If you are in Victoria then you must go to the Grampians. It is the one place I’ve been in Australia – so far, that I genuinely did not want to leave. As we had to leave to find farm work, we didn’t get to explore everything that the Grampians had to offer. All the things we did get to see and do were amazing, so here they are!
Firstly we stayed at Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park, located just a few minutes walk from the tranquil Lake Bellfield. They have accomodation to suit anyone, from just your standard unpowered site, to luxury bell tents and a vintage caravan. They even have a heated wood-fire pool, which we unfortunately didn’t use because it was the Easter school holidays and kids were all over the pool at all times. We were literally the only adults there without children but everyone was really friendly, and they have a Wifi Hub with comfy sofas so you can relax away from the mayhem. You really feel like you’re in the centre of the action here, with wild kangaroos hopping through and emus strolling by frequently. We even saw a kangaroo with their joey hopping through the park as we played basketball!
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to walking trails and scenic lookouts, the caravan park gave us loads of information and recommendations regarding all of them. We decided our first venture would be to the ironically named Pinnacle, straight for the peak! Figuring that it would be a pretty sweet spot to watch the sunset, we set off in the camper about half an hour before sunset. Bad idea. The sun was going down fast and the hike was much harder than we expected. It was a race against the sunlight to the top, as a couple of the guiding arrows are easily missed if in a rush, we did take a wrong turn which delayed us even more. And the way back down was much more difficult when just using the torch from our I-Phones. The view at the top was unreal, we just wished we could enjoy it longer.
Note : Give plenty of time to actually watch the sunset at the top – and get down safely.
The next day we visited the Brambuk Cultural Centre, ‘Brambuk’ meaning White Cockatoo which is the sacred animal of the aboriginal people in this area. It celebrates the history, arts and living culture of the Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung and aboriginal communities of south-western Victoria. If you’re a fan of architecture then it is definitely worth a visit. The Aboriginal Centre which is in the park is truly stunning, it’s roof resembles a cockatoo spreading it’s wings and compliments the surrounding hills. A fireplace lies in the centre of the building, providing warmth for the exposed beams and a serpent-inspired staircase. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures inside the building, so you will have to just go and see for yourself!
Whilst learning about the aboriginal history, one of the most significant cultural sights in south-eastern Australia is only a drive away. This is Bunjil’s Shelter, Bunjil is a legendary hero who created the land and lives spiritually to protect the natural world. This is the only rock painting known of Bunjil and is situated at the top of a hill overlooking the Black Range Scenic Reserve. The actual age of the painting is not known, but seeing it in the flesh (despite the mesh cage which surrounds it) does open your mind to how the aboriginals lived here. You can learn a lot more about Bunjil in the Brambuk’s Dreamtime Theatre, so the two go hand in hand for a day immersing yourself with culture.
At the end of Mount Victory Road about a half-hour drive away from our campsite was the breathtaking MacKenzie Falls. The amount of steps certainly took my breath away, but it was mostly for the stature and beauty of the waterfall. We also tried to go to SilverBand Falls, on our way we passed a man returning from the falls who said “I wouldn’t go down there if your thirsty, it’s dry as anything”. And so, we didn’t continue. The good thing about MacKenzie Falls is that it is always flowing as it’s water supply comes from a lake which is connected to dams. True, it does take away from it being a natural waterfall but it is still a highlight of the trip.
On our way out of Halls Gap, we headed for The Balconies. A very accessible short walk from the car park leads to sensational views of the Grampians. As far as the eye can see the hills and mountains are covered in lush green land. There is a fenced off lookout point but after seeing pictures on Instagram of people sat on the cliff edge we decided to hop over the fence and be dare devils. There were quite a few people at the lookout so it did take a lot to pluck up the courage in front of people, but after we did another two girls followed us. It was definitely worth it just to send my mum the photo and freak her out! Just obviously take your time and be super careful if you are going near the edge.