Nymboida Gorge Mostly trad climbing12 routes in crag
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A remote, adventurous, multipitch, granite climbing area that has a challenging walk-in approach or can be accessed by paddling a renowned whitewater river.
A series of remote, granite cliffs overlooking a 2km section of the Nymboida River that caters to those in search of adventure climbing. All of the routes are considered fairly serious undertakings requiring a full rack of traditional gear and maybe even some pitons. The routes range from 18 to 180m in length.
As the area was developed by Whitewater River Guides, the climbing areas are named after the rapids that lay below them.
This section of the Nymboida is renowned as one of the best whitewater trips in Australia hence extreme caution must be exercised to avoid dropping any loose rocks on river users.
The area lies within Nymboi-Binderay National Park. Climbing is encouraged.
Any trip into the Nymboida Gorge, either by road or river, requires a strong element of expedition commitment, a good 4WD, navigation and/or whitewater skills. The use of a map is recommended with the best being Clouds Creek 1:25,000 (which has the cliffs on it) and Moleton and Dundurrabin 1:25,000 (for the approach roads). It is useful to carry a chainsaw if using the seldom-traveled forestry roads to access the cliffs.
By road from Coffs Harbour: Drive to Coramba and then turn west onto the Eastern Dorrigo Way. Drive past Ulong and through the tiny town of Cascade. Continue on Moses Rock Road all the way until you are above the section of the gorge you wish to explore. The area has many marked and unmarked forestry roads along this route. Park and hike/ bushbash down your chosen route to the top of the cliffs. The topo shows some of the best options for the approach hikes.
Cascade can also be accessed via Dorrigo and Megan, if driving from the southwest.
To make a complete adventure, the gorge can also be accessed by river by paddling a raft or kayak down the Nymboida River from the Cod Hole to the Junction with the Little Nymboida. This section of river is for experienced paddlers only and is considered grade 4 in whitewater standards. The 16km section is considered a full day trip without involving any climbing and is quite water-level dependent. Consult a book or web pages for information on this trip. The car shuttle is also very long and a good 4wd vehicle is required for access to the take-out point.
Where to stay
Climbing in the Nymboida Gorge is most likely a multi-day affair. There is an amazing campsite above The Chute Rapid, on the western side of the river and bush camping wherever else you can find a suitable site. The topo from the 1997 guide notes a small camp to the north of the South Wall in the Main Gorge. There is also a small camp, at water level in the middle of the South Wall that can only be accessed by river.
There are bountiful possibilities for new routes. Up to this point no bolts have been placed in this area as sufficient natural protection has been available. The area is within Nymboi-Binderay National Park so it would be best to discretely check with the latest policies for bolting within National Parks.
The Nymboida Gorge cliffs were gazed upon by numerourous whitewater rafting guides and kayakers since the 1970s and several, unrecorded, single pitch routes were climbed on the boulders and cliffs around 'The Chute' rapid in the 1980s. The first recorded route was done by Dick Baker, Tim Balla dand Andy Breheny who climbed Lanky Dick and the Love Hole in 1995. Dick continued to lead several trips (of River Guide/climbers) into the Gorge the following year, resulting in a total of 8 routes. The routes were documented in 'Climbing Guide to Coffs Harbour' by Sally Goode, in 1997.
Since then very few climbers have visited the area due to the involved access and adventurous nature of the routes. For that reason, however, those looking for the full experience (remote area, difficult route finding, bold climbing, bushbashing, variable rock, new routes, beautiful scenery etc) will likely find it here. The area also offers a unique multi-faceted adventure for those with the skills to negotiate the whitewater river to the cliffs.
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