North Queensland Bouldering
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Magnetic Island is a truly spectacular destination, regardless of your intentions for the place. For a boulderer the Island combines an abundance of quality rock with a gorgeous tropical setting, friendly locals (human or otherwise) and a unique feel that this isnít your usual climbing road trip. In terms of the climbing, many have called this some of the best bouldering in QLD, although to be honest the quantity and quality fall far short of the nearby Harveyís Marbles, although that does not suggest that the bouldering on the Island isnít amazing. A trip to Townsville would not be complete without the customary day of beach bouldering at Maggie.


So here is a rough guide to get you started. There is a massive potential for exploration and development, so donít limit yourself to the bays mentioned. I have given the Bays a start rating system so if you are pressed for time you can prioritize. Getting to the bays is easy, and you can normally bus and walk you way around the Island (you can pick up maps from all over the place). There are a bunch of backpackers to stay at, as well as the usual more expensive establishments. Be sure to allow time to get up to Harveyís Marbles as it is truly some of the best bouldering in Oz. In the meantime enjoy the Island.


* Picnic Bay


Access: Catch a bus/cab from the Ferry terminal.


A few all right problems at the RH end of the bay when facing the ocean, and in amongst the scrub behind this part of the beach. But realistically this is not one of the better bays. Tully Rohrer did a terrifying V8 somewhere in the bay, although I canít offer any directions to it.


*** Rocky Bay


Access: You can walk from both Picnic Bay or Coconuts Backpacker resort, or alternatively catch a cab to the car park at the top of the hill, and walk down a steep track. A bus wonít stop at the top of the hill but will drop you at the front of Coconuts. From here walk through the resort and along the shoreline (to the R when looking at the ocean), ducking along the top of a few higher sea cliffs, and down into Rocky Bay.


Some of the best bouldering on the Island, as well as some of the best roped climbing on the prominent central block (See Doug Hocklyís guide). The Whale boulder is fairly prominent in the middle/right of the bay (when facing the water), and the surrounding blocks and domes have some fun problems. The whale itself has a couple of cool slabs, and a slab traverse project starting at the LH end when facing it and finishing with either your feet or hands in the pocket that signifies the whaleís eye. The central block has a few problems around it.


The best bouldering is located at the LH end when facing the ocean and includes a bunch of higher boulders and some tougher problems. In particular the last boulders on the beach offer some prominent classics. The obvious 5m high problem through the steep bulge is a classic V3, and a candidate for the best problem on the Island. Just to the R is a V9, with the crux at the top (start at the break and go up via lay offs to a thin section). This was established by Matt Zimmerman, who also did a V8 to the R (the sit start off the pockets into the orange scoop). About 20-30?m further off the beach is a high cracked arÍte that went at V8, and has a sloping slab to land on.


** Alma Bay


Access: Cab/Bus to the bay from ferry terminal.


Doug Hocklyís guide gives a bit more detail. The best bouldering is at the RH end when facing the ocean. The stand out problems tend to be on the block just next to the shelter. The front slab up the middle goes at V4/5 via some tips pockets and is called Reeven. Around to the L is Slap Happy V1, traversing the slopey break, and Slap Direct V1/2 via the chunky undercling pocket. L again is a V3 diagonal seam across an orange wall with a bad landing, and L again is a V4 sit start off pockets. This bay is very convenient with the bouldering being 30 seconds walk from the bus stop and shops.


* Horseshoe Bay


Access: Cab/Bus directly to the bay.


Some ok bouldering, but a sizeable walk. The problems are located at the LH end of the bay when facing the ocean. It takes about 30-40 minutes to walk there and there is probably a max of 15-20 problems to be done. There are also some problems to be done on the inland side of the creek at the RH end of the bay, along the walking track.


** Balding Bay


Access: Walk along the beach from Horseshoe bay, heading toward the RH end of the bay when facing the ocean. Cut R across the creek and follow the track through the scrub, up a hill and then take the sign posted R down to Balding Bay. If the creek is at high tide, you can get to the track via the streets behind the front street (ask locals).


Some great problems including a classic wall in the middle of the bay that goes at V2 or so. Some good other problems as well.


*** Radical Bay


Access: As for Balding, only instead of turning L and going down into Balding, continue straight and head down into Radical, passing through a deserted resort.


Possibly the best bouldering on the Island. Some 30 or 40 problems have been established at either the LH end or RH end. The high tide can dump or remove large quantities of sand and so the problem heights and difficulty can vary immensely.


The RH end when looking at the ocean has a bunch of slabs, a few steepish problems and a few classic high balls. Standouts include the high dome back from the beach a bit, and the few problems on and around the prominent big block.


The other end has some classic high slabs, as well as some steep sit starts. Standouts include the walls of high slabs and the featured arÍte sit start on the back of the slightly less high wall of slabs.