Arapiles is a bread-loaf shaped hunk of rock, bulging out of the desert plains in Victoria, Australia. It also happens to be our favourite place to rockclimb. We visited 10 years ago and loved everything about it. The $2 a night camping right beneath the rock, the long, natural, multi-pitch routes & the variety of excellent climbing. We haven’t climbed anywhere else where you get all those things as a one-stop-shop.
Last year I booked some tickets with our expiring frequent flier points, and then other than writing it in the diary, pretty much forgot about it.
March rolled around, my Mum & Dad very kindly came and looked after the kids, and lent us their Australian car which made for a very logistically simple holiday. After touching down in Melbourne, we jumped in their car and drove four hours stopping on-route at a supermarket. Obviously some things have changed in the 10 years since we had been there, most notably 4 children. Upon our exit from the supermarket we looked at each other and laughed. Judging by our mountain of groceries we had shopped for more than the 2 of us!!
We set up our little 2 person tent, and squished in – something we hadn’t done for a while. I was feeling a little ‘soft’, and dreaded having to sleep using a pile of clothes for a pillow. Lucky for us, there were 2 pillows in the car which were going to make sleeping on a thermarest, in a sleeping bag, A-OK!!
We made the best use of our time to go climbing – climbing full days, every day. We could climb easy/moderate climbs on awesome rock. The thing that challenges me about Arapiles, is you use all this fancy gear to keep yourself safe on the climb, and there are dodgy walk offs to get down – sometimes quite difficult. If we had any challenges it was this. Hubby loves that sort of exposure. I don’t!
We really loved our time away. We went for a couple of drives, swam in some manky lakes (cuz we needed a shower!), and successfully managed to avoid suspect Australian wildlife. The place was COVERED in millipeds – like plague proportions. We thought “if these are poisonous they’ll get us for sure”. Even all the vertical rock was completely covered in them. There were also big spiders that loved to build their webs across the access trails. We saw one stumpy (a lizard that’s head looks the same as it’s bum), some noisy & colourful birds and kangaroo’s. We were also informed on our arrival that the mosquito’s had Ross River Fever – we were happy to avoid that!!
This trip definitely rated up there with some of the coolest things we have done, and it was hard to come back home to “real life”.
WHERE TO STAY: Mt Arapiles Tooan State Park. This trip and our one previous, we have stayed in the Pines Campground. Most of the climbs are within an easy walk of the campground.
SOME CLIMBS WE DID THIS TRIP THAT I WOULD RECOMMEND (we were climbing easy-no stress routes, focusing on as many multi pitch climbs as possible):
***Arachnus, 9 (US 5.3), 105m, 4 Pitches
***Syrinx, 10 (US 5.4), 170m, 7 Pitches
**Piccolo, 11 (US 5.5), 35m, 2 Pitches
**The Bishop, 11 (US 5.5), 48m, 2 Pitches
**Panzer, 12 (US 5.6), 95m, 3 Pitches
**D Minor, 14 (US 5.7), 35m, 2 Pitches
***Lamplighter, 14 (US 5.7), 78m, 3 Pitches
You could climb for days, and only do starred routes. That are THAT many awesome lines, with a huge variety from easy to hard. My personal opinion is that the grades are pretty stiff, but that being said, I’m not sure where else in the world you can go and climb multi-pitch natural leads without needing to be climbing fit. There are lots of good quality, easy routes.
GETTING THERE: Heading NW from Melbourne, it is approx a 4 hour drive, via Ballarat and Horsham. Public Transport (train & bus) can get you to Horsham.