With plenty of hiking and adventure, some stargazing and even a touch of romance, the Grampians proved to be the perfect getaway for my 32nd birthday.
Just three hours from Melbourne lies this spectacular national park with rugged sandstone mountain ranges, craggy peaks and valleys, scenic waterfalls and state-of-the-art rock climbing.
It doesn’t matter what your age or interests are, you are sure to find something exciting in this vast natural wonderland.
We only stayed for two nights, but crammed in as many activities as we could.
Perhaps you’re interested in visiting the Grampians for yourself and would like to know what’s on offer?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Whether you are planning a quick weekender or an extended vacation, here is a list of 10 things to do on your next visit to Victoria’s Grampians National Park.
1. Hike The Pinnacle
The Grampians’ most famous walk is extremely popular, but that’s because the views from the top are phenomenal.
It is one of the best vantage points in the Grampians National Park, encompassing views of Halls Gap and Lake Bellfield, and this makes the hot and sweaty uphill hike worth it.
Aside from the epic view from the top, you’ll also pass unique and fascinating rock formations, including the so-called ‘Grand Canyon’ (not quite on the same scale as the US version, but still impressive and worth a look).
When you reach the top of the Pinnacle, you might have to wait your turn to take photos, as it can get quite crowded up there.
2. Visit MacKenzie Falls
At 30 metres high, MacKenzie Falls is one of Victoria’s largest waterfalls and is one of the most popular destinations in the Grampians.
Cascading over dark rocks and into a deep pool, MacKenzie Falls flows year-round due to regular rainfall.
It is a great place for photos, but be aware that you are not allowed to swim here.
On Christmas Day 2004, four members of one family drowned after getting sucked into the water underneath the falls.
Despite the many warning signs, you are still likely to witness visitors swimming on any given day.
MacKenzie Falls is a 40 minute drive from Halls Gap, so you will require a car or other transport to get out to it.
3. Go Rock Climbing with Earl
We had heard the rock climbing in the Grampians was pretty spectacular, and being the adventure junkies we are, we decided to give it a go.
We booked a four hour beginner’s course with Hangin’ Out, which took us through basic rock-climbing skills and belay techniques, communication and knot tying.
We even got to do some abseiling, which was so much fun.
Earl, the guy who runs the show, was incredibly friendly, laid-back and knowledgeable.
Not only was he the resident expert on all things rock climbing, but at one point he was even teaching us about the local flora and fauna and the different types of clouds in the sky.
And the rock climbing itself was unbelayvable! (See what I did there?)
But, seriously, if you’ve ever wanted to try rock climbing, you should definitely do it with Earl because, well, he rocks (yeah, okay, enough with the puns) and you will have such a fun and memorable experience.
4. Stay at Blaze Rock Retreat
Blaze Rock Retreat gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘secluded’.
Not only do you have your own self-contained villa, complete with a freestanding spa bath at the base of your bed(!), you also pretty much have the entire 50 acre property to yourself.
You can bathe with the curtains open and enjoy the mountain views while kangaroos hop around at your front porch.
Step outside and watch the stars at night or curl up beside the fireplace with the one you love.
We didn’t see one other person the entire time we stayed at Blaze Rock Retreat, not even the owner, who simply sent us a text with the lock combination to get into our cabin.
The complimentary bottle of Mt Langi wine topped off the entire relaxing and romantic experience.
5. Boronia Peak for Sunrise
Boronia Peak was a spur-of-the-moment adventure that we definitely didn’t plan.
We decided en route to the Grampians that we wanted to do a sunrise hike, so we did some Googling, stopped at a servo to buy torches and set out in the dark at 3am, hoping for the best.
It was thrilling hiking at night, as we had no idea where we were or where we would end up.
But, the experience turned out to be a-mazing!
The sunrise was simply stunning and we had the entire peak to ourselves, so we sat there for a few hours and enjoyed the quiet stillness of being alone on top of the world.
Read more about our epic sunrise hike here.
6. Dinner at The Views Restaurant
The Views restaurant at the Grampians Motel offers al fresco dining with awe-inspiring views (hence its name).
We sipped Coronas at dusk and stared at the magnificent mountains that stretched out before us, trying to pinpoint the top of Boronia Peak, where we had hiked to watch the sunrise that morning.
There were birds chirping and kangaroos grazing nearby, adding to this unique dining experience.
We were pleased with the selection of vegetarian options on the menu, and ordered ourselves the cob loaf and dips for entrée and two pasta dishes and a bowl of chips for our mains.
The homemade spinach fettuccine was to die for.
7. Step Out onto The Balconies
Put your fear of heights aside and step out onto the ledge at The Balconies lookout.
(I don’t really think you are supposed to, but everybody does it anyway. You have to if you want to get the best photos!)
It’s about a one kilometre walk from the carpark through rock outcrops and a stringybark forest to the lookout, which offers magnificent panoramic views over Victoria Valley.
Just be warned, this place can get awfully crowded.
Also, be careful around the ledge.
It’s not worth falling to get that one amazing selfie.
8. Take a Venus Bath
But be sure to do it when the tide is in, because the Venus Baths was more like the Venus Puddle when we went.
We have read plenty of Grampians visitor guides that describe the Venus Baths as a great place for swimming, watersports and some say you can even slide down the smoother rocks like waterslides.
This certainly wasn’t the case when we were there.
Despite the disappointing depth, we still took a dip and pretended like we were swimming in a glorious natural bathing pool.
I’m not even sure it does turn into a spectacular swimming hole at other times of the year, but it is still a refreshing place to cool off after the two kilometre walk to get there from Halls Gap.
If you can manage to find a spot deep enough to actually get under the water, that is.
9. Go Stargazing
It is not all that often you can just pause, look up and appreciate the stars.
We tend to forget just how fantastic the night sky is until we are well away from the lights of the city.
That is why the Grampians offers such wonderful opportunities for stargazing.
We sat outside our accommodation drinking wine and gaping at the sky above.
It was so peaceful and just reminded us of how small we are in this giant universe.
We also enjoyed the twinkling blanket of stars that enveloped us on our night hike up to Boronia Peak.
At one point, we stopped to stare at the stars hovering over the lights of Halls Gap and we were delighted when we got to witness some shooting stars dancing across the sky.
10. Watch the Wildlife
If you want to catch a glimpse of Australian wildlife at its best, the Grampians is the place for it.
We had kangaroos at our back door at the Blaze Rock Retreat, we almost died in a crash thanks to a mob of emus darting in front of our car and we even spotted rare black cockatoos as they sung out to each other from the treetops.
We inadvertently witnessed a horny roo trying to tackle a mate and did a double take when we spotted deer on the side of the road in Halls Gap.
As well as its abundance of wildlife, the Grampians is one of those places you really can reconnect with nature.
Try switching off your phone and tuning in to the wilderness around you.
Sit still and listen to the sounds of the birds, go for a walk with no shoes on or just enjoy the vast array of Australian native flora and fauna.
And be sure to take a camera wherever you go, because there are magnificent views around every corner.
About the Grampians
- The Grampians are a series of rugged sandstone mountain ranges located three hours north-west of Melbourne.
- They are the result of earth movements lifting and tilting the hard sandstones, creating spectacular jagged peaks and valleys.
- Halls Gap is the main township in and is surrounded by more than 160 kilometres of walking tracks.
- The Grampians National Park is known as Gariwerd to the local Aboriginal people and is a great venue for camping, climbing, scenic drives and bushwalking.
- At 1167 metres, Mount William is the highest peak and from its summit you can get spectacular 360-degree views of the surrounding peaks.