Historic Wells

5 mins further around from Bardens Lookout crag or 10mins direct from Barden's carpark.

Suntrap alcoves in winter but also keeps the shade until 2 in summer.

Some choss and some bomber orange rock. A bit of a moderate grade mix. Some trad gear on some routes.


The Historic Wells is an old area that has been resurrected by the ringbolt and fixed hanger. It is really an extension of Mt. York and Barden's Lookout and used to be considered the far end of the "Shady Side". Some of the grades have not been verified, so take them with a grain of salt. Let us know what you think in the comments field down below. Access could not be easier and Mitch bolted the easy slab with kids in mind, although you should check out the routes for yourself before unleashing your protege onto the walls. The rock is variable but, as they say, "should clean up with more ascents" - the grades might even get a bit harder as they clean up!


The area has been known in history books as "The Historic Wells" for over a century, due to the convict-built wells at the top of the cliff. These are thought to have been dug during the building of Cox's Rd, although there is some debate about their original use. Cox's Rd followed the line of Mt. York Rd and the remains of the convict-built road, complete with handcut gutters, can be followed to Hartley Vale from the end of the turning circle. There have been some moves to change the name of late, but the area has always been known by locals as the "Historic Wells" and there is a sign stating the obvious on top of the cliff! Rod Young and Ant Prehn first breezed into the area during their Bowie Tour of Mt. York in the early '80s. Tree Beard (originally 17, now 21), Casper (22) and Odie Odour (16) stand out as their better routes on the cliff. Rod returned in the late 90s and added a smattering of ringbolts to some of his routes, but many remain quite necky today. The area has never been popular, despite Steve Hawkshaw adding to the modernisation with a dose of Statistical Scare Tactics (20). Glenn Short puttered about for a bit during 2010/11 and replaced Rod's death-thread rope with some bolts in the gully and started to bolt some lines. Mitch Warren arrived shortly after and cut a wide track, complete with art-installation in the gully, as a way to attract the masses. It seems to have worked. A dozen or so routes were then added, mostly by Glenn and Mitch, with a few guest appearances by the evergreen John Smoothy (Crunch) and the keen-as-mustard Sam Puchala. Special mention must go to Jack Taylor, budding local hardman, who turned up recently to produce some classics of his own. Check out his work on Jack's Wall - after all, how many climbers do you know who can climb double their age?


There are 2 approaches: 1. Walk for 5 mins past The Way of All Flesh (28) at Barden's crag, way past Mind Over Matter (marked) until you reach the grey and black slab with rings on it next to a slightly overhanging wall with routes on the right of the obvious easy diagonal crack (Treebeard Wall). 2. Park at Barden's Lookout carpark. Take the obvious foottrack left looking out from the carpark area, back towards Mt. Vic. Walk for a few minutes to some bends in the track and an obvious metre wide track running off to the right, towards the cliff. Follow it to the top of a short gully with a fixed rope, ladder, rungs and more fixed rope. Down to bottom and turn left. Either way, you will now be at the base of the first easy black slabs of the Historic Wells area. The roped gully is shorter if only visiting this area, but it is not far from Barden's and Damien's Staircase is a cruisy way down.


There is free camping, with high-tech toilets, around the turning circle at the end of Mt. York Rd. Please do not light fires during summer and take care of the area.

Tree Beard Area

The following climbs start just past Rod Young's original descent gully, which has been re-equipped with ropes and paraphenalia. (head right, facing the cliff) If coming from Barden's just follow the track to the black slab with the large chains on top, which is way past the rather obvious Mind over Matter.

The Cat that Fought Back 14 15m
Left-most route on wall with chossy overhang above. Very weird clip in centre of route. Chain.
Mitch Warren 2011
* Dirty Beasts 15 17m
First route on the black rock. Chain.
Sam Puchala 2011
* Boatbuilding for Clancy 17 10m
Just left of the diagonal easy crack. Ridiculously hard move in centre. Mitch reckons it's 15. DRBB
Roslin Forrest 2011
* * Back to Back 13 20m
The juggy diagonal crack separating the two short walls. Nice climbing, with great gear. Step left at top around bulge. Lower-offs shared with BfC.
Rod Young, Sue Morton 1985
* Statistical Scare Tactics 20 16m
1m right BtB. Nice rock but difficult to stay out of the crack. Take care through the bulge to the anchors. DRBB
Steve Hawkshaw 2004
Evil Deeds with Good Intentions 24 13m
2m right. Thin and sharp.
Jacindie Jackson, Mitch Warren 2011
Ed's 24 24? 12m
Marked by large 24.
Ed Rutherford 2009
* Starseed 20? 12m
Sam Puchala
* * Tree Beard 21 15m
1m R. In front of tree. Originally graded 23, but printed as 17 by mistake, has now settled at 21! Much more civilised, and popular, with the rebolting. Up. DRBB
Rod Young, Ant Prehn 1984
* Ed's 27 27/25 25m?
Marked. Crimpy and steep. Avoiding the pain by climbing around the hard bit yields a worthwhile 25. DRBB
? 2009

Jack's Wall

Around the corner there is a wall with an undercut arete on the left. The rock should clean up nicely. Jack Taylor, budding local climber put up a few routes here, climbing quite a few grades above his age. Well worthwhile.

* * Awesome Daddy 17 13m
Climb at undercut orange rock. Upwards!
Jack Taylor, Damien Taylor 2011
* * Thanks Mum 17 13m
2m R AD. More upwardness.
Jack Taylor, Damien Taylor 2011

Casper Area

Further along, again, there is a large hanging roof bumping into a smooth, orange wall with nice rock.

