It was a difficult drive up into the Grampians, not just because of some poor quality roads I mentioned in the previous post, but because once you get near the national park it’s hard not to look at the scenery you drive past for about 50km through the ranges before getting to Halls Gap. The large rocky ranges extend through 413,000 acres of national park located about 250km west of Melbourne. The tallest peak is over 1100m and there’s a vast area to explore and plenty for everyone to do if you visit the area.
As the area is so close to Melbourne and so beautiful, it’s very well visited and has a range of services in town from luxury accommodation through to free bush camps. There are over 200km of walking trails within the park ranging from a few minutes through to 3 days and they are currently working on a trail that’s over 140km long from the top of the park down to the southern end.
As there are so many people constantly visiting the area, many of the animals are quite tame and willing to sit and wait while photographs are taken. In fact some of the kangaroos in the main town of Halls gap are a bit of a traffic hazard and great care is required when driving through the town. Halls gap is a lovely little town, although you can see it’s become a real tourist town, there are still some beautiful little old wooden buildings and the old character of the town still shines through. I wasn’t impressed by the event held in town while we were there. The “Grampian grape escape”, from what I could gather reading online it was a wine and food expo type thing, dozens of tiny little marquees filled with people trying to sell their wines, gourmet food products or wares. The town filled up, the caravan park in town which was almost empty before hand was suddenly filled, people were everywhere, I couldn’t understand it. The cheapest online price to get into the event was anywhere between $45 and $199 for one day, and tickets at the gate were more expensive but they wouldn’t say how much. We stayed away from town for most of the two days it was running, this was easy because there were so many walks to do.
Camping here we stayed in three different spots. The first one was a designated free camp ground with fences, toilets, lots of people and one of the strangest experiences I’ve had to date while travelling. An elderly couple camped near us started to play music quite loudly in the late afternoon, it was exactly as you might expect, The Supremes, Donna Summer, etc, quite typical of their generation, but as I said, quite loud. Then it got weird. The music changed to some house/club music, real doof doof and the type of thing you may expect from someone very young not from old retirees, it also went on for at least an hour.
So we moved to another camp site down the road, no facilities, no fences, no toilets and no people, but an ominous sign at the start of the track saying “dry weather only”. We set up camp and went off to do a hike but arriving back there it was hard not to notice the large dark clouds starting to roll in. I looked around at the ground were we were camped and it looked like it had been, and would get pretty muddy, time to move again.
So found an even better spot closer to town nestled in a beautiful area of forest. The area was huge, there were cleared camp areas spread throughout many hectares of bush and we had the whole area to ourselves, well most of the time anyway. We did have one couple arrive in a camper van and they pulled up on the other side of the track, perhaps 5 or 6 metres from my van, it was hard to believe in such a huge area someone would camp so close. And of course it was just when Cloudy was going to have a shower at my outdoor bathroom on the side of the van. She did it anyway, stripped off and had her shower right in front of them in the hope that it might encourage the couple to move on but it didn’t work. I wasn’t surprised, I wouldn’t have moved after that either.
We did quite a bit of hiking around the area on the numerous trails and the rock formations were constantly surprising.
The main walks close to town were also very well set up with stairs and handrails in tricky rocky bits.
Some sections of the trails were quite narrow, my superman shirt wasn’t going to help here, it was just too narrow to get my shoulders through. Wearing the superman shirt gets a surprising amount of comments while out walking trails, “have you come to save me”, “please help me superman”.
And yes I was sweaty it was a big climb that day, a 5 hour return trip up to the pinnacle and then back down to town again.
We did the whole walk from town up to the top while many people drive most of the way to the pinnacle car park before walking the last little bit. It’s easy to tell those people, they are the ones not sweating, even on a cool overcast day like this day the sweat was dripping from me.
The next day was interesting, it was wet and rainy so we decided to drive around to a few different lookouts.
Or perhaps not. Visibility was extremely poor and after 3 or 4 complete fails of different lookouts we had to give up.
Although it was interesting looking off into cloud and fog when you knew there was going to be a huge impressive view normally, it doesn’t make for good photos and they all start to look the same.
And lastly a big farewell to Cloudy.
This photo has been removed due to members request. I didn’t pass.
After 5 weeks travelling together we finally part. I know she doesn’t like photos of her face being online but hopefully this disguise is good enough to be acceptable. Travelling with someone brings you fairly close together because you’re with each other almost 24/7 and you’re sharing amazing experiences and sights. All the best with your further journeys Mavis, Bob will miss you.