Climb Bald Rock – Australia’s BIGGEST Granite Monolith! via Tenterfield, NSW

Boulders on Bald Rock climb, via Tenterfield NSW

Boulders on Bald Rock, via Tenterfield NSW

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.

Bald Rock Climb Walking Trail, via Tenterfield NSW

Bald Rock Climb Walking Trail, via Tenterfield NSW

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.

Granite Titans on the Bald Rock Climb

Granite Titans on the Bald Rock Climb, Bald Rock National Park

 

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.

Where the Rock Face Track joins the main Bald Hill Climb Track

The EDGE! Where the Rock Face Track joins the main Bald Hill Climb Track

 

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.

Bald Rock Rocks - Bald Rock Climb

Bald Rock Rocks en route to the Summit!

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.

Bald Rock Walking trail Summit View

Bald Rock Walking trail Summit View

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.

Bald Rock Granite and View

Bald Rock Granite and View

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)

Flora on Bald Rock Climb, Bald Rock National Park

Flora on Bald Rock Climb, Bald Rock National Park

Want MORE?

* Acrophobia = Fear of Heights

** Gutlessness = Cowardice

*** Gutless Wonder = Coward

**** The feathered variety, to which Pilchard is devoted!

The watcher in the woods - Superb Lyrebird

We wouldn’t have seen this Superb Lyrebird on the Rock Face Trail!

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48 comments

  • wow, fabulous! I need to add this to my list when I eventually get over that way. I love exploring granite rocks, of which we have plenty in WA. But I’ll let you have the biggest granite rock in Australia, as we have the biggest rock in the world – Mt Augustus!
    Happy travels Red.

    • Ah … they’re both Australian rocks though, aren’t they Jill? So I’ll ‘have’ both of them!!! Bald Rock IS pretty cool, but can’t wait to see Mt Augustus someday!

  • Geez Red, I thought you were tougher than that. You big wooss! Liked your different take on it thought and isn’t it grand? I loved sitting on flat rock bit (above that steep section) at sunset.

    • I’m SUCH a coward, Andy!! But at least I made it to the top in my own cowardly way 😀 It’d be great to see it at sunset – so many of the places we’ve visited deserve a second AND longer look!

  • Love the photos!

    Fortunately, we’ve got something similar in Poland – it’s called Errant Rocks (Bledne Skaly) 🙂

  • I have never heard about this place but it sounds incredible. I can keep comparing the scenery and, of course, the rocks to Yosemite (btw, I posted about the park this week). I am afraid of height too so I get your feeling. Thanks for joining #TravelPhotoThursday.

    • This is one of Australia’s REAL Rock Stars, Ruth – the granite itself is amazing even without the spectacular landscape around it. I’m sure you found the same at Yosemite!! I wonder will anyone ever come up with a non-scary way of mountain climbing for all us who are afraid of heights? Then again, we should do one thing that scares us every day 😀

  • Wow! Your photos are amazing – they capture the colours and patterns in the rock beautifully. I love your flower collage, too. It looks like a great place for hiking – and photography!

    • Right on both counts, Ruth! And photography is the perfect companion hobby to hiking – if you need a break, just stop and take a photo!! No one accuses ME of being unfit with that strategy!! Keep watching, I’ve got a LOT more to show you 😀

  • Wow, Bald Rock looks like an amazing place to explore! Articles like this make me wish I travelled more in the north of NSW back when I was living in Sydney and it was relatively easy to get out there. But I will be back over east for a long road trip – one day!

    We have a lot of big ancient granite monoliths here in WA and I love walking on them, they always have such a lonely barren and windswept feel and lots of beautiful lichen plus mosses and little flowers if it’s the right season. It’s interesting for me to see some of the wild flowers on Bald Rock look identical to wild flowers around Perth and South West WA.

    • It’s a long way from Sydney to NNSW – both geographically and culturally, Bonny!! So it’s not surprising you didn’t get there that often 😀 I’m looking forward to getting back to WA – your awesome granite monoliths are SO on my list! Weird how much they have in common, huh!!

      • Still a lot easier than from Perth though, haha! Problem was, whenever I took more than a few days off work it was always to either visit home or go overseas. So I saw a lot of great places within 4-5 hours of Sydney in central NSW but not the far north, far south or west.

        • Haha, I guess so, Bonny! I have the same problem with Adelaide (where I’m based ATM). This year we’ve explored a little closer to home for the first time in years – trouble is, the more you look, the more you find 😀

  • That is very beautiful up there. The views the rock….

  • Wow! definitely the “Bald and the Beautiful” Red – amazing rock formations and the view from the top
    goes on forever.

  • Haha, you do make me giggle so. As for gutless wonder, that’s me, and I would have been looking for the easy option too. Bald Rock, sounds like something He Himself and I would have done in our day, he without batting an eyelid, me trying to be brave if the excuses hadn’t worked. After Kilimanjaro and The Brandenburg which inflicted 13 blisters on my poor Piscean tootsies, I nearly hung up my mountain climbing boots – but Bald Rock – I’m looking at you!

