During our time in Dimboola, we went exploring at every opportunity we had. To the north of Dimboola we found fabulous Silo Art and wonderful little towns. But when we headed south we began discovering the wonders of the Grampians Region of Victoria.
The Grampians region of Victoria is around a three and half hour drive west of Melbourne. It is centered around the Grampians National Park. The largest town in the area is Horsham and there are lots of small villages and towns dotted throughout the area.
Mount Arapiles is widely regarded as one of the best rock climbing destinations in Australia. It is a huge rock formation that rises above the plains of the Wimmera. It is located within the Tooan State Park. With stunning views everywhere you look, it’s not hard to see why this area is so popular.
But it’s not just rock climbers who are drawn to the area. There are also a number of bush walking trails ranging from one to fifteen kilometres. Or you can drive around the base of Mt. Arapiles or even ride your pushbike.
Located at the entrance to Mt. Arapiles is the Centenary Park Campground. This area is divided into three camp areas of varying sizes. Picnic tables and toilets are available in the camp areas, but you will need to bring your own drinking water.
If you take a drive up Mt. Arapiles Summit Road, you will find spectacular views from either the Summit Lookout or the Bluff Lookout and Picnic area.
At the Summit you will also find a Fire Control Tower which is manned during the fire season. We were lucky enough to be invited inside and enjoyed learning about the role of the Fire Officers as well as enjoying the amazing 360 degree views. The whole area is dotted with salt lakes, all dry at the time of our visit.
On the way back down from the Summit we stopped and walked down to the Melville Cave and Bushrangers Bluff. A short, easy walk where you could easily imagine some bushrangers hiding out!
Whilst in the area, make sure you visit the smaller but equally impressive Mitre Rock which is located to the north of Mount Arapiles just off the Natimuk-Frances Road. It is also a popular spot for rock-climbers.
Natimuk is a tiny village a few kilometres from Mount Arapiles. It has some interesting historic buildings as well as a great park in the middle of town. It’s the only town park I have ever come across that has a wood-fired pizza oven in it!
In the 1800’s Natimuk was a thriving centre with over 70 shops and industries. Today very little evidence of that time remains. Notable buildings include the Natimuk Coach House and Hotel (now a private residence), the Court House and a building that was previously a bank.
Another great feature are the mosaic sculptures in the main street which reflect the rock climbing at Mt Arapiles. Titled Climbing Blind they are by artist Steve Monk.
GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK
If you only visit one place in the whole of the Grampians region make it the Grampians National Park. The scenery is spectacular everywhere you look. There are plenty of spots to stop along the way and take in the views or go for a walk.
Our first stop was at the spectacular MacKenzie Falls. Just a short walk from the carpark is a viewing platform or if you are feeling adventurous you can walk down 260 steps to the bottom. The area is very popular with tourists and on the day we were there it was very busy so we decided against doing the walk, but we still enjoyed the views.
Other great spots to stop at include Reeds Lookout where you can see out over the entire Victoria Valley. If you are looking for a gorgeous spot to enjoy a picnic lunch then a stop at Zumsteins Picnic Ground is a must.
Halls Gap is a village located in the heart of the Grampians. It is the perfect spot to stop after a day of exploring for a coffee or something to eat. It’s a busy spot with a variety of accommodation options for anyone visiting the area. We grabbed some lunch from the local supermarket and then sat in the park to eat.
Just outside of Halls Gap you will find the Halls Gap Zoo. It is Victoria’s largest regional zoo and has over 150 species of animals. Admission is $35.00 for adults or a family pass for 2 adults and up to four children is $90.00. It’s a great day out, especially if you book one of their Animal Encounters.
As a kid growing up it was tradition in our house to spend Easter Monday watching the Stawell Gift. The Stawell Gift is the oldest and richest foot-race in Australia. So when passing through Stawell, a visit to the Stawell Gift Museum is a must. Located adjacent to the ground where the Gift is run, it houses a collection of memorabilia and information on everyone who has won the Stawell Gift since it started in 1878.
Stawell itself has a very old main straight with some interesting shops and a couple of good places to grab a coffee. There is also a lookout where you can view the whole of the town laid out below.
Horsham is the largest town in the Grampians region and has all the usual shops that you would expect to find in a town this size.
The beautiful Wimmera River also flows through it and there are walking and cycle tracks right along its banks. The Botanic Gardens is a great spot to visit especially if you have kids as there is an awesome playground there. The local Aquatic Centre is huge and would be the perfect spot to cool off with the family.
We absolutely loved our time discovering the Grampians Region of Victoria. There is so much to see and do. It’s an area that we will definitely visit again and one that we think you should visit too!