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.
A brief snapshot of the problem currently facing Halls Gap and The Grampians National Park.
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.
In 2018, a tourist died at MacKenzies Falls after ignoring warning signs and swimming underneath the waterfall.
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)
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.
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?