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Cathedral Range, Buxton
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Crag Summary (PDF) Quick Stats
Climbs *** ** * Hardest Longest Rock Access
177 2 4 16 24 172m Sandstone 15 Min

Cathedral Range as viewed from the Buxton to Alexandra HwyThe Cathedral Range offers a wide variety of climbing from extremely easy up to mid-twenties grades. A good hour and a half's drive from Melbourne, it's a popular trad climbing destination for city dwellers. The area also boasts excellent camping and hiking with some striking views, and friendly fauna. The rock is a dark grey sandstone, similar to Arapiles in texture, though the similarities stop there. Access involves some short but steep hiking. Also bear in mind that this is a heavily forested mountain range, so it will draw it's share of weather, and stay damp for some time after rain.

Above Right: Cathedral Range as viewed from the Buxton to Alexandra Hwy.

For a first visit and some tall, but easy to intermediate routes try the Mt Sugarloaf cliffs. Instructors looking for somewhere to take beginners top roping also use the smaller outcrops in this area. For more starred climbing,  harder routes (though still with a few easy ticks), but poorer access, head for the "North Jawbones" area for some slabbing action. Climbing at some of the other locations is scattered and of less quality, though there are a few hidden gems if you're prepared to hunt.

Camping is best at the Cook's Mill area, more or less in the centre of the park. Cost is $10.20 per tent, per night, which is exorbitant in my view, but at least you get toilets, fireplaces (BYO wood), one gas barby, nearby pleasant stream for running water (which you might want to boil before drinking), and a large choice in camp sites. Looks like they could accommodate a 100 people if need be, though we only saw 4 tents during our August trip. Also of note, is the wealth of native animals that populate the site. In one night we saw no less than two wombats, two lye birds, and numerous wallabies, kangaroos, possums, rabbits, etc. Basically the place is swarming with wildlife.

Mt Sugarloaf   Push For The Summit   (Access: 15 mins)

Access from is from the little town of Buxton, 100km north-east-ish from Melbourne. (See approach map). From here, head down the road to Marysville for about 4km and take a left onto Mt Margaret road. Fire up this, forking left at 3km, and striking the Sugarloaf day visitors hut after another 5km of winding dirt road. (If you continue another 5km more you'll get to the North Jawbones car park). From the Sugarloaf hut, you'll see two walking tracks departing from the left of the road. 
Main Cliff at SugarloafView from the summit of Mt Sugarloaf
Above Left: Me bouldering around on the main cliff at Sugarloaf. The terrain is very featured and thus fairly easy, though protection can be a bit sparse. Above Right: View from the summit of Mt Sugarloaf.

The left-hand path heads steeply up to the summit via the ridgeline. However, you'll want to take the right path (labelled "wells cave"), for access to the base of the cliffs. Well's Cave (pictured below) is a fun little system that anyone who isn't totally overweight, can squeeze through, and offers an alternative track to the Sugarloaf summit, though it involves a few grade 1 or 2 moves (i.e. keep an eye on your kids). I really recommend walking to the summit via either path, or make a loop out of it for an enjoyable 1.5 hour hike. On a good day the view is simply stunning.
Sugarloaf BoulderBoulder nearing Sugarloaf summit.Inside Wells Cave
Above Left: The sugarloaf boulder is accessed 100m up the left hand track. It's diminutive, polished features didn't seem very exciting to me, despite the 17 odd documented routes. Above Middle: We found a far more interesting boulder quite a distance further up the left hand track, nearing the Sugarloaf summit. Above Right: Inside Well's Cave.

[ Below: Notes provided by Owen Gervasoni ]
The two routes given stars in the Eastern District Guide, Cherry’s Flake and Cave Slab, both provide great climbing. Cherry’s Flake, a grade 8 line towards the left end of the Main Face, follows a series of right facing flake cracks. These flakes provide good opportunities to place gear, an opportunity that doesn’t necessarily present itself on the other routes on the Main Face. Cave Slab is a grade 11 route that goes up the centre of the large slab of rock that leans against the right-hand side of the Main Face to form the “cave” on the walking track to the summit. It offers good consistent slabbing on positive holds, but has essentially no protection. A good route to top-rope, or if you're feeling cool calm and collected, to solo. The first three or four metres of the direct route up the slab are disgustingly hard, feeling more like grade 17 or 18. These moves are avoidable though, and after this bouldery start, the route is more in line with its grade. Descent is a bit tricky and involves scrambling / chimnying down the “cave”.

