Visiting The Grampians National Park in Australia has been on both Dave and mines bucket list since arriving in Australia. Back in the UK, and in Australia though not as much as we hoped, we are both avid climbers! Rocking climbing is our go-to spot for fun and exercise so of course, The Grampians was always going to be a place we wanted to check out. As our year in Australia went on, the likelihood of us actually getting there was pretty slim! But we did what we always do in life and made it happen! I invite each and every one of you the visit this national park in Australia because it is mind-blowing! Having visited the Blue Mountains in Sydney just months before I had to say The Grampians truly blew us away! In this guide, I’ll be telling you how to spend a brilliant 3 days in The Grampians to have an epic time as we did! It doesn’t matter if you’re not a climber or walker, the landscape here is phenomenal just to look at.
Where is The Grampians?
The Grampians National Park is in Victoria. If you take away one thing from this blog post and don’t read past this line just make sure that you understand this. The Grampians is not in Melbourne. So much information that we find on the internet can be misleading and this fact is very misleading. The Grampians by car is three days west of Melbourne. Of course, when in Melbourne it makes for a brilliant weekend away. What I’m saying is that, if you only have a weekend in Melbourne then you’re probably not going to want to take a day trip to The Grampians (Just one traveller’s opinion).
Driving From Melbourne
Driving to The Grampians from Melbourne will take approximately three hours including stop-offs. Don’t forget that traffic getting in and out of the city can be like hell on earth so plan wisely! The roads that lead up to The Grampians are windy and often narrow so make sure you’ve got your wits about you. Kangaroos are everywhere too especially once you nearer some of the villages located in The Grampians. See the driving route from Melbourne below that you can use as a guide. The end destination is Halls Gap, a popular town in The Grampians where we stayed and in my opinion where you should stay too!
Other ways of getting to The Grampians
The nearest large airport to The Grampians is Melbourne. The quickest to get to The Grampians is to drive but there are other options. You can find a train service that runs to Arat and then buses that take you further into The Grampians. There are numerous tours that you go on for days out in The Grampians as well usually on a mini-bus or coach.
When to Visit the Grampians – Time of Year/Weather
The weather in The Grampians varies all year round. The first thing to always remember is that Australian seasons are backwards. When the British are toasting their feet by a roaring fire, the Aussies are playing volleyball with the whole family on the beach in the blazing sunshine.
Summer in Australia is anytime from the end of December – February
Autumn in Australia is March – June
Winter in Australia is June – September
Spring September – December
It’s a little confusing to get your head around at first for nationals of the other side of the world. In the summer the temperatures in The Grampians can soar above 30 degrees Celsius and plummet below negative 6 in the winter. We visited in autumn, and though it was cold with some rain we still managed to have an epic time. Pack wisely when it comes to visiting The Grampians in the cooler months especially if you’ve become custom to the Australian heat like us.
The weather in The Grampians won’t stop you from enjoying it if you don’t let it. A fun little quote I love when it comes to rainy days:When life gives you rain, play in the puddles. Click To Tweet
Where to Stay in The Grampians
The Grampians is bursting with gorgeous little towns and villages all offering unique places to stay. The Grampians, though rural, has every kind of accommodation you could need. Vast numbers of campsites, hostels including an Eco-Friendly YHA, motels, hotels and even resorts! Of course, we were in a trust camper van during our visit staying in at Halls Gap Caravan Park which was amazing, I cannot recommend this campsite more for its facilities and Grampians experience!
Halls Gap is one of the many small towns in The Grampians. Halls Gap is located in the heart of The Grampians hidden amongst the locals and the cutest town I’ve stayed in for such a long time! Being from the UK, I’m obsessed with cute villages and towns, so much of the UK screams cute and I just love it! So when we arrived at Halls Gap I could feel the outsides of my mouth turning upwards. Halls Gap has all you need during your stay in The Grampians. A shop, Petrol Station, Swimming Pool, Play Park, Restaurants x 4, Bars and an Ice Cream Parlour, for such a little town its full to the brim with amenities!
As the gateway to The Grampians, you also get easy access to all of the show-stopping lookouts, walks, hikes and wildlife in The Grampians. For the ultimate Grampians experience, I recommend camping one way or another!
Halls Gap Caravan Park
We made this campsite our home for a few nights in The Grampians and I can’t fault it. The campsite is one of the biggest in the national park and so convenient for getting into the national park. The tourist road to find numerous lookouts and walks starts in Halls Gap so you’ve got it all on your doorstep. The staff at the campsite were super friendly making sure you’ve got everything you need and giving you any tips that you need for your stay!
