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Description

The Black Range is a series of small wooded hills outside Stawell well endowed with granite blocks. Typically of small granite areas although there is a lot of rock, and there are some very impressive blocks and pinnacles, there is a distinct lack of lines up many of them. Despite this here are a surprisingly large number of good crack lines scattered around the range. Whilst the typical rough, wide granite cracks exist, [GSOH and Illegitimate Pig being prime cases] there are also some very nice crack climbs of which Minaret and Dolerite Crack are particularly outstanding examples. There are so far very few climbs which are protected entirely by bolts. The predominance of middle grade routes and the lack of sport routes is largely a reflection on the abilities and preferences of the pioneers. The potential for routes at much harder grades is enormous. The sheer amount of rock and the large size of the range, only a very small part of which has so far been explored, means that good new routes and cliffs will be being discovered for years to come. Bouldering possibilities are limitless. Being so close to the Grampians the area is never likely to be a major draw card in its own right. However, the cliffs offer a good wet weather alternative to the Grampians and are worth a visit as a Sunday cliff if looking for a short day before heading home to Melbourne. Nearly all of the cliffs require less than 30 minutes walk in. The Petrol Head blocks near the Speedway are barely 5 minutes walk from the car. Views of the Grampians from cliffs on the Western side of the range are outstanding. Most of the range is quiet and little visited. Some of the tors, like Seal Rock, are very impressive features well worth walking to. A couple of the areas have become reasonably popular with local climbers as an occasional alternative to sandstone and as good training for granite climbing.

Access issues

Unlike many central Victorian granite areas where one major landowner owns all the land around a crag and can be negotiated with for access here the ownership is much more complex. Numerous old fences are found throughout the range attesting to the fact that the range has a mix of owners. In fact very little of it appears to be public land, and dozens of different private owners seem to own parts of the range. Some have little more than large suburban blocks but right up on top of the range! Consequently, despite the size of the range there appear to be only a small number of public access points and many of the cliffs are on private land. The road around the Speedway is on Crown Land, as are Car Wreck Blocks and the Turret. Dolerite Block is just over the boundary and on private land. The Bunjil saddle Cliff is on Crown Land as are the big and as yet unclimbed slabs seen at the South End of the range beyond Bunjils Cave.

Approach

The Black Range is located just South of Stawell. Stawell is 250km West of Melbourne on the Western Highway. The Stawell/Pomonal road, also known as the Lake Fyans Rd, leaves the Western Hwy in Stawell. The Bunjil's Cave Road turn off is on the left 5km out of Stawell. This is the main access road which has been used for climbing so far. There are 3 distinct access points reached from this road. The Speedway Carpark - The Burrong Basin road leaves the Bunjil's Cave road and leads past private property to the Speedway where there is a small car park and locked gate. The road beyond the gate is shown on some road maps as a public road. Petrol Head Blocks, Dinosaur Rocks and the many blocks of Cave Hill are approached from this closed road. Western Outcrop Track - At 2.5 km along the Bunjil's Cave Road [opposite a house and about 1km before Bunjil's Cave] a minor track takes off on the left. This 4wd track leads to the summit of the hill with the Western Outcrop on it. The Western Outcrop, Burnt Shack Gully and Pinnacle Ridge are accessed from here. Bunjils Cave - 3.5km down the Bunjils Cave Rd is the signposted Bunijil's Cave reserve with a couple of picnic tables and a short walking track. Only the Bunjil Saddle Cliff has been accessed from here so far. Out of respect for indigenous culture no climbs have been done and no bolts have been placed within the Bunjil's Cave reserve area. A number of other access roads and tracks also lead into the hills from the Western Highway. Unfortunately all of these roads end at private houses, some with such welcoming signs as "Trespassers will be shot".

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