Quarries- Access, Gates and Bookings

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This topic contains 36 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Nathan 1 year, 5 months ago.

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  • #12817 Reply

    Dena

    A few years ago CAWA had discussion and negotiation with DEC regarding conditions of access to Mountain and Stathams quarries. Signing of indemnities, gate codes (and control) and a booking system were all cause for concern to both parties. DEC wanted us to sign indemnities and for a whole host of reasons, we objected. The outcome was that recreational rock climbers would not be required to sign indemnity forms but they would need to comply with the booking system and keep the gate locked. There is a limit of forty people in each quarry at any one time. Part of the reason for this limit is to avoid overcrowding and reduced enjoyment. All of this information was posted on the website and emailed to members at the time, with subsequent periodic reminders about gates and bookings.

    DEC is not the enemy. They have a job to do as land managers and have largely been supportive of climbing and other activities, preferring to facilitate rather than block use of the land wherever possible.

    Recently, climbers may have been asked to sign indemnity forms when phoning the visitor’s centre. The reason for this is a turnover of staff and some information they came across indicated that they were required to get climbers to sign indemnities. I had one irate climber contact me last week so I’m sure there are others. This issue has been sorted and recreational climbers will not be asked to sign forms. Nothing has changed — it was just a handover hiccup.

    However, a couple of other issues have come to light: the gates to these quarries are regularly being left unlocked (by both commercial and private users) and some climbers are not making bookings.

    Random campers have decided it might be a nice little overnight outing because the gate has been left open (yes, I know they could carry the gear in but that’s not the point). Obviously and understandably, DEC is not happy about this. They expect the authorised users of the quarries to assist in looking after them.

    It is understandable that new climbers or those new to the area may be unaware of the booking system (someone just gives them the code or they go in with others who have it) or gate protocol. But there are others who are well aware and not respecting the conditions of use.

    Gates: Keeping the gates locked is a requirement of quarry use and ultimately, to benefit you and other users to prevent thieves and other undesirables driving into the quarry. Yes, I know that commercial operators have been leaving the gates unlocked and I can assure you that this issue has now been addressed. EVERYBODY who uses the quarries is required to ensure that the gate is locked, regardless of whether they find it open or not. Please ensure that you lock it if it has been left open. I have suggested to DEC that a reminder to each person when they book might be useful.

    Booking system: Climbers are required to phone the visitor’s centre on (08) 9295 2244 and make a booking, whereby they will be given the gate code. They are open seven days a week.

    For a long time, DEC was gentle, giving climbers the opportunity to book on the spot, if they were caught with their pants down, so to speak. The weekend before last, climbers were evicted because they didn’t book and this will continue to occur. So now, rather than getting a chance to reinstate your pants, you’ll get spanked by more than Hang Ten.

    In the situation where it is a late last minute decision the night before and you want to climb before the centre opens…I’m waiting for a response on that. It was discussed previously but it was difficult convincing DEC that not all climbing is planned well in advance. :))

    You should be aware that there has been pressure for some time to introduce fees for quarry use. I am happy to say that the main people involved in managing the quarries disagree and have resisted this pressure from higher management. But if we have a situation where conditions of use are not respected and more staff have to be employed to patrol the quarries, then there is a risk that in the future this could occur. And we don’t want that.

    If you have made it to the end of this rather long post, please consider that a lot of effort has gone into negotiations with DEC on your behalf, to ensure continued access to the quarries (and other places) with a minimum number of conditions. I have a particular interest in this situation, because I spent a considerable amount of time and effort as vice president and then president of CAWA, repairing and developing our relationship with DEC between 2007-2011. Others before me have also worked hard to ensure your continued access to climbing areas. One of CAWA’s constitutional objects is to ‘protect and promote the interests of rock climbers in Western Australia’ and we have done that well.

    I am keen to see a continued positive relationship between climbers and DEC. CAWA can only do so much – individual climbers need to take responsibility as well.

