Ararat Town Centre
The mountainous and rugged territory of the Grampians in Victoria makes a good weekend drive, but driving from Melbourne makes it a two-day tour, if one has to enjoy all the spectacular scenic outlooks along the way. The regional towns in the Grampians are beautiful with its the country charm and courteous people. By opting for a one-day tour, I must say I did not do justice to myself as well as the readers of this travelogue.
The Scenic drive through the Grampians National Park
The major town centres in the region are Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh, Horsham, Ararat, and Stawell. From Western Ring Road, I have continued along without making a stop at Ballarat and Bacchus Marsh. My first stop was at Ararat – then passed through Moyston, Pomonal, Halls gap and Horsham and on my return came through Stawell, Dadswells bridge and Great Western making short stops at these regional towns.
The unusual rock formations are the main attraction of the Grampians National Park. Most of the scenic outlooks can be reached by car but a few of them requires few kilometers of walk. The 167,219 hectare Grampians National Park is situated between Stawell and Horsham on the Western Highway.
The Scenic Halls Gap Township
Gariwerd is the traditional aboriginal name for the Grampian Ranges. It is the richest site for aboriginal rock art in Victoria. Aborigines believe that the world is created by the Great Ancestor Spirit, Bunjil. When he had created the beautiful sandstone ranges of Gariwerd, he often took the form of Werpil the Eagle, so that he could view the perfection of his work.
Grampians – At the Reed Lookout Point
The beautiful little town of Ararat was the first stop from Melbourne. This is a perfect spot for wine lovers to make a winery road trip. There are many wineries around the Grampians region. Ararat had a significant Chinese presence during the Gold boom and it is one of the places where the Chinese discovered Gold first. The J Ward jail here housed Victoria’s insane criminals.
The Grampians National Park
Moyston and Pomonal are small settlements with population in 300’s. Halls Gap is situated at the heart of the Grampians National Park and is blessed with great scenic beauty. Halls Gap zoo is nearby. MacKenzie Falls is around 18km from Halls Gap. Water cascades over huge cliffs into a deep pool. From the top viewing area, steps continue to the bottom of the falls. There is a walking track that extend for another 2 km along the McKenzie river path.
Grampians Scenic Drive
Through the Grampians National Park Horsham is around 75 km drive. There are many scenic lookouts from Halls Gap to Horsham through the Grampians Road.
Mount William, Boroka Lookout, Reed Lookout and The Balconies, The Bluff at Mount Arapiles to name a few that can be reached by car till the viewing point. The peaks that can be reached by walking trails include lookouts at mounts Sturgeon, Abrupt and Stapylton, Boronia Peak, and The Pinnacle.
Horsham Town Centre
Next stop was Horsham. Horsham is a beautiful rural city with all facilities and many old buildings. With its scenic bushlands, lakes and mountains, Horsham is a picturesque town.
The Giant Koala
The distance from Horsham to Stawell is around 65km. On the way to Stawell is the Giant Koala at Dadswells Bridge.
Bunjil Shelter, the Aborigine Cave Art is located in the Black Range Scenic Reserve near Stawell. It is regarded as one the most significant cultural sites of Aborigines. The art shelter is located in a small alcove at the base of a large granite boulder. A steel mesh fence protects the painting.
The City of Stawell