Mystery Canyon Pierces Pass?

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DaveJones
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Mystery Canyon Pierces Pass?

Post by DaveJones » 27 May 2018, 23:46

This AirBnB trip is a "mystery canyon".
https://www.airbnb.com.au/experiences/170909

Starts at Pierces Pass, but doesn't look like Yileen?
Looks like they go down to the Grose?
Anyone know?
More photos on the page showing a slot and more.

Image



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marilyn_scott1950
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Re: Mystery Canyon Pierces Pass?

Post by marilyn_scott1950 » 28 May 2018, 09:22

It's possible that they've just chosen Pierces Pass as an easy spot to park vehicles, right on the Bells Line, signposted, easy drive then to other locations.

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Re: Mystery Canyon Pierces Pass?

Post by T2 » 28 May 2018, 11:07

Yeah, I wouldn't read too much into it. Those photos are a mix of places far and wide. The canyon is a mystery in that they probably pick and choose depending on the weather, time of year, and group (they're still offering trips over winter, and I'd guess they'd be more likely going somewhere dry like Tiger Snake).

What is concerning though is that this appears to be unauthorised canyon guiding operation. I'd be very surprised if they were covered by appropriate insurance. I also doubt they have formal qualifications. They would also be operating illegally, as commercial operators not only need to meet strict guidelines but also need to be licensed to operate in National Parks.

One of the challenges of online services like Airbnb is that they allow people to operate like this. For tourists who don't know any better, it sounds like a bargain. But it could well end up with a tragic outcome. It also means these guys can undercut the commercial operators who actually do things properly.

Finally, it's worth noting the commercial canyoning is heavily regulated not just for the safety of the customers, but also to protect our canyons from being overused and damaged. There are restrictions on party sizes, which canyons can be done (and when), and record keeping that allows National Parks to know how much use canyons are getting and monitor for adverse impacts.

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Re: Mystery Canyon Pierces Pass?

Post by Flynny » 28 May 2018, 16:13

Apparently National Parks are looking into insurances and licences.

It's a tough one. I've seen meet up groups who charge nominal fees too.

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Re: Mystery Canyon Pierces Pass?

Post by T2 » 28 May 2018, 16:38

It's a tough one. I've seen meet up groups who charge nominal fees too.
I've also seen clubs charge a nominal fee for trips. I think there's a big difference between kicking in a few bucks to cover gear wear and tear etc, versus running something that is clearly a commercial enterprise without the licenses and insurance cover.

Personally, I think this is only going to grow as an issue going forward. There are so many online sites that allow people to sell a "product" such as a canyoning adventure, but none of them seem to do the due diligence to make sure the people are actually capable of providing it safely and legally. And National Parks, with all their budget cuts, simply can't police it. Inevitably, nothing much will happen until some poor tourist dies.

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Re: Mystery Canyon Pierces Pass?

Post by DaveJones » 29 May 2018, 00:44

T2 wrote:
28 May 2018, 16:38
It's a tough one. I've seen meet up groups who charge nominal fees too.
I've also seen clubs charge a nominal fee for trips. I think there's a big difference between kicking in a few bucks to cover gear wear and tear etc, versus running something that is clearly a commercial enterprise without the licenses and insurance cover.
In this particular case I'm not sure it's clear it is "commercial enterprise", and as such could be a tough one to prosecute. If the guy running this is doing it as a formal "hobby", and earning, in the eyes of the tax department "hobby income" and legally not reporting it as income, and he can argue the charges just cover his costs, then he is legally not running a commercial enterprise.

His intro hints that it's not really commercial in nature:
My friends and I have been exploring the wilderness around Sydney since we were old enough to walk. We each have professional careers but are inspired by the idea of one day transitioning to something that can take us to the edges of Sydney every day—and this experience is my attempt to start. Every time we go exploring, we're amazed at the secret beauty we find, all just a stone's throw from the amazing city of Sydney.
Just because he charges more than "rope money" like private groups do, it could be argued that he's legally essentially no different to how many of us advertise trips on the forums.
Indeed, if no attempt has been made on his part to get insurance or licenses, than that points more towards "hobby income" rather than a commercial venture.
Can the Parks office force you to get a commercial licence once you hit some sort of threshold?
What is that threshold?
What if you get a tax department ruling classifying your income as hobby related and therefore not commercial, what then?

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Re: Mystery Canyon Pierces Pass?

