ocated 260kmwest of Melbourne, the area
known simply as the Grampians is a huge 167,000
hectare national park that has been embraced
within the Australian National Heritage register for its
outstanding natural beauty. As a camping destination
it is one of the iconic locations in the nation.
The park boasts a dual name, in line with many other prominent
localities around Australia, with its European name given by Sir
Thomas Mitchell in 1836, and Gariwerd as it was known to local
The park’s main attribute is its mountain range which consists
of a series of north-south ridges of faulted sandstone, featuring
a sawtooth skyline and spectacular near vertical cliffs on the
eastern sides of the ridges and long forested inclines along the
west. Rising as it does from the flat landscapes surrounding it
the Grampian Ranges draw you in long before you have reached
The area has many attractions aside from its basic natural
beauty. In spring time the wildflowers are a major drawcard,
and there are numerous waterfalls scattered throughout the
park, which assist in making bushwalking one of the principal
highlights. The week following any rain is a great time to see
these in full cry.
Rock climbing is popular on the cliff faces, and the nearby
Mt Arapiles is a climbing destination of world significance,
attracting devotees from across the globe eager to take on
the many challenging faces. Beginners can even undertake
elementary climbing activities under the guidance of trained
Gliding is also eagerly pursued n the area, with Mount
William producing what is known as the Grampian Wave, a
phenomenon produced when strong westerly winds form a
standing wave of air which enables the glider pilots to reach
heights of over 8500 metres. Book yourself in for a spectacular
day’s experience as you silently soar through the air riding the
The park has also one of the richest collections of aboriginal
rock art in south-eastern Australia, and there are numerous cave
paintings and other culturally important sites. While much of
the aboriginal knowledge and cultural significance is passed on
through local tribal connections much has also sadly been lost.
Weather in the area can be very hot and dry during summer
months, and care must always be taken with bushfires. While
the township itself was spared, the Halls Gap surrounding area
was severely damaged by fires in the park only as recently as
2014. Autumn, winter and early spring are the best times to
sample the Grampians.
The park’s resources are severely taxed during major holiday
times, as its ease of access from all directions, most especially
from Melbourne, encourages many people to occupy camping
sites and accommodation. As a highly developed national park
there are very few free camping sites available, and there are
limits to even the extensive camping resources around the park.
In busy holiday times booking ahead is strongly recommended.
In addition to the formal caravan park type of campgrounds with
hot and cold showers, camp kitchens and other comforts Parks
Victoria maintains a number of bush camping areas with more
basic facilities such as composting toilets.
The area around the Grampians is also well known as a wine
producing area, and the lovers of fine food and cellar doors
can find a never ending range of attractions. This is a region of
niche food producers and farmers’ markets offer a wide range
of handmade and specialist food stuffs, to enjoy on the spot or
take home with you.
Halls Gap, at the northern entrance to the park, is the major
township in the reserve and offers supermarket shopping as
well as cafes and galleries to satisfy the tourists. The regular
markets held in the local school grounds are worth a day’s
outing as well. There is plenty to keep the kids happy as well,
with a public swimming pool, mini golf course, bike riding tracks
and even a zoo.
But whatever else you may take a fancy to, the Grampians
cannot be bettered for its grand sweeping views from a
whole series of outlooks high on precipitous ledges. Most
are reached along winding bush tracks that draw you into the
local environment before your senses are overwhelmed by
the sudden revelation of the grand views. However, if you have
limited mobility then a drive to the Reeds or Boroka lookouts
should satisfy your need for spectacular views.
Get up early and take in Mount William and its surrounds at
dawn. This is a steep and lengthy (1.8km) walk up a sealed road
(you can park at the bottom but cannot drive up), but it is the
highest point in the park so the views are sensational as the sun
rises over the surrounding countryside and the mountain faces
Mountain biking is another popular activity, and there are
established bike tracks alongside some of the major roads as
well as plenty of opportunities to test your skills and endurance
on bush tracks. Kayaking and canoeing are also popular
activities on some of the lakes and waterways. Fishing for trout
in the lakes and streams, as well as four-wheel driving are
always available if those meet your desires. The areas around
Halls Gap, Ararat, Stawell, Avoca and St Arnaud have been
strong gold prospecting localities for generations, especially
in the streams. Gold panning gear can be purchased in many
camping stores or you can take lessons at the Chinese Heritage
Centre in Ararat.
To grasp the full cultural experience of the Grampians allocate a
day to a visit to the Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre,
on the southern edge of the Halls Gap township. Here you will
gain a glimpse into the cultural and natural significance of the
area through displays in the centre and the Gariwerd dreaming
theatre, and refresh yourself in the bush tucker cafe.
Through the Centre you will be able to book a bush tucker
walk or rock art tour with a Cultural Ranger, learn to throw a
boomerang or you can try your hand at traditional aboriginal
Face it, if there isn’t something to satisfy you in the Grampians
then your palate is truly jaded. Camping around here offers a
lot more than just the usual delights of getting away from the
pressures of 21st Century living.
''The par k has also one of the r ichest
collections of abor iginal r ock ar t in
south -easter n Australia ..."