|As a reluctant Chookstonian I fumble onto these murky walls with some trepidation, just to put a few things straight. Firstly, I’m one of those who is helping to remove the bolts from the Dargan arch. Like others, I also complained to National Parks. Because I was appalled. I was appalled as a bushwalker, as a conservationist, as a nature photographer, as an ex-NP officer. And I was appalled as a climber. (I was appalled as a beardstroker too...but hey, I decided shaving was a waste of time long before beards became a hipster accessory). I’m not interested in getting into any ongoing Chucklestone arguments. These are some facts and my own opinions, that’s it.
14 bolts were removed on the first day (not 3). Now 44 are gone, including all those within the arch. If a ‘mess’ was made then I would like to see a definition of ‘mess’ that somehow excludes the agglomeration of rings, draws, broken rock, trashed vegetation, trampling, ‘modified’ rock, tracks and 4WD impact that was there before.
The arch is a beautiful thing, a spectacular natural feature. And it has holds just begging to be climbed. I fully appreciate the urge to make a route out of it, and to bolt it so that others might enjoy the route and praise it. The climbs are surely someone’s pride and joy, and they must be very bitter and angry at the closure…nearly as angry as all those bushwalkers, locals and others who saw the bolting as a desecration and atrocity. A selfish appropriation. Terra nullius all over again.
I don’t think many climbers would claim they should be able to climb and bolt anywhere they like. But quite a few climbers behave as if they think exactly that. On the other hand, lots of climbers thought development of the arch crossed that fuzzy line between what’s OK and what’s not OK…the arch was a bridge too far.
Apparently other climbers had seen the arch’s potential and restrained themselves. Local climbers had been concerned/annoyed about the bolting since it began. They allegedly warned the perpetrators it was a Bad Idea. Three (?) years later it hadn’t stopped. More rings were still going in. Some of us decided to do something. If action was to succeed a two-pronged approach was necessary. NPWS had to be involved. Climbers can’t put up National Park boundary or closure signs, or block the 4WD track. NPWS reviewed the situation and decided it needed to be fixed. Climbers volunteered to help.
Some climbers feel hard done by. They should get some perspective. We’ve got away with heaps already in the World Heritage Area. We got Bowens Creek. We got Gardens of Stone. We got Diamond Falls. And what about the Bell Super Crag and all the stuff in the upper Grose?...a Wilderness Area where bolts should not be placed at all. There are now tracks and broken rock along several once-pristine ridges…
My lifetime of fun in the natural world has had some impacts. Now I like to do my little bit to help the environment, to put something back. And if debolting the arch also sends a message, that’s great.
Finally, the abuse. One individual seems to be copping it, mostly anonymously. How disgusting. As if one person was single-handedly to 'blame' for the closure and chopping. This is a bad misreading of the situation and the bigger picture. If you want to blame somebody, blame all of us, blame the guvmint…or blame the bolters.