There’s no shame in taking the easy option. Is there?
That’s what I kept telling myself on the Bald Rock climb, anyway.
It’d been too long since I clocked up an Australian exclusive, so climbing Bald Rock, largest exposed granite rock in the Southern Hemisphere and centrepiece of the boulder-studded Granite Country around Tenterfield, was a no-brainer.
Choosing the easier of the two Bald Rock walking tracks was also a no-brainer – for an acrophobic*, that is! Even though at 2.5 km (one way) it was the longer of the two, the Bungoona trail with its medium degree of difficulty rating, interpretive signs and path through a good cross-section of granite country had a nice, gentle, safe sound to it.
Rock Face, on the other hand, didn’t!
I could cope with ‘spectacular scenery’. I could cope with ‘short’. I could even cope with ‘steep’. But I couldn’t cope with ‘exposed’!
If you’ve never suffered from vertigo, fear of falling or just plain old gutlessness**, you’ll have NO IDEA what I’m talking about. If that’s you, then you might as well knock yourself out and do the Bald Rock climb on the Rock Face track, then brag about it on YOUR blog. Thank you for reading this far, you are now free to go.
Of course I didn’t out myself as a gutless wonder*** to Pilchard.!
‘Let’s take the longer track through the woodlands on the way up,’ I casually suggested as if I’d actually considered the Rock Face option for more than a fleeting nanosecond. ‘That way we’ll get to see more birds****,’ I added in a masterful blend of reverse psychology, low cunning and staggering genius.
So we took the LONG track (yes, my dodgy plan really worked!) as it gently wound up through the open eucalypt country on the lower slopes of Bald Rock, in and around the series of boulders and tunnels that make up the Granite Titans, and up along a number of rocky ledges into the open.
My gaze flickered over the sloping rock looking for the edge. There wasn’t one.
But then I saw the track markers marching down the slope to where the Rock Face track plunged over the side of the massive granite incline into oblivion.
I didn’t care which descent route Pilchard took, but I didn’t need a crystal ball to see 2.5 km of back-tracking in MY future!
But I put that problem on the back burner. For now, I could see the summit across a rocky expanse, cracks filled with vegetation, and extraordinarily vibrant colours flowing down the rock into the valley below.
Way WAAAAAY below!
Rising 200 metres (666 feet) above the surrounding plain, Bald Rock is part of a volcanic extrusion of the New England underlying Batholith. At least that’s what I’d say if I was a geologist or a show-off, but it’s easier just just describe it as a gigantic hunk of granite.
But not just any old granite – this is Stanthorpe adamellite! Which is (of course) distinguished from ordinary granite by the presence of pink orthoclase feldspar, white plagioclase feldspar, black biotite mica and clear quartz in the rock.
Or so I was reliably informed by one of the several interpretive signs along the way. It’s only a short stroll to the summit from where the Rock Face track joins the main trail. The staggering 360° view over Bald Rock National Park extends across the border into Queensland and the adjoining Girraween National Park – an excursion for another day.
And with few places on the plain where the massive monolith – 750 metres long and 500 wide – can be seen, the summit is the best place to appreciate its gargantuan proportions. As well as the smaller boulders, vegetation, seasonal wildflowers and texture of the rock.
Yes, it’s the Bald AND the Beautiful 😀
And as I gazed over the amazing scenery I figured it didn’t matter which of the Bald rock walking tracks I’d taken to get to the top – the view from the summit was the same either way.
Bald Rock Fast Facts:
Size: 750 m long; 500 m wide; 200 m high (measured from the surrounding plain)
Where is Bald Rock: 34 km from Tenterfield – 29 km on the fully sealed Mt Lindesay Highway then 5 km on the park access road.
Where is Tenterfield: 270 km S of Brisbane; 770 km N of Sydney; 160 km W of Lismore; 160 km NE of Inverell.
When to Visit: Bald Rock National Park is accessible all year round
What to do: Several Bald Rock Walking Tracks including 2 summit trails – Bungoona (3.2 km one way) and Rockface; Bald Rock Picnic and Camping Area with Barbecue facilities
Cost: $7 entry fee per car per day; Camping Fees: $10 per adult/$5 per child + $7 Entry fee per day (as at September 2015)
- Bald Rock National Park and Bald Rock Climb
- Tenterfield, New South Wales
- Bald Rock – one of 12 Aussie Rock HOT Spots!
- MORE Bald Rock Photos on Flickr
* Acrophobia = Fear of Heights
** Gutlessness = Cowardice
*** Gutless Wonder = Coward
**** The feathered variety, to which Pilchard is devoted!
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