Monday, July 29, 2013

Best Rock Climbing In Melbourne

As the popularity of rock climbing grows, so will the desire to know of the best places to climb. Since coming to Melbourne I've had the firsthand opportunity to explore, track down, and try out the finest rock climbing locations throughout the city. In doing so I've been inspired to share what I've learned about Melbourne's climbing scene. Therefore I have compiled a list of the best rock climbing spots in and around Melbourne along with some pros and cons of each place. Enjoy!

Top Roping:

HARDROCK- Centrally located in the CBD, Hardrock Climbing Gym is arguably the most popular climbing gym in Melbourne. Tall walls and routes that vary in degrees of difficulty make it a great location for beginners as well as experienced climbers. Safety is a crucial aspect of climbing but if you're an experienced climber you might notice that their belay setups are, as far as safety goes, slightly overkill. Being as popular as it is, this place tends to get busy fast so its a good idea to call ahead and find out their peak hours so you can avoid them.

  • In the heart of the city, Hardrock is the most easily accessible gym in Melbourne.
  • Friendly, knowledgeable staff.
  • Lead climbing accessible.
  • Route difficulties range from novice-expert.
  • Area of 4-5 auto belay rigs.
  • Uses ATC belay devices.
  • A pair of fun/challenging crack climbs.
  • Reasonable pricing.
  • Good view of the city from inside the gym.
  • Air conditioned during summer(sometimes).


  • No bouldering section.
  • Complicated belay procedure.
  • Routes are not very technical.
  • No water fountain.

CLIFFHANGER- Located just outside of the city in Altona North, CliffHanger is built onto the West-Side Indoor Sports Complex. This gym offers nearly 70' tall walls making it the tallest indoor climbing gym in the southern hemisphere. The top roping section has a wide variety of routes and features and is accompanied by a well lit bouldering cave. This gym isn't the easiest place to get to but its worth the extra navigation.


  • Wide variety of climbs.
  • Lead climbing accessible.
  • Uses GriGri self locking belay devices.
  • Tallest indoor climbing walls in the southern hemisphere.
  • Additional bouldering cave.
  • Routes graded on the V rating system.
  • Cool stalactite features.
  • Kids section.
  • Small outdoor climbing wall.
  • Advanced bookings required.
  • A fair drive outside of the city.
  • Not many instructors on hand at one time.

VIRGIN ACTIVE- Also located in the CBD, Virgin Active is apart of the Virgin health club. This is the same Virgin owned by Sir Richard Branson. Clean facilities and helpful staff make this gym what it is. The climbing area is not huge but its a nice feature to be able to climb and then swim a few laps to cool off.


  • Inside of a health club.
  • Simple set-up.
  • Good service from instructors.
  • Good atmosphere.

  • Lockers are small.
  • The gym is membership based. 


LACTIC FACTORY- A short walk from the train line, the Lactic Factory offers some great bouldering. This is the first 'bouldering only' gym I've been to and after going I can safely say, I wish there were more like it. A good range of difficulties in routes makes this gym ideal for boulder climbers with varying skill levels. The upstairs climbing area offers inverted routes and the downstairs contains a library of climbing literature. If you get the chance, check out this gym. You'll be glad you did.


  • A 'bouldering only' gym.
  • Good range of route difficulty.
  • Good atmosphere.
  • Dual levels(upstairs and downstairs climbing areas).
  • Lots of climbing books(topics range from locations to techniques).
  • Bike racks.
  • Chalk bags available for rental.
  • Reasonable pricing.

  • A fair walk from the train line
  • A 'bouldering only' gym
  • Gym doesn't open until 4 pm.

BURNLEY BOULDERING WALLS- The location of these bouldering walls are not widely known. Tucked away behind a construction site, under a bridge, beside a river, these walls offer a break from traditional bouldering areas. Since this site is not exactly easy to find, once you DO find it, the experience becomes that much more enjoyable. The best part about this area is that its outdoors but its undercover making rain a non issue. These walls are also lit so climbing at night is an option. As with most climbing areas in Melbourne, during peak hours cues build up quick so keep that in mind if you venture out to this site.


  • Outdoors.
  • Nice scenery.
  • Open layout.
  • Cool/Inconspicuous location.
  • No bookings required.
  • Lighting under the bridge makes night climbing an option.
  • FREE!

  • Not easy to find.
  • Cues build up fast.
  • High traffic at peak hours.
  • No water fountain.

FLEMIMNGTON FLATS PARK- Nothing fancy or complex about this spot. Simplistic bouldering makes this a great spot for a lunch break bouldering session. This park is designed primarily for kids but has a great layout. Overall one of the coolest parks I've ever been too.


  • Outdoors.
  • Simple design.
  • Short walk from train station.
  • FREE!

  • No water fountain.
  • No lighting for night climbing.

So there you have it. All of the info you need on the best rock climbing Melbourne has to offer--here in one place. No matter what style of climbing you're looking for, you are sure to find it amongst these locations. Whether you are looking for some new climbing spots, something to do on your day off, or even a date idea, check out some of these spots and let us know what you think. Have fun and happy climbing!

*For more info on each location, click the location name for links to respective available websites.

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