Discover the charm of the Grampians

Couple standing on top of mountain at the Grampians

Larissa Dubecki

Posted December 07, 2021


Want to get away somewhere unexpected? The Grampians is the delight you’re looking for.

For those looking for a 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 encounters with native animals and birds in the wild are a given, waterfalls cascade down sheer rock faces and you can enjoy incredible hikes (and gentle walks) on paths fringed by wildflowers and ferns.

Just add the fact that it’s ringed with historic towns ripe for exploration of a more civilised kind, and you’ve got all the ingredients for lasting memories.

The best activities in the Grampians

Take a viewpoint

There’s certainly no shortage of spectacular lookouts in the Grampians. Many of these are accessed via easy walks, so aren’t too strenuous.

The Grampians’ highest spot, Mount William, on its eastern edge, has magnificent 360-degree views across the entire park – plus if you visit in winter, it’s likely to be covered in a romantic dusting of snow.

The Pinnacle, near Halls Gap, allows 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. 

Wander into history

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.

Alternatively, a softer (and more educational) option sticks closer to town with the Dunkeld Heritage Trail, where a local community project has installed a series of signs around the township relating local stories and historical facts.

The Dunkeld Arboretum also offers 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.

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.

 

Pinnacle lookout, the Grampians

The breathtaking Pinnacle lookout caters to all fitness levels. Credit: Visit Victoria

Lace up your walking boots

Enjoy dozens of Grampians hiking trails, like the Venus Baths track. Suitable for any age or fitness level, the 2.3-kilometre loop starting in Halls Gap and passing a series of rock pools, is perfect for a dip in warmer weather.

Middle-distance hikers might prefer the 12-kilometre Mt Rosea Loop Walk, which weaves through giant sandstone boulders and soft moss-beds, and where you’ll also get panoramic views from the mountain’s summit.

Rock on

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 due to environmental and cultural reasons, 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 allow you and your partner to test your endurance and skills (even if you’re beginners) with half-day or full-day tours under the care of a trained guide.

Be amazed by modern art

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, where Russian artist Julia Volchova’s realist portrait of local netballers vividly captures the youthful spirit of community. 

 

silo art at the grampians

Spectacular aerosol creations by local and international artists on the Silo Art Trail. Credit: Visit Victoria

Indulge yourselves

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.

The modern cellar door and dining room make the most of its astounding Grampians views and offers tastings of the estate’s own wine, beer and cider, along with tasting platters of local produce.

See a waterfall

Cascading waterfalls are one of the Grampians’ must-see attractions, with around half a dozen competing for attention.

MacKenzie Falls is one of Victoria’s largest waterfalls – with the crowds to prove it – but the quieter Fish Falls, which cascades 60 metres over a gentle gradient of terraced rocks into a pool below is just as beautiful (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.

Stay the night

No trip is complete without great accommodation and the Big4 NRMA Halls Gap Holiday Park has options for everyone and every taste.

With villas, cabins, caravan sites and camp sites, your getaway can be tailored to your needs depending on if you’re travelling with family, friends, or that special someone.

You can even see the night out sitting under the stars toasting marshmallows in the campsite fire pit to really round out a great trip away. 

 

McKenzie Falls

MacKenzie Falls is one of Victoria's largest waterfalls. Credit: Visit Victoria

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