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Since we discussed Mobile Phones and Emergency Numbers we received a few queries as to who exactly is the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) and what is their function. In Victoria the emergency service dispatch and call-taking for police, metropolitan ambulance, and both rural and metropolitan fire services, is handled by the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA). This means that when you dial 000 (triple zero) these are the guys who organise the appropriate response. But most walkers, cyclists and climbers probably don’t realise that ESTA are also the guys who install and manage those funky green Emergency Markers which dot our bushwalks (such as those in the Lerderderg Gorge), cycle paths (such as those along the Yarra River and Capital City Trails) and some climbing areas (such as those installed at various cliffs in the You Yangs). When an Emergency Marker is quoted, ESTA’s 000 transmitter can then provide specific navigational information to the responding emergency services. So, as you can see, ESTA really does play a vital role within our outdoor community.
I recently chatted to Jeff Adair (Manager Emergency Marker program at ESTA) and he is very keen to promote the roles and benefits of ESTA within our outdoor community. He provided us with a couple of interesting files. We have converted them to PDFs and have included them at the bottom of this post.

Here are a few interesting links:
You can check out ESTA’s web page at: ESTA.
Calling the Emergency Call Service from a mobile phone: FAQs.
Parks Victoria’s Emergency Markers page.
You can also email ESTA at or you can contact Jeff Adair directly on 03 86561218 to discuss any feedback or faults found with any Emergency Markers.

ESTA Fact Sheet PDF (2MB)
ESTA Marker Locations PDF (1.19MB)

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Wild Magazine covers Mt Giles

The new issue of Wild magazine (119) is hot off the press and features a spectacular cover shot by our own Glenn Tempest. The image captures Karen Tempest, Michael Hampton and Stuart Imer ascending the classic South Ridge of Mt Giles in the remote Chewings Range, West MacDonnell National Park in the Northern Territory. The image is part of a feature story written by well-known Alice Springs adventurer Michael Giacometti called Going the Extra Giles and is a great reference for walkers who may be considering an ascent of Mt Giles (1389m), which is considered by many as the most spectacular summit in Central Australia. The fact that Michael (and his wife Sharon) met Glenn (and his wife Karen) whilst on the South Ridge was an amazing coincidence considering that only a dozen or so walkers reach the summit over the course of a year. Other images by Glenn Tempest (taken on a recent 18-day traverse of the Chewings Range) accompany the story. Wild 119 also features an interesting piece written by Alex Sampson called Bushwalking Bans in the MacDonnells? The possibility of any bushwalking bans across the Chewings Range would be nothing short of a tragedy for Australian walkers.
For further details go to the Wild website.

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Mobile Phones and Emergency numbers

After all the discussions we have had regarding the Emergency Markers (in Lerderderg Gorge State Park) I thought it would be a good time to discuss mobile phones and the correct emergency numbers to be used by walkers, climbers and skiers.

These days, in the event of an emergency, people undertaking outdoor activities in the bush will have access to a mobile phone. The primary national emergency number in Australia is 000. In Victoria the emergency service dispatch and call-taking for Police, metropolitan Ambulance, and both rural and metropolitan fire services, is handled by the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA). You can check out their web page here: ESTA

What most people don’t realise is that the international emergency telephone number for GSM mobile phone networks is the number 112. This means that here in Australia we can dial either 000 or 112 (if you are using a GSM or 3G phone). In an emergency a GSM mobile phone owner should dial 000 first. If no service is available then dial 112. This may (depending upon the model of your phone) connect to whichever network is available in your location. Of course if there are no carriers in your location then neither 000 nor 112 will work.

In most newer GSM phones the number 000 is programmed into the firmware as an emergency number. This means that dialing the number 000 will provide exactly the same features as the number 112. The phone will connect to any available GSM network carrier (not just your own) to reach the Emergency Call Service. If you own a 3G phone, dialling 000 will connect you with the Emergency Call Service utilising whichever carrier is necessary.

The difference between GSM and 3G is fairly simple. GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) is used by about 80% of the worlds phones and is the current standard. The newer 3G (Telstra call it Next G) is the next generation of mobile technology that will eventually replace the now aging GSM system. The 3G system is has much faster data transfer speeds and allows for such features as video calling and faster download speeds. Unfortunately 3G is not backwards compatible with GSM.

Note that even if the keypad is locked, dialing 112 on a GSM mobile phone will connect you to the 000 Emergency Call Service. You can also connect to the 000 Emergency Call Service if the phone has no SIM card or if the SIM has not been validated. And just so you know, you cannot contact the 000 Emergency Call Service with SMS text messaging.