    • Hahaha, you’re talking to someone who’s conquered the world’s SMALLEST mountain (Mt Wycheproof, Victoria), Jo! Bald Rock is the friend of challenged-mountaineers everywhere, especially if you take the idiot-simple route like I did 😀 Sounds like you’re getting quite a store of things to do over East, huh?!

  • Great post Red, I had Ayres Rock on the top of my list but after reading this Bold Rock takes the top spot. Thanks for adding to my vocabulary.

    • Hahaha, you mean I’ve added ‘gutless wonder’ to your vocabulary, Nina? That’s SO me 😀 But I’d feel guilty if I thought I’d dissuaded you from going to Uluru – it’s a whole different experience!! Not better, not worse, just different!! Have a great rest-of-the-week!

  • Fabulous post. I so much want to do this walk before I can’t walk any more. I nearly did it once but when we were about to set off from the cabin it started to rain.

  • Gosh I love that pink stripe granite. And the walk and views are wonderful. Oddly enough, the terms gutless and gutless wonder are just the same in US English. I’ve never used them myself of course (but others have, talking about me I’m afraid ;>)!)

    • Haha, I didn’t know we spoke the same language, Sallie!! And being called a gutless wonder is something I’ve had to get used to as well 😀 The granite has so much colour and beauty – I always thought it was grey, but I realise now how wrong I was!!!

  • And I was just thinking, now where are the birds?!
    Clever written! 🙂
    But, uhhhh, I don´t think I´d go for it, I might get up, but not down again!

    • That’s the beauty of the ‘easy’ trail, Iris! It’s actually not very steep anywhere – so even someone like me can get to the top!! Put it on your list for sure 😀 Have a great week, my friend!

  • Hello Red, what an awesome place to hike and explore. The Boulders are huge, I love that first shot. Fabulous views and images. And the Lyrebird is cool, great sighting.

    Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy day and new week ahead!

    • It IS awesome, Eileen!! It’s one of the coolest rock places we’ve found downunder – and the bird made it even more memorable! Thanks for your visit – hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend!

  • I’m not sure if I could have gone up even the easy way Red so I’m enjoying the view through your eyes 🙂 The colours running through the rock are amazing and I was surprised at the variety of vegetation growing there. The ‘bald and the beautiful’ haha!

    • You’re the only one who got my ‘Bald and Beautiful’ quip, Grace! Actually, maybe others got it and just didn’t think it was that funny?!?!?! I found the colours amazing – it’d be great to see it when it’s wet, but then, the track would be even more hazardous! It’s my pleasure to show it to you!

  • Those huge boulders are magnificent!

  • Bald Rock really is the most spectacular chunk of granite I’ve ever seen. Imagine those colours in a highly polished kitchen bench!
    I wish it was closer so I could do a day trip. I’d climb around the long way too. I’m not afraid of heights, but don’t think my hips would take kindly to a steeper climb.
    My son-in-law studied geology and is a geophysicist, grandson is also studying geology, but wants to specialise in a different branch.

    • Juste between us, it’s ALMOST better than Uluru, River!! Although that’s sacrilege to some 😀 There’s a smaller version that’s closer to you on the Eyre Peninsula – Carappee Hill – which I’ve visited once, but haven’t yet climbed to the top! Try googling it if you’re interested. I’m jealous of the geologists now, haha, if only I had my time over again!

  • What a wonderful walk. Your photos are really beautiful. Those rocks are amazing. And you got to see a lyre bird, lucky you.

    • I have a new-found appreciation for geology, TFG! If I had my time again I’d probably choose to work in that field – although learning the technicalities might just spoil the magic!! The lyrebird was amazing – so close you’d think I could have got a better pic!!! Have a great weekend, my friend!

  • I’m with you Red! I would have taken the easy path up the rock too even if it was longer. I suffer terribly from vertigo on climbs and normally have to sit down and rest to overcome the dizziness and nausea. But all climbs are usually worth it once you get to the summit as you have proven. Beautiful flora and the lyrebird is amazing!

    • Praise be I’m not the only less brave person out there, Kathy! I’d LOVE to know what it’s like to stand on the edge of a precipice and not feel any fear, but I guess that’s not going to happen in this lifetime! That’s why I have so many pics of the ephemera along the way – it’s easier to ignore the drama if you’re focussing on something else!!

  • Ah, a lyrerbird. Made it worthwhile. Stunning photos, especially the last rock photo.

    • The rocks are AMAZING, Andrew!! I didn’t think granite came in so many colours – maybe I’m up for a new kitchen benchtop after all 😀 The lyrebird was the icing on the cake – don’t often see them, so it made the ‘boring’ walk down the gentle trail worthwhile for birdo Pilchard!!

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