Freelance writer living in Melbourne. If you enjoy the following article please click on the 'like' button to give me feedback. I am a mum to two very active boys, who is trying to share her passion for nature, art, social justice and a love of life.
Published January 15th 2014
A child's wonderland
On a warm daythere is nothing better that sliding into a naturally formed rock pool and relaxing with your family.
Halls Gap is 3 hours north west of Melbourne, which in "travelling with children" time equates to 2 movies and one toilet stop. A good place to stop is Ballarat, there are plenty of options for food, drinks and public toilets.
Once there, locate your accommodation – we have stayed at the Grampians Eco YHA which is a hostel with many perks for children.
You can get a family room for around $100/night and for this price you get the room, shared bathroom facilities, shared kitchen, dining, TV Room and DVDs from reception, BBQ and much much more. The staff are very friendly, the chooks are tame and the kangaroos are plentiful.
The Grampians Eco YHA is comfortable, kid friendly and reasonably priced.
Just what you need after a beautiful hike through the bush.
There are many walks and day trips you can do and your options will depend on your fitness, experience and age of children. Ours being 3 and 5 years of age, are restricted to family friendly walks, drives and of course, the rock pools. You can get more information from the Visitor Centre at Halls Gap.
Happy kids in nature makes for a great day out.
1. Boroka Lookout This is simply the best viewpoint in Halls Gap. Start here to set your orientation. See the town, the reservoir, the hills and almost the edge of the world. If you want an amazing picture, brilliant views or just a sense that you are part of a something bigger, this is a must see. The viewing platform is completely pram friendly and a short stroll from the car park. Drop toilets are at the rear of the car park.
2. Venus Baths Walking Loop The track is nestled in amongst soaring mountains, rugged terrain and stunning green tree ferns. It is scattered with exquisite, tiny wildflowers and kangaroos pop in and out as they choose. The track is completely pram friendly and starts at the tennis courts and finishes near the Botanical Gardens. The rock pools would have to be one of the best in Australia and are highly recommended for kids and adult alike. It is a 2.3km return loop and would make for a perfect walk, swim and picnic lunch at the gardens. There are no toilets on the loop, so get kids to go before you leave.
A perfect short walk for young bubs and kids. There are beautiful rock pools along the way too.
3. Bunjil and Indigenous Rock Art
The Grampians was traditionally known as Gariwerd and for thousands of years has been prolific in the creation stories of the south western Victorian indigenous people. Brambuk Cultural Centre is located approximately 1km out of Halls Gap, and here your children can watch the creation story both through the eyes of local indigenous people and scientists. Following the visit to Brambruk, you can drive to various Aboriginal rock art shelters in the region. Rock art depicting Bunjil, the traditional creator of the land, can be viewed about 30 minutes away heading towards Stawell. You may know Bunjil as the prominent white eagle located on Wurunjeri Way, Docklands. Halls Gap provides a great opportunity to experientially educate your children about indigenous history. Most places have toilets near the car park.
Bunjil rock art near Stawell. Photo courtesy of wikipedia.
This is truly a wonderland. Cavernous rocks engulfing you from all around, snippets and broad outlooks of amazing views and absolutely magical moments as you reach the top. We have climbed through Wonderland with the goal of reaching the Pinnacle, but were happy going only as far as the Wonderland circuit loop. We completed the walk with a 3 and 5 year old, but it was very slow going to help our youngest over the rocks and crevasses. About half way, we put him into our Tatonka carrier and let the walking remain with our 5 year old. If you have children older than 6 years, this would be a great walk. You do need a ok level of fitness and I would wear shoes with good grip; sneakers are fine. Wonderland is called "Dinosaur Land" by our boys, as there are so many rocks that could be eggs or gigantic dinosaurs asleep in the mountains. This is one of our favourite places in Halls Gap. There are no toilets at Wonderland - make sure you get the kids to go before you leave your accommodation.
For all walks and drives, I would always start at the visitor centre to check the conditions and confirm that walks are open. If you go to Halls Gap in Spring, collect one of the Wild Flower pamphlets and take your trusty Fisher Price digital Camera for the kids, and you will see a new side of even the most active children. Halls Gap is magical and when you can return to roast marshmallows on an open fire (that someone else will clean up) with your kids at night, Halls Gap is perfect.
Halls Gap is definitely on our to-do list and your article has clearly laid out what we need to do when we go there. Thanks for this very useful guide with kids. Ours are 5 and 7 and the 5 year old does not like to walk, but we're getting there slowly.