Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Just a 3-hour drive from Melbourne, you’ll find heaps of outdoor activities like bush walking and hiking as well as beautiful waterfalls, panoramic lookouts and cute wildlife nestled in the heart of the Grampians.

I’ve already mentioned that you can chase kangaroosin the small town of Halls Gap and getscared to death on a sunrise hike to Boronia Peak in the Grampians National Park. But since we did a lot of activities in less than 48 hours here, I thought I’d share another post with some helpful travel tips and recommendations on things to see. Be sure to grab a walking map from the tourist office or your motel!

The Pinnacle
One of the park’s most popular treks is to the top of The Pinnacle, which starts at the Wonderland carpark. This lookout offers breathtaking views of Halls Gap and the Grampians' many mountain peaks. You have to follow the yellowish arrows painted on the steep rock slabs, which are easy to miss at times so we got “lost” more than once.
As you get closer to the top, you hike through a gorge known as the Grand Canyon with cliffs rising 20 metets tall on either side of the track. Another tricky stretch is called Silent Street, a narrow path between the rocks which is barely wide enough for one person to squeeze through. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with commanding views over the valley and Halls Gap below. Plan on about 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Living on the edge in the Grampians!
Boroka Lookout
From the Wonderland carpark, we drove along Mt Difficult Road to another stunning lookout in the Grampians – Boroka Lookout. After a short walk from the carpark to the lookout platform, you’ll be greeted with lovely 180-degree views of Western Victoria looking out over the Grampians and Lake Bellfield.

MacKenzie Falls
Next, we stopped at MacKenzie Falls, noted as one of the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in the Victoria region. To see the falls, you can take the easy, 1-km path to the viewing platform at the Bluff (which is wheelchair accessible) or the steep trail which involves like 200 steps to the base of the waterfall. Guess which route we took.
Sitting near the falls so we could feel the fine mist of water to cool down, we enjoyed a picnic lunch. NOTE: Swimming is not allowed in the falls.

Broken Falls
After visiting MacKenzie Falls, take a slight detour before the carpark to see Broken Falls. This small lookout sits on the edge of a gorge and provides a sweeping view of the MacKenzie River as it flows over the Broken Falls.
Reed Lookout
After the falls, we continued driving on Mt Victory Road to reach the Reed Lookout carpark. It’s a short stroll from here to the lookout point for views of Victoria Valley. You’ll also find a lot of bizarre rock balancing formations around here. Does anyone know the symbolism of this act?
The Balconies
About walking about 2km past Reed Lookout through some forested areas, you’ll find a fantastic place to watch the sun set in the Grampians. Although the path leading out to the Balconies was closed off during our visit, hubby climbed over the fence to reach the outcrop of stacked rocks. We had just watched another hiker do the same thing so we figured why not. I stood back and took photos.
Sundial Peak
Our last hike of the day was at Sundial Peak, which offers sweeping views over Lake Bellfield and Halls Gap. According to local history, early Europeans in the area used the peak to tell the time so you’ll find a stone sundial on top. This hike is a moderately easy 4.2km return, and you should allow 1-1.5 hours. I enjoyed sitting on the edge here and having a granola bar for an afternoon snack. Hiking is tough work!
You’ll also find many spring wildflowers blooming here from October to November.

Lake Bellfield
About 4km south of Halls Gap, Lake Bellfield is a popular local lake for fly-fishing. We stopped by the lake to check it out, but the section we saw looked more like the perfect place to hide a dead body instead of fishing. Plus, the area was eerily quiet!

Look for Awesome Australian animals
According to the Victoria Parks website, the Grampians is home to some awesome Australian animals such as more than 85 birds, 23 reptiles, 22 mammals and nine frog species. And that’s just in the wild! You also can check out the Halls Gap Zoo to see more wildlife. During our weekend visit, we saw two dingoes, a handful of deer, heaps of kangaroos, cockatoos, fairy wrens, kookaburras, some lizards and one echidna in the wild.

Visit Historic Wineries
About 30 minutes east of Halls Gap, the tiny village of Great Western is home to two of Australia’s oldest wineries – SeppeltGreat Western Winery and Best’s GreatWestern Winery. Both wineries were established by the Best brothers, Henry and Joseph, in the 1860s. Henry’s vineyard, originally called Concongella, is still known as Best’s, but has been owned by the local Thomson family since the 1920s. Joseph Best’s winery was known simply as Great Western and became part of the Seppelt Company (originally started in the Barossa Valley) in 1918.
If you do the cellar door tour at Seppelt’s, don’t miss the 3km-long tunnels which were dug by the local miners in the late 1800s and completed in 1932. The tunnels are home to the storage of hundreds of old, dusty wine bottles. I would have loved to sample one of these historic bottles!

Both wineries are known for their amazing shiraz and dry, sparkling shiraz wines. Drinking a sparkling red is an Aussie Christmas tradition and one that we were happy to enjoy in December!
So whether you enjoy the great outdoors like we do or simply like strolling through small towns, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy in the Grampians region!

Have you been to the Grampians? What do you enjoy most about hiking?
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This post is linked up with #WeekendWanderlust by travel bloggers A Southern GypsyA Brit and a Southerner, Justin Plus Lauren and One Modern Couple. Hop on over to see more travel stories!

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jaz@octoberfarm said...

you two are much braver than i am. i am terrified of heights! what a gorgeous place though!

Unknown said...

Looks like you had an amazing time. Love the pictures. What awesome views.

Joy said...

Thanks Joyce! It was a bit nerve wrecking sitting on the edge like that! Definitely beautiful! :)

Joy said...

Thanks Stephanie! Yes, we had a good time!

Unknown said...

Looks like the perfect spot to hike. I especially like the Pinnacle and Balconies area. Thank you for linking up with #WeekendWanderlust