37. The Grampians

On Saturday

Waking up early is no easy task for a night owl, but it paid off this past weekend. We had some phenomenal early morning hikes and made the most of Grampians National Park. I highly recommend going to anyone who’s thinking about it. The Grampians are a beautiful part of Victoria and I’m glad I got to see it.

Starting at what felt like dawn, we set off for Dunkeld. The Grampians are roughly three hours away, and we wanted to start at the bottom of the park and work our way up.

I’d recommend the drive to Dunkeld. The golden-brown wheat fields are speckled with freshly shorn sheep, happily grazing in the shadows of the spectacular sandstone mountains. It’s a million dollar view and well worth the detour. We stopped at the old bakery and enjoyed some delicious coffee and Australian hospitality before setting off to the Picaninny.

The Picaninny is a hike (and a fun word to say) known for its wildflowers in spring. We found it to be a straightforward hike that took about an hour and had a rewarding view. We interrupted a wallaby on the track and it quickly bounded off. Once back to the carpark, we headed to Mackenzie falls.

Mackenzie Falls, 2019. Not pictured – the stairs.

Mackenzie falls has a number of signposts for different lookouts, but the one that caught my eye was the falls themselves. Choosing to descend 260 steps doesn’t sound that hard, but we had unknowingly chosen nature’s stairmaster. Hobbling back to the car, we started for the Balconies.

The Balconies, 2019.

The view here was a forest floor pierced by rocks. It was a peaceful moment until people brought some selfie sticks and started climbing over barriers for the ‘gram.

Boroka Lookout, 2019.

Last lookout for the day was the Boroka Lookout. This view peered over Hall’s Gap, the community with direct access to the park nestled between two mountains. This was by far the most accessible lookout with a ramp and railing for people of all ages and abilities.

On Sunday

Early on Sunday morning, it felt like we had the whole park to ourselves for about half an hour. We explored an area named the Grand Canyon before setting off to the Pinnacles, our final hike.

Part of the Grand Canyon, 2019.
The “trail” to the Pinnacles, 2019.

I think the Pinnacles hike from Sundial carpark has something for everyone. It’s got some rock grappling, some wayfinding and easy stretches to catch your breath. There’s an amazing vista at the end, and it only takes two hours – an easy sell!

The Pinnacles, 2019.
The Pinnacles, 2019.

In the afternoon, we joined many young families at the Hall’s Gap Zoo. We spotted some cheeky meerkats (smaller in real life), a waddling echidna, and a kookaburra (not caged, just visiting). We also saw a near threatened species, a southern white rhino. I’m glad I could see and support their rehabilitation. After the zoo, we had a quick jaunt back to Melbourne. And that’s the Grampians.

Southern White Rhino. Credit – R Phillips, 2019.