

Okay, so what did we do during the last year?

In terms of climbing activities, the usual trips took place. Kalbarri (June) and Wilyabrup (November) probably attracted the most people but Albany (Xmas – New Year) was also heaps of fun. The campground at Peak Charles has been ‘beautified’ beyond recognition, resulting in designated sites and considerably less space, with some of us heading instead for a random patch of scrub. We finally managed to run a trip to Mt Frankland and get reasonable weather this March long weekend just gone. Late last year saw a day trip to Wellington Dam for the first time and as it’s the most attractive quarry that we have access to, complete with free gas BBQs, we’ll definitely do it again.

Overall, gym crashes have been well attended, though a dip was seen during the coldest months. As a result, we decided to run them every two months but with so many new members coming on board and looking for climbing buddies, we have gone back to monthly during the warmer weather and will do them less often over winter. The last gym crash prior to the AGM, held at Rockface in January, was probably the biggest one I’ve ever been to with roughly thirty people rocking up. I would encourage everyone to come along and meet some new people, especially newer members looking to find regular partners. For the ‘oldies’, it’s just a good opportunity to get together and talk about all of our collective injuries.

One of our most significant achievements has been obtaining insurance cover for training and coaching, for the first time in CAWA’s history. We have struggled with this many times in the past, knowing that members wanted training but not being able to provide it due to liability issues. This enabled us to run a technique clinic in November and bring Hazel Findlay out to share her skills. The plan this year is to run more CAWA coaching and training sessions. I suspect the next one we are planning, transitioning from indoors to outdoors safely, will be very popular. There will also be a knot night, where we run through the common knots and their application. We are seeing serious problems with climbers learning indoors and then heading outdoors without undertaking any training and more importantly, completely oblivious to their lack of knowledge and skills. Whilst this is not a new issue, the scale on which it is occurring definitely is, because of the number of people entering the sport and the manner in which they do so. Rather than an apprenticeship commenced outdoors, the majority start indoors in climbing gyms.

Last June we engaged an outside provider to run a basic rescue and first aid course. Even though we hope we won’t need these skills, it’s important to know how to do a cliff rescue and administer first aid that could be life saving. So often we climb in remote locations and yet most climbers are totally unprepared to deal with even the most basic emergencies. I also attended an intense wilderness first aid course which equips you with a range of skills, including coordinating an emergency response as well as advanced first aid. I would strongly recommend that anyone spending time outdoors in remote (more than one hour from definitive help) areas considers this type of training. It is possible that we will be able put together a specifically tailored version incorporating cliff rescue, so watch this space.

Our last training activity for the year was with Hazel Findlay, who ran three coaching clinics for us: general/sport, trad and women’s specific. It was a mix of outdoor and indoor, covering both the physical and mental aspects of climbing. It was great to see people’s confidence improve with challenges like falling, an important thing to practise regularly (in a safe and appropriate way).

Organising social events for climbers is a bit like herding cats. But we keep trying and last year’s winter dinner was held at The Oxford Hotel, where we had a lovely fire and plenty of food. We are about to start organising this year’s one, likely to be scheduled for July. The annual CAWA Xmas BBQ took place at Point Walter as usual. There was more interest in slacklines than bouldering, which kept the masses entertained until food was served. It was great to see many of the new faces in climbing that I have come to know, as well as some of the old faithfuls.

However, CAWA is not a social club. We are the peak body for the sport in WA. So while I wish it was all just about having fun, my role is also to report on the serious stuff and increase general awareness about the issues impacting on our sport.

One of CAWA’s main objectives is to maintain and promote access to climbing locations. The land we climb on is generally managed by Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) and sometimes by other government agencies or private owners. A considerable amount of effort has gone into building these relationships. Last year CAWA submitted comments on the Draft Kalbarri National Park Management Plan, which were well received. Climbing is an accepted recreational activity in this park. However, it is always important to make our presence felt as stakeholders so we are not forgotten. One suggestion made was to develop campsites within the park. Providing such facilities would encourage climbers to camp up above rather than down in the gorge, as currently the main alternative is driving into Kalbarri. Given that DPaW would prefer that we didn’t camp at The Promenade, this seems like a reasonable solution. And as we head into Kalbarri season, I need to remind everyone that it would be appreciated if you do not camp in the gorge on long weekends (the June one in particular), that you use the designated tourist track to access the gorge and adhere to ‘leave no trace’ practices. Every time we disrespect the environment (as one group of climbers did year before last) and management policies, it increases the risk of threat to future climbing access. Imagine the ramifications if you or a tourist following you down the old access track has an accident. Camping in the gorge does require registration with the rangers.

In the late 1990s there was a hard battle fought and won to maintain climbing access to Wallcliffe. Since that time, it appears that a local government by law has been passed stating that climbing is not allowed without written approval. CAWA was not consulted for input and it is unclear exactly when this came into effect. The rock face and cave is now also listed as an Aboriginal site of significance and protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972. The act states that it is an offence to excavate, destroy, damage, conceal or in any way alter an Aboriginal site in a manner not sanctioned by relevant custom. So there are two separate issues, the latter being a far more complex one to address. While we can’t force people to stay away, CAWA strongly advises that climbing activities at this crag cease until further notice. Keep an eye on the website for updates. Consider that our behaviour in this regard will impact significantly on any negotiations. Please do note that part of our previous agreement was that no new fixed protection was to be placed. We previously benefited from the assistance of a lawyer who was also a climber and any such person willing to lend a hand is encouraged to contact me.