The campsite offers sites both powered and unpowered suitable for cars, tents, camper vans, caravans and more! If you’d rather stay inside then they multiple cabins available that you can book too! The price is reasonable for immense location costing us $40 per night for a powered site/20GBP. For an unpowered site, it’s a little cheaper at $32 per night/15GBP. These charges were correct when we visited in March 2019 and may change depending on the time of year/holidays.
The facilities at Halls Gap Caravan park were more than adequate. Toilets and showers were kept clean and tidy. Cooking facilities and BBQ’s were located throughout the park, pets are allowed and campfires are specific areas are also allowed. The highlights of staying at Halls Gap Caravan Park were definitely the close proximity to various walks and lookouts in The Grampians. And not to mention the wildlife!
Even though we’ve been in Australia for almost a year and in that time we’ve seen plenty of kangaroos, I still find it sensational seeing them in the wild! As we approached Halls Gap we were greeted by over 50 kangaroos grazing in the grass! These kangaroos literally camped with us all weekend hopping around at night and during the day to which made our stay extra special. You’ll also find Emus, Cockatoos and different breeds of Parakeets around the campsite and in The Grampians.
What to do in The Grampians
The Grampians National Park is the perfect getaway for nature lovers, avid walkers, keen photographers and pure wanderlust. Activities in The Grampians consist of getting out in the fresh open air and enjoying some of the worlds awe-inspiring landmarks here in Victoria. Our three days in The Grampians involved lots of hiking, wildlife watching, chasing incredible views and of course, a cheeky BBQ and beer to round off the days. If you’ve got kids then obviously your itinerary may be a little different to mine but you can check out this post on this blog for what to get up to alongside your little people. For us, our weekend was all about finding adventure and all the best lookouts over all of which I’ll be telling you about in detail in this guide. I’m going to split what to do in The Grampians into days of which things go better with others. Usually because if location because I’m all about making travel easier for everyone, it doesn’t have to be hard.
Day One in The Grampians
Upon arrival in The Grampians check in at the campsite. I always like to do this when I arrive at a particular destination because the campsite often has helpful tips for us! Like, the best places to see, eat or they give out maps and all that good stuff. We can research the internet until we go blue in the face but to me, the locals know it best!
Wildlife Watching in Halls Gap
Halls Gap is the place to be in the Grampians. It’s the only place we stayed but the experience we had was out of this world so we’d probably go straight there again if we were to return. The wildlife that hangs out in Halls Gap is pretty magical. The UK is filled with beautiful creatures from small songbirds, robins, foxes, deers, rabbits but Australia’s wildlife is one another level. Though the Australians have no love for the Kangaroo as a tourist it’s a once in a lifetime pleasure to watch a kangaroo hopping around in the wild, you just don’t get them anywhere else in the world. If you want to see multiple Kangaroos hanging out with their pals then you won’t be disappointed in Halls Gap. Over the course of the weekend, we saw over 50 different kangaroos (at a guess, I mean they do all look the same!). But the kangaroo wasn’t the only animal we found at Halls Gap.
You’ll be able to hear the native Aussie birds before you see them. Cockatoos and Parakeets fill the streets of Halls Gap searching for food and boy are these birds beautiful. Parakeets come in all different colours but my favourite has to be the red and blue feathered ones we saw here at Halls Gap. Emus also stroll around in the wild in The Grampians so keep your eyes peeled at all times and don’t get too close!
There are various signs around the town asking visitors not to feed the animals so please please pay attention. We saw so many people trying to feed the kangaroos human food which then makes them dependent on humans. Not to mention it can make them quite sick, same goes for the birds.
Mackenzie Falls at The Grampians
Chasing waterfalls in the best way to spend an afternoon at The Grampians or anywhere in Australia. Some of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve seen were in the Atherton Tablelands, see more in this post. The Grampians has many a waterfall but the most impressive and a waterfall you must have in your itinerary is Mackenzie Falls. The Atherton Tablelands is home to some majestic waterfalls all of which are pretty and delicate. Mackenzie Falls in The Grampians is powerful, hungry, a little less majestic and a lot more wow. Mackenzie Falls holds the title for my favourite waterfall in Australia so far. It’s a haven for photographers.
Getting to Mackenzie Falls
Mackenzie Falls is 17 km from Halls Gap. The drive is straight forward. Follow the tourist road from Halls Gap and just continue. Note that the road is windy so plan for plenty of time, you can’t overtake and you’ll find a lot of campers on the road. You won’t be able to take a caravan so make sure you’ve dropped that off at the campsite first. Mackenzie Falls is on your right so just watch for the signs and wildlife! You can park for free at all the stop-offs in The Grampians but no camping overnight.