North JawbonesNorth Jawbones as seen from the car park.   Push For The Summit   (Access: 25 mins)

Access is from the small town of "Buxton". (See approach map). Basically you take the Cathedral Lane turn off 9km out of Buxton, then the Cathedral State Park turn off 3km away, before finding the Cooks Mill camping ground 5km further on. Drive another 500m or so to find the North Jawbones car park on your right. (Alternatively drive in from the Mt Sugarloaf approach). The cliff face itself is visible across the valley from here. 

Right: North Jawbones cliff face. Speigal's Overhang is on the far right of the face. Consult the VCC guide for details.

A walking track leads to the North Jawbones cliff. This well established walking track (marked with orange arrows) initially descends to a creek on some steps, then climbs steeply up the other side. The old guide book is a bit misleading here. What you need to do is continue up the track for 500m or so until you come across some moss covered boulders (pictured below) about the size of a house on your right. Here the track veers sharply left. You, however, need to continue straight up, departing the tourist track and going bush, just left of the aforementioned house sized boulders. You should find a reasonably visible track, though it's initially very difficult to find, and many people miss it altogether. (Click images below get a clear idea of where to turn off). This "track", is very steep and difficult to negotiate with a heavy climbing pack. Fortunately the base of the cliff appears after about 150 metres of scrambling. Walk right along the base to access Speigal's Overhang the 116m, three star grade 10, where most newcomers start.
North Jawbones Car ParkDepart the track at the house sized boulders.Head straight up, just left of this boulder.
Above Left: For access to the North Jawbones, start in the car park. Above Middle: Depart the track at the house sized boulders (that red dot is me). Above Right: Head straight up, just left of this boulder.
Speigal's Overhang the 116m, three star grade 10Michael seconding P1 of Junglescope (13)Michael leading P2 of Junglescope (13)
Above Left: Climber seconding Speigal's Overhang the 116m, three star grade 10. Above Middle: Michael seconding P1 of Junglescope (13). Above Right: Michael leading P2 of Junglescope (13).

If Speigal's Overhang (10) is taken Junglescope the 144m grade 13 (see above, and images page for full sequence) is a nice warm up, provided you're handy at finding trad placements and don't mind the occasional loose edge when slabbing. You can do it in three pitches (rather than four), and recently added double ring bolt anchors exists a top P1 and P2, though at the time of writing this report, the rings atop P1 were loose.
Michael Leading Fruit Hustler (17)Fruit Hustler (17)

Above Left: Michael through the crux of Fruit Hustler (17). Above Right: Guy seconding.

The corner crack Bathtime Gurgles (18) resides just left of Fruit Hustler the 45m grade 17 and can be found on the far right of the crag. Bathtime Gurgles is not one to onsight if grade 18 is your lead max. It requires fiddly small wires or micro cams in the finger tips only crack found in the middle third of the route before curving right to the aręte. Just when the finger crack gets too small for even a pinky, a layback/undercling of a flake is possible. A massive jug rewards those who gain the roof.

Fruit Hustler 45m grade 17 (see above, and images page for full sequence), takes the enticing crack just right of Bathtime Gurgles corner. The first two thirds of the route is low stress, with lots of stances from which to place gear. Gaining the aręte just below the roof, the climber can mount said aręte for a bomber rest, or even step off and walk down, should the roof look to goey. A wild stem (see above right), leads to a massive jug from which the crux roof moves can be dispatched (see above left). Warning, get some gear in while hanging (or sitting on said jug), because there is little else until you traverse left into an easy crack system that leads to the summit. Falling off during this traverse would not be pretty. Also beware rope drag.

South Jawbones   Push For The Summit   (Access: 40 mins)

The South Jawbones is not as good as the North Jawbones, being far more vegetated and of a lower angle. It's also visible from the car park. Access is the same as for the North Jawbones, but instead of departing the tourist track you continue up it a little further until you reach "the farmyard", a clearing of sorts. Exit left of the track and go bush. Consult the VCC guide for more details.

