Amanda -Director of Holistic Hikes hits the trails in April 2021 for the Grampian Experience after a year of lockdown in Melbourne.
We arrived in Halls Gap at lunchtime, dutifully checked in with the Info desk before grabbing lunch and checking over our gear. Like an excited child on her birthday, I was about to embark on an adventure with all that I needed strapped to my back for the next 3 days.
Halls Gap offers such rugged beauty with the Pinnacles protruding in contrast to the town below. It’s hard not to crane your next to the sky in awe of the ranges, with the local mob of Kangaroos good reason to keep your eyes to the ground, as not to trip over them. Neither moving too far from their original grazing or care that your heavy figures move towards them. With many hikers and campers in the region frequently, they have become accustomed to our sight.
The trail starts just a few hundred metres from the Centre of town yet it’s only a short distance in that you escape to ancient lands of traditional Aboriginal people, the Djab Wurrung and the Jardwadjali people of this area, known as Gariwerd.
The narrow trail is well-formed, undulating through the scrub of bracken fern with towering gums in contrast to the granite boulders that are ever-present. The cooler temperatures are welcome with our ascent through the Grand Canyon. A short but challenging climb and we soon stand atop the rocky outcrop with 360 degree views. We continue to hike atop the rock formation that is our trail, dotted with trees growing through cracks in the rock face.
As the trail becomes busier with foot traffic, we know that we are soon to reach the Pinnacles; the quintessential photography opportunity of the trip.
Cheered on by passersby’s on our upward climb we must first see ourselves through Silent Street; a narrow passage between giant boulders that remind us of our fleeting moment of human experience. I reflect on my smallness with a silent walking mediation through this section. (The Grampians are assumed to be 420 Million years old)After our 8.6km journey from Halls Gap, we reach Bugiga camp for night 1. It is a beautifully laid-out camp with pads for each tent and a large undercover area for inclement weather. We chose a west-facing camp pad to watch the sunset over through the mountain range as we tuck into a platter of pickles, olives, and cheese crisps and play a few hands of cards. Retiring with the sunset, our bodies rest for a bigger day 2.
Bugiga Camp nestled in the trees on individual pads.
Day 2 we rise with the sun, as we often do, immediately in sync with nature’s light when camping. Shan prepares breakfast; toasted sourdough and peanut butter with coffee as I pack up the gear. We set off early as the day is forecast for heavy rains. After 2 hours of undulating trails, we hit the summit of Mt Rosea. We are afforded a few minutes to take in the breathtaking views over the Serra and Mt Williams Ranges, before the dark clouds a short distance away fall upon us.
Exposed on the rocky range, we have no reprieve from the heavy rainfall and no choice but to push on. With ponchos on and packs pertinently covered we scramble over the boulders that form our path before a descent into the sheltered forest gully. The rain persistent, we carry on without lunch but rather snack on trail mix as we follow the trail into the gorge.
The tree coverage offers some respite and as we approach a turn in the trail, we hear a chorus of singing. A school group caught in the rain finds that singing in the rain really is a glorious feeling. A feeling of being alive, even albeit in the rain!
After 4.5 hours and 13.8km, we reach Borough camp for night 2. We are excited to set up near a fire pit and Shan sets off to find some dry kindling to get it started. The skies clear in the afternoon and we enjoy a few hours by the fire before another early night.
Day 3 – With plans for later in the day, we again set off early following the Bellfield track and Terraces fire line. The flatter terrain of the first few kilometers is a welcome relief after the elevation of the previous day’s hikes. Before long we spot a shift in the trail as the road climbs skyward and again we lean into the hills one foot in front of the other. The early morning welcomes the silence on the trail and the only company we keep is the inquisitive joeys from the side of the trail as we pass.
Glimpses of Lake Bellfield through the trees means we are moving closer to Halls Gap. The road rolls over the hills for a few kilometers before we hit the edge of town. It’s still early morning, just after 9 am and as we emerge from the bushland we are greeted with the local mob. Emu’s and roos lazily move across the front yards of neighbouring houses and warily watch as we walk by and into town.
Our feet hit the paved path and it’s the first time in days that we see suburbia. Our bodies tired from the adventures we are with mixed emotions. Both jubilant that we can celebrate with a cold beer and comfortable bed and longing to hold on to the connection with nature as we are once again met with the noise of human ‘busyness’.
As we sink into bed that night, appreciative of the journey through Gariwerd we plan our next trip back here for it’s like nothing else we’ve seen.
Some images of our trip- We cant wait to guide this experience! Check out he Upcoming events for details.