Grampians National Park is a 3-hour drive west of Melbourne. The Grampians is the area known as Gariwerd by Aboriginal people and is part of the Gariwerd Aboriginal cultural landscape. The park is famous for the presence of many aboriginal rock sites and shelters. Although the exact age of these sites is unknown, aboriginal people are estimated to have used the shelters in the area over the last 22 thousand years and have lived in what is now the state of Victoria for, at the very least, 40 thousand years.
As well as the rich culture and history, visitors are attracted to the park because of the countless walking trails ranging from short stroller and wheelchair-accessible walks to multiday excursions. There are many different panoramic viewpoints accessible for all ability levels including Mount William (Duwil), the highest peak within the Grampians, which requires a moderate climb to reach the summit and offers 360-views of the landscape, and Boroka Lookout which offers incredible views just steps from the car park.
Best Time to Visit Grampians National Park
The spring season lasts from September through November. Spring brings the most comfortable weather for park activities and is the best time to see wildflowers and wildlife.
The summer season lasts from December through February. Highs are around 30°C (86°F) and lows around 14°C (57°F). These months are often dry and hot making them less than ideal for hiking but great for enjoying the park’s many swimming holes.
The fall season lasts from March through May. This is the most ideal time to visit the park due to the mild weather for hiking and biking.
The winter season lasts from June through August. Winter highs are around 13°C (55°F) and lows around 4°C (39°F). This is a quieter time to visit the park. Prepare for wet trails, cold foggy mornings, full waterfalls, and rain.
It’s always a good idea to start any National Parks trip with a stop at the visitor centre. Here you can speak to park rangers, plan activities, or purchase a daily or annual pass. Pick up gifts, maps, books, brochures, and backcountry permits, or view exhibits on the area’s indigenous culture and history.
Brambuk National Park & Cultural Centre/Visitor Information – 277 Grampians Road, Halls Gap, VIC.
Getting To / Around Grampians National Park
The best way to travel to the Grampians is by personal vehicle as the park has limited public transportation.
From Melbourne Airport (MEL), drive 248km (154mi) for 3 hours via National Highway M8 to arrive at the Brambuk National Park & Cultural Centre in Halls Gap.
Alternatively, take the V/Line train from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne to Ararat. From Ararat, bus to Halls Gap.
From Adelaide Airport (ADL), drive 507km (315mi) for 5 hours and 45 minutes via National Highway A8 and Western Hwy/A8 to arrive at the Brambuk National Park & Cultural Centre in Halls Gap.
Things to Do and Main Attractions
The Great Southern Touring Route is an extension of the famous Great Ocean Road. The Great Southern Touring Route is 842 km (523 mi) and includes about 13 hours of total driving time. The route takes you from Melbourne to Apollo Bay, along the southern coastline of Victoria to Port Fairy. From Port Fairy, the route turns inland and travels north to Halls Gap and Grampians National Park. Next, head west to Ballarat before finally connecting back to Melbourne. Along the way, road trippers will be treated to outstanding coastal scenery, quaint surfing towns, the mountains and indigenous culture of the Grampians, food, and craft beer/wine, and Australian history all along the way.
Walking Trails in Grampians National Park
Pinnacle Lookout via Sundial car park is the most accessible trail to reach this popular lookout and is a 4.2km (2.6mi) return hike. To visit the largest waterfall in Victoria, leave from the MacKenzie Falls car park, follow the steep downhill trail for 2km (1.2mi) to reach the base of MacKenzie Falls. Boroka Lookout is only a short walk from the car park. It is considered one of the best panoramic viewpoints in the park. Ngamadjidj Shelter, one of the five aboriginal sites, is only a short 300m stroll from the Stapyltn Campground. This rock art is special because of the white-painted figures, giving the shelter its nicknamed ‘Cave of Ghosts’. The Balconies is a viewpoint that attracts photographers looking to snap a picture on the ledge or of the sun setting over the park. To get to the Balconies, follow a 2.2km (1.4mi) return trail from Reeds Lookout.
Pinnacle Lookout via Wonderland car park is an alternative route to this popular spot. This 5.5km (3.4km) challenging climb offers views from one of the highest points in the park. Zumsteins to MacKenzie Falls is a 7km (4.3mi) return trail that follows the MacKenzie River from the Zumsteins picnic area, past Fish Falls, to MacKenzie Falls where you can enjoy a picnic or take a swim. Boronia Peak trail winds through the forest before ascending the steps cut into the rocks to the peak. The view from the top of the ridge overlooks Halls Gap and Bellfield Lake. Mt. Difficult is one of the most challenging trails in the park which climbs up Mt. Difficult to reach views of the northern Grampians.
