We were still enjoying ourselves after our delightful trip along the Great Ocean Road, and the next item on our agenda was The Grampians. We departed from Dunkeld towards Halls Gap, the center of The Grampians. After a steep climb in our car, we arrived around noon. We made a brief stop at the information center and purchased two hiking maps. First, we decided to have a picnic and finally got to wear our shorts again. It was quite warm there. Our first stop was the famous Mackenzie Falls. To reach it, we had to descend a considerable number of stairs, and meanwhile, we got caught in a rain shower. Strange weather here among the mountains. The effort to climb the stairs was more than worth it, as the waterfall was truly impressive. Wow! The ascent was a bit more challenging, but some exercise did us good.
After a short drive downhill, we arrived at The Reeds Lookout. Here, we were treated to a stunning view of The Grampians. The last two stops of the day were The Balconies and The Boroka Lookout. As the names suggest, they were lookout points offering beautiful views. Once again, these sights left us in awe. It’s truly amazing to witness the transitions in this country from oceans and beaches to green forests and meadows. Beautiful!
Around 5 PM, we drove back towards the center of The Grampians and searched for a camping spot. Our first choice, ‘Under The Trees,’ was peaceful and beautifully located. However, the signs on the premises warning of ‘falling trees’ were not reassuring. These gum trees can shed their branches in the summer due to drought. It was definitely not advisable to park our rooftop tent under them. Moreover, they predicted thunderstorms throughout the night. Okay, we quickly looked for another place to sleep. We drove deeper into the forest and came across a lovely campsite. It was quite spacious, with at least eight camping grounds to choose from. Even with all those options, we still found it challenging to make a decision quickly. A point to work on for us!
First, we checked the direction of the wind and determined the north (thanks to handy apps—no need for a real compass, right? :-D). We hastily prepared our dinner as the wind picked up. In the meantime, a kangaroo passed by—a delightful sight, but I remained cautious. We quickly crawled into bed after securing our tent with three additional stakes. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much sleep. That night, we experienced a severe storm with rain showers, strong wind gusts of up to 50 km/h, and thunder and lightning directly overhead. We were a bit worried, but fortunately, our tent proved to be stronger than we thought.
The following day, we had to dry our entire tent. We quickly ate breakfast and drove back to Halls Gap, where we could take a refreshing shower for three dollars. I felt like a completely different person after my shower.
With all the camping, we had fallen seriously behind on our blog. Not that it’s so important to us, but we wanted to keep it alive for as long as possible because it’s a nice memory for us in the future. It also helps keep our loved ones informed about our stories. We found a coffee bar and worked on it until the afternoon to finish everything. It was very hot, so we wanted to enjoy the sun on our faces for a little while. Time to stretch our legs! We drove to the Grand Canyon Loop, a short but beautiful and impressive hike.
We decided to also do The Pinnacles hike of 2 kilometers simultaneously. It involved a steep climb over rocks with gusts of wind. It was more than worth it when we reached the top. I wasn’t entirely comfortable at that height (I was scared out of my mind, but luckily I could hold Ely’s hand :-D). The endless views of such a landscape never fail to captivate us and leave us momentarily speechless. We decided to drive back to the same campsite. Upon arrival, it was much busier. It was the weekend, and many locals came here at this time.
Once again, we had a visit from a kangaroo while cooking. We made our tent wind-resistant by driving our pegs back into the ground, which was also necessary! In the middle of the night, a group of Asians arrived and took an incredibly long time to set up their camp in a prohibited area. As if that wasn’t enough, they had their generator running for most of the night. I’m getting more and more fed up with them :-D.
We drove back to Halls Gap to take another shower, which was free this time. Not really logical, but we didn’t complain. The less money we spend, the better! The weather had changed, and there was no sun or warm weather this time. We went back to the coffee bar and continued working on our blog. Afterward, we went on two short hikes: Venus Baths Loop and Bullacles Glen Loop. Along the way, we saw some kangaroos again. When we reached Bullacles Glen, we realized that it should have been a waterfall, but it was completely dry. A bit disappointing, but they were two beautiful hikes.
The Grampians were incredibly beautiful, but they became too crowded for us. We had seen enough and drove back towards civilization (although you don’t get that feeling quickly here in Australia). We found a nice camping spot by a beautiful lake. Here, we were finally allowed to make a fire, or at least we thought so, as there was a fire pit. Campfires are very dangerous here due to bushfires. Along every highway, signs indicate “fire restrictions” to indicate the likelihood of bushfires. We were very careful and diligently extinguished our fire when we went to sleep. We continued to gather firewood and were visited by a kangaroo once again.
We had a great and cozy evening around our fire. Above us, we also saw three beautiful owls in the tree. We watched some “Grey’s Anatomy” inside our tent and heard the kangaroo grazing in the grass beneath us. We both had an urgent need to use the toilet in the middle of the night. It was not so fun, as it meant putting on our shoes, especially our headlamps. Hurriedly, we relieved ourselves, and suddenly we heard rustling in the tree above us. A possum was crawling just above us. By then, I had figured out how to sleep better in our tent with all those animal noises around us: an eye mask to block out the morning light and earplugs. Not the most glamorous, but anything for a good night’s sleep. I slept wonderfully the following day. We finally had some sunshine, so we made ourselves a delicious scrambled egg and drove to a public shower.
There was one more activity on our to-do list in The Grampians: Mount Sturgeon. It was a serious climb of three kilometers uphill. A 540-meter elevation gain and not exactly a well-defined hiking trail, but lose stones. We were well prepared: lots of water, Sprite, snacks, and our lunch. Our backpacks were too heavy, but everyone scared us about this climb. Honestly, it was a challenging hike. In total, a little over six kilometers, but it went surprisingly well. Our fitness level isn’t so bad after all! At the top, we were rewarded with a breathtaking 360-degree view. Wow, wow, wow. There are no words for this. Maybe it’s starting to bore you, but we enjoy it every time anew.
We got hungry from our climb and decided to have our sandwiches at the top. There was wind, and our Philadelphia cream cheese lid flew away. Unintentional environmental polluters, sorry! We continued our descent and saw some Blue Lizards along the way. We were almost down when Ely suddenly saw a snake beside the trail. I quickly grabbed our camera to capture it on film. I think the snake didn’t feel entirely comfortable and moved lightning-fast. Geez, we were so scared! First in our direction, then a bit further, almost on the trail. We stood frozen for a moment and then quickly decided to move forward alongside the trail.
The snake season has clearly begun, and you better be alert. Phew! We drove to a paid campground, five dollars per person. Once again, we had bad luck with the weather. Rain was coming. We decided to open our awning for once, and it was pretty cozy cooking like that. We secured our tent even more, sheltered from the wind. Rain again that night, so there was nothing else to do but dry our tent in the morning.
x Inez & Ely