Your selection of ultimate guides to rock climbing in Tasmania
Most people tend to begin their climbing trip in Launceston and work their way south via Freycinet, so here's a quick summary of selected crags below, described here in that order.
Launceston area: The South Esk River flows through central Launceston, carving the spectacular Cataract Gorge and providing 850 routes on dolerite cliffs up to 30m high. Entertaining vertical crack-lines, bolted arêtes and faces characterise climbing in the Gorge, along with a gallery of tourists to photograph your every move. Another 300 routes can be found in the North Esk River gorge just 15 minutes from town.
Hillwood: Tasmania’s largest sport-climbing area is 25 minutes from Launceston at Hillwood, and has 145 fully equipped routes, 5 minutes from the car. These unique volcanic crags provide a variety of climbs on roofs, slabs, overhanging faces with slopers, razor crimps, and crazy hexagonal blocks with a myriad of side-pulls to choose from for your next hold.
Ben Lomond: The mighty Frews Flutes are 45 minutes drive from Launceston, giving the best multi-pitch crack climbing in Australia with its dolerite columns forming the most precise, parallel jam-cracks imaginable. While the Ben is famous for these routes, it also has some wonderful face-climbing on the Pavilion, Local Loser and Heathcliffe. There are also several outstanding remote cliffs with 200m walls requiring overnight expeditions.
Blackwood Rocks: People wanting a sandstone fix will enjoy Blackwood Rocks about 50 minutes from Launceston. It has 35 moderately graded sport routes (12-25) up to 25m high.
Bare Rock: The 200m black dolerite face at Fingal offers one of Tassie’s great climbing experiences. It has recently been transformed into one of the premier sport-climbing crags in the state. Most routes start on a ledge 100m off the ground giving instant exposure. Steep endurance climbing on superb quality rock characterise the routes here. There are also some old trad classics such as MacDonagh (17), and several multi-pitch sport routes such as the excellent Sapphire Rose (22). Just down the road are the 25m dolerite columns of South Sister, offering precise jam-cracks reminiscent of Ben Lomond, plus several bolted arêtes.
Freycinet: The Freycinet Peninsula has some of the finest sea cliff climbing in Australia on sensuously smooth granite. There is a large variety of one-pitch routes, both natural and bolt protected, as well as atmospheric multi-pitch routes positioned above the ocean.
Tasman Peninsula: Here you will find the world renowned 65m sea stack of the Totem Pole, a delightful sea stack called the Moai, steep one pitch sport-climbing at the Paradiso, massive multi-pitch bolted routes above the ocean at Mt Brown, and the world-class adventure out to the spire of Pole Dancer at Cape Raoul.
Organ Pipes: Directly above Hobart is the Organ Pipes on Mt Wellington, with routes up to three pitches in length in an alpine setting, with views of the city and Derwent estuary. The Pipes have many quality trad routes on featured rock, as well as a growing number of bolted faces and arêtes.
Adamsfield : About 2 hours from Hobart is the sport-climbing crag of Adamsfield, a collection of conglomerate boulders in the south-west offering steep, difficult bolted routes.
North-west Coast: If you decide to visit the north-west corner of the state, be sure to climb Rysavy Ridge on Mt Roland, an old fashioned route of classic proportions making for a long, fun and atmospheric day out. Sisters Beach is a superb little quartzite crag by the sea with a collection of bolted and natural gear routes, as well as Rocky Cape with its quality traditional routes in a seaside setting.
West Coast Crags: Spread out over a long section of the wild West Coast are several climbing areas on perfect granite boulders. Access requires a bit of time and effort, but for a unique experience in an amazing remote area, then these crags are well worth a visit.
Wilderness Areas: While Tasmania has good cragging close to the road, to experience what is unique about the island’s climbing, you need to put on a pack and go bush for a few days. Frenchmans Cap, Federation Peak, Mt Geryon, The Acropolis, the Tyndall Range and the remote cliffs on Ben Lomond have 200-400m walls, which require almost expedition type planning, long walks, and the possibility of being tent bound in bad weather. The climbing, however, is out of this world and well worth the effort to get there.