Thoughts on Location No 44
Halls Gap, Grampians, Victoria
With its rugged mountain ranges, rich cultural heritage, and stunning views, it’s not hard to comprehend why the Grampians National Park is one of Victoria’s most popular destinations. We thought ourselves (very) lucky to secure a van site considering the time we chose to visit was in the middle of the school holidays and the area was inundated with families ‘getting away’ for some R&R.
The Grampians are a series of five spectacular sandstone ridges, running north to south, with steep and craggy slopes on the eastern side, perfect for abseiling and rock climbing, and gentler slopes to the west, ideal for bushwalking and other (not as strenuous) activities including water sports and fishing in the lakes. We were there for the bushwalking.
The Grampians are the result of movement in the earth’s crust lifting and tilting hard sandstone to create a majestic landscape of peaks and valleys and those towering sandstone peaks not only provide stunning panoramic views but can easily be seen from a great distance away as the surrounding landscape is distinctly flat.
We approached from the south and after leaving the main road at the small township of Dunkeld, the road rose slightly but soon plateaued out and in front of us was a gentle 65.1 kilometre (40.7 miles) drive up the valley to Halls Gap. The vegetation changed several times over the hour it took us to get there; from true ‘Aussie bush’ to areas that bordered on being rainforests, and yet other areas that bore the scars of recent bushfires.
The Grampians National Park was included in the National Heritage List on 15 December 2006.
Bushwalking Day One
Our first day of exploring commenced before 8:00 am with our first destination The Pinnacle (the featured image above). We parked the car and set out on a two-hour (4.2 kilometre /2.1 mile) return walk to a spot we were told provided an amazing view and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Our next stop was The Balconies, a rock formation that is very appropriately named.
Finally, we headed to Mackenzie Falls, a lovely area reached via a series of ramps and lots steeps stairs. As we headed down, several visitors heading back up laughed at us between huffs and puffs, telling us the way down was ‘so easy’.
We sat and enjoyed our lunch before exploring a little of the surrounding area and then tackled the climb out of the gully. I have to agree, it was a lot easier negotiating those 260 steps on the way down. By the time we arrived back at the car, we’d been out and about for over six hours and decided that was enough for the day.
Bushwalking Day Two
Not to be deterred by the hours and hours of tackling the bush the previous day, we set out just as early on our second day with Clematis Falls, Chatauqua Peak Lookout and Bullaces Glen the three destinations I chose and, as it happened, tackling them in that order took us on a loop that finished with a gentle stroll through the Halls Gap Botanical Gardens and (finally) back to where we’d parked the car.
The falls were not as spectacular as Mackenzie Falls, but then the guide did say ‘best viewed after rain’. Scaling the rocks to Chatauqua Peak Lookout proved too much for me. I had no idea that heights made me woozy, but, even with the peak within sight, I couldn’t keep going and sat and watched Dean scramble out. (That almost made me feel worse.)
To be honest, scrambling over the rocks to reach the lookout was the hardest thing we did all day. It was all downhill from there and the cool air in Bullaces Glen was a welcome relief.
Our ‘trek’ had taken us 3½ hours and even though this was considerably shorter than the time we’d spent exploring the previous day, we called it quits. To be honest, neither of us had much energy left, but we really enjoyed our bushwalking in the Halls Gap area of The Grampians.
We stayed at the Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park and found it to be a wonderful place. With large grassy sites, clean amenities, and lots of activities to entertain children including not only the customary games room and play equipment but also a heated pool that proved very popular indeed.
With very low overnight temperatures expected, we paid for a fire drum, and a bag of firewood, and enjoyed toasting marshmallows over the coals on our first night. To be honest, I’m not sure what all the fuss is over toasted sugar puffs. Perhaps I didn’t toast them correctly, but at least I won’t have to worry about that again.
The only thing I thought was a little funny was the deception associated with the name of the park. Sure it is ‘lakeside’ and that can be easily seen on Google Maps, but what isn’t clearly seen is the weir wall that separates the park from the lake. I honestly thought we would sit back and relax on the banks of Lake Bellfield, but the only time we saw the lake was from the top of one of the peaks we climbed.
We rolled out of The Grampians on Sunday morning with the Victorian/South Australian border in mind. Neither Dean nor I have been to South Australia before so we are equally excited to be venturing into unknown territory.
Wildflowers in The Grampians