Adelaide Oval RoofClimb review: Test your mettle

There's a classic cliff-hanger moment midway through the Adelaide Oval RoofClimb when, at its highest point of 50 metres, you get the chance to shuffle your heels to the narrow walkway's edge, let go of the white metal handrail, and then lean … straight … back.

I'm OK with heights but I am not cool with this. I know that children have done it – kids as young as eight are allowed on the climb – but whether I can bring myself to tip over backwards remains to be seen.

A nine-strong group of us has taken on this two-hour tour that snakes its way across the sinuous white curves of South Australia's most celebrated sporting stadium. Our guide, Peter, wants all of us to try the stunt. Those who dare will find themselves suspended directly above the pitch's southern goal square, bodyweight supported by little more than their safety harness.

It'll be a buzz, he says encouragingly. Despite the reassurance that it is perfectly safe, from up here atop the Oval's Riverview Stand it feels like a potentially life-limiting decision.

Eight white chairs are positioned on either side of the lean-out point, which seems bizarre given our lofty location. That said, the view is amazing; a panorama that swoops across the River Torrens, over the city, to the Adelaide Hills and the sea.

As we sit and wait our turn, Peter informs us that once we're out there, if we want an extra adrenalin rush we should try turning our heads to look down at the turf far below. Rather than think about that I shift my attention to how we got up here in the first place.

RoofClimb is South Australia's answer to the sparklingly successful Sydney Harbour Bridge climb. While arguably not as glamorous, what it may lack in pizazz it more than makes up for in historical and architectural drama.

The adventure begins with check-in at RoofClimb HQ near Adelaide Oval's South Gate. First up: the formalities. Potential climbers have to sign a health and safety insurance disclaimer and blow into a breathalyser tube. Register a blood alcohol level of more than 0.05 per cent and the stairway to heaven ends here.

There's a briefing on the need to stow into lockers anything loose – think jewellery and phones. Peter will be carrying the only camera allowed up here and part of his job is to make sure there are enough happy-snaps (some of which are free, others can be purchased afterwards) to content those wanting digital images to take away.


Staff members help us zip into bright blue suits, fit earpieces so we'll be able to hear Peter when we're at altitude, and strap on snug body-harnesses.

"Think of this as an ice cream cone," Peter advises of the hefty metal contraption that is attached to each harness. "Now hold your ice cream cone, we don't want anybody to smash anything."

He leads us, via an elevator and a metal access ladder, to the roof of the Oval's Western Stand. Here he clamps our "cones'" onto the walkway's rail, and one by one we step away.

It is wet, windy and not too warm up here but such minor annoyances fade away fast as Peter's commentary along this 1.4 kilometre promenade blends the present with the past. The sportsground's history goes back to 1871 yet we're walking across the Western Stand's pavilion to a linking bridge that will lead us onto Riverbank Stand's curved modernist shell.

We are right on top of part of Adelaide Oval's $535 million redevelopment, an achievement so pitch perfect that in 2015 it won a major Australian Institute of Architects award. How better to celebrate than by adding a way of letting fans get close up and personal? RoofClimb opened in April of the following year and attracted 15,000 participants in its first 12 months.

As we walk, Peter continues to pepper us with snippets of oval-related information. This place has hosted everything from boxing matches, international cricket games, corroborees and gigs. For some though, what this place is really all about is the footie.

By now we've reached the "lean-out point" and Peter explains what the white chairs up here are really for. Book a climb to coincide with an AFL game and you will have the best seat in the house – a towering, unmatchable vantage point to watch the Adelaide Crows fly.

So, no more waiting; now is the time. Peter calls my name and I get into position with my heels on the rim of RoofClimb's walkway and my heart in my mouth. Taking a deep breath I close my eyes, and I lean.

 Helen O'Neill travelled as a guest of South Australian Tourism Commission. See

See also: Eight great things in Adelaide that most visitors miss

See also: Why the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb is a must-do for visitors

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