G: Soooo…about three months ago, after a taste of country Victoria on the Great Ocean Road, it was soon time for another weekender out of the city. This time we ventured three hours northwest to the Grampians National Park (known as Gariwerd to local Koories), a bushwalker’s paradise showcasing some of Victoria’s most outstanding natural features. The Grampians boast a rich diversity of flora, varying degrees of walking trails, world-famous rock climbing, significant Aboriginal rock art, and the amazingly cute wallabies bouncing around everywhere!
It was the Queen’s Birthday Holiday weekend, so it seemed everyone wanted a little getaway. Because of the three-day weekend, accommodations were full and we almost didn’t go. Luckily, we found a motel (and time-warp back the 80’s) for the first night in Horsham, about 40km away from Halls Gap, the central town of the Grampians. After the drive, we made a quick stop to the information center in Halls Gap to get our weekend itinerary in check.
We went to the Boroka and Reed Lookout points first, with a short walk to the Balconies. The winding drive through the forest took us to great heights and amazing views of the surrounding ranges. The lookout points were an easy walk from the car park and offered vast views of Victoria.
Staying in Horsham actually worked out nicely because we hiked Hollow Mountain on the way there, which is in a part of the park that we wouldn’t have normally gone to. The incline for the trail got steep quite quickly, but for good reason. Our mountain goat mentality got us to the first resting point in 30 minutes, where rock climbers were already testing their bouldering skills above a crash mat. We explored the nooks and crannies of some of these amazing boulders ourselves and climbed into a cave with another amazing view. We continued climbing higher and found more adventurous rock climbers tackling huge faces before it was time to head back with the sun dipping into the horizon. Blake thought we may as well check out of the few rock art sites, so we had a quick look at the Gulgun Manja Shelter which had deep ochre and sienna colored hands imprinted in the sandstone.
B: The next day was devoted to the famous Pinnacles Lookout, an exciting climb through canyons, steep trails, and big boulders to a fantastical lookout. It was a crowded walk to the top, because of the beauty and the holiday, but the view was gorgeous. So gorgeous in fact that we Skyped my parents to show them what we were up to on a Sunday morning! There was a fenced off area where one could get right to the tip of the pinnacle and have full view of the Wonderland Range looking out for miles on the vast expanse of a very beautiful and spiritual place. After a bit of lunch at the top, we started our descent and followed another path down through the Grand Canyon. Not like the one in Arizona, but still pretty cool.
Then it was back on the windy Mt Victory Road to Mackenzie Falls. Now, we’ve seen many waterfalls on our adventure, but these were quite unique. A steep 30-minute walk down into a canyon revealed a gigantic curtain of gushing water over shimmering black rocks. It’s Victoria’s largest and most majestic waterfall.
G: On our way to the hostel in Halls Gap, we made a stop at the Brambuk Cultural Centre to learn a little more about Aboriginal history, culture, and terrain. On our way, we spotted some wallabies near the parking lot so we pulled closer to observe and soon saw a little movement in one of the mama’s pouches! We waited a few more seconds, and sure enough a sweet little Joey popped its head out for some fresh air! We spent what little time was left exploring the Cultural Centre before they closed. That night we cooked up a yummy dinner and sipped on some ciders in the cozy common room, bonfire warming our toes, getting to know some new Aussie’s. Always a pleasure, and yes, they are as nice as Canadians. 🙂
The next morning, one of the lovely lady’s we met the night before, Nadia, joined us in the Dream Theatre at the Cultural Centre to watch a couple films on the Grampians National Park: one more spiritual and the other more geological and science-based. It was nice to see both versions and take away our own. Soon after, we were off on another hike!
B: We decided to do a circuit trail on Mount Rosea. There were little detours to waterfalls on the way, but main attraction was the view from the top. There was a bit of a landing area with some boulders to climb around to go all the way out to the edge. We each found quiet spot and took a short meditation break (only natural when you reach the top of a mountain). The views were stunning!
Finally, we stopped at the Bunjil Shelter, one of the most culturally significant pieces of rock art in southeastern Australia. It’s a depiction of Bunjil, also known as the creator and subject of the spiritual film we watched at the Cultural Centre. I believe he’s also referred to in the Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Walkabout” with the lyric, “A didgeridoo original man with a dream; I believe the aborigine; On a walkabout.”
All in all, we had an amazing experience in the Grampians. It was a perfect time of year to go, despite the three-day weekend crowds. There are heaps of moderate hikes offering great lookouts that don’t take too long. The Aboriginal rock art also a unique aspect when exploring this part of the world. Who knows, maybe we’ll come back in the summer!