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The Fortress is the obvious large buttress that you come to and can walk out onto as you walk along the track on the gorge rim. The face that you can see on the other side of the gorge is 'The Bastille'.

Access issues inherited from Upper Gara Gorge

Gara gorge is part of Oxley Wild Rivers National Park and access is open:


If you walk along the gorge rim for about 2.2km along the Threlfall track you will come to a side track with a national parks info sign about the flume. You can follow this side track south for around 100m and end up on top of the fortress with great views south to 'The Bastille', and you are almost directly above the 'The Sea cliff' and 'The kitchen'.

Access to the climbs is from either the upstream or downstream descent gully, or for some routes rapping in. The upstream gully is best, and is also a good way to get down to the Kitchen and Sea cliff. The downstream gully is not great and is actually where the old flume descended down to the hydro plant.

Routes are described from left to right as you face the cliff at the upstream end.

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.


Some content has been provided under license from: © University of New England Outdoor Club (Creative Commons - Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike)


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These climbs are best reached by traversing up and right (downstream) from the bottom of the upstream gully. As you come around the corner from the chossy face below the balancing boulder you will come to a great double roof with a crack running all the way through. This is “Kiss Me Deadly”.

Start: On the ledge that is reached by traversing in about 50m down the upstream gully. The clean orange corner one pitch below the obvious roof crack which faces west.

Up initially overhanging twin cracks, then a few nice moves find you back in the off width to finish. Belay back on ledge.

The 2nd pitch through the roof is still a project.

FA: Gordon Low & Al Stephens, 1996

Either climb 'Pockets Full of Emptiness' or do a roped easy traverse onto the ledge.

Up a flared offwidth with two carrots, ignore the choss deep in the crack.Then a semi decent rest at the roof, bust right for 4m and then direct through the burly roof crack and then more offwidth to finish.

“Need a little time to wake up!”

Start: At the end of the ledge where PFOE finishes. Traverse in from the gully.

The series of layback flakes adjacent to the balancing boulder at the end of the ledge.

Up laybacks until they run out. Step right to some tricky wires then crimp up (crux) to slopey ledge before finishing up the final crack.

FA: Al Stephens & Gordon Low, 1996

Best reached by traversing up and right (downstream) from the bottom of the upstream gully. As you come around the corner from the chossy face below the balancing boulder you will come to a great double roof with a crack running all the way through. This is “Kiss Me Deadly”.

Start: The double roof on the southwest section of the cliff.

Up crack and around first roof to second roof. Out this (M1 aid at lip) then up the final fingers section to exit left into alcove.

FA: Paul Bayne & John Lattanzio, 1982

20m up and right of “Kiss Me Deadly” is an almost vertical wall facing directly south. It can't be climbed from the ground, you must rap in to a hanging belay on two hangers.

Thin climbing in an amazing position. Rap in to hanging DBB. Climb up the project for 2 bolts and then left to the arete.

FA: Alan Ezzy, 14 Aug 2016

'Edge' is a couple meters right of 'Arrested development' but is accessible from the ground.

Some references are given from 'The Chop' which is the most obvious (it has the large, sharp flake hanging above it) and starts next to the large tree.

This is the obvious chimney which can be seen easily from The Bastille.

  1. 20m Up blocks to overhanging off-width, traverse right.

  2. 10m Up chimney to top.

FA: Richard Curtis & L. Kavalieris, 1975

Start: 25m left of “The Chop”.

  1. 28m Up over flakes then into the back of a chimney (strenuous). Then up to a large cutaway ledge.

  2. 12m Traverse right and up to crack. Up crack to top.

FA: J. Friend & B. Birchall, 1978

Start: 10m left of “The Chop”.

  1. 30m diagonally right from corner past one lefthand mantle-shelf to a spike runner. Up recess to roof.

  2. 20m out right in off width roof, and then up from ledge to finish as for C.N.P.

FA: J. Friend & B. Birchall, 1978

Start: At the large tree under two roofs.

  1. 25m Up over swiveling boulders and vines, pass to the right of a large roof, then up ramp/corner to more roofs. Up through roofs into crack with orchids, exit to the right.

  2. 15m Up to roof then left at ledge.

  3. 15m Up chimney to finish as for C.N.P.

FA: J. Friend & B. Birchall, 1978

Start: Mossy corner 20m down right from “The Chop”.

  1. 25m diagonally right up series of corners and small rooves to belay at good stance in corner capped by a big roof.

  2. 10m Exit right through the off-width onto the ledge to belay at the start of the beautiful flake.

  3. 15m Up splendid crack then slab to belay at tree.

FA: Gordon Low & Ross Hinckley, 1996

This starts off the ledge 30m below the last pitch of “Heritage Colours”. It is best to walk right from the boulders at the top of the Fortress and skirt around to tree at the top and abseil in.

Start: The ledge 10m off the ground right of H.C. at a double-bolt belay.

  1. 30m Up the scoop past three bolts, up over block (small cams), and up the short arête past two more bolts.

  2. 15m Finish up the crack as for third pitch of H.C.

FA: Gordon Low, Ross Hinckley & Scott Clelland, 1996

As you walk out towards the top of the Fortress from the walking track, down the hill to your left is a clump of boulders that mark the top of a buttress from where you can look at the down steam gully of the Fortress. Below this is a climb. Best access is by abseiling in off the belay bolts which can be a little tricky to find.

Follow this down until you are looking down a gully, high up on the left hand wall of which is a large dead tree. Above this is the start of the climb. Abseil down from large block, tending left(looking outwards) around various trees. If you end up under a 3m roof tangled up in a tree you are in the right place. (To the left, facing the cliff, is a double roof. That is not the climb)

Helmet strongly recommended for belayer.

  1. 25m Start short flakey offwidth, and up hand/fist jam crack to rest under roof. Place #3 camalot in vertical break, take deep breath, hang off knob, commit to rounded horizontal break (no footholds) 2-3m traverse to pair of nice arm bars and something for the feet. After pausing for breath, haul up into corner & a good no hands rest. Then up around a couple of blocks, slow down after these, as the natural momentum of the climb takes you past a good belay ledge to your left.

  2. 20m Climb to right of trees, avoid large loose flake (the ugly chain here is to sort of stabilize the flake. DO NOT CLIP) , once above this, comfortable layback to bottom of 8m slab.(pleasant belay here if you feel like it) 4 bolts & comfortable edges, which diminish towards final body smear and top out.

FA: Ross Hinckley & Phil Pisanu, 1997


Check out what is happening in The Fortress.