Adelaide doesn’t have a bridge or any really tall buildings so there was a dilemma when all the other Australian cities started to offer climbs or some other “at height” experience. But we’re an innovative bunch down here in South Australia, we make the most of what we have, and we have a beautiful stadium, known right around the world. So the Adelaide Oval Roof Climb was born.
Note: Feature image courtesy of South Australian Tourism Commission. This post uses photos from the SATC and those taken by Adelaide Oval Roof Climb on the day as personal cameras are not allowed to be taken on the climb. All are used with permission.
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This one has been a long time coming! Ever since it was announced that the Adelaide Oval roof climb was going to be developed, I was eager to take up the challenge. I don’t exactly call myself an adrenaline junkie, I mean, I have no desire to bungy jump or ride those huge rollercoasters, but I do like climbing things, zip lines and plenty of other challenging things. And now here was one I could do in my own city!
I wrote myself a Fifty before 50 Bucketlist list a few years ago, and this was one of the items on it. I have kept putting it off because I really wanted to do it while a game was on. You see, part of the walk can be watching whatever is happening in the stadium from the seats that are on top of the southern stand. It was not to be though. Myself and my husband were the lucky recipients of an accommodation and an experience voucher in the last round of South Australia’s Great State vouchers, so we decided to use them to do the climb while spending the night at the Oval Hotel.
We booked in a twilight climb, with hopes to see one of Adelaide’s magnificent sunsets over the top of the western stand. The day of the climb started very shakily though, with thunderstorms, lightning and hail the size of golf balls. While the climb is not cancelled due to rain, it is cancelled if there are electrical storms or high winds – no-one wants to be on top of a roof in those conditions. Our climb was not looking promising. A mid-morning phone call pushed it back an hour, with hopes the weather was clear. The afternoon was still very grey and cloudy, but the storms and wind did not come back. It was a “go” on our climb!
The Adelaide Oval Roof Climbs
When booking your own roof climb, there are a few different options to choose from. One main difference is the time of day – climbers can book a timeslot during the day, at twilight, or at night. I chose twilight simply because Adelaide has some incredible sunsets, and I was really hoping to see one. The first two climbs are two hours in duration, the night time climb is shorter at ninety minutes.
To watch part of a game from the top of the southern stand during your climb, book one of the game day packages. These can vary slightly with the different events, but they are usually around 2.5 hours in duration. During the football, climbers usually watch a whole quarter of the game from the rooftop seats, and during the cricket it the usually around twenty minutes of game time. That might not sound like a lot of time, but I think it would be enough to enjoy the experience without getting bored. Besides, if it is cold and raining or really hot, sitting on the roof for too long wouldn’t be much fun.
For something different you can try rooftop yoga on top of Adelaide Oval! On Sunday mornings during summer, climbers can do a 30 minute yoga session as part of the two hour climb. Finish the climb with refreshments before getting on with your day.
How the Adelaide Oval Roof Climb Works
When planning for your roof climb, ensure you are wearing comfortable clothing that can easily go under the overalls you will have to wear. You will need to have study rubber soled shoes, and all jewellery, watches etc (basically anything loose) will need to be removed. You can take sunglasses or prescription glasses onto the roof – they will be attached to you. No phones or cameras are able to be taken up, which makes sense, the last thing you want to do is drop that onto the concrete below – it wouldn’t survive the fall. You will need to be wearing a mask for the initial setup and moving through the inside spaces, but it can be removed once on the roof. It will also be attached to you with a clip.
Participants meet outside the South Gate of Adelaide Oval, which is adjacent the footbridge across the River Torrens. Look for the sign pointing out the spot. It is possible that this meeting place may change once covid restrictions ease, or it might stay outside. The group leader will meet you here and go through the formalities, such as taking your temperature (for Covid) and doing a breathalyser to check you haven’t been drinking.
Once you head inside, you will fill out an indemnity form, then start getting all the kit on. The leader will go through it step by step so that everything is done exactly how they want it. You will be given a locker to store and items you cannot take with you during the climb. Don’t try to sneakily take anything, they do wave a metal detector over you to be sure you’ve left everything behind.
Once everyone in the group is looking like they have just jumped out of a Mario Bros game, it’s time for the group to make their way to the roof!
The first section of the RoofClimb bis along the Ridgeline of the western stands with views to the north and west. After a photo stop, the group traverses the new link bridge put in especially for the climbs. This could be one of the scarier sections if you have a problem with heights, as part of the agreement when it was being built was that it would be as “see-through” as possible. So from here you can look straight through the steps, down to the ground, around 50m below you. There is also only a centre handrail to clutch onto.
Now you are in the Riverbank (or “Southern” as it is unofficially called) Stand. The catwalk takes you on the inside of this huge roof structure, built so that every one of the 14000 people who can sit in this stand have an unobstructed view with no poles in the way. Half way around the stand, the catwalk takes you through the roof onto the platform on top of the stand. Here you will have the opportunity to lean back into space, relying just on your harness to stop you plunging into the turf below.
After risking your life (or not, you don’t have to do that part!) the catwalk continues around the back of the stand to enjoy views over the Torrens and the city skyline. The group continues on until you are again at the ladder to take you back down to earth!
Once back at the Roof Climb shop, you will remove the kit, pick up your things from the locker and then have a chance to look at and purchase (if not included in your package) the photos taken during your climb.
My Adelaide Oval Roof Climb Review
So what did I think? Well, my roof climb was overshadowed somewhat by the weather. For probably the last half an hour we were all watching the black clouds roll in and hoping they would wait until we had finished. We only just made our way off the roof in time for a fierce storm to hit, with crazy wind and sideways rain. By the time we made our way around the outside of the oval to the office we were all soaked to our skin.
But apart from that, I think this is one of those experiences that every visitor to Adelaide should do. You get to do something cool by climbing all over the grandstand roof, and you also get to learn about this iconic oval and some of the surrounding areas. You even learn a little about the history and layout of Adelaide. Our group leader was interesting and knowledgeable, and he did not miss a beat when it came to safety.
The two hour time frame felt relaxed and gave us plenty of time to chat as we stood in some places and simply admired the view. We did have a small group of eight though, and I can imagine with a larger group (the maximum is 14) there would be more time spent when everyone was getting their individual photos taken.
I don’t think you need to be exceptionally fit to tackle to Adelaide Oval Roof Climb. The pace is fairly leisurely, and there are not piles of stairs either up or down. You will need to be able to confidently climb a ladder to begin and end the climb. There are age, height and weight limits for climbers, so please read the terms and conditions carefully before booking. Children under eight are not allowed.
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Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred. She has lived in the state for almost her whole life, just one short stint away as a teenager with her family. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.