Sunday, 19 May 2013


   In the last week, Doortje and I spent four nights at Gariwerd (aka the Grampians) in western Victoria.  Our accommodation was at the Pinnacle Holiday Lodge right in the heart of Hall's Gap.  

(click on pictures to enlarge them)
   Our unit was behind the hedge in front of the car,  so only a few metres from the heated indoor pool which Doortje used every day, and three cafe/restaurants which we also used regularly were in the block to the left.  The setting was very beautiful with the mountains in two directions and lots of bush and big trees.  There were umpteen kangaroos on every patch of green when we arrived, including in front of the unit.

   On Tuesday morning we started the day with breakfast at the Livefast cafe, a few metres from our unit.  The ingredients were all top drawer organic including sourdough toast.

   The weather was not great but we headed optimistically out of town and up the Mt Difficult road to Boroka Lookout.  Visibility was almost nil because of the low cloud but at least it was not raining.

   We back-tracked and went south on the Silverband Road to the Lakeview Lookout which was lower down and below the cloud.  There was a great view of Hall's Gap to the north-east and Lake Bellfield to the south-east.

The walk to the lookout included some great bush and rocky formations like this one.  While we were driving up the hills the car engine got a bit hot and our plans for the day were disrupted (or would have been if we had real plans); we headed back to Hall's Gap and then on to Stawell to get a new radiator cap.  Doortje was not too pooped when we got back to have a swim (but I was!).

   On Wednesday, the weather was again ordinary; we decided to follow the range south from Hall's Gap, cut through the hills into the Victoria Valley and then drive down to Dunkeld.  The road through the valley was quiet and there were massive gums in the paddocks and lining the roads.

   We were impressed by these two houses in Dunkeld.  The architect has even replicated the concept of the addition tacked onto the back with skillion roof.  We had lunch in a cafe nearby and avoided most of the rain.

   Back in Hall's Gap we visited Brambuk, the Aboriginal cultural centre.  The building and its contents have won several awards and we could easily relate to a lot of the displays.  The building represents Gariwerd, the cockatoo - the wings and tail are obvious.

   On Thursday, the weather improved and we tried again to visit lookouts.   This photo is taken from Reed Lookout, only a few metres from the car park, looking south-west into the Victoria Valley.  There were also views to the east, so this is a high point.

   Further on, we next went on the 2km walk to the Mackenzie Falls lookout, where the view was spectacular.  There were steps all the way to the bottom but we declined the opportunity, content to enjoy the vistas from the top.

   Walking back to the car park we passed through beautiful country with dappled light through the trees illuminating the young xanthorrhoea leaves.  The tree trunks were black from a fire which had probably also germinated the xanthorrhoea seeds.

   We headed north from Mackenzie Falls on the Horsham road, through Wartook and Laharum, and turned off onto Plantation Road to visit Ngamadjidj, the home of these rock paintings, which we were impressed by.  It turned out that the "plantation" referred to was the oldest olive grove in Victoria, with trees planted in 1943.  We visited Toscana Olives and, being the only visitors, were treated royally with tastings and coffee by a young bloke who was very friendly.  Needless to say we bought a heap of olive products.
   Back south to Wartook and then we took the Rose's Gap Road east through the Mt Difficult Range.  This was a beautiful drive with no other traffic.  When we got to Rose's Gap we turned south on the road which follows the range back to Hall's Gap.  The sign said "Gravel road. Next 10kms" which we thought was OK.  After 12km, without a break in the gravel, another sign said "Gravel road. Next 10kms".  We didn't think this was OK!  Sucked in!  Of course it bucketed down with rain and it was a bit nervy, and mud splashed all over the car.

   Back in Hall's Gap we checked out the pub, and the barman told us about the Mt Langi Ghiran winery just out of town, so we went to look.  There were not only kangaroos, but also emus, among the vines!  Again, we had the place to ourselves and had a nice chat, tasted some shiraz, and devoured a plate of goat cheese, olives, dukkah, etc, for a (very) late lunch.  We bought some very nice 2008 (a dry year) shiraz, grapes from the paddock out in front of us.  The shiraz from there was "The Gap". 

   Here we are in the afterglow of a much-needed feed and some nice red wine.  Thursday was a beaut day with much to remember.

   On Friday morning, all too soon it was time to depart.  The kangaroos were still enjoying the green pick and the weather at last was less intense.  We were extremely lucky in the things we could do, given the weather, but as any Victorian might tell you, if you put off doing something because of the weather you'll never do anything!  And I'll add - when you do do it, you'll have the place to yourself!!

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