Welcome to my first blog post for my blog called Schikimikki! On this particular week, I took the week off work to host my friends Kelly and Bernd who were visiting from overseas. Of course, I wanted to show my friends the best of Victoria and I had the realisation that for someone who has lived here for most of my life, I don’t really know Victoria as well as I want to. This is one of the reasons I have decided to start this blog as I feel it will inspire me to see more of my own backyard and give me an opportunity to interrupt the monotony of my normal life. So, I consulted my mum who has lived in Victoria for her whole life and she suggested that we visit the Grampians- that got the ball rolling. Before commencing this trip all I knew about the Grampians was that it had a rocky, mountainous looking landscape and that it’s a popular place to go camping.
The Grampians National Park takes about 3 hours (258.3km) to drive to from Melbourne and once you get out of the city/suburbia, it becomes a pretty cruisy drive. I highly recommend driving if that is an option as it makes it a lot easier to get around the area, if not there are companies that offer day-long or multi-day tours. There is also a bus that comes from Warrnambool which stops in Ararat and The Grampians. I have to advise though that it is quite a decent drive between most stops along a winding road which you can’t really walk along easily.
As a (novice) hiker who likes to get outdoors and enjoys a rugged landscape, the Grampians is incredibly appealing. There are multiple great walks (160km of walking tracks to be precise) you can take which vary in length and in difficulty. This was a fairly spontaneous trip, so my friends and I chose to stop at the Halls Gap and Grampians Visitor Centre. They were incredibly helpful, provided us with maps and brochures and assisted us in choosing a trail that fit with our time constraints and recommended multiple places where we could stop. If you are looking for kangaroos (my friends had been looking for weeks with no luck) I recommend coming to the area near the visitor centre, we spotted multiple kangaroos hopping along the football oval which is nearby on the other side of the road at dusk. At dawn and dusk when driving you also have to be careful as you might find many kangaroos jumping out in front of your car as you drive in the Grampians region.
We commenced our hike from the Wonderland carpark to The Pinnacle which was a 2.2km and was medium/hard level of difficulty. Let me tell you, as a novice I struggled big time with this one. It was quite a hot day and I was ill prepared. I didn’t bring a hat, didn’t apply sunscreen properly and my running shoes weren’t appropriate – I definitely learnt my lesson the hard way haha. This track has steep and rocky areas and it definitely pushed me to my limits but the views were beautiful and totally worth it. The landscape was unlike anything I have seen before in my life; some parts looked extraterrestrial to me and I felt like I might be on another planet at some times (that might have been the sun frying my brain though hahaha, nah). There were treats along the way, little pools of water, pretty bush flowers and there was even a small waterfall which we stood under to cool down both times we passed it.
The views got better every step of the way. And of course, the pinnacle provided an amazing view. However, my friends and I preferred the view from a nearby area and we hung out there for a while to soak up that view.
My friends who are experienced hikers and are much fitter than me found the hike a lot more enjoyable than I did, so I would definitely recommend that people do some research and choose their trail based on their level of hiking experience and fitness. I also recommend that you start the track early if you hike on a hot day and that you come well prepared with a well-stocked backpack and bring along plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, snacks etc.
We also stopped by Mackenzie Falls which was a huge highlight for me. There are multiple walks you can take to get to Mackenzie Falls but we opted for the shortest walk as it was getting late. This was a lot easier than the walk to the Pinnacle but there were quite a lot of stairs so it was still a decent workout. Mackenzie Falls is a picturesque waterfall nestled in bush land, it is definitely worth stopping by.
We camped at a nearby free camping ground which we found using the app ‘WikiCamps Australia’ (you can get a free month long trial which we took advantage of) that had toilets and running water.
I recommend heading to The Grampians before or after going to The Great Ocean Road. We opted to head to The Great Ocean Road the next morning. It was an easy drive with good signage (we didn’t need to use the Google maps much at all).
I hope you enjoyed my first post. I am looking forward to my next adventure and hope you are too :).