10 things to do for couples in the Grampians

Man standing on the top of Mount William

Larissa Dubecki

Posted June 23, 2021


Planning a getaway in the Grampians? These are some of the best things to do.

Want to get away with your special someone? For those looking for a romantic holiday with a difference, the Grampians region is blessed with more than just incredible lookouts from high sandstone peaks. While it’s easy to suspect the area was tailor-made for sunrises and sunsets, the craggy 160,000-hectare national park, three hours’ drive north-west of Melbourne is also a natural playground where waterfalls cascade down sheer rock faces and you can enjoy incredible hikes (or gentle walks) on paths fringed by wildflowers and ferns. Add to that the myriad restaurants, cellar doors and galleries just waiting to be explored and you've got yourself the ideal weekend destination. 


10 of the best things to in the Grampians
 

Climb to the top of Mount William

There’s certainly no shortage of spectacular lookouts in the Grampians, and you’ll be pleased to know that while they’ve been millions of years in the making, many of them are accessed via easy walks. At the Grampians’ highest spot (1167 metres above sea level, to be exact), Mount William on its eastern edge has magnificent 360-degree views across the entire park from a spot where you might feel on top of the world – plus if you visit in winter it’s likely to be covered in a romantic dusting of snow. If the steep 45-minute walk from the carpark to the lookout puts you off, the Pinnacle near Halls Gap offers a much easier gradient over two kilometres to gaze in wonder at the volcanic peaks framing the valleys below. The Reed Lookout is the most accessible of all, offering jaw-dropping views over the entire Victoria Valley, including Lake Wartook and the Mt Difficult Range, and its viewing platform is renowned as a great place to watch the sun set over the mountains.

Go chasing waterfalls 

Cascading waterfalls are one of the Grampians’ strong suits, with around half a dozen competing for attention – the dilemma is, which one to choose? MacKenzie Falls is one of Victoria’s largest waterfalls – with the crowds to prove it – but our money is on the quieter Fish Falls, which cascades 60 metres over a gentle gradient of terraced rocks into a pool below (and like MacKenzie Falls, it flows all year round). For added romance points, pack a picnic to enjoy at the base before the 2.3-kilometre return journey to the carpark.

Visit the first artists

Known as Gariwerd by the traditional owners the Jadawadjali and Djab Wurrung peoples, the Grampians contain more than 80 per cent of Victoria’s rock art sites. Among them is the rock shelter known as Gulgurn Manja, meaning “hands of young people”, where centuries-old handprints and images of emus decorate the rock. Take a self-guided visit to the shelter, near the town of Laharun at the north-west of the national park; you’ll find it five kilometres south of the Western Highway near the Hollow Mountain camping ground. Be prepared for a gentle 15-minute walk to the shelter from Flat Rock Road.

Discover the Grampians best hikes

It’s Victoria’s heart of hiking adventure, but you don’t have to be an Olympian to enjoy the dozens of Grampians hiking trails, like the evocatively named Venus Baths track. Suitable for any age or fitness level, the 2.3-kilometre loop starts in Halls Gap and passes a series of rock pools perfect for a dip in the warmer weather. Middle-distance hikers might prefer the 12-kilometre Mt Rosea Loop Walk, which weaves through giant sandstone boulders and soft moss-beds; you’ll also get panoramic views from the mountain’s summit. And if you want to get in first, four new day hikes have just been opened ahead of the completion of the Grampians Peaks Trail, which will soon offer an epic 12-day hiking adventure across 160 kilometres, complete with 11 designated camping grounds. Among them is a one-way hike from the Lake Wartook lookout to Halls Gap, a challenging (grade four) 11-kilometre adventure. 

Go rock climbing

The Grampians has long inspired avid climbers from around the world to challenge themselves on its steep rocky gradients, crags and outcrops. Much of the park is now protected, but tour operators such as Absolute Outdoors offer rock climbing and abseiling at well-known locations Summerday Valley, Lookout Point Wall and The Rock Wall where you and your partner can test your endurance and skills (even if you’re beginners) with half-day or full-day tours under the care of a trained guide. Just remember to take in the views as you master the finer points of belaying.  

Two women hiking through the Venus Baths Loop Walk

Walk the 2.3km Venus Baths trail. Photo: Visit Victoria


 

Explore the Silo Art Trail

Australia’s largest art gallery, stretching hundreds of kilometres from the Grampians up to Sea Lake in the Wimmera/Mallee region, the Silo Art Trail sees leading local and international street artists work their aerosol magic on enormous wheat silos. Not only do these monumental works capture the imagination; they help put struggling rural towns on the map. Head to St Arnaud, in the northern Grampians, where local artist Kyle Torney’s mural “Hope” memorialises the history of the well-preserved goldrush town, before hitting the Wimmera Highway for the 40-minute drive to Rupanyup (population 536), where Russian artist Julia Volchova’s realist portrait of local netballers vividly captures the youthful spirit of community. 

Walk the Dunkeld Heritage Trail

On the Grampians’ southern edge, the historic town of Dunkeld is framed by the twin peaks of Mt Abrupt and Mt Sturgeon, which brood magnificently over the surrounding eucalypt-dotted farmland. Both are well worth a hike: make sure you take plenty of water and allow half a day for the return trip. A softer (and more educational) option sticks closer to town with the Dunkeld Heritage Trail, a local community project that has installed a series of signs around the township relating local stories and historical facts. The Dunkeld Arboretum also offers non-sweaty exploration via a two-kilometre-long walking track around a billabong that showcases the area’s imposing river red gums and stringybark forests. Take the track at sunset to snap the perfect blushing hues of a sunset sky over Mt Abrupt from the Instagram-worthy timber jetty.  

Check out some local wineries

The art of the long lunch has been perfected at Pomonal Estate winery, located in the serene town of Pomonal, around 10 minutes’ drive from Halls Gap (as one local describes it, “It’s like Halls Gap without the tourists”). The modern cellar door and dining room makes the most of its typically astounding Grampians views and offers tastings of the estate’s own wine, beer and cider along with mighty tasting platters of local produce. Just make sure you cancel all plans for the rest of the day.

Spook yourself

Looking for an excuse to get closer to your beloved? A ghost tour of Aradale, formerly known as the Ararat Lunatic Asylum, could be just the ticket. The stern-looking institution treated and housed Victoria's mentally ill for more than 126 years until being closed in 1993. A two-hour tour of the J Ward Lunatic Asylum for the criminally insane visits the hangman's gallows, grave sites, exercise yards and even the governor’s bathroom, with a wealth of spooky historical tales at your guide’s disposal.

Get your glamp on

There's something especially romantic about winter camping. What's not to love about cuddling up under an electric blanket in a cosy cabin or roasting marshmallows in front of a crackling campfire. So if you want a five-star experience without the stuffy hotel room, there are options to suit all sophisticated winter holidaymakers at the Big4 NRMA Halls Gap Holiday Park. With a range of luxury villas and spa suites to powered campsites with private ensuite amenities, you can wake up in a comfy bed then walk outside and sit out on a private deck overlooking the majestic ranges while you sip on your morning coffee.


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