THE Grampians, known to the indigenous population as Gariwerd, is located in western Victoria and spans well over 160,000ha from north to south and east to west.
With a range of differing activities and natural sites, a selection of dining options and accommodation, the area is a haven for hikers, families and food lovers alike. The natural beauty of the region is complemented by a plethora of activities ranging from rock climbing, camping and hiking through to luxury escapes, high-end food, local produce and boutique wineries. The centre of the region is crowned by the Grampians National Park, which boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in Victoria and is home to many significant indigenous sites and culture, whose populations have been connected with the area for more than 22,000 years. The area is popular among tourists in all seasons, hosting over one million visitors from winter escapes to summer wine tours and festivals.
The northern part of the Grampians is known for its natural beauty and charming small towns, with the renowned Halls Gap right at its heart. The area boasts many boutique accommodation options, some of Victoria’s best wineries and is home to rich indigenous culture.
The Grampians Peaks Trail is one of the Walk Victoria’s Icons long-distance trails. The trail provides an intimate and unforgettable experience of dramatic peaks, panoramic views and an ancient rugged landscape through the Grampians National Park. Once completed, the trail will run from the north all the way to the south peaks of the Grampians. The first section is now complete and offers a 36km, three-day, two-night circuit walk departing from Halls Gap.
Operators such as Grampians Peaks Walking Company can get you out walking on this track no matter your level of experience. You can do it on your own or let a qualified, passionate guide take you on a journey of discovery along the trail. Planning and construction will continue on the remaining sections of the trail until late-2019 when the full 13-day, 12-night experience will be fully open. Boroka Lookout provides tourists with panoramic views over Halls Gap and the Grampians. Halls Gap Zoo plays host to 160 species of native and exotic mammals and is open daily, 10am to 5pm.
The eastern zone of the Grampians is known for its natural beauty and historical sites such as Ararat, the only town in Australia to be founded by Chinese migrants. The area also boasts boutique accommodation, easy access to the Grampians National Park, the Ararat Hills Regional Park and Mount Langi Ghiran State Park.
Ferntree Waterfall Nature Walk will see you pass three waterfalls including Ferntree and Cascade Falls, and take in the many breathtaking viewing points over the fern-lined upper reaches of Middle Creek below. This walk is just a kilometre long and takes about 45 minutes for a return journey. One Tree Hill Lookout boasts 360-degree views overlooking Ararat and is a great spot for a picnic. Mount Langi Ghiran State Park is a 14km drive east of Ararat in Victoria.
The park covers 2695ha and can be used for camping, walking and driving. Green Hill Lake is situated in the town of Ararat and surrounded by picturesque mountain ranges providing the perfect backdrop. The lake plays host to many recreational water sports throughout the year including swimming, fishing, boating and water skiing.
The southern zone is home to Hamilton, Australia’s first pastoral settlement as well as a thriving farming district. Tourists can enjoy views of the Picaninny, Mount Abrupt and Mount Sturgeon as well as boutique shops, cafes, food and wine or embark on one of many hikes through the countryside.
Mount Rouse is an extinct volcano accessible by vehicle. Climbing to the summit offers incredible views over the surrounding countryside. At the foot of Mount Sturgeon, the southern tip of the Grampians and the Great Dividing Range, is the village of Dunkeld. Dunkeld’s charming main street features shops, cafes and the Royal Mail Hotel, which is regularly voted as one of the best dining destinations in Australia. This beautiful town has a picturesque arboretum with a walking track that meanders past hundreds of trees including many giant red gums.
The Mount Sturgeon walk is suitable for fit and adventurous walkers and involves water crossings, slippery track surfaces and rock hopping. The summit offers panoramic views of the surrounding ranges and volcanic plains, and over Dunkeld. Return by the same route takes 7km and three hours. The view from the summit of the Piccaninny walk provides excellent views of Mount Abrupt and the nearby town of Dunkeld, with its impressive and unique landscape.
Take the gradually climbing track through open forest that provides stunning wildflower displays during spring. This walk will take one to one and a half hours. The steep Mount Abrupt track winds through healthy woodland and over rock slabs to the summit. Enjoy one of the most spectacular views of the national park on this three-hour return walk. Just 20km west of Hamilton lie two exceptional waterfalls. Wannon Falls, created by lava, feature a spectacular hardened basalt lava over which water cascades into a deep plunge pool below.
Nigretta Falls has excellent viewing areas, river walks, barbecue facilities with redgum picnic tables, toilets, fishing areas and a jarrah timber stairway leading to the base of the falls for the more adventurous walker.
The west of the region is home to the city of Horsham, providing excellent retail, dining and entertainment options as well as natural sites such as the Grampians National Park, Mount Zero, Hollow Mountain and Mackenzie Falls. Mount Arapiles is widely regarded as one of the top rock climbing areas in the country. The area is also host to many significant indigenous sites.
Mackenzie Falls are Victoria’s largest waterfalls that flow year-round. Keen fisher folk and canoeing enthusiasts will not want to miss Lake Wartook. This little treasure is surrounded by the mountains and forests of the Grampians National Park. There is a picnic area, boat ramp, and campground located 5km from the lake. Mount Arapiles is known for its top rock climbing spots as well as a lookout, good walking tracks, picnic spots and camping grounds. For more information on the Grampians and to see what events are coming up in the region, head to visitgrampians.com.au