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Halls Gap

The Grampians National Park

VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA

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About

Nestled in the heart of the Grampians National Park, Halls Gap is a delightful small village with a range of activities at your doorstep. The area is renowned for spectacular hiking, stunning views and inquisitive wildlife including kangaroos, emus, wallabies and birds.

A recent report from the Stawell Times reported that in 2018 the Grampians continues to surge as a popular tourist destination with a 25.8 per cent increase on the year before. News of which is welcomed by small country towns dependant on tourism.

For visitors, the lure of the picturesque views from cliffs across the valleys makes the attraction of trophy images and selfies too much of an attraction. Despite warnings of unstable cliffs, many climb barriers to get the images they have seen online and disregard signage advising of no swimming to swim amongst the cascading waterfalls.

The remoteness of the Grampians National Park also makes phone reception an issue, with many criticising the lack of cellular coverage to report injuries, including in January 2018, the tragic death of a tourist at the base of MacKenzies Falls after a person drowned swimming close to the falls.

 

OVERVIEW

A brief snapshot of the problem currently facing Halls Gap and The Grampians National Park.

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More than 63,600 posts have been recorded using the hashtag #grampians in 2018
— Instagram Analytics
 
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THE ONLINE PRESENCE

With a search of #grampians #hallsgap #thebalconies #borokalookout a number of images come up. With a search of the hashtags and geotags for the Grampians National Park, you will find a number of selfies on ledges and cliffs edges throughout The National Park that are restricted and visitors need to climb a barrier to access.

Source: INSTAGRAM


The Analytics

Utilising social.co an Instagram social media analytics firm, the data suggests that traffic to the Grampians is increasing rapidly. Each year the number of posts to social media is growing substantially and geotagging of the location in also climbing. As a result, Instagram likes increase and the destination becomes ever more popular. Searching Instagram a number of those posts include selfies on rock ledges in prohibited areas.

Halls Gap Analytics (click image to enlarge).

Geotagged Location Data

GeoTagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to social media posts which allows the public to identify locations.

Instagram Likes

Instagram likes is when a user sees a post on the platform and likes the image by either double tapping the image or hitting the red heart under the post.

 
 
But despite warnings visitors still climb barriers for selfies.
 
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the warning signs

The Grampians National Park is no stranger to injuries, but it’s remoteness and lack of cellular coverage makes it difficult in the event of an emergency to call for help. Parks Victoria has invested heavily in infrastructure post the Bush Fires, however there are warnings of High Exposed Cliffs throughout the park, and barriers and fences on sections which are unstable. However people still ignore the signs.

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In 2018, a tourist died at MacKenzies Falls after ignoring warning signs and swimming underneath the waterfall.

News.com.au

 
If there were no signs warning of danger, would be still be drawn to it?
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The Real Impact

Visitors have been visiting the Grampians in record numbers, which is great for local tourism, but they all still ignore warnings and climb barriers for images.

Click images for captions and larger images (Lightbox)

There are so many lookouts, I dont understand what the obsession is to jump barriers?
— Jenny Rogers
 
 
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The entire time I felt incredibly uneasy on the ledge. I looked down and felt apprehensive, it was a long way down, and nothing in between.

Danielle Watson


In REFLECTION

The real impact on Hopetoun Falls is best seen in Winter and Spring. Social media traffic, hashtags and geotags are more prevalent and tourism and destination hub accounts share and repost greater numbers of images of the falls. However, the increase in traffic also means more people jumping barriers to get up close to the falls.

With visitor numbers climbing, where does responsibility lie? Do tourism boards need to invest more money into infrastructure to reducing visitors’ impact? Or do we need to spread the word of respecting the environment?


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