    So please, let’s keep things simple so that we all get what we want — make bookings and keep the damn gate locked. :))

    #12818 Reply

    Friend of Numbat

    Why don’t DEC install a sign that says you need to phone and make a booking ?
    That sort of system works for the rest of the world.

    Why is it this “policy” is found no where on the internet or otherwise ?

    #12819 Reply

    Mark Edele

    Thanks Dena and all others involved for clarifying the situation. Let’s keep the quarries open while locking the gates. A phone call to DEC should not be too onerous, and locking the gates will keep the yahoos out.

    Mark E.

    #12820 Reply

    Friend of Numbat’s Friend

    Does DEC actually have the power to remove people? They can prevent vehicle access, but if you are not accessing via vehicle, I don’t understand why you need to book, and I definitely don’t think they can make you leave unless you are committing an offence (which recreational activities aren’t).

    What is DEC’s position on this? Maybe it needs to be changed to 40 cars having access instead of 40 people. Also, what is the policy if the climbing companies are there? Do they count as part of the forty?

    Personally, I would like to see there being no regulation on the number of climbers. Only one person can climb a route at a time anyway, and why should DEC decide whether I can or cannot go climbing on a given weekend. This is over-regulated. And from personal experience, the one time bogans have rocked up to Mountain Quarry when I have been there was a time when it clearly wasn’t the climbers who left the gate open.

    #12822 Reply

    Rich Haynes

    I honestly thing the DEC (and most environmental organisations for that matter) need to wake up. The reason humans trash the planet so badly is because we don’t have enough exposure to wilderness and nature, and hence no respect for it. By making it hard to climb, mountain bike, paddle, hike, and camp in their “territory” they perpetuate their worst nightmares – another generation of people further removed from nature who give less of a shit about it and are more likely to sloth on the couch and watch in disinterest as our wilderness areas shrink. I LOVE nature, and the more time I spend there the more I love it.

    I can’t wait for the day I have to book to go for a surf. Better still, I can’t wait for the day I get evicted from the ocean for not booking. Classic.

    Dena, I’ll lock the gate and book with the pecker heads out of respect for you and the other CAWA member’s selfless work, thanks for fighting the good fight champ.

    PS. If the pecker heads are reading this I don’t think I’m a CAWA member anymore so you can put me in the “naughty renegade climbers list” who’s attitudes shouldn’t be used to judge the vast majority of climbers who are lovely people and who don’t call other people pecker heads.

    #12839 Reply

    ChrisH

    Personally, I find the booking system helpful because if I ring up and get told there will be a group of 40 or even 20 people in the quarry, i sure as hell won’t be going to climb there – may as well go indoors if i wanted to climb in a crowded atmosphere like that.

    The DEC aren’t denying us access – they’re just trying to manage a multiple use area which isn’t really a wilderness area – it’s a man-made quarry in the middle of the city. I agree, they may not be doing the best job from our perspective but the relationship has been working for years and if we spoil it then access may be denied. Is it right for them to do that? Probably not but it’s kinda nice to have the quarry there for Perth climbers to use as it keeps them off the good crags in the real wilderness 🙂

    #12845 Reply

    Dena

    I agree about signage and was thinking the same. I will suggest this as part of the solution.
    Constructive suggestions are useful. Mindless criticism that ignores the realities of our over-regulated society aren’t.

    And yes, the limit of forty does include commercial groups.

    In an ideal world, every policy and protocol should be listed somewhere. Information was posted and circulated some time ago which obviously doesn’t help new people. However, the reality is that committee members are volunteers and many like me have put in many, many hours of work and there is a limit to what we can do. As I have often noted in the past, the most vocal critics are the ones who have never put their hand up to give up some of their time to assist in filling committee positions and helping to do exactly these sorts of things. In past years, the same people have over and over given their time, doing more than a reasonable share of the work while committee positions lay vacant.

    And I note that the most unsavoury comments tend to come from those who lack the integrity to post under their own names, choosing instead to hide behind anonymous postings. There is nothing clever about being so ashamed of and uncomfortable about what you are saying that you won’t put your own name to it.

