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Indoor Rock-Climbing in Melbourne

Home > Melbourne > Sport | Rainy Day | Health and Fitness | Gyms | Adventure
Published June 5th 2013
Get a vertical perspetive
Indoor rock-climbing; it doesn't stir the senses quite the way the outdoor version does, but allow me a moment to extol its virtues.

Drop into any climbing gym around Melbourne and you will find people are there for a variety of very good reasons. Some are die-hard climbers training indoors while they scheme their next trip to the Grampians. Many are there for fitness and see climbing as an alternative to regular gym or yoga sessions. Some cute pairings are on a date, and trying to spot them is an entertaining activity in its own right. Others are friends who have decided to catch-up over an activity other than latte sipping. At various times I have climbed indoors for all of the above reasons.

climbing, nunawadding
Climber negotiating a long route. Photo courtesy of

Climbers will find themselves in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, and on any day there will be a mix of first-timers, casuals, experienced climbers and kids who have been let loose by their parents to burn off energy. It's one of the few sporting activities where a complete stranger might stop to give you a few helpful tips or yell out some encouragement.

Melbourne has a good smattering of indoor climbing venues. Hardrock in Nunawadding and Cliffhanger in Altona North have routes to suit all abilities but are favoured by serious climbers as there are many long and overhanging routes available as well as bouldering areas. Bouldering is a style of climbing close to the ground with climbers landing onto thick mats rather than using ropes. Don't be fooled, to the uninitiated this may sound simple but bouldering requires large amounts of core, upper and lower body and finger strength.

Hardrock's city venue on Swanston St is home to a lot of easy climbs, it's a great place to start if you look in the mirror and don't see the typical climber's physique staring back at you. Contact the gym to find out about the Meet-up Groups if you don't have a partner to climb with. Further afield, Bayside Rock in Carrum Downs and The Rock Adventure Centre in Geelong have shorter but steep walls, fantastic bouldering areas and friendly staff and patrons. Lactic Factory in Abbotsford is a bouldering only gym and the Burnley Tunnel has a free community bouldering wall, although you may find the bouldering only crowd a bit cliquey.

All gyms run walk-up safety inductions for new climbers except Cliffhanger where you need to book in advance. Unless you are just bouldering or an experienced climber, you will climb on "top-rope" where the rope attached to your harness is run through an anchor in the roof and your partner controls the other end. You will be held up at all times and if you come off the wall you won't have a fall as such, but rather swing on the rope gently.

Look around and you may see someone "lead climbing" which is where the climber starts with the rope in a pile on the ground and clips into the wall every few meters. With this style of climbing a big fall, often accompanied by expletives, is possible. If you catch the climbing bug you may end up being this person one day. Welcome to the vertical world.

climbing, nunawadding
The writer climbing in Hardrock Nunawadding. Photo courtesy of Anthony Cuskelly.
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Why? Climb out of your comfort zone
When: Opening times vary
Where: Locations around Melbourne
Cost: Approximately $30 for entry and gear hire
Your Comment
I tried rock climbing once. I was rubbish. Part of the problem was my shoes; I was wearing hiking boots, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but they turned out to be too bulky to fit on the built in ledges.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12558) 2489 days ago
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