Grampians Peaks Trail is a 36km (22mi) circuit from Halls Gap that takes you past the Grand Canyon, the Pinnacle lookout, and to the summit of Mount Rosea among other highlights. Major Mitchell Plateau is a 41km (25.5mi) circuit that takes you to the summit of Mt. Williams, climbs to the Major Mitchell Plateau, and crosses the Wannon River. Both of these walks take an average of three days and two nights to complete.
Zumsteins Historic Area
Picnic along the MacKenzie River where hundreds of holidaymakers in the 1930s once came to retreat. Interpretive signs will lead you through Zumsteins where there are still remnants of old cottages.
‘Hangin’ Out in the Grampians’ is a licensed tour company that offers a variety of introduction rock climbing classes. Courses help build basic skills such as knot tying, belay techniques, and communication in order to build confidence in the mountains.
There are many lakes and waterways throughout the park that are ideal for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. Lake Bellfield, Lake Wartook, Lake Fyans, and Lake Hamilton are popular. Equipment rentals and tours are available from surrounding communities.
Spending enough time in the Grampians will allow you the chance to see wildlife. Kangaroos, wallabies, emus, echidnas, kookaburras, and cockatoos, including galahs and endangered red-tailed black cockatoos, are common.
Halls Gap Zoo
If you want to get a closer view of some of the animals found in the Grampians, then visit the Halls Gap Zoo. This is the largest regional zoo in Victoria. This zoo boasts 160 native and exotic animal species as well as endangered species captive breeding programs.
J Ward Museum
Take a guided tour of what was once a maximum-security prison facility that housed Victoria’s criminally insane. A tour guide will teach you the history of the prison and the criminals who were imprisoned there. Visitors can also take an after-dark tour of the eerie Aradale Lunatic Asylum.
Take a guided tour of the Hamilton Gallery. This gallery houses a wide range of artwork such as glass, silver, oriental ceramic, porcelain, furniture, prints, and paintings from national and international artists.
Festivals in Grampians National Park
The Grampians region hosts a wide array of events and festivals throughout the year. Events include the Great Western Cup horse races, the Grampians Grape Escape food, and wine festival, trail, and road running events, as well as many music festivals.
Aboriginal Rock Art Paintings and Shelters
There are five aboriginal rock art sites open for the public to visit throughout the park. The Gulgurn Manja rock art site means “hands of young people”. People refer to the Ngamadjidj Shelter rock art site as the cave of ghosts due to the white-painted figures. The Bunjil Shelter rock art site depicts Bunjil and two dingoes. The Billimina Shelter rock art site has a large assortment of many paintings. The Manja Shelter rock art site displays stencil paintings of hands, as well as people, and animal tracks.
Where to Stay in Grampians National Park
Park staff suggest that advance booking are required year-round.
Troopers Creek Campground – This large campground is surrounded by shrublands and eucalyptus trees in the northern Grampians.
Buandik Campground – Located in a eucalyptus forest at the base of the Victoria Range in the southern Grampians. Follow Billimina Creek to Buandik (Jadawadjali) Falls and then continue to the Billimina Rock Art Shelters.
Borough Huts Campground – An accessible, forested campground along Fyans Creek located in the central Grampians. A variety of walking trails begin from the area.
Smiths Mill Campground – A small campground in the central Grampians located close to MacKenzie Falls. Interpretive signs will tell the story of the historic sawmill and direct you to view remnants from the companies past.
Stapylton Campground – A small campground located in the Northern Grampians. Notable nearby activities include many day walks, Aboriginal rock shelters, and rock climbing sites.
Jimmy Creek Campground – An open forest campground set along the upper Wannon River. Set up here to have easy access to explore the southern and eastern Grampians.
Boreang Campground – A sheltered, wooded campground in the central Grampians ideal for exploring the more remote areas of the park.
Plantation Campground – A small, free campground located on the eastern edge of the Mount Difficult Range. There are 30 first-come, first-serve sites equipped with bush showers and firepits.
Strachans Campground – A secluded campground located at an old timber mill in the southwest of the park. Suitable for tent camping only with many opportunities for four-wheel driving, bushwalking, and rock climbing.
Things to Remember While Visiting the Grampians
- Follow “Leave No Trace” principles.
- Follow the speed limit and drive cautiously through the park to decrease wildlife collisions.
- Amenities such as restaurants, groceries, public drinking water tap facilities, and gas stations are available in the town of Halls Gap.
- There is limited cell coverage in the Grampians outside of Halls Gap.
- There is no public wifi available in much of Grampians National Park.
- Pets are not allowed in the park for their safety and the safety of park wildlife.
- Be prepared for a variety of weather conditions.
- Respect wildlife from a distance: don’t feed or approach them or let them approach you.
- Human food has a serious impact on wildlife. Don’t feed wildlife, keep camps free of all traces of food.
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