The Full Wiki

Mount Arapiles: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mount Arapiles
Mount Arapiles1.jpg
Elevation 370 metres AHD (1,214 ft)
Location Victoria, Australia
Prominence ~140 m
Coordinates 36°45′03″S 141°49′58″E / 36.75083°S 141.83278°E / -36.75083; 141.83278
Type metamorphic sandstone (quartzite)
First ascent the first recorded ascent July 23, 1836 by Thomas Mitchell
Easiest route hike/drive

Mount Arapiles is a rock formation that rises 369 metres above the Wimmera plains in western Victoria, Australia. It is approximately 10 km from Natimuk, Victoria and is part of the Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park. Arapiles is a very popular destination for rock climbers due to the quantity and quality of climbs. It is one of the premier climbing sites in Australia along with the nearby Grampians. The aboriginal name for Arapiles is Djurite.




Early history

Map of Mount Arapiles, Victoria.

The Djurid Balug aboriginal clan inhabited the nearby area for thousands of years prior to the European colonisation of Australia. They used the mountain's hard sandstone for making various stone tools, and found shelter in its many gullies and small caves. Following European settlement in the mid 1840s, the Djurid Balud were displaced from the area, leading to the breaking up of the clan. The loss of the resources that the mountain provided, the ravages of European disease, and armed clashes with the settlers were all contributing factors. By the early 1870s, the last of the Djurid Balud had been relocated to mission stations. Some of their descendants still live in the area and there are also a number of archaeological sites nearby. Indeed, a survey of Mount Arapiles in 1992 located no less than 42 Aboriginal archaeological sites, including "quarries" for hard stone for implements, scarred trees and rock art sites.

The European colonisation of Australia also brought with it many explorers to chart the new lands. The first recorded ascent of Arapiles was on 23 July 1836, by its European discoverer, Major Thomas Mitchell. He named the landmark after the Arapiles hills near Salamanca, Spain, where the Battle of Salamanca took place, in which Mitchell had seen action.

An extract from Mitchell's diary on 22 July reads:

"This certainly was a remarkable portion of the earth's surface, and rather resembled that of the moon as seen through a telecope."

There is a plaque commemorating his contributions to Arapiles on the aptly named "Plaque Rock", which is close to the current campgrounds.


Mount Arapiles is primarily composed of quartzite, a metamorphic rock that was originally sandstone. Tectonic compression subjected the rock to intense heating and pressure, fusing the original quartz sand grains and quartz silica cement fused into one mineral. There is a distinct red/orange tinge that is due to trace amounts of iron oxide and various other impurities.



Arapiles and its immediate vicinity are home to approximately 14% of the State's flora species, with wildflowers being particularly prominent in spring.


The Shingleback lizard (also known as the Stumpytail) is commonly seen in the Park during spring, summer and autumn. This slow moving and sleepy reptile feeds on insects, flowers and fruit and is quite harmless to humans.

There are many kangaroos inhabiting the bush around Arapiles. In order to preserve their habitat, many intermediate tracks have been closed to allow regrowth of the foliage. Now only the main tracks are used, especially close to the campgrounds.

The Peregrine Falcon, found worldwide, can often be seen around Mount Arapiles. It is one of the swiftest and deadliest birds of prey in the world, but has suffered heavily from the effects of insecticides. As a result, it is considered threatened in Victoria. Like all other plants and animals in the park, the Peregrine Falcon is fully protected. Occasionally, a pair of falcons will nest at Arapiles, and climbers usually notify the park ranger (and each other) should they be close to climbing areas.

The park is run by the state government funded Parks Victoria and is serviced by a toilet block, rain water tank and dish-washing facilities. There is also bore water available, though Parks Victoria advises campers to bring their own as water may not always be available, especially during the harsh, dry summers. The campsite is essentially permanently occupied by climbers, who are subjected to a fee of $2 per night (payable by an honesty system). The fees help in the maintaining of the park.

There are a number of satellite car parks around the mountain that allow for easier access to a number of areas that some might consider to be a considerable walking distance. Such car parks exist at Bushranger Bluff, Declaration Crag, and nearby Mitre Rock. There is also room for parking along the northern access road to the park near "The Pharos" and the "Watchtower Faces" climbing areas. There are two car parks in the summit area, which are used by tourists and climbers alike. The summit car parks are especially useful when accessing the northern climbing areas, provided safer access routes from above.

