The big idea

The Hub Bouldering Wall is an amazing example of what community initiative and collaboration can achieve.

It all started when three local boys, Pip, Tyler and Henry, approached the Bellingen Youth Hub with a question: “Can we build a bouldering wall here at the Hub?”

 “I thought it was a stunning idea and we just happened to have a space that could make it come to life. So we approached members of the community, asking what they thought. It was unanimous – they all said ‘do it, it is fantastic’. From there, we began to receive a huge amount of support to get the project off the ground.”

Dean Besley, Hub Co-ordinator

That idea grew quickly, spreading out into the community, drawing in a huge amount of energy and support.

Within two years, the design was completed, a Development Application approved and a Construction Certificate issued. With a generous grant of $6,000 from ETC, the project had enough money to get started.

Community support

Initially it was local organisations the Bellingen Youth Hub, the Bellingen Mentor Group, and ETC who got behind the idea and supported with seed funding and project management.

The project then went from strength to strength, bringing in more and more supporters. A number of local organisations came on board, including Climbing Anchors, Bellingen Shire Council, CEL, local schools and Bellingen Shire Youth Services.

With no bouldering wall available to climbers on the Coffs Coast, word quickly got out to local climbing enthusiasts and instructors about the project. Ready to support the climbing community, they then shared their expert knowledge in mapping out the logistics of the project. These climbers continue to contribute time as volunteer supervisors to ensure the ongoing success of the Wall.

The passion for the project swiftly became bigger than just climbers and community organisations – members of the local community began to join the effort, volunteering time and funds in order to see such a dynamic community initiative come to life.

Behind all this was the driving force of the staff and volunteers at the Youth Hub, providing project management, operational, marketing and fundraising support.

“The amount of community support we have received has been phenomenal. This project has gathered interest from a wide range of local people and that’s why I love Bellingen – people aren’t afraid to put their hand up and help out.

In my job I am lucky enough to witness this generosity and community spirit every day.”

Dean Besley, Hub Co-ordinator

The build

Building a climbing wall of any description is an expensive process, since safety has to be the top priority.

The Hub Bouldering Wall was no exception. Trusses were engineered by Raleigh Truss & Timber to exact specifications and purpose-built climbing mats were shipped in just for the project.

All the formal gear, like climbing holds, came from local specialist Climbing Anchors.

Multiple community fundraisers were held in the lead-up to and during the build. Local businesses and sponsors came on board to provide raffle prizes, give in-kind support or contribute funds to the build. Local community donors also stepped in to support the project, providing crucial funds to bring the project to a finish.

Open for all

The Wall officially opened in early November 2016 to huge success, with a big turnout from the local community. People spilled out onto the street as they queued up, young and old, for their turn on the colourful new climbing space.

In large attendance was the local climbing community, who shared their excitement by immediately grabbing a hold to check out the new climbs. Amongst them were many young climbers, who have since become regular users of the Wall.

“Climbing is like a form of meditation. With the Bello wall, I can train all the time and get stronger so I can work on my weaknesses. I am excited because I will be able to hang out with my friends, and climb different set of climbs which have been set by other climbers.”

Local young climber, Tara Tai

Also in attendance was one of Australia’s most renowned climbers, 12-year-old Angie Scarth-Johnson who travelled from the Blue Mountains to see the launch.

“I am a kid that lives in Regional NSW so I know how important it is to have a variety of activities available for kids and young people that live outside the cities.

Attending the opening of the climbing wall in Bellingen was really exciting for me because I can see how it will give kids the opportunity to explore rock climbing as a sport and hopefully begin to love it as much as I do.”

On the evening of the official opening, the celebrations moved to a fundraising movie event at the Bellingen Memorial Hall, with a total of $2,700 raised for ongoing maintenance of the Wall.

The evening included an official congratulation from Mayor Dominic King, recognising the effort of all involved.

“It’s a great community driven project and we’re really excited about it. It gives the youth something else they can focus their energy on, plus a new activity for all the other residents who want to bring their families here.”

Creating community

The Wall project has created a new space for a physical activity that nurtures teamwork, increases physical stamina and develops general core health.

The building of the Wall is a powerful example of the people power of Bellingen and nearby areas. Significantly, it also gave young people an opportunity to give back to the community which nurtures them, working together with community members from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines.

It gave them insight on how a community project can come together, by being invested and involved in its creation, with an appreciation for the final product.

The Wall has created a community of its own, not just of climbers, but also those who maintain it, supervise its use and ensure the safety of those who use it.

“A lot of mentors have emerged, keen to work with young people and support this wall. We’re all about cultural change and further bridging the gap between adults and young people.”

Dean Besley, Hub Co-ordinator