Introducing Grampians National Park (Gariwerd)
The four greatest mountain ranges of the Grampians are the Mt Difficult Range in the north, Mt William Range in the east, Serra Range in the southeast and Victoria Range in the southwest. They spread from Ararat to the Wartook Valley and from Dunkeld almost to Horsham. Halls Gap, the main accommodation base and service town, lies in the Fyans Valley. The smaller Wonderland Range, close to Halls Gap, has some of the most splendid and accessible outlooks, scenic drives, picnic grounds and gum-scented walks, such as those that go to the Pinnacles or to Silverband Falls.
There are more than 150km of well-marked walking tracks, ranging from half-hour strolls to overnight treks through difficult terrain, all starting from the various car parks, picnic grounds and camping areas. For longer walks, let someone know where you’re going (preferably the Parks Victoria rangers).
One of the most popular sights is spectacular MacKenzie Falls. From the car park the steep 600m path leads to the base of the falls and a large plunge pool (no swimming). Other popular places include Boroka Lookout, with excellent views over Halls Gap and Lake Bellfield, and Reed Lookout with the short walk to the Balconies and views over Lake Wartook.
Zumstein Reserve in the western Grampians is named after Walter Zumstein, a beekeeper and naturalist who settled in the area in 1910 and developed it into a wildlife reserve. There are picnic facilities, free electric barbecues and short walks. Mt Stapylton and Hollow Mountain in the north are renowned as abseiling and rock-climbing spots.
During a ferocious heatwave across Victoria in mid-January 2014, a series of bushfires swept through the Grampians region. Embers rained down on Halls Gap but an earlier-than-expected wind change spared the town. The northern Grampians region was particularly hardest hit with homes lost around Wartook and Brimpaen, while large swathes of forest turned to ash in the areas around Mount Difficult. In spite of the fires, the Grampians remains very much open for business – check with the various visitors centres and Parks Victoria to see which, if any, trails are closed.