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Black Mountain rises proudly from the centre of Canberra and the Telstra Tower is one of the truly iconic sights of our city. But did you know there are also some pretty rad bouldering opportunities just off the beaten track?

Canberra climbers are blessed with many indoor and outdoor spots, and some of them are closer than you might think. Halfway up Black Mountain Drive, a short walk will reward you with Canberra’s most central collection of boulders, with enough routes to keep you coming back time after time.

What to expect…

After walking down a fire trail for about 200m, you’ll turn off along a well-trodden footpath and continue for about 50m. Believe me, you’ll know when you’ve arrived at the bouldering spot because stretching out along the hillside are a motley collection of boulders as far as the eye can see.

These boulders are the perfect size for bouldering as they range in height from about 2-4m. They’re great for playing around on, but if you really want to get serious, hop onto and check out the ‘semi-official’ routes that have been marked out by previous climbers.

Despite being so close to the city, you’ll likely have the whole place to yourself. So there’s nothing left but to set-up your crash mats, chalk your fingers and get climbing!

What to bring?

● Crash mats - these really are an essential for bouldering outside. You can hire mats from BlocHaus, or buy them. Mont also has a decent selection.

● Chalk/climbing shoes - you can probably get away with climbing a few routes without shoes and chalk, but these items really make a difference on the harder routes.

● Beers

Don’t forget - Pack out what you pack in. Bring an extra bag to collect your rubbish; there are no bins, toilets, or cooking facilities. You’ll also want to look out for snakes.

Want more?

Black Mountain isn’t just great for bouldering, the walk up to the lookout is pretty great and cycling up Black Mountain Drive is also a good challenge. There’s also a cafe at the National Botanic Gardens at the bottom of the mountain, but being so close to town, it’s probably worth venturing a bit further for a decent coffee - try Mocan and Green Grout in New Acton.

Get there!

From Parkes Way, turn up Clunies Ross Street. Turn left up Black Mountain Drive, following the signs for Telstra Tower.

Continue about halfway up the mountain, until you see a small car park on the left. If you reach the car park for Black Mountain Lookout you’ve gone too far.

Walk down the fire trail for approx. 200m (slightly downhill), then turn right onto a clear footpad. Continue for approx. 50m and you’ll see the boulders continuing along the mountainside.

FYI: Bouldering is a dangerous activity, so exercise caution and do not boulder alone. If you haven’t been bouldering before, you’re probably best off trying it out in the indoor climbing gym first.

Author: #MattieGould