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Parks Victoria Entry changes

Just reminding everyone using our walking guidebooks that entry to all Victorian parks (managed by Parks Victoria) is now free. This came into effect on the 01 July 2010 and marks a major policy shift for Parks Victoria.
Wilsons Promontory National Park
Point Nepean National Park
Werribee Park
Mount Buffalo National Park
Baw Baw National Park (excluding the Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort)
Mornington Peninsula National Park
Yarra Ranges (Mount Donna Buang)

If you hold a current annual pass you will be eligible to apply for a refund from Parks Victoria.

You can check out the following media release from the Premiers office for further details.

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Wilsons Promontory Southern Circuit Walk

Next to Arapiles and the Grampians, Wilsons Prom is also on my very favourite list of places to go. Although I have been there numerous times, it has always been on a day walk schedule, so the two day overnight walk was something I have had on my radar to do for quite a while. As I have mentioned before, being a climber tends to mean that every free weekend with passable weather sees me out on the rock. But I thought it was about time to lock it in. There was no going back – just had to hope that the weather would hold out for us. Cameron had done the walk before and kept encouraging me by saying “Welcome to a world of pain”. Such a kidder! When we bought our permits at the Rangers office, this comment drew a strange look from the girl who was organizing it. Laughing along but secretly making a note to send in backup helicopters.

While the air was crisp, the sun was shining and I walked both days in t-shirts only. What I especially liked about this walk (besides the fact that it was a coastal walk) was the constantly changing environment. I must have a short interest span as I can get a bit bored when walking through unchanging scenery. But this didn’t disappoint. The wild and wooly bits of the Prom, to the rainforest greenery to  scrubby tea tree.

As far as overnight walks go, I think this would be a good one for those unacustomed to the longer walk and camp option. Possibly, continuing as far as Sealers Cove campground and then doing the return journey – this portion of the walk definitely falls into the easy category in energy output and using the well travelled track.

We chose to travel onto Refuge Cove – arriving at dusk to set up camp and rest weary feet.

Next day had some great sections of walking on the beach to access the next section of track. I never tire of walking along the coast – the sounds, smells and the myriad of interesting things on and in the sand that interest my magpie eyes. After a quick lunch at Waterloo Bay, we headed off in order to finish the last couple of legs to the walk. We were not continuing on the Southern Circuit walk but following the trail that leads to the Telegraph Track, and back up to where we began at Mt Oberon Carpark. While the first part of the day tackled the moderate to hard walking, this trail is predominantly on flat ground travelling over boardwalk in many sections. Telegraph Track is unfortunately, not a highlight of the walk. It travels the management vehicle track and for me, didn’t offer much in the way of interest. Being the end of the day and a little weary(not to mention shin splints and aching feet) the mostly uphill trudge of approx 6 kms felt just like that – a trudge. It would be much nicer if it travelled upon a dedicated track

Dusk was again, almost upon us and by the time we reached the carpark, the moon was out.

I would thoroughly recommend this walk despite my criticism of the last section. The complete Southern Circuit Walk can be found in the Weekend Walks Around Melbourne guidebook, page 146.

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Mt Arapiles Climb and Repair Weekend

As the VCC Access and Environment Officer, many of my climbing jaunts will often include a working bee. While the Arapiles Climb and Repair Weekend has been an ongoing feature of the Victorian Climbing Clubs trip calendar for a number of years, the Queen’s Birthday weekend up at Arapiles was a particularly productive one. Working with Community Group grants from Parks Victoria and collaborating with the Friends of Arapiles, CliffCare is ensuring that the Pharos Gully Track will be able to handle the heavy traffic it receives not only from climbers, but also the walkers. On the Queens Birthday weekend we finally managed to move all the rocks from the top section down to the areas where our stonemason, Walter Braun is working on building up the track using dry stonework. No matter how many working bees I have organized, there always seems to be a huge pile of rocks that seems little diminished. Finally, it’s gone. Many of the rocks still need to be moved into place, but at least the transportation has been done. Now for the lower section….

But the weekend was only dedicated to a small percentage of work. The rest of the time was taken up with climbing. Perfect weather blessed us and we all managed to get a few more ticks under our belt. I had a great weekend, teaming up with Norma and Mike. To be honest, it’s pretty difficult not to have a good weekend at Araps. Has to be one of my favourite places to climb.

If you want to have a look at more of the work that has been going on at Mt Arapiles, visit the VCC smugmug site here for more pics and info and the VCC website

Stay tuned for the new CliffCare website which will have all the up to date access info for all Victorian Cliffs. Coming soon.