Cheeky Canberra Climbing


  • Beautiful bush to retreat into in the heart of the city.
  • There are some cool climbing problems! Great for beginner to intermediate climbers.
  • Hidden enough to feel isolated…Not so hidden you need a guide.

If you’re anything like me, you’re out in nature every chance you get. The weekend comes around and the only thing you’re trying to figure out is north or south. But also like me, every now and then (i.e. way too often) life chains you to the city. That was my weekend this week, forced to stay in and study.

Luckily for me there are some rad micro-micro-adventures in the ACT, and I managed to schedule myself a bouldering break mid study session. I first heard about this hidden city bouldering site earlier in the year when I was vaguely thinking of getting into climbing outdoors.

About a month ago, I had a spur of the moment thirst for the outdoors after a particularly long day at work and called up my buddies, Max and Kat, for an after work explore. If you’ve ever spent a winter in Canberra then you know ‘after work’ is code for ‘freezing as balls and dark at 5’. We met about half way up Black Mountain Drive, in a side bay of the road where we left our cars. A bunch of tracks leave the bay heading into the forests on the mountain, we chose the largest one and started exploring. With the torches blaring, we randomly picked a point off to the right of the track and started bush bashing and within not to long the dimly lit bush faded away into a reef of craggy rocks and small cliff faces. We stopped at the rock face right under us, set up the lamp, shook the blood back into our fingers, and started having a climb around.

This is the site I procrasti-climbed this weekend with my buddy Huon, who had been knee-deep in some crazy math assignments. In the daytime, it turns out that there are at least four or five different climbing sites.

The site is awesome. You’re standing in the middle of the capital city, surrounded by beautiful bush. If you look out one way, Black Mountain Tower peaks through the gum leaves, and out the other are views over half of the city. While you’re sitting back checking out the rock face you can barely believe you were sipping lattes half an hour ago.

It is the micro-est of adventures, but it quenches the thirst and is perfect if you’re couped up in the city all weekend.

Essential gear required:

Nothing is essential, but bring some chalk and climbing shoes if you’ve got them! Some chilled tunes would also go down a treat.

How to get there:

Drive up Black Mountain Drive (just near the turn off to the Botanic Gardens). About half way, there is a side bay/small parking lot. Park the car there and then take the main track (it has a gate to climb over) and walk down about 20 – 30 meters. Turn right into the bush and keep walking until you see the rocks appear…keep an eye out.


  • Bouldering
  • Tree climbing
  • Bush exploring

Skill Level:

Good spot for beginner climbers, but there are some intermediate ones too. Quite a few ground level climbs where you don’t have to worry about falling, but there are also a few that also go up and over.

Distance covered / Elevation Gain:

Depends how high you climb…