Harvey's Marbles Climbing Guide

By Madoc Sheehan, March 2000

Last updated 28 July, 2000


Printable maps (4):
Area overview topo

Fun Parlour topo

Cow Paddock topo

Castle topo

Embankment topo




This fabulous Townsville bouldering area was discovered by Madoc Sheehan during 1999. To get to the bouldering take the first left at the top of the range (signposted to the army training area). Drive to the end of the road where the army fence begins. Boulders are just over the embankment on crown land (L as you look toward the fence). Head due east for the Cow Paddock area (150-200m away) or due north past The Slabs (20 m away) to the Fun Parlour area (150-200m away).

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Above: Printable topo map of some of the developed areas



Harvey�s Marbles was discovered in April 1999 by Madoc Sheehan who, desperate for a good bouldering area and hearing of scattered boulders out west, ventured onto the Table Top. After perusing the main road and finding every avenue fenced off he began driving the smaller roads searching for unfenced land. By pure accident (karma ?) he wandered over the embankment at the end of the army road and discovered the Fun Parlour and Embankment. Madoc did not return until winter that year when with Sarah and Maya Sheehan they began to establish good easier problems at these areas. The Snooze and Warm-Up boulders were particularly good early finds.  At the time the grass was high and the areas potential seemed small. However, a month or so later Madoc returned for a third visit joined by Stuart Argent and Adam Oudeman. By this time grass fires had raged through much of the Townsville region including Harvey�s Marbles. The freshly burnt grass revealed an enormous potential and provided for very easy access to many of the boulders. Classics began to fall as this team (including Kylie Argent and Sarah Sheehan) took to the boulders at every opportunity. Some of the outstanding problems uncovered were A Fall From Grace at the Fun Parlour by Madoc. The frightening Pikers Variant at the Embankment also fell to Madoc after many courageous attempts. This problem still awaits the obvious direct finish.

Newer areas began to be discovered as the quest for classics continued. The Cow Paddock, Castle and the magnificent Terrace were the next areas to receive attention. Problems such as The Knob by Sarah and The Bum-Crack by Madoc, both at the Paddock, and Spider Bite by Madoc at the Castle, showed the abundance of quality problems that remained. The taller boulders at the Paddock and the Castle hinted at the highball potential although many (but not all) of the problems as yet ascended were quite low and safe. Always with an eye for a good line, one of the best problems at the Marbles was discovered by Stuart. False Pretences at the Terrace ascends a gently overhanging wall on porridge-like slopers. It is an extremely beautiful line and is very photogenic. The porridge-like overhanging walls are characteristic to the area and offer many of the harder lines and awe-inspiring projects for stronger boulderers to aspire. Other classics (and there are many) at the shady and relaxing Terrace include the very pleasant Cracked Block and Blade Runner both by Stuart, all the problems on the Shady Boulder and Stu's Grunt up an extremely satisfying slab.

The next areas under the spotlight were the Gallery, with its plethora of highball classics and steep walls, and the Bus Shelter just next door. It is here that Madoc climbed the excellent Lovely Legs. Kiwi Crag, with its superb roped crack lines, discovered by Stuart, was visited soon after. A day was also spent sheltering from the drizzle at Python Rocks, next door. It is here that the classic V4 Python Way by Madoc can be found. Following a misty, surreal and disorienting walk back from Kiwi Crag, the amazing Misty Place was stumbled upon. Similar to the Terrace, this area also has a plethora of classics. It is especially renowned for its smooth slabs, steep flaky walls and the awesome Triple-Scoop boulder (still un-summitted). The Bear Hug Ar�te and Fluid, both by Stuart, are excellent examples of the dynamic nature of these problems. Stranger Than Friction by Madoc and all the problems on the Whale Boulder are good examples of the fine and delicate slabs available here.

It was not until the year 2000 that Harvey�s Marbles began to see some traffic from the bulk of the local Townsville climbers. Slowly but surely its reputation for excellent technical problems and its beautiful environs became known. The next major developers to visit the boulders were Steve Baskerville and Jason Shaw [curators of the North Queensland Bouldering website]. Their best initial problems were developed in the previously neglected Upper Terrace. Jase's Elegance and an unnamed V2 were put up in January 2000 between bouts of torrential rain. The pair continue to unearth fine lines up to V4 in difficulty.

