Life is returning to the Grampians National Park known and with it, people.
With the easing of restrictions and the opening of the million-dollar Grampians Peaks Trail, the national park will be busier than ever.
One group that will return to the area in droves is climbers. A dedicated group intends to put the divisions and tensions between climbers, Parks Victoria, and traditional owner groups behind them across the past three years.
Crag Stewards Victoria, which launched in July at Mount Arapiles, intends to work towards a future where climbers and traditional owner groups coexist in harmony.
According to its mission statement, the group "seeks to collaborate with the community to preserve and celebrate the cultural and environmental values of the places where we climb".
"We strongly believe that recreational rock climbing can exist in an environmentally and culturally sustainable manner," the statement read.
Steven Wilson, the group's coordinator, said there was space in the current climbing climate for an organisation like Crag Stewards.
"We've had programs such as Cliffcare running across the state in the past, but all that fell onto one person doing all the work for quite a few years," Mr Wilson said.
"When that started to fall apart, when all the bans came in, it created quite a void.
"I thought there must be a better way to do it, however climbing is largely a community - there's no real money involved."
Mr Wilson said that Crag Stewards was designed from the top down to be an organisation built on a shared passion.
"Everyone's a volunteer, no-one's getting paid. If you've got a whole system where everyone is chipping in for the love of (climbing), you'll get a better result," he said.
Crag Stewards is still in its infancy, but when the organisation is fully operational, volunteers will be stationed at climbing sites across Victoria.
The state has been split into regions, each to be assigned a regional steward.
Due to their significance, and hundreds of individual climbing sites, the Grampians has been split into three major areas, each with their own steward.
Mount Arapiles is also its own region.
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At present, Mr Wilson said Crag Stewards' primary focus is training up stewards to ensure they can complete crag assessments.
"These assessments will help maintain the sustainability of crags and lower the environmental impact of climbing," Mr Wilson said.
"The assessments will report any damage done, measures that are in place to prevent damage and measures that could be in place.
"Assessors will also rate a site on a grade of one to five, with one meaning it just needs to be attended in some time, while five means close this site now."
Beyond the environmental preservation, Mr Wilson said Crag Stewards are focused on preserving the cultural heritage of traditional owner groups.
Mr Wilson said education surrounding climbing is one of the most important parts of Crag Stewards' existence.
"I've been climbing for over 20 years, and I've been aware of the cultural heritage surrounding some rocks, especially where it was obvious, that we would avoid," he said.
"But it's only in more recent years that most climbers, including myself, have learned a lot more about the cultural heritage.
"Some sites will be closed, and we can accept that... we want to work with traditional owners and come up with sensitive solutions to these issues.
"Climbers are generally sincere about wanting to protect cultural heritage."
Mr Wilson said working with traditional owner groups was a vital step in educating climbers.
"We're not just talking tangible sites; intangible cultural heritage is probably more important to understand," he said.
"While tangible heritage includes what you can actually see, such as rock art, intangible heritage involves the storylines that may involve an area.
"We'd like to be able to educate climbers, with the permission of traditional owners, of this knowledge to help ensure better etiquette around the rock."
Part of the organisation's role would include volunteers - or 'urban stewards' attending climbing gyms in Melbourne to educate climbers before they even headed out towards areas such as the Grampians.
However, Mr Wilson said it was essential to Crag Stewards to let the traditional owner groups guide the relationship.
"At the moment, all we're doing is letting them know we exist and what we're about, and then it's up to them," he said.
"It's very early but we'd rather just let traditional owners lead the way on how they want to interact with us, not the other way around."
According to Mr Wilson, the best climbing sites are often close to cultural sites, not just in the Grampians but across the world.
"Rock climbing on naturally occurring rock has been happening right through time," he said.
"Rocks themselves have also had significance across all sorts of cultures, such as for protection as in all the castles you'll see in Europe built on massive rocks in mountain ranges.
"It's always going to be that rock climbing might occur where cultural heritage is quite prominent.
"We just have to find ways to exist in harmony."
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