By Chris Burns, Hop To It Tours
The Grampians National Park sits 3 hours drive from Melbourne just off the Western Hwy. A series of rugged sandstone mountain ranges, the Grampians is a favourite holiday destination for Melbournians looking to be in forests rich in wildlife.
This article will give you a list on the best things to do in your stay at the Grampians National Park.
At least one night in the Grampians camping is a must. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, camping in the Grampians allows you to really reconnect with nature. Abundant bird and animal life creates a feel of peace and the forest style setting allows you to be surrounded by greenery.
Camping in the Grampians can be as rugged or luxurious as you want it to be. Glamping businesses are around but also within the town of Halls Gap there are many private caravan and campgrounds offering great amenities such as clean toilet and hot shower facilities, kitchen, BBQ, laundry, swimming pool and games room. The site you book in is large meaning you can set up a good tent and gazebo area to yourself.
The Grampians National Park also has park run campgrounds near the start of major hiking spots. These aren’t as well kept and don’t have all the amenities but have the benefit of being right out in the middle of nature, so if you want a little more seclusion then you should check them out. You can see them all at https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/grampians-national-park/things-to-do/camping.
The Grampians National Park is traditionally known as Gariwerd and you want to get a great insight into the traditional people’s beliefs of the area then there is no better place to start your trip. Explanations of the history of the people, the six seasons of the Grampians, where to see rock art and then many fun activities such as boomerang throwing, a didgeridoo workshop and the dreamtime theatre are all here to do. You can see more at https://www.brambuk.com.au
The walk to the Pinnacles Lookout from the Wonderland car park is the most famous of the hikes in the Grampians. About a 3-4 hour return trek, the Pinnacles Lookout hike takes you past nice streams, up narrow chasms (such as the Grampians version of the Grand Canyon and an area called Silent Street) and has you surrounded by sandstone until you reach the lookout. An overhanging area the Pinnacles Lookout looks right along the valley where Halls Gap sits. You can feel safe getting right out on the lookout as it has been fenced, allowing for awesome photo opportunities. The hike itself requires a moderate level of fitness as you are elevating most of the way.
Probably the best sunset spot in the Grampians, these two go together as they are at the same car park. With two rocks sticking out horizontally from the cliff face, The Balconies is an unusual rock formation that has become the iconic photo opportunity of the Grampians. It is an easy 2km walk from the Reeds Lookout and is definitely worth the stroll to see. Get back to Reeds Lookout for sunset and have a great chance to see the perfect purple sunset sky over the Victoria Valley.
The best known of the waterfalls in the Grampians National Park, Mackenzie Falls is about 40 minutes from Halls Gap on the Mount Victory Road, (the same road as the Pinnacles and Balconies making a combination of the three a great day out).
The Mackenzie Falls flows all year round and cascades over a wide cliff into a deep rock pool sending strong spray into the air. There are two vantage points to see the Mackenzie Falls, one from above at the Bluff (30 minute return easy walk) or the more challenging viewpoint at the bottom where you have to climb down a steep staircase. The view from the bottom is definitely worth it and if you’re looking for a longer stay you can continue along the creek on the Zumsteins Trail.
At 1167m, Mount William is the highest point of the Grampians, thus offering great panoramic views of the area. Sitting in the Southern Grampians, Mount William offers a different vantage point from our other highlights and is quite accessible as you can drive most of the way up, leaving about a 45-minute trek to the top.
Situated in the Northern Grampians, these two go together as are both accessible from the same car park but at the same time are two completely separate hikes and both worth doing. Both hikes take you past some great sandstone boulders and, if you’re willing to go off track a bit, offer some great boulder scrambling. Being next to each other, if you’re time limited, pick only one of these, with Mount Zero (1-2 hours return) being a little easier and shorter than Mount Stapylton (2-3 hours).
The last of our recommended hikes, Hollow Mountain is exactly as it describes, a hike up to a great hollow cave. At 2 hours return, it is a short, but steep climb and involves some more rock hopping and scrambling. The view through the cave back out to the valley makes it worth it though!
No visit to the Grampians would feel the same without getting up close and personal with the wildlife. Even around Halls Gap kangaroos are everywhere and you’d be unlucky if you weren’t sharing your campground with a host of them. The local football ground is normally taken over by hundreds of them when not being used. Large populations of emus also live nearby making spotting one nearly impossible. Other native animals that can be found include echidna, koalas and possums but they can be harder to find.
Birds are everywhere in the Grampians with many species to spot including different versions of quail, duck, heron and cormorant.
The Grampians also holds about a third of Victoria’s flora species, meaning that in spring especially the colours are wild!
If you need some time off the hikes and sightseeing then just outside the national park, but within the Grampians region is a great choice of different wineries to visit to try a drop. A region best known for its Shiraz and Sparkling wine, some of the best-known wineries include Seppelt, Bests and Grampians Estate. If wine isn’t your thing then maybe a visit to the Halls Gap brewery known as Paper Scissors Rock may be your thing!
There is so much to see and do within the Grampians National Park. One famous thing we did leave out is rock climbing, due to the ban that is expected to come in soon.
If you’re interested in a trip to the Grampians then why not look at coming with us on our Private Grampians Trip where we are happy to tailor it to your needs.
If you’d rather a great small group environment and want to incorporate it into more of the greater Victoria hot spots then why not check out our 3 & 4 day camping tours through the Grampians, Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles. You can see both options from our ‘Tour Info’ tab above.
We also have a vlog of A Day in the Grampians. Make sure to check it out!
Hopefully this article has given you some great insight into the Grampians region. Why not Hop To It here soon!