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11 November 2020
SIR, – In response to your article ‘Tourism Potential’, could I point out that Natimuk’s social and economic future is heavily dependent on the 87,000 day users who visit the park, more than 90 percent of which come for rock climbing.
If climbers and Barengi Gadjin Land Council can’t find a way to share Arapiles State Park the consequences for our highly successful little town and the Wimmera will be disastrous.
Climbers and long-standing residents have produced a ‘community that continuously showed a lot of adaptability’ as Wimmera Development Association’s Mr Sounness states.
What Mr Sounness fails to appreciate is if further climbing bans are imposed many permanent residents in town will move to another area where they can pursue their love of nature and climbing.
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The area will lose many teachers, nurses, doctors and other professionals who call Natimuk home.
The positive community Mr Sounness refers to will be broken. Let’s not forget that climbers living in Natimuk have already lost access to well over 200 different climbing venues in the Grampians and are now watching this happen at Arapiles.
Climbers have been given no voice in this process by Parks Victoria who are facilitating these bans. More than 175 of these venues in the Grampians contain no heritage values but climbers are still locked out. All that climbers have left is Arapiles.
Development of tourism based around cultural heritage would certainly benefit Natimuk’s economy, but these opportunities are still just concepts and many years away from being realised. What will prop up the economy in the meantime when the climbers leave?
Natimuk is facing a crisis today that could economically and socially destroy the town. Protecting cultural heritage while still being able to engage in recreational activities in our public spaces is crucial to the health and wellbeing of all Victorians.
EDITORIAL: A need for balance
The entire November 11, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!