    #12846 Reply

    Dena

    Naughty Rich

    It is really important not to paint DEC as the enemy. Whilst the attitudes do vary somewhat between areas depending on who is sitting in the seat and their knowledge of various sporting activities, certainly our experience with the people in Perth in recent years has been very positive. And as I have said in previous website postings, in general, DEC is not out to stop us climbing. Just ask the mountain bikers-DEC has worked with them in developing areas.

    In some situations, it is a case of educating people about the sport because ignorance breeds fear. I mean really, after watching Stallone in Cliffhanger who can blame them? 🙂 In other cases, it can certainly be more difficult if the people we deal with are stuck in a certain mindset and unwilling to incorporate new information and reassess their position. I have certainly come up against some arrogant and ignorant people in dealing with access and other issues. But isn’t this the case in all areas of life?

    I also have an objection to over-regulation and the lack of personal responsibility it encourages. But one of the issues is that our society has become more litigious. As long as our legal system encourages this then we will see an escalation of the problem. And obviously people like DEC and other land managers will make policies accordingly.

    #12847 Reply

    Friend of Numbat

    Are you saying I am not a real numbat ??

    tisk tisk

    #12849 Reply

    Brett NP

    > And yes, the limit of 40 does include commercial groups

    As a Boya residnet, (& CAWA member), who walks in, living just over the road from Mountain Quarry, I’ll add my $0.02c worth ..

    The problem with this 40-person limit is that the big groups mostly aren’t climbing, just abseiling & sliding down a flying-fox – I’ve seen this plenty of times with Adventure Out running screaming school groups in there whilst I’ve been climbing – most of the walls are left empty.

    It does seem wrong to stop climbers due to some arbitrary limit when almost all the walls are free? I don’t book Mtn. Q. when I walk in, only if I’m lazy & take my car. Personalaly I think DEC need to be more flexible about use & numbers, there’s room for far more the 40 …

    cheers,
    Brett NP,
    Boya
    (no Numbats, but plenty of roos & bl00dy possums!!)

    #12874 Reply

    Numbat

    Hi Friend of My Friend (who is my friend?), yes, DEC can remove people from DEC-managed land and they can also fine you quite a bit for not complying.

    You need to have a look at Conservation and Land Management Regulations 2002, Conservation and Land Management Act 1984, and DEC POLICY STATEMENT No. 18 RECREATION, TOURISM AND VISITOR SERVICES. These are available from the State Law Publishers and/or DEC.

    The legal power of DEC and the powers of DEC officers are quite wide-ranging.

    Also of interest may be the DSR/ODWA documents Western Australian Adventure Activity Standard
    Rock Climbing and National Outdoor Leader Registration Scheme.

    It is my understanding that if it were not for the work of CAWA in representing climbers rights and discussing these issues with DEC, DSR, Water Corp, ODWA etc, then climbing by people such as us – that is by private people not under the direct supervision of a NORLS-qualified instructor – would effectively be illegal in WA.

    I understand that several years ago, DEC proposed that every person that went climbing would have to fill in an indemnity form and request permission (in writing) each and every time they went climbing on DEC-managed land. Furthermore, it would have been a legal requirement that each and every climber or group of climbers would have to have a NORLS-qualified instructor with them.

    It was CAWA that prevented this from happening by meeting with DEC, DSR and ODWA people and discussing these issues with them in a clear and logical manner. As far as I know, it was not climbers being picked on – there were many other outdoors types that would have also been covered by the proposed changes in policy and legislation. It appeared that some people in DEC were unfamiliar with what climbers and other outdoor recreational activities actually consisted off and confused these private recreation activities with commercial activities.

    From what Dena wrote, it would appear that a change in DEC personnel and a loss of corporate memory contributed to this latest episode.