There is a picnic shelter for day visitors, as well as a public telephone, and an information board. The board briefly documents the history of the area with history, provides information on the activities available in the area, and gives advice on the local flora, fauna. A Telstra repeater tower provides mobile phone coverage, though one must walk a few hundred metres down from the campground to the road for adequate reception.


Mount Arapiles as seen from Mitre Rock. The main climbing areas are located on the left of this photo; the Pharos and the Watchtower faces are visible, while others are out of sight around the left corner.

Although there are many hiking routes to the top (including one resembling a via ferrata), most ascentionists choose to free climb one of the thousands of vertical routes on the mountain. Since the advent of modern rock climbing, thousands of routes have been recorded.


Abseiling off the back of Muldoon, 13. The start of the climb is the large vertical crack visible to the right of the climber at the bottom.
Note: the modern history of Mount Arapiles is covered in greater detail in many of the works listed in the References section.

Arapiles was first considered for climbing in a recreational manner in September 1963, when Bob and Steve Craddock travelled to Mitre Rock after seeing it in a tourist guide, and saw that their destination was dwarfed by Mount Arapiles. It was a number of weeks and visits before climbing was actually attempted at Arapiles, with the first climbs being recorded in November 1963 on what is now called "The Pinnacle Face". The pioneering group, consisting of the Craddocks, Doug Angus, Peter Jackson, and Greg Lovejoy split into two parties, with each party claiming a route on the same day. Many more climbs were put up in the following days and weeks, including the classic climb Tiptoe Ridge (5), and in 1964 Steve Craddock and his father Bob produced the first Arapiles climbing guidebook on a school duplicating machine (featuring 15 routes).

March 1965 saw the establishment of two significant climbs: The Bard (12) and Watchtower Crack (16). These climbs were done on the same day and are still regarded as classic climbs, often seeing numerous ascents per day. Activity steadily increased at Arapiles and in August 1966, Mike Stone and Ian Speedie released the second guidebook, Mt Arapiles. It was the first hardcover guide in Australia and featured 108 climbs. The rest of the 1960s saw many more new routes put up of increasing difficulty, with many including numerous aid points. The focus was on "getting up the climb... and staying alive", whether free climbing or not.

The early 70s saw a lull in activity at Arapiles as attention shifted to the Grampians and Mount Buffalo. Interest in Arapiles resurfaced in late 1973 with many imposing lines being climbed with a few aids. These routes brought a sense of accomplishment to the climbing community as new grades were continually being created. In 1975, American visitor "Hot" Henry Barber arrived and began freeing these routes with minimal protection. The 21-year-old made a significant impact at Arapiles, and his visit was a pivotal point in Australian climbing, as climbers worked on freeing their new lines instead of being content leaving in aid points.

Word of Barber’s achievements spread and attracted a number of new young climbers to Arapiles. This group was later given the name "The New Wave" and throughout the rest of the 70s and early 80s they were responsible for scores of routes in the grade 20–25 range. The likes of Kim Carrigan, Mike Law and Mark Moorhead helped introduce a number of 26+ climbs, though the latter two did not often grade their climbs accurately (choosing to 'undergrade' them instead). This purposeful undergrading is known as "sandbagging" and is still common in Australian climbing (some would call it tradition), though not as much as it once was.

German climber Wolfgang Güllich's ascent of Punks in the Gym in April 1985 was major achievement. The route blasts up the middle of a blank, attractive orange wall and gave Arapiles (and Australia) international exposure. At the time it was graded 32 and was the hardest climb in the world, setting a new benchmark for difficulty. Following Güllich's triumph, a number of routes of similar difficulty have been put up, though none take the "easiest way up" such an impressive feature. The fact that 'Punks' is chipped rarely makes it into most histories. In the early 90's a climber who was unable to do the climb added a glue hold which remains to this day.

Arapiles is still a popular climbing destination, with some visitors staying for months at a time. The warm weather, accessibility, quantity and quality of climbs have helped to maintain the popularity of Arapiles with locals, Australians and international travellers alike.


Mount Arapiles is mainly regarded as a traditional climbing area – where climbers are expected to place their own protection, and remove it after climbing. The vast majority of climbs are therefore done using removable protection such as nuts, cams and RP's.