All the Madmen 26 25m
Starts up the short arete meeting the roof, then straight up past rings on left, if you can clip them. Through huge dynos and up wall??? Has repelled some serious contenders. Looks scary. Take Care. DRBB
Rod Young 1998
Casper 22 25m
Marked. Start up corner crack, then through steepness to wall, meander up wall. Great rock but necky, even with gear placed between the rings. Take Care. DRBB
Rod Young, Ant Prehn 1983
* * * #! 22 25m
3m right Casper. Excellent, well protected climbing. The name is Crunch's geek-speak for "Shebang" - linux command. Very post-modern. Up gingerly to pockets, then technical, pumpy climbing through bulge to wall above. Up ramp on right to DRBB.
John (Crunch) Smoothy, Glenn Short, Henryk Topolnicki 2011
Quicksilver 23 30m
Marked. Poorly rebolted and the crux holds have broken off. Up wall, meeting arete near top. Looks like death. Take care.
Rod Young, Ant Prehn 1983

Around the next corner there is an undercut grey wall with two routes (one on FHs, one on rings) and an, as yet, unclimbed layback ferny crack running up the right hand side. It looks as chossy as it feels.

* Scooter Fun 22 22m
15m R Q. Thin. Start on right hand side, at FHs, traverse left, crossing the ringbolted line of CCatMG. Then up, right of the arete with fingery, strenuous climbing up the wall above. A tad chossy in parts but worthwhile. Lower off.
John Smoothy, Glenn Short, Giles Bradbury 2011
* Chocolate Crackle and the Mischievous Gnomes 20? 22m
2m left of SF, at the line of rings. Straight up through breaks to top of wall. Sam perservered with this one, despite several setbacks. So, it's worth hauling yourself up to see the fruit of his creative labours. DRBB
Sam Puchala 2011

Odie Odour Area

Onto the wall opposite, grey on one side - orange on the other. A crack, Odie Odour (16), runs up the middle.

A4 10 22m
6m L CCtMG. The scrubby corner! Take some slings for the bushes? George Owen would be proud.
Mitch Warren 2011
Trick of the Light 18 22m
3m R bushy corner, in middle of grey slab. Up tenderly, without disturbing Mitch's feats of engineering and up to the cave with the permanent dosser. Lower-off.
Jacindie Jackson, Mitch Warren 2011
Ed's Weirdness 18 26m
3m right TotL. Up blocky slabbiness, over OO to DRBB. Rap or up easy slab (6) to top. DRRB.
Ed Rutherford 2009
* Odie Odour 16 30m
Marked. Little orange corner and crack in middle of wall. FH at belay. Up corner, arete and crack to top. Can rap off the DRBB on EW.
Rod Young, Ant Prehn 1983
* * Funkytown 20 16m
Starts 4m R OO at DRBB on ledge above track. Obvious crack with block protroding in middle of orange wall. Haul up weakness to bulge, over to chains. Quite a bit of climbing for a short route. Good fun. Chain loweroffs.
Glenn Short, John Smoothy 2011
* * Bless its Pointed Little Head 22 20m
15m R further along ledge of FT at fused corner, with long horizontal break running off left up higher. Straight up fused corner, then rightwards through the steepness. Looks good but also looks harder than 21!
Mitch Warren 2011
* * Movin' on Up 21 25m
12m R BiPLH along ledge, at DRBB. Quite a bit of climbing. Up through steepness in middle of wall, trending right towards notch at roof. Step around right onto wall at roof and up wall above, following weakness to DRBB. Lower off or rap.
Glenn Short, John-boy Smoothy 2011
* * Drachenfutter 18 20m
8m right of MoU, further along ledge. DRBB. Obvious bolted thin crack. Drachenfutter - German for "Dragon Food" - gift given to wife to atone for husband's sins. Goey start but not as hard as it looks. Quite a nice climb. Will clean up with more ascents.:-) Follow crackiness to lower-offs.
Pam Mort, Glenn Short, KT & TC
* * Yoda's Crack 15 25m
3m R Drachenfutter, at the obvious corner crack just before the end of the ledge. Needs natural gear. Up into corner, follow crack to ethics-free zone. (off-width with 2 FHs!) Up trench, step out right then back under roof, step left and up to DBB lower-offs. Pretty good. Eats up gear, take large to small cams.
Glenn Short, John (Crunch) Smoothy 2011
* * * Alive ā€˜nā€™ Kicking 23 25m
6m right of OJ, at end of ledge. Has been rebolted and no longer requires the rap-in or hanging belay. Up crack to line of rings out right, up middle of undercut orange wall. The top of this route is the lookout at the Historic Wells carpark. DRRB.
Mike Stacey, Lorna McManus 1989

The Rest

The following routes are spread out further towards Zap Crag. They haven't seen a lot of activity. These descriptions are taken from the originals, in the guides by Andrew Penney and Mike Stacey. It's a nice walk, if you are keen.

Monkey Grip 23 30m
30m R AnK. Up wall and roof crack. Bolt above overhang then roof crack to wall, up.
Rod Young, Ant Prehn 1985
Oliphant Wall 24 15m
Black wall just past MG. Steep wall climbing. Watch out for the old carrots.
Ant Prehn, Rod Young 1985
Carabine 16 20m
"About 600m" right of OO"!!! Marked. Flake / corner / overhang! Follow crack. Take care.
Ant Prehn, Rod Young 1983
Driver's Seat 18 20m
"101m (exactly, eh, Rod?) R Carabine. Crack in wall, starts as an overhung peapod about 10m off ground." Up peapod crack to exit (crux) to easier crack above. Rap off.
Rod Young, Ant Prehn 1983
Pandora 15 40m
Way off in the wilderness, below the electricity towers (Pylon Pt) Follow your nose to the top? Take care.
Rod Young, Ant Prehn 1985