More recently, in a single day-trip during July 2000, Aaron Jones sent the area's hardest problem, Mike Delta X-Ray, a dyno and mantle problem located in the Upper Terrace which weighed in at V6, making it North Queensland's hardest problem, just ahead of Doug Hockly's Reeven on Magnetic Island.

No doubt development will continue at a ferocious pace!

Fun Parlour

Approaching the fun parlour the first boulder you will come is quite short, has a scoop in its front face and an excellent landing. If you have gone too far right on your approach you may come to problem 11 instead.  

1. Scoop Left *V1 From centre of scoop using the left ar�te,  MS  

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Above: Printable Fun Parlour topo

2. Scoop Right *V3 From the centre of scoop up rightwards,  MS

There is a large boulder (with an ugly loose crack on its right end) that has some lovely warm up problems further left (***V0 � V1), MS & SS. There are also many good short �one move wonders� and mantle problems on the boulders behind and around the w-u boulder.

3. Moo *V0- obvious pleasant face on boulder just R of w-u boulder, SS

4. Warm-up 1 centre of face via good incut sidepull

5. Warm-up 2 bulge 1m left of 4.

6. Warm-up 3 face 1m left of 5.

Across to your left when looking at the w-u boulder

7. No-Name V1 Centre of face on small block. The slab behind can also be climbed (V0)

8. Deception * V1 (ar�te just R of small tree, tricky left hand hold) MS

9. Fall From Grace ***V2 Area classic with lovely technical moves starting on slab just L of small tree, straight up, MS

On crumbly double-boulder just behind w-u boulder

10. Timeout  *V1 steep slopey layback flake up crumbly boulder that�s a nice breather for the fingers, stick to the right hand wall for most enjoyment, MS

11. Deli-Cat **V0+ slab with steep start on back end of crumbly boulder, MS

On boulders further down the hill

12. No-Name easy slab

13. Spiderman * V1 Centre of face starting off obvious rock and moving R to finish, S

14. The Ashes **V2 Ar�te just L of Spiderman, starting from the ground level, MS


15. Beached Whale *V1/2 Ar�te with tricky top-out, MS & S


Next boulder down


16. Tumble *** V2/3 Another excellent steep ar�te starting from lowest level at the ground, MS


Across the gully is a boulder with a reasonably obvious corner


17. No-Name V0+ the corner

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Above: Madoc on Tumble V2/3


Cow Paddock

Before reaching the cow paddock (from the car) you will pass an obvious set of two boulders. The left slab is very pleasant and the steep right wall has:

The Lunge *V2/3 CP � crank straight up from the obvious undercling just L of the small fig tree, MS

To the Cow Paddock proper

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Above: Printable Cow Paddock topo

1. Bum-Crack ***V2 Classic technical and balancy crack, MS

2. Pull Hard *V2 crank through steep wall from slopers at lip 3m R of Bum Crack, MS

Good mantle problems and some sit starts abound around the next problem

3. No-Name V0 nice short problem up obvious flake

Cluster of larger boulders back toward the car 10m from 3.

4. Sneaky *V3 starts just R of the tree, MS

5. No-Name *V0+ Directly up obvious flake/ar�te starting at small underclings, be careful of the rock

6A. Nick Off **V1/2 Left hand variant to 6. Start just L of handrail at the better footholds and finish direct via a great jug, Nick Gust

6. Creaking Limbs **V2 Hard start on obvious low handrail and then up to reach the hanging flake, up and right of flake to finish, SA

7. No-Name V0 Pleasant slab up ar�te, other options for the start exist on the blank wall to the right

8. No-Name V0+ Centre of the pocketed slab and just left of the tree

Very large boulder with fine and scary projects on all sides. Warning: descent can be difficult off this boulder.

9. The Elevator *V0+ The only easy access is up the ar�te, moving slightly left to finish, MS

10. Marriage Vows *V1 A fine slab with a reachy move just below the top. Head for the small cluster of edges in the middle/right of the wall (1.5m left of obvious flake), MS

11. The Knob ***V1 Classic balancy slab, good if you are having difficulties with the height of some of the taller problems, SS

12. No-Name V1 Keep just R of the obvious creaky flake and mantle direct




1. Spider Bite ***V1 direct on small pillar, MS 


2. No-Name V2/3 direct on small pillar, MS


3. Not A Novice V1 straight up just R of pillar, Adam Oudeman


4. Feet And Knuckles **V1/2 middle of back wall beneath obvious high handhold, S

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Above: Printable Castle topo


5. Scorched Rubber V2/3 thin moves 2m R of 4., JS 


6. Nubbin Nasty **V3 directly up the obvious featured ar�te


7. The Ramp **V0 straight up to L end of obvious ramp. Follow ramp to tentative finish




One of the best areas at Harvey's with problems of a wide range of grades and commitment. A truly lovely spot to sit and watch the sunset or to boulder away a winter afternoon or a late summers afternoon. 

