The tall Mountain Ash trees of Mount Donna Buang, in the Alps of Victoria, were a sawyers dream when they were discovered in the 1800s. Although they tower into the air, the ones shown here are at the top of the mountain and more exposed to the conditions, hence they have a more sprawling aspect. I loved the mess and tangle of lines.
On our last day in the Grampians, we decided to walk into Halls Gap from the caravan park, which was an easy 4 kms along wide, picturesque, bitumised paths, with flowers, emus, kangaroos and birdlife to divert us.
We reached Halls Gap and stopped by Stony Creek to have a coffee and plan our next stage – the walk to Venus Baths. This was just across the road and there is plenty of signage and available maps so that we found the trail easily.
This is an easy walk, and certainly suitable for a wheelchair much of the way, if not all. The way we came back was narrower, leading to the Botanic Garden, but it could also be managed.
The views of the creek and the healthy foliage provide shade, wildlife and pleasant scenery on the way to Venus Baths.
We reached the baths quickly and as it was a warm day, many people were cooling their feet and some children had stripped off and were paddling in the water. It was quite brown, which can be due to recent rain or minerals leaching from the ground and rocks.
In Winter, or after heavy rain, this area would be full of rushing water, but it has been known as a ‘bath’ for at least 170 years, to non-indigenous people. The area has fascinated Europeans and later settlers, due to the unusual rock formations caused by the erosion of the sandstone.
After the short return, we could choose to head for the town or the Botanical Gardens. We chose the latter and had a very manageable walk around native plants, sculptures and picnic areas.
For the afternoon, we decided to try one of the 4WD tracks – not that we have much experience with these. It was easy to accept the recommendation from the tourist desk we had visited the other day, and chooseone that passed Boroka Lookout, as it was the only main one we had not done. The drive was varied and easy (watch those flood gutters) and the lookout was spectacular.
We heard a ranger telling someone that there is a pipeline going from the East Grampians, under Lake Bellfield and out the other side, build in the 1800s, to provide water for the farmland around. I could hardly believe it.
So ended our brief but busy visit to the Grampians, and low-hanging clouds promised much-needed rain as we departed.
Beginning at Brambuk, the National Park and Cultural Centre, we were delighted by the setting and architecture. Built alongside the wetlands, it is calm and tranquil. The first building is the National Park building and between them is a series of walls with information about the 6 seasons recognized by the Indigenous people of Australia. This was news to us, despite having visited many Aboriginal cultural centres around the country.
The final building, Brambuk, is built like a cockatoo, which is Brambuk in the language of the original local people. It is impressive, with its spread ‘wings’ and beak and the inside is laid out really well. Entrance is a gold coin donation and there is a room where, if you ask for assistance, children can learn dot painting.
I learned more here – that Australian Aboriginal people are the oldest continuous culture in the world and that there WAS a treaty signed between the government and the original owners of the land (I was recently asked by a student if there was one, and I said that I didn’t think there had ever been one that represented all original peoples of Australia).
You cannot take photos of Aboriginal people because of their beliefs about the dead, but there are many exhibits you can photograph, like traditional fish traps, paintings or anything not involving people or sacred sites. There are paintings for sale, decorated boomerangs and other souvenirs in the National Park Centre.
After leaving Brambuk, we made an unplanned stop at Lake Bellfield and walked across the dam wall, looking over water, mountains and valleys.
The drive to Dunkeld from here was about 20 minutes, along pleasant scenery, that included views of the ranges ahead, beside and behind.
Dunkeld held little of interest in its own right, for us, but we didn’t visit the information centre to search more features. There was a choice of eateries and some art, craft and local produce centres, as well as a chemist, hotel and bank.
For the drive back, we diverted along the Victoria Valley road, which is very narrow, and saw some beautiful farming land, rich and green, although it appeared to be sheep country.
Detour number one when we returned to the main road was Mt William carpark. We decided to start the walk to the peak (the highest in the region) but got perhaps 200-300m and decided the steep gradient wasn’t what we were up for this afternoon, so took some scenery shots and came carefully back down.
Number 2 detour was Sundial carpark, from where we did the 0.8km walk to Silverband Falls. This was an easy walk and very pretty, through stringybark gum forests, with brightly-coloured tiny birds teasing us by flitting by too quickly to be photographed easily. The falls are quite picturesque and would be a lovely picnic spot.
Tucked in Victoria’s West are a series of sandstone mountains called Gariwerd by the original owners and inhabitants and Grampians National Park by the government. Colloquially, they are called The Grampians.
We made a 4-day visit in October this year and had a pretty busy time doing walks and sight-seeing. I’ll break it into 4 days so that it isn’t too long and will include a summary of the time at the beginning and what we left out, would do again, or didn’t know about at the end.
Where we went, while staying in Halls Gap Gardens Caravan Park , which is a 15 minute walk from Halls Gap and good value. Most of these are walks, so anything NOT a walk I put in italics.
Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre
Halls Gap Botanical Gardens
We began at the visitor centre in Halls Gap, where we received excellent advice about walks, drives and 4WD drives for anyone who hasn’t been here before and wants to make sure they’ve seen the sights.
We decided to head to the Wonderland carpark and do a couple of the shorter walks, starting with the Grand Canyon 0.7 km.
This led quite easily to the Pinnacle walk 1km, so we headed there, passing through Bride’s veil falls,
And finally to the Pinnacle. The whole walk took about 100 minutes, and the hardest was the Pinnacle, with steep uphill rises towards the end, for about 10 minutes. The rest was pretty easy but you couldn’t do it if you are in a wheelchair or very large, as the ascent from Silent Street is very narrow.
Why go home before doing the other, short walk you had originally gone there to do? At 0.7km, the walk to Splitters Falls seemed small fry. It did not take long, but was downhill on the way there and, obviously, uphill on return. It’s a pretty walk that passes rock pools, where people sat eating lunch and I imagine in the Summer it would be a great place for a dip. We passed some walkers who said the destination wasn’t worth it, but we disagreed, as Splitters Falls was pretty and you can get up close.
Returning to our site for lunch, we stopped very briefly before heading out again to Reed’s Lookout,
And The Balconies
Deciding to press on, we went to McKenzie Falls and did a couple of ‘side’ lookouts before deciding on the major lookout from the top. There were two reasons for this – the person at the tourist centre had said you can get better photos from there, and it was slightly uphill at first, which was appealing after our rather huge amount of uphill climbing, our ankles and knees protesting at the thought of a steep uphill return.
Accidentally taking a wrong turn on the way home, we ended up at Lake Wartook. An ok sight, perhaps the most useful feature is the anglers club situated here.
Understandably, we were pretty sore the next day and one of us has a plan to include more, lengthy walks, more regularly.
Even though it was around 2 degrees C at night and cool during the day, the sun is at work, so always take hat, water and sunscreen.