Friday, 23 March 2012

Grampians National Park

The Grampians are a rugged and ancient mountain range that appear to rise out of the surrounding plains. Also known as Gariwerd  the area is steeped in Aboriginal history. With a wide range of wildlife and a stunning array of wildflowers, particularly in the spring, the area is very popular with holiday makers.

You can travel to the Grampians from Melbourne via Halls Gap or Dunkeld  both of which are around 3 hours travel time.  Halls Gap is the larger town and provides the most direct access to the Grampians. It also has an extensive range of accommodation, restaurants and a range of other attractions. Dunkeld has become popular in recent years due to the Royal Mail Hotel's reputation for amazing food and accommodation. Approaching the Grampians from this direction also provides some stunning views of the mountains.

Grampians from  the  Dunkeld Grampians Road
You get a sense of how ancient the mountains are as you gaze out across the area from a number of lookouts and see the region laid out before you as if its nature's own magnificent canvas.  I particularly love visiting during the winter months and waking up in Halls Gap to see the mountains rising out of the early morning fog .

There are a number of 4WD track or you can experience the area close up by bushwalking the extensive network of walking tracks throughout the National Park. Walks range from short to multi day walks and from easy to difficult. 

The Balconies

The area is also popular for rock climbing particularly Mt Arapiles which is said to have some of Victoria's best climbs. If you're not experienced at rock climbing you can learn to climb, join a group or hire a guide.  Arapiles Climbing Guide

View across the Grampians from Barokalookout

The remains of Heatherlie Quarry are an interesting look back on the European History of the area. Many of Melbourne's great buildings including Parliment House have been built with sandstone from the Heatherlie Quarry which is listed as a site of historical significance by the National Trust.

At the Quarry you can explore wokers cottages, old equipment, railway sidings and see some of the partly quarried rock walls. 

There are a number of waterfalls in the Grampians National Park including Silverband Falls which is located a short drive from Halls Gap.  Leaving your car at the car park you can access the falls themselves via an easy walk of approx 20 minutes. The area around the falls suffered significant damage during floods in early 2011 and hopefully natural regrowth will  ensure it is returned to its former glory shortly.

Silverband Falls
MacKenzie Falls is a lovely waterfall that can be seen from a viewing platform located a short walk from the car park. You can also normally walk to the base of the falls, where this photograph was taken, via a steep staircase but access is currenlty closed due to the infrastructure suffering extensive flood damage. 

Mackenzie Falls

At the Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre you will find the Gariwerd dreaming theatre and be able to watch a film depicting the Gariwerd Creation Story. You can also explore the interpretive displays, participate in workshops or book a tour with a Cultural Ranger .

There is also a cafe that serves bush tucker and a range of other snacks and a shop that sells a wide selction of gifts, maps, bush tucker and books. 

To the Jardwadjali and Djab wurrung people Gariwerd (the Grampians) are central to their creation stories. Recent investigations have revealed Aboriginals have inhabited the region for up to 32,000 years.

Aboriginal Rock Art
Tourism Victoria

It is also said that up to 70% of Indigenous rock art in Victoria is in this region with well over 100 sites identified. Only a few are accessible to visitors.

Aboriginal Rock Art
Southern Grampians Shire

The park has an extensive range of wildlife. One of the most popular are kanagroos and wallabies  who greet most people in the mornings as they graze in the camping grounds and areas surrounding and within the towns.  

Kangaroos in the area surrounding Brambuk

A surprise sighting of deer in the Grampians

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