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Climbing in Australia

The best places to rock climbing and sport climbing around Melbourne are at Mount Arapiles, The Grampians and Mount Buffalo, which are all situated in the Australian state of Victoria.

Rock climbing around Melbourne

Melbourne is situated in the state of Victoria, and there are 3 great places to go rock climbing here, which are Mount Arapiles, The Grampians and Mount Buffalo.

Mount Arapiles is located near the town of Natimuk in Victoria State, which is around 300km from Melbourne. Mount Arapiles is a spectacular island of hard quartzite rock and is often described as the best trad-climbing area in Australia. Few other areas can compete against Arapiles for the sheer quality, quantity and diversity of trad-climbing across all grades.  

The Grampians is a vast, mountainous and forested park, which is stunningly beautiful.  The Grampian is the largest rock climbing area in Australia though it is spread out over a large area with some of the crags in remote locations.  Here there are many multi-pitch routes providing some great adventure climbing.  The majority of the routes are trad though there is the occasional bolt/peg where no other protection is possible. There are some sport routes though these tend to be in the higher grades.

Mount Buffalo is a granite plateau in northwest Victoria that is 1,500m above sea level and provides alpine style climbing. The climbing here is split into two very distinct styles; a 300m deep gorge and slabs on top of the plateau.  The gorge gives long, steep, crack trad climbing, whilst the slabs provide delicate bolt protected sport routes.

Rock climbing around Sydney

The Blue Mountains are the best place to go rock climbing near Sydney, which are located just to the west of the city.  Here there is a combination of both sport climbing and trad rock climbing on sandstone rock.  The climbing area is large and provides everything from single pitch routes to long multi-pitch routes across all grades.

Map of the rock climbing areas around Sydney and the Blue Mountains

Rock climbing around Brisbane in Queensland

There are 8 major crags within a few hours’ drive of Brisbane that offer some great and varied rock climbing. Nearly all the crags offer different rock types and angles, with both bolted and traditionally protected routes available.  The type and style of climbing varies from single pitch routes at Kangaroo Point Cliffs which is located in the heart of Brisbane, to Mount Tibrogargan, which has long multi-pitch routes in the mountains that are up to 245m long.

Rock climbing areas around Brisbane in Queensland

Crag Name

Kangaroo Point

Mount Tibrogargan

Mount Ngungun

Mount Beerwah

Tinbeerwah

Mount Coolum

Serpent

Brooyar

 

Rock climbing on Tasmania Island

The large island of Tasmania located to the south of Melbourne is the home to some of Australia’s best and spectacular rock climbing.  There is great variety of climbing such the Dolerite crags at Launceston’s Cataract Gorge, to granite sea cliff climbing at Freycinet to conglomerate sport climbing at Adamsfield.  There is easy access climbing near the main cities of Hobart and Launceston, to remote alpine multi-pitch climbing on Frenchmans Cap and Mt Geryon.

Map of the main rock climbing areas in Tasmania

Major rock climbing areas in Tasmania

No

Crag Name

Type of rock

Style of climbing

1

Hillwood

Basalt

Sport

2

Cataract/South Esk

Dolerite

Sport & Trad

3

North Esk

Dolerite

Sport & Trad

4

Ben Lomond

Dolerite

Trad

5

Stacks Buff

Dolerite

Trad

6

South Sister

Dolerite

Sport & Trad

7

Bare Rock

Dolerite

Sport & Trad

8

Blackwood Rocks

Sandstone

Sport

9

Freycinet

Granite

Sport & Trad

10

Frenchman Cap

Quartzite

Trad

11

Adamsfield

Conglomerate

Sport

12

Organ Pipes

Dolerite

Sport & Trad

13

Tasmania Peninsula

Dolerite

Sport & Trad

14

Mt Brown

Dolerite

Sport & Trad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock climbing at Mount Arapiles

Mount Arapiles is a spectacular island of hard quartzite sandstone rock and is often described as the best traditional rock climbing area in Australia.  This super hard sandstone rock is ideally suited to solid nut and cam placements.  The vast majority of the routes at Mount Arapiles, across all grades, are well protected using traditional gear.  Though there are some routes that are completely bolted, these are rare.  Usually bolts are used for a section of a route that cannot be naturally protected that in essence is still a trad route.  Though there are multi-pitch routes up to 150m long, the vast majority of the routes are single pitch.  There are well over 1,200 routes at Mount Arapiles across a wide range of grades, ensuring there is something for everyone. 

Rock climbing at The Grampians

Though the Grampian are located very close to Mount Arapiles the situation and the character of the climbing is completely different.  The Grampians is a vast, mountainous and forested park, which is stunningly beautiful.  In fact The Grampians is Australia’s largest rock climbing area, with over 6,000 routes, that is spread out over a large area with some of the crags in remote locations.  Whilst access to some crags is easy and quick, there are some that require lengthy approaches into remote wilderness along rough dirt roads and faint walking tracks.  Here you will be rewarded with some excellent rock climbing that will give you captivating views and a chance to experience adventure climbing at its best.

