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A sandstone crag near Coffs Harbour, NSW with a variety of climbs from moderate cracks to steep sport routes.
Wonderland is a sandstone crag set in a beautiful forest area, overlooking a quiet valley. Routes range from sketchy, old-school bolted routes and cracks to modern sport clip-ups. The broken, multi-layered crag offers a variety of grades however most of the routes bolted in the initial phase were bolted with carrot bolts so make sure you have bolt plates. A lot of the routes top-out to belay off trees and some sport routes even require belays off traditional gear! The crag generally faces west.
The route descriptions are an amalgamation of the 2 original guide books (with edits).
Wonderland is in Conglomerate State Forest. Camping, dogs and bolting are all legal.
You can access the crag with a 2WD vehicle that has good clearance. If you don't have enough clearance you may have to walk the last 1km.
Approaching from the East: Take Sherwood Creek Road west from the Pacific Highway near Corindi Beach (approx. 35km north of Coffs Harbour or approx. 50km south of Grafton). After approx. 16km turn left onto Plum Pudding Road. Drive 1.7 km and turn right onto Free Grass Road. Drive 400m and take the right fork (Lionels Loop Road). Follow this for 1.3 km to a parking area at Dicks Nob. The surveyor who named this landmark must have had a good chuckle.
Approaching from the West: From Glenreagh take the Sherwood Creek (Upper Corindi Road), for approx. 13 kms and turn right onto Plum Pudding Road. Drive 1.7 km and turn right onto Free Grass Road. Drive 400m and take the right fork (Lionels Loop Road). Follow this for 1.3 km to a parking area at Dicks Nob. (seriously).
From the parking lot walk north along a trail that follows the top of the cliff for about 600m, until you can scramble down a short, faint gully. A rough trail then runs along the base of the cliff.
You can also access the Southern end (Whipping Wall) of Wonderland by hiking 100m back along the road from the parking lot and then bush bashing down to the cliff. This way only takes about 10 minutes to get to Whipping Wall but there is no track. There are descent gullys at either end of Whipping Wall.
A primitive but fairly nice camping spot is at the parking lot at the top of the crag. There are no facilities here at all (including water) and it is important that this spot be treated with respect in order to retain this privilege. The area can be very dry so extreme caution must be taken with camp fires.
Alternatively, it is also only about a 20 minute drive back to Corindi Beach which has a caravan park and a pub. The area between Corindi Beach and Coffs Harbour is a popular tourist area and offers hundreds of accommodation options ranging from caravan parks to five star resorts.
Bolting of routes is legal and there is quite a bit of potential for new lines. Most older routes top-out and adding bolt anchors at the top is deemed acceptable in the interest of preserving vegetation at the top of the cliff. Replacing bolts on routes is OK if required but adding bolts to existing routes is not. The sandstone often offers solid, natural protection which should be used instead of fixed protection where possible.
Wonderland was founded on the 2nd May of 1991, by Gavin Dean, Keith Bennett and John Kennedy from the Forestry Commission and the area was used as an abseiling school for a couple of years.The potential for rock climbing was soon realised and 25 routes were put up by Gavin Dean, Keith Bennett, Allan Stevens, Dick Curtis and Ed Sharp during June and July of that year! By the end of 1993 the area had 56 routes which were documented in 'A Climbers Guide to the Mid-North Coast' by Gavin Dean (Jan 1994). There was another spate of development led by Ben Christian and Gordon Low (from Armidale) in about 1995 when ten routes harder than grade 25 were bolted. Shortly after that Ben looked across the valley and 'discovered' Fort Knox which was the focus of development in the years to follow. A second climbing guide to the area 'Climbing Guide to Coffs Harbour' was written by Sally Goode in 1997.
Rarely has the development of a crag been dominated so greatly by one person with Gavin Dean being either leader or seconder in 44 of the first ascents.
Some content has been provided under license from: © Australian Climbing Association Queensland (Creative Commons, Attribution, Share-Alike 2.5 AU)
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