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Across the river from the Illusion buttress and slightly downstream is an overhanging wall of smooth compact rock with a veritable matrix of routes on it. The wall faces south and is an excellent place to hang out on hot summer days. Routes are described from left to right.

Access issues inherited from Upper Gara Gorge

Gara Gorge is located 16km south-east of Armidale’s CBD. To get there, take the Grafton road east out of Armidale then turn right onto Castle Doyle road (just after the 100km speed limit signs) This road goes onto Blue Hole road, turning to dirt straight after the cattle grid, takes you to the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. Once at the river follow the road right until it comes to a turning circle/parking area at the beginning of the walking track. This is the focus of most of the bouldering in the area. Access to the second car park referred to in the rest of the guide has been blocked to vehicles. To get there walk up onto the ridge and follow the old car track along until it stops. This is the old ‘Car Park’. From the old car park there are several ways of getting into the gorge. Either follow the well defined track which leads east along the ridge to drop down to the Roadblock area and the Mad Woman’s Breakfast boulder, or veer left (north) from this track at its start and walk straight down towards the Hope Buttress region. To get to the Thick As Thieves / Private Sector area, scramble up past the upstream end of Hope Buttress, then head straight across, past a small gully, then on to the main gully, the main water course. Another way to access the Thick as Thieves and Schoolgirl area is to follow the walking track from the first car park until you are above them, and then drop in via the riverbed (about 500m).

Ethic inherited from Upper Gara Gorge

Basically, the climbers of Armidale are a pretty laid back, free thinking group and as long as you don’t go out of your way to put people’s noses out of joint you’ll be amazed at how helpful they can be. The quickest way to piss people off is by ripping off projects. There are a few devoted locals making an effort and putting up quality new climbs. A lot of time, hard work and even money goes into their endeavours (cracks can be projects too) and there is too much unclimbed rock around to justify destroying someone else’s motivation. Any routes marked as such or not in the guide should be left alone. The simple courtesy of asking first may save you from being stripped naked and being staked out for the crows to pick your eyes out. If putting up new routes is your thing then please feel free. The only request is that you avoid placing hangers or conspicuous bolts around the Gara Boulders as we are already viewed as an environmental menace by the NPWS - bolting in National Parks is actually illegal.


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Grade Route
13 Shooting Star Trad 10m

The juggy wall. A pleasant easy climb. Up wall, trending left to start, then back right to finish. #4 Friend belay.

FA: M. Colyvan, J. Lattanzio & B. Birchall

22 Joys of the Flesh Sport 8m, 3

Just right of the small shrub, 3m right of S.S. Up through the bulge and onward to exit up shallow dihedral. Three bolts in total. Double- bolt belay.


Originally a very dangerous route with the possibility of decking at the crux. Has since been rebolted to satisfy the trembling hordes. An absolute bum-stinger! Start: As for Sweet Surrender. Directly up from first bolt on S.S. then trending left from second bolt to third then up (fourth bolt) to exit up groove. Double-bolt belay.

FA: B. Christian

24 *** Sweet surrender Sport 12m, 4

Right trending seam right of Shooting Star. Along overhang past 3 bolts, then up past a 4th bolt over lip to top. 2 BR belay directly after lip.

FA: Gordon Low, 1995

29 Hitman Sport 10m, 4

On the steepest section of rock directly below the second bolt on S.S. there is a bolt. Up past a BR to the 2nd bolt on S.S. Go up and slightly left past two more BR’s to top out. The BR to the right in the top section is still a project.

FA: Andreas Audetat

23 Trapeze Sport 15m, 5

Start as for Sweet Surrender. but once you’ve clipped the fourth bolt step back down and continue traversing right to the big jug and another bolt (ignore the extra bolt in between - it’s for another route and is a real bastard to clip. From the jug haul onto the slab and up the seam (wire placement) and onto the S.S. belay bolts.

28 Max Sport 15m, 2

A power-endurance fest. Start: As for L.A. - clip first bolt from the block. Pump up to the jug on Trapeze then reverse this to the second bolt on R.G.M. Finish as for this route.

FA: Andreas Audetat

29 Super-Max Sport 18m

Start: 2-3m right of Low Flying Angel Same bolts. Boulder along under the roof (trying not to break your back) to join the original link-up and so on....

FA: Andreas Audetat

21 Low flying Angle Mixed 8m, 2

An easy tick if you are short. Start: The large flake roof at the extreme right- hand end of the buttress. Lean off the block to clip the first bolt then step back under roof. Swing out to letterbox then flip up onto the slab and continue on past another bolt. Double-bolt belay

FA: S. Clelland & A. Stephens

If you scramble downstream and uphill slightly, facing downstream, you'll find a small cave area with a couple boulder problems so far. There is scope for a bunch more hard problems here.

*** Shooting star cave Boulder Project

Downstream and uphill (north) about 30m away is a small bouldering cave with one wicked hard project.

Hard full stretch gaston through horizontal roof then onto face and up.

V8 *** Delaminate Boulder 3m

Five metres to the right of Shooting Star Cave and downhill is another cave created by boulders stacked on top of each other.

Sit start at the back of cave on obvious roof with a nice arete on the right. A right toe-hook on the arete and a left heel hook under the roof will get you off the ground without using the boulder at the end of the cave. Slap your right hand along the arete and use sidepull and undercling with your left. Follow the roof arete up into the chimney where it ends.

FFA: Alan Ezzy, 2012