Bissets Pinnacles   Push For The Summit

[ Notes provided by Owen Gervasoni ]

The walk into the creek crossing below the final walk up the hillside to Bissets Pinnacles is quite painless. When I walked in, I remember wondering what the fuss about access was. I could see the Pinnacles up the hillside what looked like a short, albeit steep, 5 minute walk away. Looks in this case were deceiving. The final walk up to the Pinnacles requires hideous bashing through some of the thickest, nastiest prickle bushes I've ever experienced. Whilst I'm no expert on prickle bushes, the fact that I was finding broken off pieces of prickle in various parts of my anatomy for weeks after the trip makes me fairly confident that these prickle bushes are not to be trifled with (tip, try crawling on hands and knees to avoid some of the worst sections, and wear a thick jumper that your happy to throw out after getting home). When you arrive at the Pinnacles themselves, the quality of the rock really stands out. It looks and feels like granite, but is apparently volcanic rhyolite, which is steep and hard, and features some very clean cracks. The main attraction here is Spiral Architect. This route takes a thin crack up a steep face on a pinnacle. The route, which is a ***18, is somewhat marred by the fact that the climber is required to perform a couple of awkward aid/scrambling moves to get to a platform from where the main climbing begins. The main crack, once reached, is however awesome.

This crag is not user friendly, with tough access to and around the crag, but offers some great climbs for those willing to put in the effort.

Climbs At North Jaw Bones, Cathedral Range   Push For The Summit

Main Cliff Height Grade Stars
Bloody Slab 42 13    
Here - Catch This 90 15    
Boys Day Out 90 14    
Jerry - Pot 140 12 1
Junglescope 144 13 2
The Mice Were Furious 140 18  
Steve's Delight 141 5  
Mein Kampf 138 14  
Divect 121 9  
Central Buttress 131 8  
Composite Route 116 10 1
Route Two 76 3  
Route One 100 5  
Knob 40 12  
Travellers Slab 39 12     
Xanthene 40 17 2
Rockbottom Racer 35 18   
Terminal Youth 30 20 1
The Mice Were Furious 140 18   
Greg's Direct 48 14   
Traverse Of The Gods 15 13 1
Traverse Of The Sods 42 14   
Speigal's Overhang 116 10 3
Whiteline Fever 89 18 2
Spraggit 42 14   
Spraggit Meets Godzilla 20 23   
Son Of Spraggit 90 18   
Xenith 87 13 1
The Retribution 82 14  
Northern Ramble 85 6  
Graeme Does His Block 107 18  
The Verandah 13 14  
Main Cliff (Continued) Height Grade Stars
Uncle Sam 98 18  
Right Up Uncle Sam 7 19  
Hickory 108 13  
Bathtime Gurgles 40 18  
Fruit Hustler 45 17  
Babel Fish 25 17  
Kiwi Express 20 15  
American Dream 26 11  
Low Act 20 14  
Yanky Screams 20 14  
K. Y. Jelly 16 19  
Dickheads At A Duckshoot 16 17  

Finger Buttress Height Grade Stars
Price Planet 30 15    
Mr. Squiggle 30 12  
Yes, Miss Pat 30 12  
Meals On Wheels 30 10  

Cathedral Gorge Height Grade Stars
Shadow Mere 25 14M2     
Touch And Go 25 18   
Wet, Dank and Dirty 8 18   
Misty Mountain Hop 93 15   
Pioneer Days 106 7  
Easy Street 172 10  
Regrettable Lament 130 11  
Back Chat 25 10  

Climbs At South Jaw Bones, Cathedral Range   Push For The Summit

Main Cliff Height Grade Stars
Scrabble 12 11    
Saknussum 75 17 1
Fratz 40 15  
Splatter Cat 45 16  
Possum Run 100 5  
Uncle Sam's Slab 100 14  
Sheath 84 13  
Skittle Edge 96 13  
Wham Bam Thankyou M'am 111 15  
Lemacon 27 12  
The Rum Jam Big Slam Crack 42 15  
The Last Fandango 45 13  