Post by marilyn_scott1950 » 29 May 2018, 08:01

You're right, the marketing has been carefully written to give the idea that it's their hobby and you're going out with him (or her) and his mates. The difference to the meet-up groups and people who hook up on the forums, is that these guys are marketing to tourists who would otherwise go to a commercial operation. I am constantly amazed, in the litigious world in which we live (I'm not saying Oz has totally gone that way, but when you're advertising to tourists you need to safeguard yourself from litigation from overseas), that there's so little thought about the need (as a leader) for insurance, all it takes is one fall and a head injury and if you didn't describe the risks fully to the participant, there goes the farm. I'm surprised that we haven't heard of a case when someone has been sued after an injury on a trip - but maybe that's because it's either the rare fatality, or the injuries are relatively minor (broken bones).

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Re: Mystery Canyon Pierces Pass?

Post by DaveJones » 29 May 2018, 23:14

marilyn_scott1950 wrote:
29 May 2018, 08:01
I am constantly amazed, in the litigious world in which we live (I'm not saying Oz has totally gone that way, but when you're advertising to tourists you need to safeguard yourself from litigation from overseas), that there's so little thought about the need (as a leader) for insurance, all it takes is one fall and a head injury and if you didn't describe the risks fully to the participant, there goes the farm. I'm surprised that we haven't heard of a case when someone has been sued after an injury on a trip - but maybe that's because it's either the rare fatality, or the injuries are relatively minor (broken bones).
Basically, it's not possible (any more) to get sued as the trip leader of private trip, unless you do something deliberately and knowingly bad that causes the injury.
This wasn't the case before about the early/mid 2000's I think it was, and it was a huge problem in the industry and threatened to shut down all bushwalking clubs, private trips with friends etc as nobody could get insurance any more, and individuals could sue trip leaders personally if they did something stupid and hurt themselves.
There was a legal case that bought it all to a head (sorry, forget details, I thing some council and rock diving accident) and the law was changed to put the onus of responsibility into the individual. The entire adventure sport industry and hobby was saved a the last minute with this law change.
With quite a few ozcanyons and bushwalking groups at the time it then became standard practice to give "the speech" at the start of every trip. e.g. "You understand that you are undertaking a potentially risky activity, and you are responible for your own safety" etc.

Here is one breakdown:
https://www.nfplaw.org.au/sites/default ... _0_0_0.pdf

Basically, as long as you take reasonable precautions and use best practices, you are covered.

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Re: Mystery Canyon Pierces Pass?

Post by T2 » 30 May 2018, 12:25

A lot of these legal areas take into account what an ordinary, reasonable person would expect. So in a case like this, where someone who is charging money, providing gear, and clearly offering to be a guide to a "remote" location, the duty of care expected is much higher than a recreational or club group where it is clear people are just volunteers. If these people are claiming to be capable of providing a safe, guided canyon experience, but don't actually have the skills to do so safely, that would be seriously negligent.
I'm not sure what the solution is to this issue though. New online services mean it will only grow as an issue. And even if National Parks shut down one person, someone else will pop up in their place. I guess all we can do is encourage people to canyon safely, either by joining up with suitably experienced people, clubs, or commercial operators.

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Re: Mystery Canyon Pierces Pass?

Post by marilyn_scott1950 » 31 May 2018, 06:32

Yes Dave, I was around at the time of the insurance problems, I seem to recall a whole year went by when our club couldn't (wouldn't) canyon because of lack of insurance. Yes, we have some protection now by the legislation, but not sure it's been tested, and my understanding is responsibility can be divided, ie, 50% was the participant's fault because s/he was stupid but 50% was the leaders fault because a risk wasn't fully explained. I'll read the link you've provided. Seems this person has PL insurance (provided by Airbnb), so I guess it goes back to the philosophical discussion on groups undercutting commercial operations - and there's a whole other contentious thread.

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Re: Mystery Canyon Pierces Pass?

Post by DaveJones » 31 May 2018, 08:53

The insurance part is always tricky, anyone can choose to sue you at any time for any thing. But the laws and legal precedent were certainly changed in favor of trip organisers who take "reasonable precautions". The law can always be tested in new ways, it's never cut and dry, if it was we wouldn't need judges to evaluate evidence and make decisions.

Yes, the question here isn't insurance, it's essentially at what point a trip becomes "commercial" and requires a NPWS license.

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