16.11.2013 - 17.11.2013
This was it, this was the last of our Victoria adventures and we were lucky enough that we managed to keep some of crew from the Great Ocean Road trip with a few added extras. We knew when we had done GOR that another camping trip was a definite must and one of the best places to do this is the Grampians National Park. Situated 3 hours north west of Melbourne the Grampians is a series of rugged sandstone mountain ranges and forests rich in wildlife that rises abruptly from the surrounding Western Plains. This mini weekend adventure was going to be about exploring the outdoors or "the bush" as the Aussie's like to call it.
Gathering our things in the early morning and heading down to the lobby to wait for Dougo and Erika to pick us up we thought to ourselves, we seem to have packed more than when we did for the 3 day GOR trip. Fortunately, Erika owned a Ford Territory which is a mammoth of a car with a huge boot. It was a squeeze with five of us and all our stuff but we got it in there.
We planned to have all three cars meet in Ballarat which is about an hour out of Melbourne in order for us all catch up and have breakfast before gunning it down the highway. I chose Beechworth Bakery in the center of town, mainly because it was the only thing that was open at 8:00am, and it turned out to be a good choice as they had plenty of choices and we all chowed down heartily whilst also contemplating a treat.
Contemplating! What am I saying, it was a done deal. Especially when they were made by John Cleese himself.
I commented on a particular treat called Snickernoodle with Noreen, because I thought that out of any of us she would be the one to choose it with her bubbly nature. And low an behold she did.
After completely over doing it at breakfast we headed off on the road to the Grampians, this leg would be the longest part and it wasn't particulary taxing because we were having a good time in the car making countless film and tv quotes and watching the scenary wizz by. Sarah and I had done the trip before when we delivered items to the Save the Children store in Ararat, so we knew what to expect.
It didn't feel like it took very long, probably because we were goofing around and just taking in the scenery.
When we got to Halls Gap, the small town nestled on the edge of the Grampians National Park area the sun was beaming. The plan from here was to collect our permits at Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre and then choose our camping spot based on the advice we got from them.
It was decided the best place for us to camp would be Smiths Mill, located by the Mackenzie River and a short driving distance from the Wonderland walk which would take us to the Pinnacle overlooking the park. The campsite was basic but it had all you need and we decided to take the spot furthest away from the other people staying there. As we set up tents we got a chance to feel close to nature as ants were going about their day climbing up the tree and around the purpose built concrete surface that our tent would be pitched on. The tree had this red goo coming out of it which I imagine might have attracted the ants. Our camp bag had this bizarre looking caterpillar which Sarah managed to capture, can you see his claw like mouth and the yellow flower like spikes coming out of its back.
By the time we had set up the sun was at its hottest and we jumped in our cars with water and suntan lotion to start our adventure to the Pinnacle Wonderland walk. Before we set off on the walk I tried to do a bit of tour guide prep and Broomy made sure he checked the safety notices, staying true to his profession.
As soon as we started our walk the landscape began to change and we headed through series of rocky rock formations that looked like something out of Star Trek or some film set. It was great just to take our time and enjoy the outdoors, the company and the gorgeous weather
The further along the track we went the more interesting the rock formations became and we couldn't resist the urge to climb!
At one point the rocks got a little narrow and it felt like we were in an Indiana Jones film, it might also of felt like that because we were busting out the classic soundtrack as we walked it.
Broomy and I managed to stop the boulder from ruining the occasion.
As we got further and further up the trail the coolness of the winds signaled that we were getting higher and higher and it wasn't long before the trail opened out on to a huge plateau with majestic views. It was smiles all round.
We were all ecstatic especially me and Nelson.
After some obligatory landscape photos and goofing around we decided time was getting on and headed back the way we came. It was a great walk to really show off what the Grampians has to offer. If you like your outdoors adventures and enjoy a good walk, make your way down to this one.
On the way down we stopped of at Bridal Veil Falls, well it should be called a Bridal Veil trickle, but despite this it was a refreshing break especially in the heat.
Feeling good after the walk we were all ready to get some BBQ action on. Broomy had made it his mission to light a fire without the use of modern day devices and so as we brought out the nibbles he set to work at it.
There was interest at first. But it waivered.
Sarah took a moment to go and snap some of our neighbour's.
We have been very lucky to have met some really nice people, all of which are great company, and so the evening unfolded with ease. I love a good BBQ and chill out round the campfire.
Some of us liked the BBQ a bit too much
We managed to make an epic fire and sat round it with some drinks and sing a longs. I introduced Dougo, Erika and Mike to the 4 chord Medley to which the GOR crew accompanied at all the correct moments, particularly the 'Come on Barbie, Lets Go Party" part. Good work team!
The next morning we all rose to see our campsite trash had been ransacked by the wildlife. Turned out the buggers had kept everyone up at some point throughout the night! Breakfast was on and everyone except Broomy, Sarah and me had come prepared with varitable feast! . Once packed down it was time for a quick team talk and so I hatched a plan to try out the Mackenzie Falls walk starting from the Zumsteins picnic area. It was described in the guide book as a medium walk with a few rock scrambling moments to endure. Everyone was keen except Tom and Mike as they had hit it hard the night before. A hats off has to go to them though for taking one for the team and dropping off the trash. Effort Lads!.
The nine of us left headed for Zumsteins picnic area and as we did we could see below us the valley we would be walking through. It looked awesome... and it was.
One of the first things we saw on the track was a Blue Tongued Bob tail which Dougo happily picked up to show us all. He looked quite prehistoric.
The track was well laid out and it was pretty easy going for most part.
It was another scorcher of a day so when we got to the rivers edge we all had a go at dipping our feet. It was freezing but refreshing.
Up ahead were the Fish Falls, and this wasn't even the main attraction. Us lads did as all boys do, we climbed it!
We decided we had to keep going to Mackenzie Falls as it was only about 1km away and so we headed up stream. And boy were we rewarded.
If you do this walk definitely start at Zumsteins instead of Mackenzie, because the reward of getting to the waterfall and enjoying the cool breeze and water in your face is the business.
That was the end of our trip as it were, we had to walk back to the cars and by that time we were all pretty shattered and in need of some grub. Deciding to head to Stawell, the nearest town to get some food ended up not being the best plan because on a Sunday after 2pm the chefs have gone home. We decided to split up and said our lasts goodbyes to Ria, Noreen, Nelson and Shane. Sad times... but I'm sure that wont be the last time we see these guys.
I can't thank everyone enough for being great company and helping Sarah and I have a wonderful last adventure in Victoria.
A big, big thank you to Ericka and Dougo for teaming up and getting us back home to Melbourne. We all were asleep at some point whilst one of them drove the 3 hour trip home. Thanks again for providing the carpool.
What a great bunch!
Stay tuned for more tales.