Exploring The Grampians, Victoria has been on our top road trips to take from Melbourne ever since arriving in July 2015. However, the 3 hour drive was firmly in our minds whispering ‘you can’t do this in a two day weekend!’ Here’s where spontaneity pays off and quick, precise decision making are your best friends! 18 months later we finally took a 2 night trip North West of the city to explore The Grampians.
Weekends away usually take a fair bit of planning, especially if you don’t own a car and have a tight schedule to stick to. But on some occasions, you just need to bite the bullet, stop making excuses and embrace some last minute adventures.
Here’s how you can get away to The Grampians and explore in just two nights –
Hire A Car
Even though there are public transport options available, the simplest and easiest way is to hire a car. This usually takes planning too but as long as you avoid public holidays, cars are readily available. Plus, they often drop slightly in price when booking last minute.
You can hire a small car (there’s no major off roading for this journey so no need for a Ute!) for as little as $100* for two days. We booked ours to pick up Friday evening and return Sunday afternoon. Shop around by booking through sites such as Vroom Vroom or Drive Now.
Note: *Additional fees, including a deposit may be required. To hire a car in Australia, you will need a valid driving license and credit card belonging to the named driver.
Choose Your Accommodation At The Grampians
One of the best things about Victoria are the options for camping just about anywhere. There are no shortage of free, walk in camping grounds at The Grampians. It’s the perfect option for a spontaneous weekend as hotels and Air BnBs will be fully booked. A quick Google search will give you the locations of nearby campsites or check out the WikiCamps App. It’s super handy for searching by filtering everything you do want or everything you don’t want!
We chose a campsite just 10km north of Halls Gap called Plantation Campground, Mt Zero Rd. It was perfect! There are non-flush toilets, bush showers, shared fireplaces and shared picnic tables. Best free campsite we’ve been to!
Hit The Road – Getting To The Grampians
If you’ve been just the right amount of spontaneous, everything you need can be packed the night before. Then at 5:30pm Friday, all you need to do is collect the car, load it up and hit the road.
You’ll take the M8 and A8 roads from Melbourne straight through to Halls Gap. The drive is around 260km (or 3 hours), an easy drive for most part. You’ll only really need to consult the GPS to locate the right turning to your campsite.
Make a pit stop at the pub to taste test the local ale on tap before tackling the tent set up in the dark. If you’re lucky like we were, you’ll get a glimpse of the wildlife this area has to offer when you get to your campsite. Three Kangaroos bounced across our path right at the entrance to Plantation Campground. Definitely one nice perk of arriving after dark.
The Grampians Lookouts; The Pinnacle, Reed and Boroka
Make the most of the day ahead and wake early (never too difficult when your bed is the floor!). After some adequate breakfast of beans and sausage prepared on the stove, head to Halls Gap Information Centre in the town. Deciding a route to take was easy, thanks to the lady at the desk who promptly highlighted some options on a map for us.
The route included a 2km walk up to The Pinnacle, probably the most popular walk to do when visiting The Grampians. You can start from Wonderland Car Park, making your way up past the Grand Canyon and looping around. The climb is relatively easy, with only a couple of steeper pathways. It’s best to do this walk in the morning, before the sun is too hot and the crowds start to roll in.
The views are simply stunning, so take some time to take it all in at the top. You’ll find it difficult to turn down the opportunity for a few Insta worthy pics! Now is a good time to make sure you’ve got plenty of sunscreen on and have a snack to curb the hunger!
Reed and Boroka Lookouts
The route included two further lookout points; Reed and Boroka. I honestly didn’t think the pictures could get much better than The Pinnacle but they absolutely did. If you’re feeling fearless, there’s the most awesome little ledge at Reed Lookout for an extra special photo.
After a few hours scaling the mountains in the Australian summer sun, you’ll probably need somewhere to cool off. Mackenzie Falls is just the place and was my favourite part of the day. Although there is no swimming allowed here, the waterfall is Victoria’s largest and you can feel the spray from the rocks. It was beautiful and provided the perfect backdrop for a little sit down, sunbathe and beer. Just make sure you take any rubbish away with you!
Halls Gap Estate and Red Rock Olive Garden
Depending on how long you like to mull around each lookout and whether you embark on additional walks, there should still be ample time to explore more of what Halls Gap has to offer. Surrounding the mountainous delights of The Grampians, there are wineries, an olive garden and lakes for swimming.
All are a short drive away and offer a great way to recoup and relax after a morning hiking. At Halls Gap Estate winery, we sampled three of their Fallen Giant Vineyard red wines. You can take a bottle home from $30. From here, move swiftly on to the Red Rock Olives, where you can taste a range of flavoured dipping oils. The garden doubles as a cafe where you can order charcuteries boards, try the Cheese and Fruit board – delicious!
The last place on the list and final stop for the day was Lake Fyons. It’s a great spot to completely wind down after the long day. Paddle out into the calm waters as the sun begins to set or relax on the shore, beer in hand.
So, the next time you think you don’t have enough time or some place you’ve been wanting to go is that little bit too far away…just go there, you won’t regret it!