Mountain and Stathams quarries in Perth operate under a booking system for all users. Unfortunately we lost the ability to make quarry bookings on weekends, due to some climbers abusing the system. Phoning the duty officer at 5 am while standing at the gate was never going to win friends and in spite of requests not to do so, it continued to occur. It is now only likely to change with the introduction of fees at some point in the future as the number of users increase and management becomes more labour intensive. We have also seen a huge increase in climbers sharing the gate code instead of making bookings. There is restricted access with a gate and a lock as well as signage clearly stating that you need to make bookings at the entry to both quarries (I have advised DPaW that the signage needs to be updated to reflect weekday only bookings). Many of the offenders know very well that we need to book and should be encouraging responsible practices rather than engaging in behaviour that serves only to harm the sport and reputation of climbers. It is extremely frustrating to be faced with such selfish and short-sighted behaviour whilst giving so many hours as an unpaid volunteer for my sport. This type of behaviour seriously hampers my ability to negotiate with the land managers and is, quite frankly, embarrassing.

While I appreciate that there are many who understand and are doing the right thing, I feel that those who aren’t really need a good spanking. As I said at the AGM, climbing isn’t a team sport, but if we don’t work as a team, then we can expect the whole thing to fall in a hole at some point.

This leads me to another serious topic: succession. We have seen significant growth in membership, with current numbers at an all time high – 184 memberships with 241 members. This is fantastic but we still struggle to fill all ten committee positions, leaving a small group of people working hard for the members and sport as a whole. This is a common issue for all associations but my concern is that when I step down, there will not be an appropriately experienced person to take over. I make no promises about how long I will stay on the committee, this being my sixth year. Ideally, a person taking on the president’s role is already on the committee being groomed for the position and absorbing all of the relevant information, as there is a lot of CAWA history necessary to the job. A solid understanding of climbing in WA is particularly important. So if you are up for the challenge, want to acquire some new skills and make a difference to your sport, please get in touch. We still also need to fill some committee positions and would love to hear from people willing to give some of their time. We need your help!  

We are in a stable position financially, largely thanks to our Perth Rock Climbing Guide. However, in the future, we may not have a guide book to rely on and so even though we have money in the bank, it’s wise to be prudent about how we spend it. I’m also a fan of using other people’s money wherever possible. By that I mean accessing government grants, free training and sponsorship. However, these opportunities are more limited than they used to be. Costs of running the association increase each year and if we want to ensure that we can afford things like the insurance cover required to run training, then we must identify new income streams. We’ve just released the latest CAWA t-shirt so that will help things along. Or rather, you guys will when you buy them!

The constitution, bless its little archaic socks, desperately needs updating and simplifying. But this is a big job and one that it isn’t realistic to undertake without a full committee on board to take care of all the other jobs.

The year ahead will be filled with lots of CAWA activities and administrative fun, hopefully with a bit more climbing (for me) than last year. As always, please feel free to email us with any feedback or suggestions.

I look forward to seeing you out climbing and at the upcoming CAWA events.

Dena Rao

CAWA President

CAWA Annual General Meeting: Reminder for Members

Hazel Findlay


Reminder to all current CAWA members

All current members other than the most recently joined will have received their AGM invitation and proxy form by post. This is an invitation only event.

New members will receive these by email once it’s too close for snail mail.

Hazel Findlay is our key note speaker, so this is not something members will want to miss.

We know everyone is busy and that it’s easy to forget about upcoming events, so this is just a reminder that the AGM is coming up very soon, on Tuesday 24 February 2015.

Please, if you are unable to attend in person, fully complete, scan and email back your proxy form to asap. so that we ensure we have quorum. This is really important, so that we can conduct the necessary AGM business. We haven’t yet received many so hopefully this means you are all coming…

Please do not send back incomplete forms as they are not valid unless fully completed and signed by the member.

The AGM schedule is jam packed, so we’d really appreciate everyone registering at 6 pm for a 6.30 pm sharp start.

Venue: State Library Theatre, 25 Francis Street, Northbridge (sorry,  no food or drink allowed in the theatre).

The agenda will include:

  • Confirmation of the Minutes for the last preceding Annual General Meeting
  • President’s annual report
  • Treasurer’s annual report
  • Election of new management committee
  • Appoint a person to audit the accounts of the association
  • Hazel Findlay presentation followed by short Q & A
  • Photo competition judging and prizes

For sale at the registration desk in the theatre foyer and at intermission:

  • The Perth Rock Climbing Guide ($25)
  • Climb Tasmania ($45, limited copies)

Please bring exact money

 Please note that the AGM is strictly a member only event.

Look forward to seeing you all there!


