Reading time: 4 Mins
Time of visit: March 2021
The Grampians National Park, a rugged, awe-inspiring chain of forested sandstone structures standing tall in western Victoria, is perfect for an outdoor getaway over a long weekend or to explore during a road trip around Victoria. You can leisurely visit the grampians in 3 days or stay longer to explore more hikes and treks.
The Pinnacles Walk
Distance: 4.8 K return
Duration: 3 hours return
Track: Steep, rocky areas
The Pinnacles is the most popular walk at the Grampians. Out of the 3 shortest ways to the pinnacles, we intended to take the route via the Grand Canyon staircase, which happened to be closed at the time of this visit, so we went ahead with the trek from wonderland carpark which was harder than the Grand Canyon route but a very scenic one and is definitely recommended as you can still take a peek at the Grand Canyon rocks on your way up.
Mt William Walk
Distance: 3-4 Kms return
Duration: 1.5 hours return
Track: Paved road
The highest peak in Grampians at 1167 metres that gives you a 360 degree view of the entire mountain ranges. You can drive most of the way up to the car park and walk the rest of the way on an inclined road that is easy but requires moderate fitness. The views are spectacular both enroute and on the top. It can get quite chilly up here early mornings and dressing in layers is recommended.
Sunrise and Sunsets in the Grampians
The Baroka lookout is ideally located for watching the sunrise and is just a few steps away from the Baroka lookout carpark. The pictures definitely don’t do justice to the stunning views.
The Reeds lookout, located right beside the Reed lookout car park and has some very breathtaking views of the sunset.
The balconies lookout is a 2 Km walk from the Reed Carpark and is also great for sunset views.
Mt William peak, given it’s 360 degree views, provides views of both sunrise and sunset. However due to the altitude of this place it can sometimes be covered in cloud early mornings.
Aboriginal Rock Art
I must say I did a lot of driving to and fro to get to a couple of these sites despite the roadmaps and website information. Most roads to these sites are unpaved and you wouldn’t know how bad they are till you get there.
- Bunjil Shelter/Cave: I found this site to be easily accessible with paved roads up until the parking lot which then turns rocky (mind your sedans with a low clearance). We found a second entrance to the parking lot further ahead on the paved road that was relatively more levelled. The actual walk to the site is not much and the cave is quite small. But in context of the fascinating and elaborate dreamtime story, it transports you to a totally different world.
- Langi Ghiran Rock art: This is located outside the Grampians in Ararat and not very well marked. Google leads you to turn to the Granite Sandpit road off the Western Highway and takes you further left to Langi Ghiran track where you can park when the road widens with a small sign board to your right marking the start of the walking track. The gravel road is manageable with your 2WD if you take it slow, and of course, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for a flat tyre.
- Gulgurn Manja Shelter: These are both located around the Hollow mountain car park area which is about 5 Kms from the Wonwondah Dadswells bridge road off the Western highway on the northern side of the Grampians. This stretch of 5 Kms is a hard corrugated dirt road that is difficult to drive and causes your vehicle to skid over the gutted corrugations. I’m not sure if there’s a trick with the speed or the tyre pressures that we missed trying or if you simply need a 4WD to do this safely. We skeptically pulled through till the turn to Mt Zero road, but turned back after a short while when it got worse. We found another shorter and less corrugated dirt road (3.5Kms) route from Wonwondah Dadswells bridge to Mount Zero Picnic area (navigate on Gmap to Mount Zero Picnic area and pick the one via Western Highway) where you can walk the remaining distance to the rock art if you have the time and be prepared for some dust to settle on you. Had I known this before heading out, I would have planned accordingly, but maybe for another time. The road maps and information were quite misleading and doesn’t prepare you for this. I hope this blog helps in planning your itinerary better.
A steep climb down for a pretty view of the waterfalls that’s mostly full round the year unlike most other falls in this region.
Venus Baths Walk
A simple walk on a 2.3 Km circuit from inside the botanical gardens that takes 30-45 mins. We did this first thing in the morning on our last day before hitting the road.
A secluded lake 30 mins from Halls Gap and a perfect spot to get away from the crowd into the wilderness for a picnic, a walk or canoeing if you own a canoe.
Also recommended is a long scenic drive from Halls Gap to Dunkeld between the mountain ranges which you can do on your way to the Grampians or on your way out. A stop at the old Dunkeld bakery for a carrot cake or some baked goods was definitely worth it for me.
A small historical town outside of Grampians that was formerly known for its gold mining which now forms a part of its history within the walls of the Aradale lunatic asylum and the J ward which is a great way to spend a day. Book your tour at Ararat a week or more in advance. The Aradale tour runs only on Sundays and Wednesdays and needs advanced planning as they are mostly booked out. The Langhi Ghiran Rock art was on the way back to Melbourne.
Day 1 | Baroka lookout for sunrise, Wartook lake, The Pinnacle Walk and Lookout, Bunjil Caves
Day 2 | Mt William walk, MacKenzie Falls, The Balcony and Reeds Lookout
Day 3 | Venus baths, Dunkeld, Ararat, Langi Ghiran Rock art
Do share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section!