I picked Grampians National Park off of a map, mostly because it seemed like it was kind of on the way between Apollo Bay and Adelaide. Great call, me!
First off: the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road. They are one of Australia’s most well-known tourist attractions, and for good reason. Giant sandstone stacks towering out of a ferocious sea…doesn’t do them justice. All of our pictures look Photoshopped.
The lack of mass international tourism was a lucky break, as we learned that they are usually mobbed with big tour busses. Not on this beautiful, slightly chilly afternoon. We hung out for a while, then found a picnic spot that looked like this.
From there it was a good few hours’ drive to Halls Gap, including a big stop for groceries, made longer by my insistence upon stopping at an independent butcher and deli before hitting Coles. Worth the extra hour? Maybe.
We stayed at the Wonderland Cottages, which are fantastic. Just far enough outside of town to be super quiet, close enough to walk to ice cream, kangaroos outside our door in the morning , and an actual grill!
But really, we were there to see the rocks. The Grampians are huge lava rock towers, jutting out of the Victorian plains, thousands of feet high. Words don’t really help – they are amazing. On our first day, we hiked to the Pinnacle, which is just that – a viewpoint sticking out into the sky.
We took the easiest route possible, and it was not easy. I am continually amazed by Fiona’s ability to just. keep. going. Especially if there is ice cream at the end!
Dinner, grilled. Fantastic sleep. Then a walk into town, through the botanic gardens to the Venus Baths, which is both a lovely place for a picnic and a great spot for a concussion; moss on top of wet rock is slick. We were alone there for about a half hour, then several families showed up, with kids who immediately stated falling into the pools. It was both hilarious and stressful to watch.
And that night this happened.
That’s not a wildfire. It’s just the sunset, over the mountains, on a beautiful autumn night. Just another in a series of ways that Australia astounded us. And I haven’t even gotten into the very decent brewery at Halls Gap, the guy at the wine shop who sold us one of the last bottles in existence of the best 2019 Shiraz in the country, the welcome note they left us at Wonderland Cottages, the dozens of other trails we did not get to do…
Just go there. If you’re within a thousand miles of the Grampians, it’s worth your time.