Rock climbing indoors and outside is one of the fastest growing sports in Australia, offering a wide variety of disciplines and types of climbing from indoor top roping to the explosion of social bouldering in new gyms. The outdoor experience includes the beautiful cliffs and wilderness regions such as the Grampians, the Glasshouse Mountains and of course the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney.

Climbing has never been more accessible for people of all ages with plenty of gyms catering for all ability levels and providing onsite courses. I’ve seen climbers from 3 years old to more than 70 years old at my local gyms in Brisbane. Outdoor Education centres, adventure parks and camps also offer great introductions to climbing and rope assisted activities. Add to this the many University and social clubs, guiding services and even comprehensive personal coaches and there is a group that will be suitable for you!


Transiting your skills to learn climbing outdoors is best approached with an accredited course or as part of a recognised climbing club that has members with guiding accreditation’s. We all have friends that are enthusiastic who will also want to share knowledge and their experience with the novice outdoor climber.

Depending on where you live, there is a multitude of opportunities to learn climbing on real rock in a safe environment with good instruction nearby. Here are my top 5 recommendations to get you out there and experiencing the vertical.


Canberra ACT

A plenitude of options surround the capital in the ACT. Kambah Rocks is an easy accessible crag and popular for top rope climbing short routes. Close to the river if you need a dip to cool off in summer too. Orroral Ridge is a popular destination with suitable routes that are more trad climbing. Mount Corree has more sport bolted climbs and a spread of grades. For weekend trips, many Canberrian’s also head to Nowra (NSW) for sport routes of all grades.

Arapiles Victoria

One of the most famous and historical crags in Australia, but it doesn’t get any better for beginners as the nature of the rock is smooth, clean and easy to climb. With easy grades and climbs from 10m to almost 200m, all styles of climbing and guiding are on offer. There is adventure here in spades with easy grades, great camping, amazing vistas and wildlife.

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Blue Mountains NSW

The World Heritage Blue Mountains are so vast it’s hard to narrow down to a selection of crags to learn and experience the climbs and beauty of the sandstone area. Some of the most frequented areas for learning and instruction are Mount York, Mount Piddington, The Dam Cliffs and Upper Shipley. The main centre of Katoomba is a hub for guiding services and courses to start you out.

Glasshouse Mountains & Kangaroo Point Queensland

No other city I’ve travelled to has a crag in the middle of the city next to the river that is lit up by the council at night where climbing is actively encouraged! Kangaroo Point is in fact an old quarry that was used for buildings and bridges in the early establishment of Brisbane. Now days it’s a hub of adventure based activities including over 250 climbing routes to choose from and the majority can be top roped or led. There are also some trad routes. Steadily the hardware has improved and the old ‘carrot bolts’ are being replaced. Routes are up to 28m long and there is all manner of anchors at the top. It’s a busy place in the evenings and the mornings and frequented by many clubs and climbing instructors. Most Brisbane based climbers have done their time at “KP”. An hour north is the Glasshouse Mountains which has a long and proud history of climbing on the volcanic cores of the ancient peaks. With climbing options from beginner top ropes and child friendly crags such as Mosquito Wall through to moderate multi-pitch adventures, there is an extensive array of options available for new and enthusiastic climbers.

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Hobart Tasmania

There are plenty of options in and around Hobart for new climbers and social climbers, including the popular Waterworks Quarry with a broad range of grades and routes up to 20m. Frehauf is also popular and accessible with a mix of grades through to hard. The overwhelming feature of the Hobart skyline though is Mt Wellington! Although more often reserved for guided and more experienced climbers with trad and lead climbing experience. There is also some great moderate routes and opportunities to experience the dolerite columns and breathtaking vistas.


Equipment you will need to get your Climbing Kit Started

Climbing Harness

Something comfortable and fitted with good support around the waist, adjustable leg loops are also good. The CAMP Flint adjustable harness fits the bill. Make sure you sit and hang in it and wiggle around to find out what is most comfortable for you.

Climbing Shoes

One of the most important parts of your climbing kit. Climbing shoes should be fitted snug but not too tight. Usually one size down from your trail shoes as a guide. I would be recommending a flat last with good lateral stability and edging. They will soften and stretch a little with use. Fully stitched shoes will maintain shape and be more durable than glue constructed shoes. Check out the SCARPA Velocity Lace Womens and Mens.

Chalk Bag & Chalk

Plenty of options here to add some fun and colour. Find a model that suits your personality. Look for a secure clip belt included. Try various chalk options and a chalk ball to see what feels best for your skin. Check out our range of chalk and chalk bags which are well priced.



I know the pro’s don’t all wear helmets, but if you get hit on the melon by even a match box sized rock, you’ll be very glad you were. Wear your helmet whether you are actually climbing or standing at the bottom belaying. Helmets also protect you from side impacts if you fall off or spin on the rope. Helmets fall into two main categories. Plastic injection molded shells and high density shell in-mold foam. I would recommend trying multiple models on to find the one that feels best and adjusts well for your head. Check out the CAMP Titan as it comes in two sizes or the super light KONG Leef.

Screw Gate Carabiner

Key connection point for belaying and anchors. There are many options and various gate models to consider. They are predominantly aluminium for climbing with and steel for anchors. Ask for assistance here in understanding the ratings and certification of carabiners. Check out the Kong Argon & Big D models.

Belay Devices

There is a bewildering array of belay device options that also fall into two categories. Assisted auto device such as Petzl GriGri or the original manual devices that are the foundation of learning to belay (and abseil). Commonly called a tube device or belay plate. These are light and an inexpensive option. Check out the KONG Chuy or Ghost models.

For more climbing image inspiration head to Nathan McNeil’s Set in Stone photography Gallery.


About The Author

Rob Saunders

Rob has worked in the outdoor adventure and climbing industry for over 20 years. A lifelong thirst to experience new places, meet the people and travel their country. Rock climbing, cycling and trekking has taken him on years abroad to North America, Europe, Nepal and the Asia pacific. From climbing big walls to riding the Swiss Alps and trekking peaks of the Himalayas. Currently manages a consultancy firm with his partner and is planning the next adventure with his kids to Nepal in winter.

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