Past Access Issues

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The Sydney Rockclimbing Club is actively involved in a number of access/environmental issues. In the past we have worked with councils and groups such as Blue Mountains Cliffcare on a variety of rehabilitation projects. We actively lobby on behalf of climbers to ensure that our climbing areas remain accessible to climbers.

A small surcharge on the sale of each SRC published guidebook goes to the SRC Access Fund.

For current access issues, refer to the Access Issues page.


The NSW climbing community was partially, but significantly, successfully in arguing against a proposal in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park Draft Plan of Management (DPoM) that climbing should be banned throughout the Park. As a consequence of our efforts, the final Plan permits climbing to continue on Barrenjoey Headland, but not elsewhere in the Park.

Given this result, Sydney Rockclimbing Club (SRC) members met with National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff onsite to discuss possible arrangements for a joint approach to management of climbing impacts in this area. NPWS subsequently arranged an archaeological survey and was to meet with the Local Aboriginal Land Council to discuss measures to be taken to protect the midden at the base of the cliff (South West Barrenjoey). There has been no apparent progress on the midden issue, and climbers continue to operate without hindrance in the area.

Blue Mountains

Bowens Creek:

Climbing here is still not officially sanctioned by NPWS.

Cosmic County & Dam Cliffs:

This Crown Reserve is nominally "owned" by the Department of Lands (DoL) but day-to-day management of a substantial portion of the area is the responsibility of the Central Tablelands Heritage Lands Trust (CTHLT), based in Orange.

A departmental Land Assessment in 1999 suggested that climbing was a suitable recreational activity to be undertaken within the Reserve and it was thought at that stage the DoL might attempt to develop some form of legal access for climbing, but any such action was shelved when the land became subject to a Native Title Claim by the Gundungurra Tribal Council Aboriginal Corporation.

In early 2007 DoL closed the rail-side access road to the Dam Cliffs parking area citing "public liability" concerns relating to the historical dams infrastructure. SRC has been in contact with staff at the DoL Regional Area office and has held a meeting with them to discuss possible solutions for regaining access.

On 4 September we received the following advice from DoL regarding progress in resolving the access situation:

"We have done a risk assessment and can satisfy our liabilities by appropriate signage...The dams structural risks may be higher than we expected but are still being investigated...We are still waiting for Railcorp agreement to access the dams area of the reserve via their land (where the locked gate is in the cutting)".

On 26 November the DoL hosted a public meeting at Clarence "to gain valuable public input into the future management of this Reserve, which will now be open to the public for recreation following the successful resolution of risk and access issues."

By late November the Railcorp gate was unlocked and recreational access to the Dams Reserve is once again permitted.


This crag is situated in the Evans Crown Nature Reserve and a DPoM has been prepared. The area holds special significance for Wiradjuri men and women, the traditional owners. SRC and a number of individual climbers lodged submissions commenting on the DPoM and arguing for continued climbing access. Recreational activities are not generally allowed in Nature Reserves.

The Three Sisters

This world-famous iconic landmark is of special importance to the Gundungurra and Dharug peoples. They would prefer that climbing did not take place on a formation that has great spiritual meaning as part of their Seven Sisters Dreaming.

SRC met with NPWS staff, and Gundungurra and Dharug representatives, to discuss the various parties' viewpoints. NPWS is yet to announce its decision regarding the future of the landmark.

a) Blue Mountains City Council has implemented a "Nature Based Recreation Strategy" that has relevance for a range of users, including climbers. Along with the broader climbing community, SRC was consulted and involved in development of the Strategy and maintains contact with Council’s Recreation Planner for further input opportunities as the Strategy goes forward.

b) The Blue Mountains Public Lands Rationalisation Project "Public Exhibition Report" was released for comment on 23 December 2002 and submissions closed on 28 February 2003. SRC lodged a submission detailing a preferred outcome with regard to management of the Western Escarpment Lands as defined in the Report (a parcel of land holdings that include many of the most popular climbing areas outside of the National Park). Forty-nine submissions were lodged and were meant to be summarised prior to the results being made public. There has been no word on this project for some time and it may have stalled.

Coffs Harbour

Sherwood Nature Reserve

NPWS published a Draft Plan of Management for this area and local climbers were concerned they might lose access to a number of popular climbing areas. SRC gave advice to the local climbers regarding negotiating with the Service and subsequently lodged a submission in response to the DPoM when it was published.

Bindarri National Park

This Park is popular with Coffs Harbour locals for bushwalking, and particularly canyoning. The DPoM for the park recommended that canyoning be prohibited.

SRC lodged a submission suggesting that reasons given for the proposed prohibition were not valid and did not stand up to informed assessment.

Hunter Region

Tomaree National Park

This climbing area at Port Stephens is understandably popular with Newcastle-based climbers. The NPWS DPoM proposed to ban climbing on Tomaree Headland, home to the famous Zawn, but permit the activity to continue elsewhere within the Park. The DPoM attracted 205 submissions, with those lodged by SRC and local climbers arguing that the basis for the proposed ban was seriously flawed and no real reasons existed why the impacts of climbing could not be adequately managed and that therefore the activity should be allowed to continue.

When the final PoM was published it formalised the ban and reiterated the previously given justifications despite climbers arguments contesting the claims.

Illawarra/South Coast


NPWS released an Issues Paper preliminary to preparing a Draft Plan of Management for the Illawarra Escarpment Conservation Area. SRC lodged a submission commenting on the Issues Paper and supporting continued access for climbers.

Point Perpendicular

The Department of Defence implemented new access arrangements for the Beecroft Peninsula Weapons Range. SRC met with the Department's contracted Environmental Consultant and the Club lodged a submission commenting on the new access arrangements.

Namadgi (ACT)

Booroomba Rocks

Environment ACT has published a DPoM for Namadgi National Park. Earlier, in June 2003, SRC attended a Community Consultation Workshop in Canberra that sought public input to preparation of a DPoM and subsequently lodged a submission commenting on the DPoM.

Historical Perspective

To give some idea of the extent of access problems that have faced NSW climbers in the past decade (and this may point towards the future) - in those last 10 years, SRC has represented climbers' interests through its submissions and involvement in more than 20 separate areas.

Area Land Manager
Alfords Point, Georges River National Park NPWS
Bago Bluff National Park, Port Macquarie NPWS
Balls Head Reserve, North Sydney North Sydney Council
Barrenjoey Headland, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park NPWS
Beecroft Peninsula, Point Perpendicular Dept of Defence
Bindarri National Park, Coffs Harbour NPWS
Blue Mountains National Park NPWS
Botany Bay National Park NPWS
Cosmic County & Dams Cliffs Dept of Lands (DoL)
Draft Public Access Strategy NPWS
Evans Crown Nature Reserve (Tarana) NPWS
Gardens of Stone National Park NPWS
Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area NPWS
Kanangra Boyd National Park NPWS
Kosciuszko National Park NPWS
Namadgi National Park, ACT Environment ACT
Nature Based Recreation Strategy Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC)
Public Lands Rationalisation Project, Blue Mountains NPWS, DoL, BMCC
Sherwood Nature Reserve, Coffs Harbour NPWS
Sydney Sea Cliffs, Diamond Bay area Waverley Council
Three Sisters, Blue Mountains National Park NPWS
Tomaree National Park, Port Stephens NPWS
Warrumbungle National Park NPWS
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