Monday, May 05, 2008

ROADTRIP!!! The Grampians

I've been meaning to see something of the Grampians for nearly three years now, so on some much-deserved time off last month I spent a couple of days in Halls Gap, doing some light bushwalking and ooh-ing and aah-ing at the mountains and other pretty sights in the area. Below are some of my favourite pictures to share with you.

First stop was the Boroka Lookout, just off Mt Victory Road west of Halls Gap, with some stunning views down to the town and out across park bushland. Thankfully I wasn't driving so I could take in the full majesty of the sights on the way there. It's such a shame that the road out is narrow and winding, with no place to safely pull over and grab a few snaps, as it truly was awesome.

From there we continued out to MacKenzie Falls. There are many, many beautiful pictures of the falls to be found online (see Mike Leonard's and Roz McQuillan's as examples), and I'm not sure my meagre offerings can compete, but I think they look nice. So if someone with my mediocre photography skills can capture even a small amount of the beauty in these pictures, imagine what the reality is like. Of course we were there during the dryer season, hence the lack of gushing water. I've already decided to head back in the spring to see it in full flood. You need good knees to get to the bottom, but more so to get back up to the top! The way down is via steep, narrow flights of stairs seemingly carved out of the rock face, and paved with more rock. I'm certainly glad I wasn't the one who had to do THAT little job. An interesting piece of information about the Falls - they are slowly moving further upstream. Yep, that's right. An information plaque states "With every thunderous plunge of water, the soft layer below (the hard rock) is worn away. Eventually the face of the waterfall becomes destabilised and crashes down. This repeated action is slowly moving MacKenzie Falls upstream."

On the way back to the carpark is a path to the Split Falls lookout. Visually less spectacular, I think they were still worth the minimal effort required to see them.

Last stop for the day was The Balconies lookouts. We didn't spend much time there, as it was getting late in the day, but the lookouts located at the carpark still afforded some lovely views.

The end of a somewhat busy Day 1 saw us settling into our accommodation for the weekend. Wotif offers great deals for Heatherlie Cottages, which is a good thing as I would never have paid the full asking price, nice though the place was. I think that, when I go back, I'll stay at the YHA Eco Hostel - it looks good, has received some great reviews, and is a much nicer price as well! You can also hire push bikes in Halls Gap to help you get around town, which I'll certainly look at next time too.

A quick trip to Stawell for morning tea and Horsham for a late lunch filled the earlier part of Day 2, with the Fig Tree Deli Caffe (59 Firebrand St, Horsham, P: 03 5381 1823) providing some great lasagne, and an amazing pumpkin with spinach and fetta filo pastry slice. Then, lured by the picture on a wall in the cottage, the Beehive Falls beckoned.

By far the longest walk of the weekend, but still quite pleasant with an easy gradient and fairly well maintained path, at least as far as the falls - from there I believe it gets a bit harder, but we didn't explore that far. Again, there isn't much water dribbling down the rocks at this time of year, so this is another place I'm hoping to see again in spring. But I hope you agree it still looks very pretty. I was amazed at how clear the water at the bottom was.

Heading home on Day 3, a quick stop at the Ararat Visitor Information Centre prompted a visit to J Ward, the one-time home for the criminally insane, then a ward for Ararat Lunatic Asylum. I recommend the guided tour - especially if you've been to the Information Centre beforehand and received a coupon for discounted entry. Guided tours are given regularly. Our guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the place, with quite a few stories about past inhabitants.

When I go back to the Grampians I'll definitely take a further look at the Balconies, as well as the Beehive and MacKenzie Falls. I've been told to check out Mt Stapylton as well. There's still plenty more to see, so plenty more trips to plan.


Cindy said...

I particularly love your first photo! I had my own great little trip to the Grampians late last year, but didn't visit all the places you mentioned. I'll be sure to refer back to this post next time. :-)

Anna said...

Thanks Cindy.

I'm hoping to maybe take a few more days, next time, and cram in as much as I can. Definitely looking forward to the warmer weather now!