You look down on Mackenzie Falls from the lookouts or hike down to the bottom. I recommend doing both!
Lookouts at Mackenzie Falls
The lookout to see Mackenzie Falls is easily accessible with paths forming the way. The viewing platform opens out over Mackenzie Falls exposing all the cascades that make up the waterfall. The walk to the lookout starts at Mackenzie Falls carpark, 1.9 km return taking 20 minutes – 1 hour or more depending on your speeding and ability. The lookout is show stopping giving a full view of the magnificent falls you can hear from miles away.
Hiking Down to the bottom of Mackenzie Falls
To make the most out of Mackenzie falls you need to see it from below. Listening to the water crash into the pool at the foot of the waterfall is incredible. You’ll find stepping stones and a gorgeous river walk down there too. It’s well worth the 260 strenuous steps to get there! Yes, you heard me correctly 260 steps. Getting to the foot of Mackenzie Falls is easy, follow the path and steps all the way to the bottom. But remember what goes down must come up so make sure you are well prepared! Take plenty of water, sun cream, a hat and all the essentials to make sure you reach the top safely. The steps can be slippery is wet conditions so judge it sensibly.
Upon reach the bottom the views speak for themselves. Enjoy the waterfall, embrace the nature before your eyes and of course take plenty of photographs, We could’ve been there all day snapping shots of Mackenzie Falls.
If you fancy a bit more walking follow the river walk that zigzags in and out of the smaller pools. If you do the full river walk it’s 1.2 km. You can spend hours at Mackenzie Falls we spent at least three hours here on our first day. It was a perfect start to our weekend in The Grampians. No matter when you fit in Mackenzie Falls it will be awesome just make sure it’s a the top of your to see list!
Day Two – Walks in The Grampians
Walking in The Grampians is no doubt the best way to see the vast landscapes and rocky formations. Find various walks/hikes throughout The Grampians National Park for varying abilities. As keen adventure seekers and very keen climbers, Dave and I aren’t scared of a little challenge when it comes to walking so we tacked a walk to The Pinnacle from Halls Gap, 10 km round trip.
The hike up to The Pinnacle lookout is one of the most popular walks in The Grampians. The views over the national park leave you breathless (quite literally after the walk). Unfortunately, there is no way to drive up the lookout due to its positioning. But some of you may be pleased to know that there are shorter versions, but we think the full 10 km is the most fun!
For the full 10 km walk from Halls Gap to The Pinnacle start at the Botanical Gardens in Halls Gap. You’ll find the gardens just before the primary school set back from the road that goes through the caravan park.
The hike up to The Pinnacle is beautiful winding in and out of rocky terrain, climbing over big rock formations and up high into The Grampians. The ascent to The Pinnacle is the hardest leg of the walk as it’s all uphill. Some paved areas, some scrambling over rocks and even grassy overgrown areas so this walk is definitely not for the faint-hearted or ‘unfit’.
Some of the beauties, thanks to mothers natures handy-work, you’ll explore on the way are:
The Venous Baths
Very narrow and impressive stairwells
The Grampians Grand Canyon
Bridal Veil Falls
The track can be difficult to follow at times so make sure you stay on route and follow the yellow arrows that are painted onto the rocks. The only part of the walk where we got lost was at Splitter Falls. In March 2019 Splitter Falls was dry and with no signs, we had no idea this was the actual waterfall! If you follow Alicia Overseas on Instagram then you may have seen our story where we clambered to the top of this waterfall, thinking that it was part of this track! Turns out we were very wrong and we subsequently had to climb back down. Luckily we did do unharmed – round of applause please, it was very slippery!
So, top tip, if you do divert to Splitter Falls then once you reach the falls turn around and head back towards the bridge you just passed, walk over it and continue onto the track!
But what if you really don’t want to hike 10 km?
Lucky for the less adventure hungry traveller there are two shorter walks you can take to The Pinnacle. The second most challenging walk up to The Pinnacle lookout is the hike from The Wonderland Carpark. This where you hop onto too
the same route as outlined above just a little higher!
Note to walking enthusiasts doing the 10 km round trip, when you see a sign for The Wonderland Carpark don’t follow it. There definitely isn’t anything wonderland about it and it really is just a place to park the car, indeed very boring.
The walk in The Grampians from wonderland carpark is 2.1 km, a lot shorter than the full hike but still difficult in areas. Expect this trek to require some climbing up and around steep rocks, slippery surfaces when wet and phenomenal views of The Grampians. You’ll experience The Grampians Grand Canyon, Bridal Veil Falls, the Cool Chamber (which you’ll be thankful for on a stifling hot day!) And of course those picture perfect views that make all the sweat and burning thighs worth it.
