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Balkans (aka Excelsior Park) Bouldering Guide

by Tim O'Neill

All material contained on this page and any subpage is copyright © 2001 AustralianBouldering.com. All rights reserved.

Location: The Balkans is located in Excelsior Park, Cumberland State Forest, on either side of the Darling Mills Creek in North Western Sydney about 20km from the Sydney CBD. The areas on the western side of the valley (Trenches and Caves) are in the suburb of Baulkham Hills and those on the eastern side of the valley (Frontline and Swampland) are in North Rocks.

Getting there: By car - From the east / city etc Ö take the M2 west from the CBD and exit at Windsor Rd. Head north on Windsor Rd for about 100m and make a right into Cook St at the second set of lights.  From the west Ö take the M4 east from Penrith (because you canít turn off the M2 at Windsor Rd) and exit at the Cumberland Hwy. Follow it north until you get to the Old Windsor Rd T-intersection where you make a right onto Briens Rd. Follow Briens Rd for about 1km and turn left onto Windsor Rd at the big intersection. Follow Windsor Rd north for a couple of km until you cross over the M2 and make a right into Cook St at the second set of lights.  Having turned onto Cook St by either of the above methods, after about 500m turn right into Park Rd and then after 100m turn right again instead of running into the Ted Horwood Reserve sign! About 100m along on the left is the carpark for the Trenches and the Caves or continue down the "Big Dipper" and up the other side to Mill Dr and Larra Cres on the left for the Frontline and the Swampland.

By train/bus - From the east / city etc Ö catch any of the 600 series Westbuses (the yellow, red and black ones) heading for Castle Hill from Central Stn (at Railway Square on George St), Wynyard Stn (on Clarence St), North Sydney Stn (on Blue St) or the Macquarie Centre (near Macquarie Uni). Make sure the bus stops at Barclay Rd because this is where you get off.  From the west Ö catch any of the 600 series Westbuses (the yellow, red and black ones) heading for the Macquarie Centre or City (via the M2) from Blacktown Stn. Make sure the bus stops at Barclay Rd because this is where you get off.  Having arrived at Barclay Rd bus stop by either of the above methods, walk up the ramps and head west (downhill) along Barclay Rd for about 100m and turn right into Mill Dr and Larra Cres on the left for the Frontline or continue down the "Big Dipper" for the Swampland or up the other side and turn right into the carpark for the Ted Horwood Reserve for the Trenches and the Caves.

History: The Balkans is partly located in the Sydney suburb of Baulkham Hills so itís no wonder that its location was initially mistaken for "Balkan Hills", and the name has stuck. The Balkans was discovered in early 1999 by Tim OíNeill and Rob Saunders and the pair immediately set to work putting up problems (although a small area nearby, called the Swampland, was discovered some time earlier by Kevin van Tillburg and Rod Wills). With the help of Adam Griffiths and visiting US student, Matt Wilder, original activity was focussed on the eastern side of the valley at an area named the Frontline.  Some other Sydney boulderers were enlisted, and Peter Balint, Jason Whitton and Angela Connolly began developing problems on the western side of the valley at an area named the Trenches. Activity varied between the western and eastern sides throughout the winter of í99 with a third area called the Caves being developed along the way.

The Frontline

Access: Referring to the location map park 50m into Larra Cr. just off Mill Dr. North Rocks next to the Bush-Fire Brigade trailer. Walk down the chained-off driveway, saying hello to all the local barking dogs, and turn left when you hit the grass at the bottom. About 30m along there is a well worn path down the hill with a small creek on your right, follow this path for about 50m. When you hit the cliff-line turn left and scramble down wherever you please, this is the Frontline area (left side).  Alternatively, from the Trenches, go down the hill, cross the creek and then back up the hill. Make sure you stick to the established paths!

Aspect/Rock: These cliffs and boulders are generally west and south facing and receive plenty of afternoon sun so they are perfect for cold winter afternoons and hot summer mornings. In summer they can get very hot. The rock is fast drying and clean but beware of the crimps, some have broken with "interesting" consequences. Learn to pull gently and evenly on the holds and tread very carefully.

The Swampland

Access: Referring to the location map park 10m into Mill Dr. North Rocks just off Barclay Rd. Walk down the "big dipper" to the bridge and jump over the railing and walk underneath. SwampLand is on the other side of Darling Mills Creek just right of the bridge.  Alternatively, walk down to the creek from the Trenches or the Frontline and head south (the way the creek flows) until you see the Swampland on your right.

Aspect/Rock: This cave is east facing so it stays dry in the rain. The rock is a bit sandy in places but in general it is good quality.

The Trenches

Access: Referring to the location map park in the Ted Horwood Reserve car park just off Renown Rd. Walk out the eastern end through the gate and down the gravel road inbetween the soccer ovals. If itís the weekend, wave to all the little soccer lads giving you strange looks with your "portable bed" on your back and buy a bag of 50c mixed lollies from the canteen. At the end of the ovals, where there is an electrical box on a stand, scramble down the little bank to safety from the prying eyes. Follow this wandering track for about 100m and youíll come right out on top of the Trenches.  Alternatively, from the Frontline, go down the hill, cross the creek and then go back up the hill. Make sure you stick to the established paths!

Aspect/Rock: These free standing boulders and cliffs are generally east facing but are shaded by trees. The "trenches" are generally only about 2m wide so this is definitely a summer or warm winter morning area. The rock is slow drying and mossy in places but when it is dry it cleans easily and is generally solid.

The Caves

Access: Referring to the location map park in the Ted Horwood Reserve car park just off Renown Rd. Walk out the eastern end through the gate and down the gravel road inbetween the soccer ovals. If itís the weekend, wave to all the little soccer lads giving you strange looks with your "portable bed" on your back and buy a bag of 50c mixed lollies from the canteen. At the end of the ovals, where there is an electrical box on a stand, scramble down the little bank to safety from the prying eyes. Follow this wandering track for about 100m and youíll come right out on top of the Trenches. Make your way into the Trenches then head north for about 20m and youíll find several caves. This is it.

Aspect/Rock: The caves are east facing so while the sun makes it in the morning, rain never does. The rock is surprisingly clean and solid for Sydney sandstone and the holds are very skin friendly.

 

For additional information you'll have to wait for Peter Balint's
Sydney Bouldering guide ...
due August 2001!