Climbs At Sugarloaf, Cathedral Range   Push For The Summit

Main Cliff Height Grade Stars
Fondaknackers 5 21    
Isabel 8 18    
Tigris 57 1  
Euphrates 70 2  
Cherry's Flake 66 8  
Laver's Route 68 3  
Black Streak 30 11  
Delicatessen 41 3  
Molasses 34 15  
Webb's Crack 69 8  
Elixir 58 8  
Double Diagonal 81 5  
Moth Cave 63 4  
Cave Slab 24 11 1
Postscript 52 10  

Speigal's Slab Height Grade Stars
Who Is Speigal Anyway? 20 21  
Speigal's Other Slab 25 16  
Speigal's Slab 25 16   
Speigal's Roof 12 16   
Mild Magazine 45 9   
Rising Mucus 20 16  
Razorback Slab Height Grade Stars
Extra Cover 12 18   
Sticky Wicket 12 14   
You Should Be Dancing 48 17    
I'd Rather Be Skiing 48 18    
Manali 12 14    
L.B.W. 50 11   
Duck Variations 46 10  
Geoff Butcher 30 5  

Sugarloaf Boulder Height Grade Stars
Altered States <10 18  
Mother Superior's Ankles <10 18  
Mother Superior <10 16   
Mother's Traverse <10 10   
The Pope's Nose <10 12   
Amen <10 18  
Repent <10 14  
The Crunge <10 12  
The Crunge Traverse <10 14  
Bishop's Belly Traverse <10 14  
Bishop's Chimney <10 6  
Exodus <10 18  
Dynamo <10 18  
Benedictus <10 14  
Deacon Traverse <10 10  
Kingdom Come <10 5  
Apostolic <10 12  

Climbs At Bisset's Pinnacles, Cathedral Range   Push For The Summit

Main Cliff Height Grade Stars
Scene Of The Crime 25 21 1
Appatisic Crack 20 11    
Young Flesh 10 19  
Wuthering Heights 25 19 1
Calaban 27 17  
Gates Of Delirium 22 21 1
Erbiverous Delving 36 14  
Abseil Flake Crack 10 15  
Guinevere 27 14  
Rough Cut 30 21  
Alias Sminth And Jones 30 20  
Spiral Architect 30 18 3
Come Up And Winch Me Sometime 20 18  
Deep Space 40 20  
Thermography 20 10  
Surface Composition 20 14  
Rock Zealot 20 21 1
Cutting It Fine 30 23 1
Pacemaker 25 23 2
Main Pinnacle Height Grade Stars
Smiler 22 18  
The Normal Way 15 14  
Haemorrhoid 30 17   
Stilgar 23 16    

Topmost Pinnacle Height Grade Stars
Episode 15 17  
Blocky Dongo 22 8  
Easy Virtue 10 18   
Magnetic Stands Of Automatic Eyeballs 40 14  
Rentorous Juttering 42 14M0  
By Hook Or By Crook 15 20  

Climbs At Miscellaneous Areas, Cathedral Range   Push For The Summit

Ned's Peak Height Grade Stars
Entangled 50 12    
Political Apathy 27 13    
Hang Loose 30 16  
Robin At The Roadhouse 20 16  
Denethor 25 16  
Windemere 25 14  
The Drifter 25 17  
Holy Snapping Duckshit 38 21  
Free Standing 32 20 1
Down And Out 40 22 1
Fast Gun 25 17  
Antwerp 27 10  
View To The South 30 16  
Deep And Meaningful 30 16  
Cruising 30 20  
No Requiem For Architects 25 20  
Tenth Fathom Ridge Height Grade Stars
Obelix 10 19  
Asterix 15 22  
Stillpoint 20 17   
Balcony Dweller 24 17    
Moon RA 24 14    
Naked Ape 30 20   
Old Men And Overcoats 24 24 1
Two Way Stretch 28 22 1
The Moorglade 26 16  
Scales 8 14  
Serious Shit On The Sharp End 8 19  
Total Commitment 20 18  
Ranyart 21 17  
Mint Bush And Overhangs 20 20  
Methuselah 25 13  
Olias 25 15  
Quoquag 24 10  
Green Thumb 20 19  


Further Reading:
Eastern District Guide - A climbing guide book, edited by Glenn Tempest, Richard Smith and available from local climbing shops, or the VCC.
Chockstone Forum Topic - Some comments from our members about bouldering out there.
Cathedral Range State Park - Park's Victoria's page on this area.
Cathedral Ranges - Limited information from web site.

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