A small taste of the Grampians

The Grampians is a very special place to me. My European parents had a strong love and appreciation for the Australian bush. We spent many weekends in the Grampians National Park as it was only a 2 hour drive from my childhood home in the small town of Koroit.

I knew Dante would totally love the Grampians so I was pretty excited when we had a free long weekend to explore a bit.

Grampians National Park is located in the western part of Victoria, about 3 hours from Melbourne. It is spread across a huge 1762 square kilometres and would take more than a long weekend to see it all!

We decided on camping at Boerang, about a 30 minute drive from the town of Halls Gap.

The campsite was exactly what we were hoping for. Right in the bush, quiet (for the most part) with plenty of local visitors dropping in to say hi

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Based on our campsite location, we thought we could explore the immediate area around Halls Gap, Wonderland and the Zumsteins.

To start off we checked out the famous McKenzie Falls, a ‘must see’ when visiting the Grampians. The waterfall itself isn’t especially spectacular; it’s not particularly big or tiered dramatically. It is the beautiful bush setting that surrounds it that creates a wonderful experience. Starting at the carpark, the paved walkway winds down to the base of the falls. The pathway is well maintained and seems accessible for all abilities. We saw plenty of young kids as well as older people on the path, seemingly without any trouble.

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Interesting rock formations and perfect picnic spots make up the area at the base of the falls. We had a brief look around before heading back up the path, which is pretty steep but only for a kilometre or so.

Because it is so popular, and we were there on a long weekend, there were people everywhere. Avoiding busy times (weekends, holiday periods) would be wise!

Our next stop was Boroka Lookout. No doubt on a clear day this would be a great point to check out some epic views of the park. Unfortunately for us, it was quite foggy and a bit rainy, so we couldn’t see a lot.

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We headed to our campsite to set up the tent in case of rain a bit later. Good move! Just as we finished setting up, the rain did indeed come through. This called for an impromptu tent picnic lunch.

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Thankfully the rain passed within the hour so we headed out to do some hiking in the afternoon hours.

Based on time and location, we decided on The Pinnacle hike in the Wonderland area. This is super popular for good reason. It’s incredibly beautiful, truly a wonderland. The hike to the Pinnacle took around three hours return at a pretty casual pace. We made our way through unique rock formations, past mini waterfalls and up to the peak. One area called the ‘Grand Canyon’ is especially cool. We skipped over big, smooth rocks, squeezed through narrow crevices, and scrambled up tiny stairs.

* Note: this hike was very slippery in places. Be alert and stay steady, especially after recent rain.

The top of the hike, the Pinnacle, provided us with spectacular views of the Grampians, Halls Gap and the surrounding area. The sky was clear and as dusk approached, the sun falling onto the random angles of the rocks made for a truly remarkable experience.

Dante wanted to stay up there to watch the sunset which would have been cool. However, I had made that mistake once before in Tasmania which put me in a VERY dangerous position. Without a torch or headlamp, we made our descent as the sun was setting. Even then the trail markers became tricky to find and after a couple of wrong turns, we made it safely back.

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After a quick bit to eat in Halls Gap, we headed back to our campsite for red wine and dark chocolate under the stars. It was pretty chilly but bearable in coats and beanies. Overnight, however, we froze our butts off. It was so ridiculously icy that neither Dante or I could sleep much. It wasn’t until around 6am when we could get a couple hours of decent sleep before getting up. Our first conversation of that morning was around or strategy to avoid a repeat of that night.

After a yummy breakfast of porridge/oatmeal, coffee, tea and fruit, we headed off for a hike at Boronia Peak. This was an interesting hike with a couple of challenging parts . A few nice view points along the way and absolutely spectacular views from the very top. The sun was out in full force and the clear skies allowed for more beautiful views of the Grampians, this time looking towards the Pinnacle that we’d just hiked the day before, down into Halls Gap and across farming areas.

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After heading back down the trail, we randomly bumped into some deer on the path. Deer, why? They were a bit curious about us then as we got closer one decided it was time to go, kick his mate up the bum so he would get going!

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Back in Halls Gap, we made an excellent life choice by getting some wedges and beers. Perfect way to spend the afternoon, post hike. The evening was another crisp one so we made a fire and cooked up some veggie burgers for dinner. More red wine and the night was complete.

Thankfully we were more prepared for the freezing conditions on the second night. By putting our picnic blanket under the mattress, an extra blanket and towels on top to block the condensation, we had a great sleep. It was -2 when we woke up and everything was iced over. Dante set up the stove to make some tea but it was too cold for the butane gas, so the stove wouldn’t light! No hot drinks and porridge for us… Breakfast in town was the only option so we filled up on eggs before making the drive back home to Melbourne.

Two days was not enough to see all of the Grampians but we definitely fitted in some great highlights. It it a place we will keep coming back to and adventure a bit deeper.

Yours in adventuring,

Mel & Dante

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