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Reisverslag English (part 6): The Grampians
7 februari 2015
English (part 6): The Grampians
Wednesday 5th of November: Halls Gap
After a good night’s sleep the noisy cockatoos take over the task of the alarm clock this morning. But we don’t have time to sleep in anyway, as there is so much to explore in the Grampians and we only have two full days in the area. After breakfast we head for the Brambuk Visitor Centre a few kilometres further north. This is both, the official visitors centre of the Grampians National Park and the cultural centre of the local Aboriginal community. After buying a hiking map and getting some information about the area at the visitors centre, we visit the interesting gallery at the cultural centre telling the story of the Aboriginal people of the Grampians or Gariwerd, as they call it. There is also a movie we could watch, but as it is beautiful weather, we don’t want to waste any more time inside. Instead we drive to Halls Gap and from there to the Wonderland car park inside the national park. This is the trail head for the hike to the Pinnacle, an awe inspiring lookout on a narrow rock-platform high above the town of Halls Gap. We put on our hiking boots and start walking the 5,5 km loop to the Pinnacle and back. The first part of the hike leads us through the Grand Canyon, a beautiful gorge with vertical walls of grey sandstone on either side of the trail. Huge boulders littering the canyon floor make this a pretty strenuous and adventurous hike. But don’t worry, the most difficult parts of the trail have been secured with steps and handrails. Once we’ve left the canyon behind us, the trail winds upwards through rocky woodland. There are lots of stunningly blooming wildflowers and shrubs around and Klaas has to be very patient waiting for his wife taking countless pictures. Silent Street is another very narrow ravine on our way up to the Pinnacle. A ladder at the end of Silent Street takes us up to a slightly rising plateau full of interesting rock formations, which eventually leads us to the Pinnacle at the edge of the escarpment. The lookout, which is on top of an almost vertical cliff, offers a fantastic view of Halls Gap and the huge plains laying behind it. After a little snack we follow the loop back down to the car park. Then we take our car up to the Sundial Car Park for lunch, more wildflowers and another hike. This time we do the 1,8 kilometre circuit walk to the Lakeview Lookout. Although not quite as spectacular as the Pinnacle, this lookout on the edge of the escarpment offers another great view of Lake Bellfield and the campground next to it. Our last destination today is Reeds Lookout, situated right in the middle of the national park with great views of the Victoria Valley to the south and Lake Wartook and the Mount Difficult Range to the north. Another easy and flat 2 km return walk brings us to the Balconies, a magnificent rock formation, which looks indeed like balconies or the head of a lizard coming out of the cliff wall. The Balconies are an iconic rock formation and you will find a picture of them in almost every brochure about the Grampians. On the way back to the caravan park we stop in Halls Gap to have a look at the shops and restaurants in town. Unfortunately in terms of food suppliers a general store selling more camping equipment than fresh food is all the town has to offer. I’m glad, we bought most of our food supplies for the coming days in Warrnambool. Back on the campground we write a few more articles for our online trip report, before uploading them to our website using the free WiFi-connection provided at the office of the caravan park. Then we have dinner with salad and couscous with veggies and beef mince. After dishwashing and a cup of coffee / tea it is time to hit the sheets.
Thursday 6th of November: Halls Gap
Today we have another day to explore the Grampians ahead of us. Our first destination today is Boroka Lookout in the northern part of Grampians National Park. This part of the park was heavily affected by the devastating bushfires in January 2014, which destroyed most of the forests and park facilities north of the Mount Victory Road. Fortunately Boroka Lookout was one of the few places spared by the flames and offers fantastic views of the Wonderland and Mount William Ranges, Fyans Valley and the plains to the east of the Grampians. Unfortunately with the sun shining towards us, the morning hours aren’t ideal for taking pictures from Boroka Lookout and therefore we decide to come back in the late afternoon. Next on our Grampians bucket list are the MacKenzie Falls. Heavily damaged by the bushfires the car park and walking tracks around this magnificent waterfall have just been reopened a few weeks ago. Nevertheless the consequences of the fire are still visible: The trees in the area are not much more than black trunks, the former kiosk is a ruin and the newly built toilet block hasn’t been opened yet by lack of electricity. On the other hand it’s a real miracle, how fast nature is regenerating. Totally black trunks are covered in shoots of fresh, green leaves and on the forest floor stripped from its usual undergrowth wildflowers are blooming everywhere. The walk down to the base of MacKenzie Falls and along the river to Fish Falls further downstream is a real paradise for wildflower lovers like me. There are dozens of different species and I just can’t stop admiring and taking pictures of them. Back at the car we continue driving west on the Mount Victory Road and stop at the Zumstein Picnic Area for lunch. While the picnic area itself has been repaired after the fires and was recently reopened to the public, so far no restoration work has been done to the heavily damaged historic homestead of the Zumstein family. The tracks of the bushfire are visible all along Mount Victory Road, even far beyond the western border of Grampians National Park. Once we reach the plains west of the national park, we follow the mountain ranges of the Grampians to the north. Our next stop is at Toscana Olive Plantation, an olive grove and oil mill situated in the foothills of the Grampians. We have a look at their farm store, where they sell all kinds of oil made from the olives grown on the farm. We have a taste of the different oils on offer and buy a few bottles as presents for our Australian hosts and as a souvenir to take back home with us. Then we continue driving north re-entering the national park at its northern tip on the Mount Zero Road. This area was heavily burnt during the bushfires and there hasn’t been much regrowth since January. Everything looks black and desolate and all the facilities and side roads along the main road are still closed. Unfortunately that means we can’t get to the Aboriginal art shelters this area is famous for. Instead we make our way back to the main highway as soon as possible. Nevertheless the little detour on Mt. Zero Road was certainly worth the effort, as we manage to spot our first echidna crossing the road in front of us. Unfortunately the shy little creature slightly resembling a hedgehog disappears in the bush, before we are even able to get our camera, never to be seen again. Hopefully at some point during this trip we will get another chance. On highway A8 we turn back south, this time following the eastern border of the national park. Via Halls Gap we re-enter the park and return to the Boroka Lookout, where we have been first thing this morning. This time the sun is in the west, perfect for taking pictures from the lookout. Instead of returning to Halls Gap the same way we came, we take first the Sundial and then the narrow one-way Silverband Road, in order to get back to the campground. As we are running out of food supplies, we decide to go out for dinner today. Our destination is The View Restaurant at the Grampians Motel, about a kilometre down the road from the campground. On the meadow in front of the motel there are at least a dozen kangaroos grazing, making for a great view out of the restaurant’s windows. One of the animals – called “Lemontree” by the owners of the restaurant - is so tame, he’s sitting right in front of an open window waiting for his daily share of “gourmet”-food. Unfortunately we are not willing to share ours. The antipasto-platter with lots of different local cheeses, sausage, ham, nuts and olives tastes far too good to share it with a “roo” begging for food. The sumptuous entrée is followed by a main course of succulent beef steak for Klaas and delicious kangaroo tenderloin for me. Before rolling quite literally back to our tent, we finish the feast with a crème brulée and an expresso.
19 februari 2015 19:41 | Door: Leen en Ellien van der Kooij
Momenteel zijn wij in Canada voor onze wintervakantie. Er is weer een reisverslag, dus als je zin hebt...... Helaas weinig sneeuw, maar al mooie dingen beleefd. Groetjes Ellien