Rising from the flat plains of western Victoria’s wheat and grazing districts, the sandstone ranges of the GRAMPIANS, with their weirdly formed rocky outcrops and stark ridges, seem doubly spectacular. In addition to their scenic splendour, in the Grampians National Park (Gariwerd) you’ll find a dazzling array of flora, with a spring and early summer bonanza of wild flowers; a wealth of Aboriginal rock art; an impressive Aboriginal Cultural Centre; waterfalls and lakes; and over fifty bushwalks along 150km of well-marked tracks. There are also several hundred kilometres of road, from sealed highway to rough track, on which you can make exciting scenic drives and 4WD tours.
The best times to come are in autumn, or in spring and early summer when the waterfalls are in full flow and the wild flowers are blooming (although there’ll always be something in flower no matter when you come). Between June and August it rains heavily and can get extremely cold; at that time many tracks are closed to avoid erosion. Summers are very hot, with a scarcity of water and the ever-present threat of bushfires. If you’re undertaking extended walks in summer, carry a portable radio to get the latest information on the fire risk: on total fire ban days no exposed flames – not even that from a portable gas stove – are allowed.Read More
A few companies offer introductory climbing and abseiling; the going rate is about $70 for half a day and $130 for a full day.
Absolute Outdoors Grampians
Shop 4, Stoney Creek Stores t03/5356 4556, whttp://www.absoluteoutdoors.com.au. In addition to climbing/abseiling tours, they also offer canoeing and kayaking trips, guided nature and night-time spotlight walks as well as mountain-bike tours; they sell outdoor gear and rent mountain bikes too ($40/day).
GMAC (Grampians Mountain Adventure Company)
t03/5383 9218 or t0427 747 047, whttp://www.grampiansadventure.com.au. Trained and accredited by the Australian Mountain Climbers Association; they also operate at Mt Arapiles and can cater for advanced levels.
The Grampians Horse Riding Centre
t03/5383 9255, whttp://www.grampianshorseriding.com.au. Brimpaen in the Wartook Valley on the northwestern side of the Grampians. Trail rides through the bush twice a day (2hr 30min; $75).
Grampians Scenic Flights
t03/5356 4654 or t0429 954 686. Forty-minute flights giving the definitive overview of the mountain range; $170 for three-passenger aircraft, $280 for five.
Hangin’ Out in the Grampians
t03/5356 4535 or t0407 684 831, whttp://www.hanginout.com.au. Casual climbing tours start at $75 (4hr), and rise to $135 for full-day tours that include abseiling.
Rock art in the Grampians
Rock art in the Grampians
It’s estimated that Koorie Aborigines lived in the area known to them as Gariwerd at least five thousand years ago. The area offered such rich food sources that the Koories didn’t have to spend all their time hunting and food-gathering, and could therefore devote themselves to religious and cultural activities. Evidence of this survives in rock paintings, which are executed in a linear style, usually in a single colour (either red or white), but sometimes done by handprints or stencils. You can visit some of the rock shelters where Aborigines camped and painted on the sandstone walls, although many more are off limits. In the northern Grampians one of the best is Gulgurn Manja (also known as Flat Rock), 5km south of the Western Highway near the Hollow Mountain campsite; from Flat Rock Road it’s a signposted fifteen-minute walk. The name means “hands of young people”, as many of the handprints here were done by children. In the southern Grampians is Billimina, a fifteen-minute walk above the Buandik campsite; it’s an impressive rock overhang with clearly discernible, quite animated, red stick figures.