Climbers have no one to blame but themselves for closures after fresh damage to rock art near Taylors Rock, the Traditional Owners of Mount Arapiles said.
Barengi Gadjin Land Council (BGLC) On Country Operations manager Stuart Harradine said the Victorian Government's first-ever Interim Protection Order was unfortunately necessary.
"There are peripheral and direct impacts to rock art at Dyurrite," he said.
"There are clear impacts from bouldering immediately over and around rock art since the signage went up.
RELATED: Rock art discovered at Mount Arapiles.
"To say the rock climbers have no history of damaging rock art is completely false."
In December 2019, more than 50 Aboriginal paintings were discovered at Taylors Rock at Mount Arapiles, forcing Parks Victoria to close the popular climbing spot.
Mr Harradine said newly erected signage was ignored by visiting climbers, with fresh chalk marks enough proof to force authorities to impose the order along with potential $297,000 fines.
"The three-month order is to protect Dyurrite and give us time to assess everything," Mr Harradine said.
"Dyurrite 1 is so exposed - you can clearly see it from the road.
"The last thing we want to do is erect a fence around the area to protect the rock art."
BGLC holds Native Title rights on behalf of the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagalk Aboriginal Traditional owners.
The organisation is working in partnership with Parks Victoria and Aboriginal Victoria to ensure Dyurrite has more robust protection measures in place.
"The Wotjobaluk Traditional Owners have deep physical, spiritual and cultural connections to Dyurrite (Mt Arapiles) extending back tens of thousands of years," he said.
"It is also the site of one of the last organised strongholds for the Aboriginal resistance during the European invasion period.
"The importance of this place to Wotjobaluk Traditional Owners is not always fully appreciated by non-Aboriginal people and is often overlooked in favour of recreational and other values.
"It is important that this perception changes, and that management of Aboriginal cultural landscapes such as Dyurrite changes to reflect this."
The Wotjobaluk Traditional Owner added the future of townships such as Natimuk would continue, well beyond the three-month interim order.
"The interim protection of Taylors Rock affects only 35 climbing routes out of estimated 3000 routes across the Dyurrite cultural landscape.
"The interim closure of such a small number of climbs means there would be no reason for a significant downturn in recreational user numbers due to the Interim Protection Declaration alone."
More to come.
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