Contrary to popular belief, Arapiles also has quite a bit of sport climbing. Indeed many of the most interesting sport routes in the country are to be found tucked away in a cool gully or a beautiful orange face. However, there are not many sport routes easier than 23. Popular bolted routes can be found at the following areas: Dec Crag, Flight Wall and surrounds, Skyline Walls, The Bluffs, Strolling Wall, Castle Crag, The Pharos, Yesterday Gully, Doggers Gully, Poosticks Wall.

Many routes at Araps. have lower-offs, so they can be approached from above or via an easier route. There is a strong tradition dating to the 80's of bringing the route down to your level, and it is now commonplace to rap in and pre-place gear. There are many routes with a mixture of fixed and natural gear for which this approach is suitable.

Chipping the rock to 'improve' holds is regarded as vandalism and is theoretically not tolerated. However,the many exceptions to this stance include routes such as: Steps Ahead, London Calling, 'Sean's route in The Bluffs',Ethiopia, Punks, Lord of the Rings, Wackford direct,Pet Abuse, Slopin' Sleazin' and Cecil B de Mille.

Climbing Areas

The Organ Pipes, with climbers visible for scale.
For a more detailed treatment of this subject, refer to the works listed in the References and External Links sections.

The following is a list of the more notable climbing areas at Arapiles, including famous climbs.

  • Declaration Crag and Bushranger Bluff
Popular with beginners and school groups, due to the number of easier climbs and secluded location.
  • The Atridae
Home of the "Flight Deck", a collection of more difficult climbs viewable from The Pines.
  • The Organ Pipes
Popular with beginners, school groups and regulars; due to the plentiful amount of classics and its closeness to the campgrounds.
  • Bard Buttress and Tiger Wall
Bard Buttress is a large pillar adjacent to Tiger Wall, which the most dominating feature of Arapiles to the passing observer. It features many multi-pitch classics and the longest climbs at Arapiles.
  • The Bluffs
These two great blocks rest atop Tiger Wall and offer many classic lines that end in a satisfying peak bagging experience.
  • Castle Crag
A small free standing rock opposite Tiger Wall; Castle Crag is a heavily concentrated area of climbing in the grade 20–26 range.
  • The Pharos
Named after the Lighthouse of Alexandria, it is large pillar of rock isolated from the main mountain. It features Punks Wall; home of Punks in the Gym (31), once the most difficult climb in the world; and the Back Wall, which has a small collection of more difficult classics.
  • The Pinnacle Face
Home of the first recorded climbs at Arapiles, and also to Tiptoe Ridge (5), a classic multi-pitch adventure.
  • The Watchtower Faces
The left and right faces are water-streaked slabs that straddle the Watchtower itself, which is a rough buttress that has separated from the mountain. Watchtower Crack (16) is an imposing line that follows the crack between the Watchtower and the Right Face.
  • The Northern Group
There a number of notable cliffs are in this area; including Henry Bolte Wall, a sport climbing area; and Kachoong Cliffs, which features Kachoong (21), a famous overhanging roof.
  • Mitre Rock
An isolated outcrop to the north of Arapiles, it has many excellent easier routes and is a popular day trip area.

Arapiles update

An Arapiles update was started in March 2009, which records all new or changed routes done at Arapiles since the publication of the 2008 guidebook.

A printable version can be found here [1]


There are a number of bouldering areas sprinkled around Arapiles that cater for all abilities. Two areas that are close to camp are the Krondorf Area and the Golden Streak Area. They are often populated in the late afternoon and early evening after the day's climbing has been done.


  • Louise Shepherd; A rock climbers' Guide to Arapiles/Djurite, Victorian Climbing Club, 1994. ISBN 0-949451-06-1
  • Simon Mentz, Glenn Tempest; Arapiles Selected Climbs, Open Spaces Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-0-9752333-3-7
  • Chris Baxter; "Tsunamia: the New Wave Hits", Rock Magazine, Summer 2003.
  • Park Victoria (State Government of Victoria) (2004). "Parks Victoria: Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park page". Retrieved Nov. 3, 2005.

External links

  • [2] Arapiles update - an update of new and changed routes at Arapiles since the 2008 guidebook.
  • Rock Climbing Australia page on Mount Arapiles
  • A website designed to inform people about rock climbing at Mount Arapiles
  • Chockstone One of the best online Rock Climbing sites for Mount Arapiles
  • Alpinist Magazine Issue 17: Mountain Profile on Mt. Arapiles.
  • Arapiles climbing Personal account of pioneering climbing at Mount Arapiles.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address