    And I agree with ChrisH – if there are 20+ people at MQ or SQ, then I head somewhere else – although it has been my experience that if someone books 20 or 30 for one of the quarries, there will actually only be half that number and they’ll all leave at 3 pm anyway.

    #12883 Reply

    Mark Edele

    Yesterday, when we arrived at Mountain Quarry in the early afternoon, the chain with the lock was gone. Either somebody with the code had nicked it, or had left it unlocked, and then somebody took it. We told DEC this morning, that the Quarry was now unlocked.

    Mark E.

    #12907 Reply

    Dena

    Thanks for the update Mark and for contacting DEC. I’m sure they appreciated your call.

    #12988 Reply

    Kate
    Participant

    Hi All,

    This is a reminder that in these busy times to please book the quarry if you are climbing there. DEC are changing the codes more regularly now, up to twice a week, to try to encourage people to book in.

    So please ring the DEC Hills Centre between 8:30am-4:30pm on weekdays and 10am-4pm on weekends on 9295-2244 to make a booking.

    Can you please also shut the gate behind you, this helps prevent car break-ins and deters ‘undesirables’ from entering in after us.

    Thanks very much for your understanding and support.

    Kate Swain
    CAWA Vice President

    #12990 Reply

    Brett NP

    Hi Kate, saw this post & got your CAWA email y’day. Any chance you can clarify, I never book when I walk in to Mountain quarry, being a local Boya resident – surely booking is just for car access, they can’t lock me in after all?

    Then there’s all the local hoons on their unregistered motorbikes … totally ignored by DEC in the 20 years I’ve lived in Boya – makes them seem to be singling out climbers for unnecessary hassle?

    cheers,
    Brett NP,
    Boya

    #12992 Reply

    Chris

    I tried booking last Saturday and got told it was full and I couldn’t go climbing at either MQ or Stathams 🙁 Was not happy because it was my only day to get out. I know there are plenty of other locations to go climbing, but I had my heart set on a particular MQ route. Hard to imagine both quarries being full, that’s 80 climbers in one day!

    #12995 Reply

    Kate

    Hi Brett, yes you should book. I think you are lucky in that if you do walk across and it’s too crowded, you can just walk home. Most of us don’t want to take the chance and leave our car in the front car park in case of break-ins, so will book before we go and not go if we can’t get in the gate.

    I have raised these queries with Jamie Ridley at DEC, and he is aware of what is going on. Given that the quarries are a limited resource for both climbing and abseiling, and the number of people participating in both activities is increasing, something will need to be done to ensure a safe and sustainable use of the quarries for the future.

    The current situation is possibly also being exasperated by the weather, where the quarries are one of the fastest drying locations to go, so perhaps more people are choosing to go there.

    I can also be that there happen to be an unusually large number of abseiling groups using the quarry, and that if you phoned to book next weekend that the quarries are both free for both days.

    I know that this is not much of a consolation, but we are working on it.

    #12996 Reply

    Chris

    Just to have my two bob…. It would be great if the abseiling groups were not part of the 40 people. I think if there are 20 abseiling people, there still could be 40 climbers, particularly when peoples partners/children/spectators are also counted. As long as we follow CAWAs climbing code and ethics, one group per route at a time, the quarry could easily handle 40 climbing parties.

    Thanks for all your hard work Kate and other CAWA people

    #12999 Reply

    Brett NP

    > Kate replied:
    > … I think you are lucky in that if you do walk across and it’s too crowded …

    Thanks Kate, not so lucky, I have to catch the Midland line to work .. “:^)

    Joking aside, I’ve *NEVER* seen the quarry too full in my time @ Boya – even with a full “Adventure Out” group, which can easily be 40 screaming kids, most of the climbs are empty – so I have to agree with Chris & earlier posters – can CAWA get DEC to separate the count into 40 climbers & 40 abseilers – makes much more sense?

    I’ll discuss it with the ranger when/if I ever see them there – they’re very rare creatures, like the Tassie Tiger that was spotted around the ‘Hills a few years back … “:^()

    cya,
    Brett @ Boya

    #13023 Reply

    Phillip

    I was lucky enough to score a booking at SQ today – two other friends had a booking but then cancelled, so I picked up their booking.

