The Grampians

Round the rugged rocks the ragged rascals ran.Well actually by the end of our thirteen kilometre walk over Mt Difficult we were certainly not up to running. We did however clamber over, under and round many rugged rocks for a very satisfying walk. It felt like more than thirteen kilometres but the GPS and the track notes assured us that was all but it did live up to its name. Even the young boys who raced us down from Brigg’s Bluff felt we oldies were pretty fit. The view along the whole length of the Grampians Range was impressive and we added to our tally of wildflowers seen.

This was a great way to finish our week in the Grampians. We had begun with a gentle stroll to Mt Zero, a very little peak on the northern end of the range but some enthusiasts in our group had managed to make the two kilometre walk last for two hours. It was hard not to stop constantly for the impressive array of wildflowers, especially orchids that enticed us to take photographs. We found fifteen different ones just in that one walk.

The afternoon was then spent walking past Mt Stapylton to discover more stunning displays including blue tinsel lily and a pink isopogon that shouldn’t be in The Grampians according to the books.

The next day promised to be a hot one so we planned shorter walks. Heatherlie Quarry was an interesting insight into the getting of the sandstone for many important Victorian buildings including Melbourne Town Hall. Beehive Falls was a lovely cool oasis with the water splashing down over the rocks to finish in a delightful pool. The sensible ones then retreated to the caravan park for a relaxing afternoon but we suckers headed out again to the allure of Hollow Mountain, one of our favourite places in the Grampians. The scramble up the rocks is rewarded with panoramic views over the olive groves and the flat Western district. The fun comes when you explore the different ways to access the hollow caves scoured out by the wind in the soft sandstone. We didn’t use Tony’s tummy crawl but found easier alternatives. Tony then explored all the different levels while the rest of us admired his scrambling skills from below. The view across to the wall on Mt Stapylton was stunning and then a gentle stroll took us to the top to be serenaded by a friendly pipit.

We diverted from the Grampians to the adjacent Black Range for a walk that Tony had attempted four times but had never succeeded in getting to the high point. It had a bit of everything with a cave of aboriginal paintings, a heath land covered in white tea tree, an orange cliffside with a huge camping cave, as long as you could ignore the centipede tracks that criss-crossed the sandy floor. The track took us up and along the side of the cliff, getting narrower and with a steep drop off beside it. This is what had defeated Tony’s previous parties and some of the current ones however a group of us continued on to find it was quite easy past that point and we made it to the summit for a well earned view.

Four seasons in one day is promised in spring in the Grampians. We didn’t quite manage that but we did experience four seasons in one week with two hot days followed by a change in the weather for the worse and finishing the week on Mt Difficult with the smallest hailstones I’ve ever seen bouncing across the rocks. We decided the wet day promised was good for visiting waterfalls and split into two parties – one to walk up and back and those who wanted to photograph the falls taking a briefer stroll. The falls lived up to their promise and we managed to get back to the park before the rain set in creating a minor flood through our campsite. The longer walkers got wet but were still back before a very black storm then proceeded to drop sheets of water on the camp that all flowed down through our camp at the bottom of the hill. Luckily things could be dried out and no one suffered major drenching.

The weather the next day didn’t encourage walks so we drove to the populous hub of Hall’s Gap for some cafe culture and to see the visitor’s centre. We still managed a walk near Teddy’s Gap and to Paddy’s Castle where we were inducted into the mysteries of the modern art of geocaching.

Our final day saw us where I began this post on Mt Difficult, a highlight to finish on.