Update 8pm: A licensed tour operator has welcomed Parks Victoria's decision to extend climbing groups' access to an area of the Grampians, but it's unlikely she will take advantage of it.
Tori Dunn, owner of Brimpaen's Grampians Mountain Adventure Company, was set for her "biggest week of the year" before a school cancelled a rockclimbing trip with her due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mrs Dunn has decided not to take any bookings until travel and quarantine precautions begin to lift.
"I had about eight staff on for the whole week, and that got cancelled late last week. All other school programs have been cancelled as well," she said.
"I have spoken to a couple of people who are still taking the odd private booking, but I think essentially all the LTOs are going to be facing near-complete income loss in the short term. The thing that paid the bills is all the school groups, and having them pull out is pretty disastrous.
"All the casual workers that I had employed this week, there is no work for them. They were running the camp and the outdoor education course.
"They are all freelancers, and they work for other climbing companies in the area, so they will probably find themselves out of work.I have managed to negotiate with a school to get some money to cover their wages, but that's only going to happen once off probably."
Mrs Dunn said COVID-19 was the latest in a string of setbacks for Grampians businesses, with many people deciding not to travel to the area after Australia's summer bushfire season and Parks Victoria's tough new restrictions on rockclimbing in the national park
"It is good they have extended it (LTO access in Summer Day Valley - it's much easier to keep things open than it is to reopen them after closing," she said.
"I welcome that news, but it's not going to make any real difference to us. I will just have to draw into my savings, curb spending and look at some other ways to make money. The school group that cancelled this week did book for next year, so I'll just have to wait until that time arrives."
It comes as the Victorian Climbing Club weighs up whether to mount a legal challenge against the rockclimbing restrictions Parks Victoria implemented in the Grampians in 2019.
President Kevin Lindorff, a Natimuk resident, said: "The Australian Climbers Association of Victoria realised last year it might not have had legal standing because it did not exist as an organisation when the bans were promulgated back in February 2019.
"They did have the option of indemnifying any invidual plaintiffs with a long history of climbing in the Grampians, but they approached the VCC and said they would back us financially to be the lead group (in challenging the restrictions)."
"We haven't filed legal proceedings yet. We have always argued from the outset the bans are too blunt an instrument and that there is a lot of false attribution of damage to climbers.
"I understand Parks would have been under pressure when Aboriginal Victoria came to them with evidence of harm done (to culturally significant sites). We would like to work with Parks to determine what (rockclimbing) areas we can go in, even if it involves some restrictions."
Earlier: Licensed Tour Operators in the Grampians can take rockclimbing groups to Summer Day Valley for another three months.
Parks Victoria has announced licence extensions in the area until June 30, and reinstated their access to Lookout Point Wall near Halls Gap.
It follows the organisation last year restricting access to the valley and seven other Special Protection Areas while a new management plan for the Grampians landscape is being developed.
"Initial community consultation on the landscape management plan occurred during September last year, with the feedback currently being used to inform a draft plan," a spokesman said. "This draft plan will be released for further public comment in the second half of the year."
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