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EDITORIAL: Museum to reflect climbing culture

A Natimuk museum dedicated to rock climbing in the Wimmera will be much more than a simple opportunity to acknowledge history.

Arapiles Climbing Museum, perhaps most importantly, will reflect an aspect of regional culture that has and continues to play a critically stimulating role in a unique regional town.

It will also stand as a constant reminder about why authorities must always be willing to be creative and magnanimous in how they promote, protect and allow cultures to exist together. 

We stress a point we made in July that authorities must work hard to ensure cultural issues never lead to closing Mount Arapiles to rock-climbers or other visitors.

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It would be more than counter-productive for Natimuk and the broader Horsham district – it would be disastrous. Based on protection of cultural assets, it would also be contradictory.

Any confirmation of significant indigenous cultural sites or rock art at Mount Arapiles, should be a reason to attract people to the mount, not keep them away. It should also act as a spur for all parties to share in management and-or protection responsibilities. 

It is hard to mention Mount Arapiles without discussing nearby Natimuk in the same breath. The two are socially, culturally and economically intertwined and it’s the un-ending worldwide passion of rock-climbing that provides the clamp that keeps it all together.

Natimuk bucks a national trend of diminishing small towns. It is thriving and growing, forever fuelling up on the socio-economic-driving benefits of the obsessive and eclectic nature of international rock climbing. People visiting Natimuk to climb the rock have historically and continue to put down roots in the Wimmera centre, mixing with generational farming families and become part of a diverse community.

Rock climbing is one of the few sporting pastimes that crosses multiple cultural, professional and international barriers. This is why Natimuk, a little town on the Wimmera plains, has a reputation for being rich in the arts while providing homes for everyone from lawyers, ecologists and scientists to professional artists and adventurers.

In the overall international tourism in the broader Grampians, figures suggest the impact of rock climbing is relatively small – it is after all a specialist pastime.

But it is beyond question that this impact is historically profound at Natimuk. We’ve said it before but Mount Arapiles stands as a monument on the landscape and would most likely have held significance for ancient communities.

If proven through significant discoveries of rock art or other historical sites, we should consider this a major bonus and something cultures, old and contemporary, can share as well as protect.

It comes, after all, under a broad umbrella of overall Australian culture.

The entire October 16, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!