We began our road trip on a Saturday morning. With snacks in the back seat of the car, warm coffee and friendly conversations, we calculated that in about three hours we would be reaching the Grampians (named Gariwerd by the Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people); one of Australia’s largest national parks. In so many years this part was literally reborn from its ashes. It was ravaged by bush fires in 2006 then again in 2014 and in between hit by floods in 2011. But nature, with its millions of years of experience, has found its way to flourish again. In front of this magnificent beauty, only awe can be felt.
Thanks to a variety of climate and topography, there is a wealth of biodiversity in the Grampians, with the region hosting more than 900 plant species, some of which are not found anywhere else in the world. While photogenic wildflowers attract tourists during the spring, there are forest lands, mountainous and sub-alpine soils which host a variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insect species.
We arrived at the foot of the mountain, in Halls Gap. After leaving our stuff in our rented hut we started on our first walk. We followed the Wonderland Loop trail to The Pinnacle and through the Grand Canyon Silent Street. One of the most popular routes, not only for the magnificent view of the natural Balconies you enjoy, but also for the intense presence of fauna throughout the hiking, since human intervention in these mountains is minimal.
We returned to Halls Gap, where we sat outside our cabin in the company of cockatoos and kangaroos, enjoying the red wine and beer we’d purchased at a local liquor shop. We finished our first day with alcohol, olives, cheese, and local meats along with the notes that came out of George’s guitar. We were a bunch of happy explorers with our minds and souls free to roam in nature.
The next day our goal was to climb to the highest peak – Mount William at 1167 metres high. Halfway through, my feet began to betray me, and yet, the vastness of this landscape continued to reward me. That’s when I saw the wild beauty of this place. We saw numerous waterfalls, with Mackenzie Falls being the most spectacular. We walked by cliffs and perennial trees with the weather changing continuously; like a scene from an old movie. We had rain, atmospheric fog, sharp breezes, and the sun playing hide and seek with us. In the last few kilometres, all we heard was our breaths as we struggled to keep up on misleadingly slippery rocks. When we finally got to the top, the view was simply disarming with Victoria Valley under our feet. All I have to say is that it was worth every drop of sweat and every kilometre.
From the very foothills to its highest points, this place promises to take your breath away, literally and metaphorically. The key word is ‘exploration’.
To find out about the Grampians, go to visitgrampians.com.au