Still not feeling it?
The final option to get to The Pinnacle lookout point in The Grampians is to walk from Sundial Carpark. This is the easiest of them with a well-paved track to walk along with ease from the car to the point. Still 2.1 km in distance taking just 45 minutes to one hour. If hiking really isn’t your jam then go for this option so you can still see those epic views from above. Trust me, you really won’t be disappointed.
No matter which route you decide to take one thing is guaranteed. What goes up must come down. If you choose to tackle to 10 km round trip from Halls Gap then prepared for a rocky trip back down to the valley complete with a lot of stairs! Yes, my legs were shaking when we reached the bottom.
Essentials to note/bring for your hike to The Pinnacle
A few important things to note before you venture on any of these walks.
There are no toilets
There are no water filling stations
No food to buy
Little to zero phone reception
Don’t forget your suncream!
Bring plenty of supplies and empty those bladders (and whatever else) before you set off! As highlighted above, the terrain you’ll experience on this walk is rocky, slippery and challenging. Make sure you wear appropriate shoes, no converse or pumps if you’ve any sense and of course don’t forget the suncream! Even in March, on a wet rainy day, my nose burnt. Like any adventure that takes you off the beaten just be prepared and know your limits and of course, have fun!
I’ll admit Hiking to and from The Pinnacle in The Grampians left us feeling tired so we didn’t do too much more with the rest of the day. After the walk, I invite you to talk about the opportunity to explore Halls Gap or wherever you may be staying. We ventured into some of the small shops and a cafe. Afterwards, we headed back to our beloved home on wheels and cooked up a storm, spag bol, to revive our bodies after a great day of walking.
The final day in The Grampians, I couldn’t help but wish we had longer here. We left The Grampians in the late afternoon so spent the morning hopping from lookout to lookout to catch our final glimpses.
The Best Lookouts in The Grampians
Fire up the engine and head up the tourist drive from Halls Park. Find some spectacular lookout points to get your final Grampians fix before leaving.
After googling lookouts in The Grampians ‘The Balconies’ will have most definitely come up in your search. One of the most impressive views out over The Grampians National Park along with some pretty unique rock formations. The Balconies is named the Balconies as two rocks stick out above one another, take a little look below!
Of course, once upon a time, these balconies made for epic travel photographs. If you Pinterest The Balconies or Instagram them, then, sure enough, you’ll be met by travellers sat on The Balconies. The drop beneath them is hundreds of feet and I’m guessing that’s exactly why a fence has been put in place. But of course, there are always people who are out to break the rules and to some, Instagram is more important than their lives. I got pretty pissed off when I saw a group of idiots climbing over the fence to try and get that ‘viral image’.
As a nurse, I understand how precious life is and how quickly tragedy can strike. I also know how bloody expensive a rescue helicopter to The Grampians would cost, all because you couldn’t play by the rules and be sensible. Imagine if a member of your family had innocently fallen over during a hike or taken ill unexpectedly. The only way into those trails is by helicopter and your loved one could be waiting a long time if the helicopter is already out because someone did something causing injury, or worse, that was preventable. I probably sound like a granny right now but as a nurse and human being, please please don’t climb the fence at The Balconies. Because if you lose your balance then you’ll be lucky to come out alive, no photograph is worth your life. Be Safe travellers!
On that cheery note enjoy The Balconies and of course Reeds Lookout, found at the same car park as The Balconies. The walk to The Balconies is 1 km from the car park with a marked path the whole way. Get there early morning to try to miss the crowds.
Personally my favourite lookout in The Grampians! Boroka Lookout is 5 km off the tourist road but well worth the short detour. Enjoy paranamic views over The Grampians and out towards Lake Bellfield. You’ll find two lookout points both easily accessible a mere 200 metres from the carpark. Take your camera and prepared to be stunned.
The Grampians or The Blue Mountains?
The Grampians! I found these amazing landscapes to both be beautiful, similar and at the same time unique. Unexpectedly, I found myself comparing the two throughout the day and realised that for me The Grampians will always win. I think it’s because of how raw The Grampians still feels. The Blue Mountains is quite built up and most lookouts are literally on the edge of small towns. What I loved about The Grampians was how rural it still felt and the feeling of adventure during our short time there! & of course, there would be some epic climbing when we have the correct gear with us!
However, you choose to spend your three days in The Grampians I hope you take a few pointers from this guide or at least get a taste of how breathtaking this national park is. As always I would love to hear from you so hit the comments below! For any more advice on The Grampians feel free to email me at [email protected] and don’t forget to share this post if you enjoyed it – I couldn’t do this without you!
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Happy and Healthy Travels,