The Grampians, December 2012

In December 2012 my boyfriend and I went to The Grampians National Park in Wimmera, Victoria, Australia. We booked a little cabin in Halls Gap and from there we planed all our little trips and it is one of my favourite places in Australia to go hiking, well let’s say in Victoria.

Halls Gap is the heart of the Grampians and the base to most travellers. You’ll find private cabins, backpackers, a YHA, camping and even a bit up prize villas to rent.
We stayed at D’Altons Resort which was perfect for us, we even used their swimming pool once when the temperature rose to above 40 ° Celsius.
The lonely planets writes about Halls Gap that there are more then 6000 beds for travellers and only about 300 permanent residents, so it is one of the top places to explore the Grampians and I could not agree more.
So after arriving and settling in our little cabin we went to the Halls Gap visitor information centre and got some maps and brochures about the area, did some shopping for dinner and then went for our first hike in the afternoon when the high temperatures dropped a little bit.

We went to Reeds Lookout and the Balconies and it is breath taking! To Reeds Lookout it is just a small walk from the car park but you already get a great view overlooking the Victoria Valley, Victoria Range, Serra Range, Lake Wartook and the Mt Difficult Range.  But, do the one hour walk to the Balconies because now we talk spectacular! Along the walk you can already see so many wild flowers (best to go in spring when they are at their peak) including 20 species that don’t exist anywhere else in the world (thank you lonely planet). And rock formations and maybe a lizard or two. From the balconies if you dare, you can take some great pictures standing or sitting on the rock balconies, I had to sit first and get familiar, a long way down from there. But in the end it was worth it! The view of the Victoria Valley, unbelievable. So much area! And you just don’t see any buildings from here.

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View from Reeds Lookout

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Me sitting on the Balconies

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Taking in this view from the Balconies

 

After driving back to Halls Gap in the dawn, make sure to stop at the footy oval, cause you will probably be as lucky as we were and see heaps of kangaroos. These were my first ones, alive, in the wild and we were able to walk really closely up to them. I was the luckiest girl then, not knowing I would be even closer the day after, but more about this later. We even saw an emu walking around!

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A group of kangaroos in Halls Gap

 

 

The next day it was really hot (above 40° Celsius), especially if you are not used to the heat as me. So one of the best things to do, freeze some Grapes and watermelon bites over night and take them with you when going hiking again. We slept in, had a great breakfast, went to the swimming pool, saw more emus until in the afternoon we went to our next hike to maybe the heart of the Grampians, the Pinnacle or Gariwerd as it is called in the local Aboriginal language. You can either opt for an easy way up with the Sundial carpark as your start or the more challenging walk departing from Wonderland carpark. We choose the second one cause it goes through the impressive Grand Canyon which reminded me a little bit about a place in Iceland. You will have to go up some stairs and it is impressive how well maintained every thing is but still so untouched. When walking you will see a variety of rock formations and a lush vegetation that has recovered from bushfires with new growth. This was a really interesting thing to look at, the black trees there and the new young green ones right next to them. In one of the brochures we read that it is even possible to see koalas, kangaroos, snakes, skinks and even echidnas in this area but we only heard koalas and saw a few lizards and I’m quite happy no snakes.
When you finally reach the Pinnacle lookout, you will be speechless again. It is 1100 metres above sea level and you will be able to see Halls Gap and Lake Bellfield. We were lucky and went to the Grampians during the week because it is really crowded with people on the weekends. So we took a lot of pictures, had our now half frozen grapes and watermelon and then went back to the carpark again.
Before every hike there are signs about taking enough water with you and wearing appropriate shoes, still we saw so many people without anything to drink and small children walking only in flip-flops around.

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Always follow the signs

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Inside the massive sandstone mountain range, also Grand Canyon

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incredible view

 

When we came back to the cabin we had a little nap and woke up to an impressive view, well to me. A whole group of kangaroos were feeding just outside of our cabin and I got a great look at a joey getting out and in of its mums bag and kangaroos are just impressive. That day we also went to the “center” of Halls Gap for food and to buy and write some postcards.

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Just outside of the cabin

And then it was time to leave. But we decided to go and visit the McKenzie Falls and Billimina Shelter. On the last day, the temperature had dropped significant and with all the water is was really chilly. This is just one of the six waterfalls you can visit in the Grampians but probably the most impressive one as it is one of Victoria’s largest waterfalls. The top part of it is called Broken Falls where you will find a viewing platform and then continue down the stairs to the basin of the around 20 m high McKenzie Falls. It is even possible to swim here but it was too cold that day. We then bought icy poles at the kiosk at the carpark and then started driving to visit Billimina Shelter. We had some trouble getting there cause the map we got at the visitor center must be wrong, so we drove in a circle for a while and ended up driving almost all the way up to Horsham, the north beginning of the Grampians but took a shortcut before and then driving along Henty Hwy until Glenisla and then a nice red road until the Buandik picnic area. The whole area seemed like not so many people come to visit and we did not meet anyone here and the walk was a bit frightening me cause the plants along the path were already trying to grow there and it was sometimes hard to tell where to walk to next, and we should not have started to talk about “what if a snake bites me now!”… But the walk was worth it and getting close to the massive rock overhand which was once a meeting place for the Jardwadjali people really interesting with many information signs around. The rock is covered with over 2500 motifs that consist of red ochre bar strokes. We also continued walking to the Buandik Falls but because of the weather there was not much going on so we just had a quick stop and a sandwich until we wandered back to the car and started driving home.

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McKenzie Falls

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Billimina Shelter

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Once meeting place of the Jardwadjali people

We had a really nice stay in the Grampians and I will definitely be back and visit the Brambuk Cultural Centre and maybe even the tiny Halls Gap Zoo. And I want to do a rock climbing tour in the Grand Canyon! We saw people doing this and it made me really jealous. We should also have driven up to Mt Zero and visit the olive grove there and buy some lovely products there and we will definitely dine at the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld, which was the plan for the way back home but we were too late.

Have you already been to the Grampians?
Any recommendations what we could do next time we go there?
Thank you for reading!

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