After a long sleep and missing the alarm at Port Fairy, we departed on a wet and chilly morning heading north toward Horsham (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horsham,_Victoria). We planned to stay overnight at Horsham and catch up with some necessary shopping for food supplies before we drove on to Halls Gap (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halls_Gap) to send a few days visiting the Grampians National Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grampians_National_Park).
It was mid-morning by the time we arrived at Halls Gap and checked in to the caravan park which is located below the wall of Lake Bellfield (http://www.pleasetakemeto.com/australia/lake-bellfield/information) – God help us (and Halls Gap) if the dike springs a leak as there is a lot of water sitting behind the wall. The park is quite a pleasant place with lots of birds (parrots, cockatoos, corellas, kurrajongs, magpies and crows; the birds have come to expect that people will feed them and the late afternoon sees a flurry of activity around anyone handing out a free feed.
There are some lovely spots in the mountains adjacent to Halls Gap and on Wednesday afternoon we set out to explore a few of these sites. Firstly, we drove out to Silverband Falls and after an 800 metre walk from the car park we were disappointed in the volume of water flowing over the falls. Dairy Creek was badly affected by flooding in 2011 and the volume of water that clearly flowed at that time wreaked quite a lot of havoc so we were lucky to be able to access the falls at all.
From the falls we drove up to Wonderland Car Park only to find it extremely full of vehicles; so we decided to drive further afield with the ultimate destination to be McKenzie Falls. A turnoff to Boroka Lookout presented itself so we turned off and drove the five kilometres to the lookout. This lookout presented breathtaking views of the country to the north and east of the ranges and presented a view of three large lakes – Lake Lonsdale, Lake Fyans and Lake Bellfield. Unfortunately the air was not as clear as it could have been so our photography reflects this misty view.
Next stop along the way was Reed’s lookout which presented views of large tracts of forestry. There is a fire tower perched precariously on rocks above the lookout and this presents a point of interest in itself.
From Reed’s it was not far to the turnoff to McKenzie Falls (http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/australia-mackenzie-falls.html); once at the car park the visitor is presented with a choice of paths one taking you to the base of the falls and the other to a lookout above the falls; we chose the lookout. This vantage point presents a good view of the falls, which had more water flowing over the edge than Silverband, and provides the opportunity for interesting photography. On the return journey to the car park we encountered a very quiet wallaby happily feeding right next to the track.
Just down the road from McKenzie Falls is Lake Wartook (http://www.grampiansnationalpark.com/grampians/national/park/lakesrivers.asp) another large reservoir built in 1887. This is apparently a good fishing spot and the Horsham Angling Club have established substantial facilities at the Lake. After visiting the Lake we headed back to Halls Gap and purchased a delicious pizza for tea.
Next morning we cut a lunch and decided to spend a fair bit of the day exploring. We returned to the Wonderland Car Park only to find it once again packed to overflowing with no room for our vehicle so we drove on to the next stop Sundial picnic area and car park. There are lots of walks that can be undertaken in the Grampians (http://www.visithallsgap.com.au/walks.htm) and several start from this car park. We chose to walk to the Pinnacle some 2.1 kilometres distant. The walk took us up rocky climbs and along sandy tracks, when we finally reached our destination we were rewarded with beautiful scenery and views, and lots of other people who all wanted to see the same thing and had to be first to do it.
We returned to the car park via Lakeside Lookout from which three lakes could be seen. This was a return journey of 2.8 kilometres and having walked almost five kilometres we were quite puckish so decided lunch was the next order of business.
From Sundial we drove to the Mt William turnoff and travelled the ten kilometres upward from the intersection with the main road to the car park from which a further 1.8 kilometres of strenuous walking was required to reach the peak (and of course another 1.8 kilometres to return to the car park); we elected not to undertake the extra walk and returned to town.
The national park and culture centre at Halls Gap is known as Brambuk (http://www.brambuk.com.au/) so a visit to the centre seemed in order. The café served delightful bush tucker fare and we availed ourselves of a cold drink and some afternoon tea to cap off the day.
Friday was spent in domestic chores and preparation for the next stage of our journey to Swan Hill on Saturday morning.