    I was told that over the weekend, both SQ and MQ were ‘fully booked’, with large groups (~35 each I believe) at each quarry, leaving only ‘room’ for about 5 more at each.

    Of course when I got to SQ at about 2 pm, the ‘large group’ consisted of about 15 people. In addition to myself and my climbing partner, there were three others I believe, making a total of about 20.

    The ‘large group’ all left at between about 2.30 and 3, as well as the other three people, leaving just myself and my climbing partner.

    It seems as if the current booking system is being abused by some of the ‘large groups’ in that they are over-booking and thereby limiting the number of other climbers that can book.

    I think DEC needs to address this issue of overbooking by commercial groups and penalise those that regularly overbook, rather than taking it out on recreation climbers. I also think that if there is a bona fide large group booking at one quarry, then booking preference for the other quarry should go to recreational and small groups, rather than another large (and most probably overbooked) group. To be fair of course I also think the opposite should hold true – if one quarry has a large number of small group bookings, then the booking preference for the other quarry should go to a large group – provided they don’t overbook.

    #13024 Reply

    Gareth

    I also got lucky with a booking at MQ today (Sunday). There was a fairly largish group 30ish as a guess but they were only abseiling 4 ropes in the middle of the beginner slab and 1 rope on Hang Ten. 90% of MQ was NOT in use. there were only two other climbers there when we got there and walls free all over the place. Quite frustrating as I’ve struggled to get into either quarry for a couple of weekends now. Some changes are obviously needed and I am sure people are seeing and talking to these ends. Oh BTW the gate was unlocked when we arrived.

    Regards
    Gareth

    #13036 Reply

    Kate
    Participant

    THANK YOU:

    Due to the recent busyness of the quarries over the last few weeks, I would like to thank everyone who is now making a booking.

    I understand that there is now some feedback saying the quarries are full when people try to book, but when they turn up, they find them at less than capacity.

    CANCELLING A BOOKING:

    Can I please request that you phone to cancel a booking. If you have booked, but are not going to go, or you have overbooked, could you please phone the Hills Centre up and CANCEL your booking, or amend the numbers. DEC are requesting this of all user groups.

    The effectiveness of the booking system is only as good as the people using it, and this is the case for small groups as much as large ones.

    Most climbers will book on the day, and if you decide not to go, then by cancelling your booking, those people who can and do want to go will then get the opportunity to.

    LOCK THE GATE:

    Could I please also remind everyone to not only shut the gate, but also lock it, both going in and coming out. This protects everyone’s interests (your valuables and noisy/disruptive undesirables), as well as allowing the booking system to work more effectively.

    I trust that with the majority of people following the system, we will find that there is plenty of space in the quarry for all.

    ADDITIONAL BOOKING INFORMATION:

    When making a booking, could you please also indicate the following to the Hills Centre:

    Will you be there all day, or just the morning/afternoon?
    This will help share the number of people who are in there at any one time to 40 throughout the day, not just at its peak.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by  Kate.
    #13052 Reply

    Dena

    To reiterate what has already been explained previously, including a few years ago, bookings are required by all who wish to climb, regardless of whether they use cars or not. The booking system has been in place for about 10 years now. It isn’t new. But it would be fair to say that use of the quarries has definitely increased.

    DEC is well aware of the overbooking problem that has occurred recently and has spoken to all involved parties to address the issues that have been seen over the last few weeks. However, please consider that it isn’t just the commercial operators. There are a number of ‘private’ groups who book for more than they need-booking for say five people and then only two turn up.

    The limit itself is not generally a problem. It’s the lack of consideration for others by those who book for more than they need that is artificially inflating numbers. Please also consider that in recent weeks there have been some special needs groups who have had a large number of support staff required to assist them. I think it’s great that there are opportunities for people with disabilities, including those in wheelchairs to take part in some rock sport. I would hope that none of you would be so selfish and uncaring as to want to deprive these groups of the opportunity to do what many of us take for granted and can do so easily whenever we might choose. This will not be a regular occurrence and has just happened to coincide with some overbookings as well.

