Sam Percy believes rock climbing shouldn’t be thought of as a one-off adventure pursuit, but rather something that can be done two or three times a week. He’s the owner of North Walls in Brunswick, a new indoor-climbing gym that opened in March.
“For a lot of people that’s their exercise, rather than going to a gym and running on a treadmill,” he says.
The gym has 14-metre-high walls with 50 rope systems, but Percy sees the venue as offering more than that.
“My intention at North Walls was to create something that’s more than just a climbing gym, which is why we’ve got this cafe area. Hopefully we end up with students here studying, mums with their prams, too.”
The cafe has coffee from North Melbourne’s Bailey Coffee, and its own fruit-flavoured isotonic sports drinks, such as pineapple and raspberry – both fresh and far less sweet than store-bought versions.
There are also plans to host Pilates, yoga and circus arts classes at the venue.
A former carpenter, Percy built some of the furniture at North Walls himself. But it’s the bold and vibrant climbing structures that are the real highlight – walls painted white and blue with brightly coloured handholds.
“It’s sort of the new school of climbing walls. It’s sculptural and colourful,” Percy says. “We used to build imitation rock walls and tried to make it look like the outdoors. Now we’ve given that away.”
Climbing is a two-person pursuit, with one person “belaying” (supporting your partner with safety ropes to prevent them crashing to the floor) and the other climbing. If you are short a partner, Percy plans to host meet-up groups.
For those with experience there are Ewbank-graded climbs from 12 to 28, and “lead” climbing options that will be altered at regular intervals, to keep things interesting. If those words are all meaningless to you, don’t let it stop you from travelling north to the wall.
“You don’t have to have any experience,” Percy says. “We’ll show you how to use the belay systems safely and how to tie into the rope. We make sure you’re safe and then let you loose on the gym.”
Climbing is open to anyone as long as they fit in the harnesses. Casual prices start at $30 for adult wall access and gear hire. Children's prices, concessions and long-term passes are all also available.
Unit 3 17–19 Hope Street, Brunswick
Mon to Fri 12pm–10pm
Sat & Sun 11am–7pm