Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published May 5th 2013
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
If you haven't visited the Grampians before, or even if you haven't been there for some time, it's the perfect time of year to take the 3.5 hour easy drive from Melbourne. The days are clear and a perfect temperature for walking, the autumn leaves are on the turn and best of all, the snakes are hibernating!
One of the best spots for walking is the incredible Wonderland area, just 3 minutes drive from the centre of Halls Gap. Drive slowly up Mt Victory Road, so as to avoid the little black wallabies which are nibbling by the roadsides, and turn into the Wonderland car park. There are a number return and circular walks from the car park, to suit all abilities. The shops and National Parks Info Centre in Halls Gap also sell handy little brochures featuring the range of walks available in this rocky area, which really is known officially as 'Wonderland', and rightly so.
One of the best, and most interesting of the walks, is the Grand Canyon loop walk. This short (900m) circuit track is arguably one of the most interesting walks in Victoria - especially for kids who will love bounding along the rock platforms, up the steps and above the ravine which runs down to the creek. Not for those with ancient knees, the walk is nevertheless pretty accessible, with solid handrails strategically placed to guide you along. The walk follows across the rocks and into the ravine - which while not on the scale of its American namesake, is still very impressive - before it climbs out of the gorge for beautiful views and then makes its way back down to the car park.
This walk will just give you a taster of what's on offer in Wonderland - you could easily spend a few days just in this one area, exploring the walks and views, but don't forget to make time to head further along the Mt Victory road to also take in the Lookout and The Balconies, with their vertiginous views across the Grampians. From there, just a few minutes more along the road leads you to the walk down to the base of McKenzie Falls - all 250 steps of it - but well worth the effort.
Making their way down the last steps beside McKenzie Falls, The Grampians
You could spend a week taking in all the lovely short walks the Grampians has to offer, and still only scratch the surface. There is something for everyone, from flat walks beside rivers and lakes, to vertiginous scrambles up high mountain peaks. Halls Gap makes a perfect jumping off base, with all sorts of accommodation available and kangaroos jumping down the main street just to keep you on your toes (no, really)! If you need to refresh your body and your soul, take some time this autumn and winter to head to the Grampians, you'll be so glad you did.