And so it begins…Grampians National Park

Amphitheatre at Falrt Rock, Mount Stapylton, Grampians NP

It was March 1st; the day that we had planned for for so long was finally here. This was the day we would begin our big lap around Australia indefinitely. We got off to a later start than anticipated; I think the previous week of multiple, some fairly raucous, good-byes and frequent going out to savour our last moments in Melbourne was catching up with us. After we picked up the van from its temporary home in Bacchus Marsh, we set off for the Grampians. Driving down the Western Highway, watching the Melbourne skyline gradually shrinking in the rear view mirror, there was mixed feelings of elation and sadness in the car. At one point we looked at each other and both laughed as we wondered aloud, “are we crazy for doing this??”

Our nerves of driving a 21 foot van behind our car were thankfully not tested on our first day on the road. It was a refreshing feeling being ok with driving well under the speed limit; we were on no tight timelines. After a fairly lengthy and corrugated gravel road, we pulled up to our camp, Plantation Campground, just north of Halls Gap in the Grampians National Park. It’s a beautiful, spacious free camp just outside the lines of national park so fires and dogs are allowed.

Camp at Plantation Campgrounds, Mount Zero, Grampians National Park
Our first camp of many

Unfortunately for us, we had begun our trip as the last big heatwave of the season had hit Victoria, which made the first setup of our van a sweaty and fatiguing affair. But once it was done, we sat back and relaxed to watch the sun set. Gazing out over the dramatic backdrop of Mount Difficult while a young roo slowly ambled about and a cackle of a distant kookaburra rang through the pine-scented trees, we looked at each with massive grins on our faces. We had done it. And I couldn’t help but think, “Yeah, we are crazy…crazy for not doing this sooner.”

We had a leisurely start to the next day, and with the heat quickly rising, we went off in search of a swimming hole. We headed to Beehive Falls, which entails a 1.4km walk with little shade but luckily not too steep until the very end. As we were walking, sweltering under the heat, we nervously noted a lack of flowing water along the path and as we walked up the rocky steps to the waterfall. Luckily, although the waterfall was more of a water-trickle, there was still a pool of cool, fresh water for us to enjoy. And as a bonus we had it all to ourselves!

Beehive Falls, Grampians National Park
The trickle at Beehive Falls

After we felt sufficiently refreshed, we headed back on the road in search of a good lunch spot. We came upon the Zumsteins Picnic area which seemed a perfectly nice place to stop. After our lunch we were intrigued by the sound of trickling water and went to investigate. The MacKenzie River runs along the picnic area and would be an enticing place to swim, except for on that particular occasion there was a unfortunate infestation of drunk bogans, so we moved on. We completed our day with exploring some of the 4WD tracks near Mackenzie Falls, which were simple, easy tracks that just needed to be taken slowly due to the corrugations. We tried our luck at another waterfall, Burrong Falls, but not even a trickle could be found at this one so we gradually meandered back to our campsite for another relaxing evening.

Feeling a bit more motivated the next day, we rose early to tackle Hollow Mountain before the heat set in, which turned out to be much easier said than done. Signage on the path was poor (i.e. non-existent) and we found ourselves lost on more than one occasion. Nevertheless, we had a great walk around for a couple hours, although we’re not sure if we reached the end of the trail, and we definitely didn’t get to the top of Hollow Mountain, but we did see some good views and some interesting things along the way, such as a line of caterpillars walking head to tail.

A line of caterpillars along Hollow Mountain trail
I’ve heard of human centipede, but caterpillar centipede?

From there we decided it was time for a swim and went to give Zumsteins another go and lucky for us, the bogan infestation from the day before had cleared out and we were able to enjoy our swim in peace. From there we headed back to our camp amongst the locals before heading off to Mount Stapylton to enjoy the sunset.

Kookaburras bathing, Plantation Campground, Grampians NP
Felt like a bit of creep taking photos of these 2 kookaburras bathing, but they were so cute!

We arrived there with enough time do to the hike to the top before settling in for the sunset, and I would say it’s one of my favourite Grampians hikes of all the ones we’ve done on our multiple visits to the park. It was a challenging one, with mostly steep, rocky climbs, but you are rewarded with a stunning view at the end of it.

Top of Mount Stapylton, Grampians National Park, Victoria
The views atop Mount Stapylton are worth the amount of sweat you’ll inevitably be dripping

And Flat Rock is a great place to watch the sunset; you look out directly west and can see all the way out to the horizon as the sun dips down below it, and you still have enough light to easily make it back to the car park.

Sunset at Flat Rock, Mount Stapylton, Grampians National Park, Victoria

Sunset at Flat Rock, Mount Stapylton, Grampians National Park, Victoria
A beautiful finish to our time in the Grampians

From there it was a slow drive back, keeping a close eye out for roos on the road until we made it safely back to our site for our last night at Plantations. Next stop, Big and Little Desert National Parks!

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2 thoughts on “And so it begins…Grampians National Park

  1. Ha e a great trip guys. Grampians is one of our favourites, done many walks there inc mr Stapleton. You’ll have to turn you blog into a book when finished. Awesome memories. Take care.
    Love Carin.

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