Halls Gap, Grampians National Park
Port Fairy is a small idealich fishing port, with a little Harbour, we take an early morning walk around the wildlife park of Griffith Island looking for wild birds.
We travel the rest of the morning further west to Portland for supplies and visit Cape Nelson Lighthouse in the fog, it is the furthest west that we travel in Victoria. After restocking for supplies we head north towards the Grampian mountains and Halls Gap.
The route takes us through Hamilton and over the parched flat farmland before rising up in the distance, the Grampian mountains appear on the skyline. We enter the park from the south along the Grampian Highway, this takes us along the line of the Serra Range for about 25km to Halls Gap, stopping to take in the views of Mount Abrupt and Cathedral. It’s a straight undulating road through the gumtree forest, as the temperature reaches a staggering 44 degrees, the risk of fire is apparent. We arrive in the afternoon at Halls Gap a village on the northern edges of the National Park, a places which caters for walkers and visitors to the area.
Setting up camp in Halls Gap, the temperature is staggering and there is no need to do anything much apart from visiting the swimming pool to cool off. An uncomfortable night to sleep in the camper van, all the door remain open.
The Pinnacle, Grampians National Park
An early rise and short drive up the mountains near Halls Gap, the Pinnacle is a viewing platform overlooking Halls Gap and the valley right down to Lake Bellfield. It’s 2,1 km via the grand canyon to the summit, but it’s a tough climb and let’s be honest it’s boiling ! We have sunblock, water and hats, it’s not enough really although we see other walkers without any of these basic things. The summit is spectacular, the Pinnacle. It leans out over the edge of the rock face high above the valley, the view stretches out across the plains to Ballarat and down the Halls Gap valley. The climb takes us an hour, over rocks and up through canyons where streams run in winter, it’s a boiling place to be, the crowds thin out as we reach the top. On the way down some people are still climbing up but it’s already 11.30 and we are thankful to reach the car park. We consider travelling onto the waterfalls and other lookouts but the heat is pounding now so we head downhill to the campsite and a cold shower, it’s 42 degrees…….
In the late afternoon we stop at the Visitors Information centre, the guides tells us the mountains are closed because the park bushrangers consider it too dangerous to walk or stay out in the bush. The forecast is 47 degrees tomorrow and the winds on both days are strong so the risk of a bushfire spreading has been raised to severe. Anyone walking in the bush is at risk, the guide tells us a fire can break out any minute and within fifteen minutes you can be completely cut off from safety and nobody is coming to get you ! We take his advice, even in Halls Gap the feeling in tense, people are milling about looking for something to do or heading out of the mountains. We visit the Aboriginal Brambuk Cultural Centre in Halls Gap, where a guide explains the history and background of Australia’s Aboriginal people and shows us a film of the formation of the Gariwerd (Grampians) mountains according to Aboriginal mythology. Later as I was listening to the radio, it’s apparent few people will be coming to the National Park this weekend it’s just too dangerous. We decide to leave early in the morning and head straight for Melbourne rather than trying another early morning walk.
Check out the visitors website : Victoria Parks Halls Gap, Grampians National Park
Brambuk Cultural Centre Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Halls Gap
Where : The Grampians National Park, Victoria, Australia.
Travelling : 276 km from Port Fairy to Halls Gap, travelling on the A1 towards Portland, past the town centre and head towards Cape Nelson Lighthouse on the Scenic Road that loops around the headland. Take the A1 north to Hamilton, then north again on the B160 to Dunkeld. The Grampian Highway heads north from the centre of Dunkeld towards Halls Gap on the C126, this takes you through the bush into the Grampians National Park.
Camping or Campervan: Grampians Parkgate Resort, Halls Gap just five minutes drive from the centre of the village and another ten to drive up to the start of the walk to the Pinnacles.
Don’t tell anyone: Brambuk Cultural Centre, learn how to play the Didgeridoo or throw a boomerang !
Next up: Melbourne.
pjbourne is a full time architect, urban masterplanner and sustainability designer. In his free time he’s outside with a camera, running, wandering or mountain biking through the Alps where he lives or indoors in front of the iMac planning another long road trip in a campervan to the other side of the world.
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