Who We Are
The aim of the Western Victoria Climbing Club is to assist climbers to meet others with a shared interest and to create new contacts. Whether your preference is indoor or outdoor climbing; bouldering, trad or sport, multi or single pitch, we share a common interest: climbing and climbing safely.
Whilst the Club is not positioned to teach you how to climb outdoors, we do commit to providing an environment in which to develop your techniques. The Club also aims to provide support, a training wall, ideas and social interactions with other climbers.
We welcome climbers of all levels, from beginners to advanced, to attend our many Club Events held throughout the year. These events are arranged to meet the range of climbing interest of our members.
Just like with climbing, we believe what you put into the club, the club will give back to you.
Way back in 1983 there was a little shop called Outdoor Gear situated in Sturt Street just before the Western Hotel. During a conversation between Chris Watson and then store Manager Graeme White about purchasing some climbing gear, the discussion turned to what climbing was available in the Ballarat District. Graeme mentioned that he was aware of a couple of local climbers that were members of Ballarat Bushwalkers Club and also the Victorian Climbing Club and that maybe they would have more information as to what was about. After a bit of too and froing we decided to put an ad in the local paper asking for people with an interest in climbing to attend a meeting to see if there was enough enthusiasm to warrant starting a climbing club in Ballarat.
The result was about 30 people turning up at Outdoor Gear on a cold winter night and after some discussion as to whether we just join the VCC or form a club of our own, the latter was clearly the favoured option. A decision was made to meet at the Western Hotel the following week to select a committee and set out what we wanted from our new club.
Once again, we had a good turn out and our first committee was formed. Norm Johnson was elected President. Lots of potential Club names were put forward but the Western Victorian Climbing Club won out. One of our first priorities was to gather information on climbs around Ballarat with the intent of bringing out a local guidebook.
Several more meetings were held at the pub before it became obvious that this not really a suitable location to encourage younger members. So, for the next few years meetings were held at whoever’s house would be available.
With the huge growth in indoor climbing walls overseas and Ballarat’s notorious wet, cold weather we started looking for a venue to build a small one of our own and finally have a place to call our own for meetings. Phil Vawdrey who worked for the local council showed us several locations but the one we liked the best (and could afford) was an old shed out at the Ballarat Airport. We soon had a couple of walls covered, even one with a small roof to clamber over. A room on the side was carpeted and this became the HQ for the WVCC.
Around this time we had gathered all the information on local climbing and Tony Wilson put together the first edition of Rock Around The Rat and it became available in January 1989. It contained 52 climbs at Mt Beckworth and 9 climbs at Lal Lal Falls (climbing now banned). A second edition was produced later the same year and contained routes around Bendigo. Chris and Tony got together to bring out a third edition in 1991. This was soon split in two as the mass of new routes, to the north and around Bendigo was growing rapidly. The new guide was called The Golden Triangle. A small update fourth edition of Rock Around The Rat was brought out by Chris Watson in 1997. This was followed by negotiations with the VCC that saw an agreement to produce a comprehensive guide to the North West Victoria. Chris together with Bill Andrews from the VCC produced the first edition in June 2000 followed by second in April 2002 and a final edition in November 2005. This pair also brought out a companion guide covering the South West of Victoria.
Meanwhile basecamps were being held mainly at the Grampians and we would regularly have 30 or more members turning up. Meanwhile Cliffhanger the movie came out and interest in the club and climbing increased dramatically. Membership went from about 70 to over 150. The club was really on a roll.
October 1993 saw the first overseas club climbing trip. About 10 members under the leadership of Phil Benson headed to Nepal to climb a 6000m peak called Naya Kanga. A second trip was arranged and took place a couple of years later.
But then like everything that is too good to be true, it came to an end. The council wanted the hall back and we were out on the street. The bits and pieces from the wall went into storage at the then presidents Daniel James’s farm. Basecamps continued but without a wall and permanent home, membership started to decline. Luckily the council offered us a new home, the disused squash courts in the old YMCA building. This turned out to be a great venue and we went all out to make this wall as interesting as we could. And we did!
But once again history repeated itself and we found ourselves again dismantling the wall as the council had now sold the old YMCA building and once again we were out on the street. Luck once again fell our way as school teacher and club member Peter Burke secured us a small area at the old disused North Tech School. This was a small area and mainly involved traversing. But better was still to come. Peter got us in to a fantastic venue at the new Midlands Collage campus.
Unfortunately in early 2019 the home of the WVCC and indoor climbing wall at Barkley Street was lost, with the premises being repurposed for a new tenant.
Luckily from day one, the WVCC has attracted members that are prepared to do whatever they can to keep the WVCC strong and continue to promote the ethics that the club was founded on. With this ethos in mind, the WVCC is now working to secure a new premises located at Ballarat where a new indoor climbing wall will be constructed.