A Day trip to the Grampians National Park
The Grampians National Park is part of the Great Southern Touring Route, and so for a lot of tourists, a visit there is a one-day affair on the way to or from the Great Ocean Road. Although you can’t possibly see everything in a single day, it is possible to see the main sights and to fit in a short hike or two. Of course, if you’re the adventurous type, the hiking trails, canoeing, rock climbing and fishing can easily keep you busy for a week or more!
We had visited the Grampians twice before, both times as short, weekend trips. But on our last visit, we went there just for the day, while we stayed in the Pyrenees wine region, two hours drive away. After so much wining and dining in the Pyrenees, we knew that we needed a bit of exercise and the Grampians is the perfect place for that. It had also been over nine years since our last visit, so we were definitely overdue for one.
Where is the Grampians National Park
The Grampians National Park is four hours drive west of Melbourne, on the way to Adelaide. If you’re on your way to South Australia, the Grampians makes a great half-way break. It’s also the perfect place to head for a weekend away from Melbourne.
What’s so special about the Grampians?
The Grampians National Park is famous for its spectacular sandstone ridges and its rugged scenery, which have formed over thousands of years by the movement of the earth. The Grampians is home to some amazing scenic lookouts, waterfalls, unusual rock formations, plenty of wildlife and a rich aboriginal history. It’s also one of Victoria’s top national parks.
What to do in the Grampians National Park?
The McKenzie Falls are one of the largest waterfalls in Victoria and they really are spectacular. It’s the number one attraction in the Grampians so you really need to see them.
There are two walks to choose from (try and do both if you can). The MacKenzie Falls Lookout Walk is the easiest and is wheelchair accessible. This 1.9 km return walk takes about forty minutes and provides sweeping views of MacKenzie Falls and the MacKenzie River, from high above the gorge.
The nicer but steeper MacKenzie Falls Base Walk is 2 kms return and takes just over an hour or more depending on your fitness level. The view of the waterfalls cascading down into the deep pools at the base is worth the steep climb back up. Bear in mind, it is forbidden to swim at MacKenzie Falls.
Reeds Lookout and the Balconies
Reeds Lookout is an easy one hundred metre return walk, with splendid views of the Victoria Valley, Victoria Ranges, Serra Ranges, Lake Wartook and the Mt Difficult Ranges.
The track to the Balconies lookout is another easy two kilometres return walk. It climbs gently from the carpark, up through rocky outcrops and a stringybark forest, before reaching the Balconies, one of the most popular lookouts in the Grampians. You may have seen photos of people standing on the famous “jaws” that are visible from the lookout. This is also strictly forbidden so don’t risk your life for a foolish Instagram shot!
You reach the Boroka Lookout by a two hundred meters return path. This lookout gives you more spectacular views of the Wonderland Ranges, Mt William Ranges, Fyans Valley, Lake Bellfield and the plains to the east of the Grampians.
Hike to the Pinnacle
The Pinnacle is the best day hike in the Grampians, and we highly recommend doing it if you have the time. There are two different routes to get to the Pinnacle Lookout. Unless you’re quite fit, we recommend starting from the Sundial Carpark as it is the easiest route. If you start from the Wonderland Carpark you’ll be in for a much more challenging climb.
The hike from the Sundial Carpark is 2.1 kilometres one way, and it takes between 45 minutes to an hour to reach the lookout. Once you reach the lookout, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views down onto Halls Gap and across the Grampians’ many peaks.
Visit the Bunjil’s Shelter Rock Art Site
The Grampians is home to the largest number of Aboriginal rock art sites in southern Australia. In fact, more than eighty percent of Victoria’s rock art sites are in the region. Approximately, sixty rock art sites have been identified and all together they contain more than four thousand different motifs.
Of those sites, five shelters are now open to the public. Manja and Billimina shelters are in the Western Grampians. Ngamadjidj and Gulgurn Manja shelters are in the north. The one not to miss is Bunjil’s shelter, near Stawell in the Black Range Scenic Reserve. You should stop in there on your way to or from Melbourne. The Bunjil’s shelter is one of the most important sites in Victoria.
Encounter some wildlife
The Grampians is home to an abundance of wildlife and birdlife, so it would be almost impossible not to spot any. Hordes of Kangaroos, wallabies, emus, echidnas, cockatoos, kookaburras and parrots live in the area. So keep your camera ready at all times! Make sure to wander the main street of Halls Gap and make your way down to the Golf course where literally hundreds or kangaroos can be spotted.
Where to eat in the Grampians?
Harvest Cafe in Halls Gap
The Harvest Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (on Friday and Saturday nights). It serves delicious dishes made with local produce and amazing coffee. It also has a small provedore, where you can buy a range of delicious local food and wine.
Day Trips to the Grampians
If you are visiting Melbourne but do not have a car there are many day trips leaving from Melbourne. Check out the well-rated ones below.
Accommodation in the Grampians
If you want to stay longer in the Grampians, use the search box below to find accommodation in the area.