    However, make no mistake that DEC is well aware that quite a few climbers have been using the quarry and not booking. And DEC will not look at increasing the limit until users comply with the system that has been in place for some time now and they can see what the ‘real’ numbers are. If it is shown that there is a genuine problem with the limit of forty, they are willing to review this. But only once a period of time has passed with everyone doing the right thing and showing a willingness to cooperate. I can tell you for sure that if people continue not to book and rangers continue to find these people on their increasing patrols, then there is no way they will even consider reviewing the limits. And yes, DEC realise that the numbers can often incorporate a group abseiling in just one spot and will take this into consideration when reviewing use and genuine issues with the limit. However, they are not likely to ever count abseilers and climbers separately. Many of these groups climb as well as abseil and it isn’t just about ‘enjoyment’ on the wall and avoiding overcrowding, it is also about facilities and risk management.

    Quite honestly, I find the narrow minded, why can’t I just do what I want attitude of some climbers extremely irritating and disappointing. If you don’t want to book that’s fine, just go out to the places where there is no requirement to do so. There are certainly plenty of them. If you continue not to book because you think you shouldn’t have to, consider that this attitude will not further the interests of all climbers in the long run, will not foster a positive relationship with DEC, will harm CAWA’s ability to negotiate with DEC on your behalf and undo much of the hard work done by myself and others. Rangers are patrolling every weekend now and while the ‘soft’ approach will be taken for a bit longer, people will eventually be evicted.

    Climbers need to be a little less self oriented and consider that it isn’t just about them. There are a whole host considerations for land managers, not least of which are risk management and being able to demonstrate that management strategies are in place. You may recall that there have been a couple of recent deaths at the quarries. The fact that these are unrelated to climbing is irrelevant because they still relate to quarry use. A lot of crap hits the fan when accidents like this happen-you guys just don’t get to hear about it most of the time. A lot of questions get asked of the relevant departments, management plans come under scrutiny and there is just generally a lot of ‘heat’. Personally, I’m just happy that as yet there have not been any changes to our access as a result of these accidents.

    The issue of signage has come up as a means of letting people know that bookings are required. Unfortunately people who don’t like the signs remove them and do other rude things to them but DEC is looking at trialling this.

    The bottom line is that the booking system is here to stay. Rather than being seen as negative, this can work to the advantage of climbers as long as there is a spirit of cooperation and understanding. It takes more time to make negative post on the forum than it does to ring and make a booking. :)) DEC are working to resolve the current issues and do appreciate the frustration it has caused, especially for those who have been denied bookings more than once recently. DEC is not just checking to make sure that bookings are being made but also to make sure that use of the quarries is fair for everyone. Please be a little patient. If there continues to be an issue then you can be assured that it will be dealt with. Everyone that can possibly be all over it, already is. Like white on rice.

    #13067 Reply

    friend of Numbat

    10years and DEC can’t put a sign up or publish this so called “policy” in an actual document available to the public ?

    Pretty embarrassing.

    Actually, where did this 10years come from ?
    More like 6 years.

    #13069 Reply

    Brett NP

    Have to agree with Numbat’s friend here Dena, where is this “policy”? I’ve never heard that I needed to book unless I was driving in, so these past few posts are news to me as well – & I certainly can’t see that it makes me narrow minded! I would’ve thought that it’s better I don’t book, thus freeing places for people who have to drive a fair way ie. most of Perth – at least I can walk home in 15 mins if it’s full. I’ve seen a ranger 2x in 10 years, & they’ve never said boo to me …

    Further problem is that a lot of climbers aren’t CAWA members, & would certainly also be unaware of this “policy”, so it’s lost on them too.

    cheers,
    Brett @ Boya

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