Dena Rao

CAWA President

CAWA Brings Hazel Findlay to Perth!

Hazel YouTube Thumb 4

This isn’t just a little bit cool, it’s totally amazing and an extremely rare opportunity for Perth climbers.

CAWA will bring Hazel Findlay to WA in February 2015, to conduct some coaching clinics for members and be the key note speaker at the CAWA AGM on Tuesday 24 February 2015.

For those not already familiar with the ‘Spice Girl’ from Reel Rock 8, Hazel is one of the world’s top female trad climbers. A professional climber currently on The North Face team, she describes herself as an all-rounder, enjoying everything from bouldering to alpine routes. But her real passion is trad climbing and the mental challenges that come with it.

Hazel is the first woman to climb a trad route at the British grade E9 (super hard and super sketchy), consistently demonstrating calm and poise on routes with loose rock, dubious gear and serious run-outs.  She is also the first British woman to free El Capitan (which she has now done three times) and climb an 8c (Chris Sharma’s Fish Eye, Oliana, Spain, Australian 33).

Climbing since she was a wee girl on the limestone sea cliffs of South Wales, Hazel was the British junior champion six times. But she returned to focus on her real love: rock. Hazel is interested in everything that comes with climbing – the physical and mental challenge, but also the adventure, people and exploration of new places.

Hazel will come to Perth and share her skills and knowledge so that we can improve ours. She has a particular interest in the mental aspects of the sport and will talk about overcoming the mental barriers we all face in improving our climbing.

Three separate clinics will run on Saturday 21 February, Sunday 22 February and Monday 23 February 2015. Exact format and locations are yet to be determined. We are keen to do as much as we can outdoors but this will depend on the weather and nature of the practical components.

The three clinics will cover these broad areas:

  • General (including sport) climbing
  •  Trad climbing
  •  Women’s specific coaching

There will be a mixture of theory, discussion and as much practical as we can manage. Coaching will cover the mental, physical and skill aspects that are relevant to each of the clinics.

Numbers for each clinic will be limited. Clinics will be open to climbers of all levels, providing that they already have some basic experience.

We anticipate the cost will be around $90 per member, for each clinic. Depending on the response, we may need to limit participation to one clinic per member.

Please note that the coaching clinics and AGM are strictly CAWA member only events.

More details about the clinics and how to register will be sent to members soon.

Dena Rao

CAWA President

Oops! Email Error

Today some of our current members may have received an email titled ‘Sizzling Summer Events: Renew Your CAWA Membership Today’. Clearly intended for ‘expired’ members, it will no doubt cause some confusion, for which I must apologise. As much as I’d like to say it was a technical glitch, it was neuron failure on my part. Either too much or not enough coffee.

With the help of Mark, our fabulous webmaster, total carnage was prevented and the email blast aborted part way through.

So, if the email hit your inbox today (Monday 17 November), then it is most likely you are a member and even now as we speak staring in bewilderment at the membership card that clearly states that you are valid until 30 June 2015.

If you receive this email tomorrow or after that, then I’m sorry to say that you have indeed expired.

Dena Rao

CAWA President


CAWA Christmas – New Year Trip to Albany

Awaiting our well earned feed at Rustlers Steakhouse on New Year’s Eve

The Christmas-New Year trip to Albany is almost here! The dates this year will be Saturday 27 December 2014 to Thursday 1 January 2015.

An email has just gone out to members this week, so check your inbox.

The climbing possibilities are endless: The Stirling Ranges, Porongurups and all of the areas around Albany. Magnificent West Cape Howe is a popular destination, along with Peak Head. There is also no shortage of hiking in the area, including the spectacular (and strenuous) ridge walk between Bluff Knoll and Ellen Peak in The Stirlings.

Accommodation has been booked in a lovely spot just out of Albany, to enable good access to all of the climbing areas.

We usually head into town for a feed on New Year’s Eve and a booking will made at Rustlers Steakhouse again this year, where we have had good food and speedy service the last couple of times.

We are doing our best to create opportunities for beginner climbers where we can. However, this particular trip is not well suited to beginners unless they are accompanied by an appropriately experienced person who assumes total responsibility for looking after them. This is partly due to everyone being spread out over different areas but also the nature of some of the climbing and skills required to access certain areas.

Important accommodation info:

We often have some flexibility with bookings but due to this being peak season, I have to confirm the numbers very soon, to ensure we have enough sites. If members want to be sure of getting a spot, then they need to let me know by Friday 21 November 2014.

Please note that CAWA trips are only open to current members. Not a member but keen to come along? Join online via this link: Become a CAWA member.

To register for the trip, please email me at: Please include: how many in your group and their names, number of tents and roughly what size they are (i.e. 2, 3, 4 person tent). If you want to stay on until 2 January, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Each person will need to complete a trip registration form but for now I just need numbers.

Dena Rao

CAWA President

Due to legal and liability issues, CAWA does not provide training on trips. All climbers must be independent participants who are completely responsible for themselves. If you are an inexperienced climber, then have a chat to some of the more experienced members you know and see if they are planning to attend.