One of the most obvious features at the embankment is the horn-like chunk of rock sticking out of the top of a small to medium boulder. This is...
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Above: Printable Embankment topo


1. The Horn **V0 (E - obvious horn approached from L or R, for full value and both stars start low, beneath the horn, on good sidepulls) ?A/MS 5-1999

To your right when looking at the horn there are some smaller boulders about 3-5m away. The furthermost one with the slight undercut (next to the half-dead tree) has a shit-start problem (24. Obscurity V0 5-2000) 
The boulder just left of the horn has some excellent problems...

2. Another Pretty Face V1 The middle of the face SA 5-1999

3. Huggies *V3 Hug the ar�te just L of APF. Starts at the obvious good horizontal edges that are around chest height MS 5-2000

4. The Crest Of A Wave ***V0 Brilliant ! Start up LHS of the scoop and traverse back R to finish right on the ar�te. MS 5-1999

On the adjacent boulder (any takers for the squeeze between ?)...

5. Balanc� V0 The slab direct. MS 5-2000 

Just behind this boulder is another with some fine balancy ar�tes...

6. The Snorkel *V4 Good steep sit-start off the left most block. Up the steep ar�te starting off the obvious jug. MS 7-2000

7. Stagger V3/4 Up obvious ar�te on its RHS using good pinches. Quite balancy. MS 5-2000

8. Left Cocky **V4 Tackles the ar�te on the LHS starting off underclings. The first move can be made slightly easier by starting off the block. MS 6-2000

(Directly down the hill from here, there is another set of boulders with one side exposed. One of these has an obvious and incut juggy vertical flake running up the top half of the wall. This is a very pleasant V0)

A few metres L

9. Sunset Delights *V1 Up the sharpish ar�te on the RHS using the obvious pinch MS 6-1999

Around the corner

10. Faecal Count V1 Starts just R of block (not for feet) with left hand on the ar�te SB 5/2000

When facing Sunset Delights there is a very tall boulder about 10-15m to your left and a bit down the hill. This has the obvious and scary...

11. Pikers Variant *V2/3 Directly up the steep face to the ledge. Take the traverse line left, all the way around the boulder to summit at the obvious line. MS 5/1999

Facing away from "The Horn" there looks to be two large boulders about 25-30m away and slightly over to the left. The left boulder has a number of fine fingery slabs and walls. The easiest ascent/descent is via a big block in the gully between the two boulders.

12. Soft Pockets *V3 directly up the lichenous ar�te via lovely little pockets MS 6-2000

13. Solitude *V3 the pocketed face 2.5m L of 12. Starts at the excellent array of footholds and finishes to the left. MS 5-2000

14. Elvis ***V5 Jump or step-up to the obvious jug in the middle of the wall. Straight-up. MS 7-2000

Facing away from either of these problems (#'s 13. and 14.), the back of a large boulder can be seen about 15m away to your left and slightly downhill. It is easily recognised by Crack 1.

15. Crack 1. The hideous layback crackline - strenuous V0

16. Winter Woolies *V2 Very nice slab with a tough finish. The middle of the wall, starting off decent footholds just R of crack 1. V2, MS 5-2000

17. - 19. V0 - V1 Assorted slab problems ascending the LHS, RHS and centre of the blunt ar�te SB 5-2000 

Over the small (and often dry) creek there is another quite tall boulder:

20. The Fantastic Fist Crack V0 The overhanging fist crack AJ 7-2000

21. Pretty Face **V0 Lovely tall ar�te on the downhill side of this boulder SA 5-1999

22. Weighting Gains V1/2 The face/ramp on the other end of the boulder starting at a chunky L side-pull and the sloping ar�te. Grade may be height dependent MS 5-1999

Back up the hill again. In the gully opposite the imposing and cracked monolith is a pleasant slab

23. Security V1 delicate slab starting at the obvious flake MS 6-2000


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