Rock Climbing at Mount Buffalo

Mount Buffalo National Park is a granite plateau in northwest Victoria that is 1,500m above sea level and provides alpine style climbing. The climbing here is split into two very distinct styles; a 300m deep gorge and slabs on top of the plateau.  The gorge gives long, steep, crack traditionally protected climbing, whilst the slabs provide delicate bolt protected sport routes.  Rock climbing at Mount Buffalo is very much a seasonal affair, with the summer months from November to March being the best time to climb.

Top Australian climbing spots

Mt Arapiles, Victoria

Probably Australia’s foremost climbing destination. There are over 2,000 climbs to attempt on this relatively small mountain and they are tightly packed – in short you’re not like to run out of lines at Araps. Mt Arapiles is a mountain for experienced climbers but the near by Mitre Rock has plenty of easier climbs for beginners. Offering expansive views of Mitre Lake and the patchwork of the Victorian outback, Arapiles is an all year destination with plenty of sheltered routes which are good to climb even in scorching summer temperatures. Be warned this mountain is a climbing Mecca and will be busy, avoid Easter unless you can put up with the queues.

Booroomba, Australian Capital Territory

There is an abundance of massive granite slabs located around Canberra which make for enthralling adventure climbs. Probably foremost among are those on the granite of Booroomba which provide hundreds of routes varying in difficulty and length. Offering views into the undulating hills of the Australian Capital Territory and of Canberra itself, the climbs situated around the numerous slabs and fissures are mostly bolted. The area can be pretty baking in the hotter summer months.

Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania

The Freycinet Peninsula can stake claim to some of Australia’s finest coastal climbs. The attraction for many is clear – Freycinet is an exceptionally laid back and beautiful setting in which to climb, which is usually only sparsely populated. The better trodden cliff section features gems like Cape Tourville, The Nuggets and White Water Wall but the ease of access to the climbs around Bluestone Bay mean they attract the largest number of pilgrims. The pink granite adorned “Hazards” are among the more arduous ascents but poor rock quality hampers access to these lines and thus affects their popularity.   

Point Perpendicular, New South Wales

Australian cliff cragging at its finest and perhaps most nerve wracking. Some of Point Perpendiculars climbs will require an initial abseil down the cliff to reach, you may even come perilously close to getting sodden attempting some of the best ascents. Don’t be put off though. Point Perpendicular offers cragging which will really do justice to the beguiling setting; with pelagic views accompanied by the tempestuous breaking of the sea on the rocks below. Most climbs are only sporadically bolted and thus make for tricky adventure climbing. Some of the most prestigious climbs are found around the Lighthouse area and at Windjammer Wall.

Glass House Mountains, Queensland

Among the most popular climbing spots in Queensland are the Glass House Mountains. With good slabs for beginners at Tibrogargan and Beerwah the Glass House also offer great climbing on some superb volcanic plugs and provide less experienced climbers with the kind of setting usually reserved for more veteran followers of the sport.

Umbrawarra, Northern Territory

Umbrawarra Gorge is probably the smallest of the destinations included in this piece. Though it is dwarfed by some of the better known climbing hubs in Oz, the setting of Umbrawarra Gorge - a secluded creek from whose meanders rise beautiful, red sandstone faces - makes it an extremely worthwhile place to climb. This is intermediate single-pitch climbing and there are around 30 different routs to attempt.

Blue Mountains, New South Wales

One of the most arrestingly beautiful attractions in New South Wales, the Blue Mountain is an immense fissured sandstone plateau in which erosion has formed a network of surfaces perfect to climb. There is such huge variation among the endless sandstone here that you will find lines to suit every skill level and equally limitless spots to gorge yourself on the dramatically etched scenery. Climbing is available throughout the year and ranges from cragging at Diamond falls to traditional climbing at Echo Point which makes Blue Mountain a must for anyone planning to climb in Australia.

Mt Buffalo, Victoria

Mt Buffalo is a huge granite plateau which offers panoramic views of the expansive Victorian bush as well as the mysterious Australian Alps. The area is truly beautiful and is made all the more fascinating as the natural environment recovers, literally rising uncontrollably like a phoenix from the flames, from two ravaging bushfires. Its labyrinth of slabs offers some of the best granite climbs in Australia with pristine lines of up to 300m (984ft) in the Gorge. The climbs and terrain are fairly sheer so sports climbers may want to think before the attempt many of the available climbs.

Kalbarri Western Australia

A really nice location for varied sports climb style lines, Kalbarri is a rising star in the world of climbing. Why? Specifically because the banded orange sandstone cliffs provide a marvelous training ground for younger or beginner climbers on which to cut their teeth. The rock formations sheltered around the areas bays are a stunning setting for newbies to discover the exhilaration that hooks so many enthusiasts. Climbing here is available all year round.

The Grampians, Victoria

Just shading the contest for our favorite spot are the majestic Grampians. The Grampians rise out of the tranquility of rural Victoria offering a truly sublime setting in which to climb. Replete with enchanting waterfalls, wildflowers and (of course) panoramic views, the Grampians also offer unparalleled diversity to Australian climbers. The rock here which varies from grey sandstone to scarlet and burnt orange quartzite provides a solid surface for a wonderfully diverse itinerary of climbs. You will need to drive in between most routes in the Grampians but the spectacular views and chance to experience some taxing adventure climbing make them worth the added hassle.