Grampians: 27th - 29th October 2006

Participants: Andrew, Mark L, Henric & Cory, Joanna & Michael, Krithika, Jagadeesh, Oiyee, Aaron & Rachael, Mark F, Michelle, James & Liam.

Hmmm, travelling up bush straight after work. Means a full day the next day, but also means a very late night. We stopped off at Ballan for some very tasty country home made hamburgers, but having to cook up a dozen or so hamburgers added quite a bit to our travel time. Though eating them was quick, expecially for Mark L who managed to polish his off in 3 bites!

We arrived at the campground before midnight (just) and were shocked to find what I thought would be a relatively empty campground almost full. We drove around a while and were lucky to find a large enough unoccupied area for us all to set-up in before climbing into our respective tents/campers and off to sleep.

We awoke to a beautiful sunny day, with friendly kangaroos exploring around out tents.

We had a big hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and crispy bacon before heading off exploring around the Grampians.

First stop was Zumsteins, famous for it's grazing kangaroos. None today were to be seen. I think they were all back at our campground!

The bushfires earlier in the year had made a huge impact on the area, though the grass and leaves were returning. McKenzie River was quite easily visible from the road since all of the undergrowth had been burnt away.

We made our way up to McKenzie Falls and walked down the the falls base. Funny how memories change with time. i always remember it beign a long hard walk down and back from the falls, but though the stairs down a steep, it was an easy walk through the now burnt bush, with many grass trees in flower.

We drove down Lake Wartook, but didn't get out of the cars, then drove up to the Reid Lookout.

From here we had a commanding view of the valley, clearly showing the ferocity and destruction of the fires earlier this year.

From here it was a short walk to the iconic Jaws of Death, otherwise known as The Balconies.

The braver amongst us walked down on the jaws, which jutted out over the valley below. The ecven more braver, or foolhardy climbed out on top. Henric clearly has no fear of heights.

We ate our lunch at Baroka Lookout, which towered above Halls Gap. Henric again proved he has no fear of heights, though the rest of us were suffering vertigo on his behalf.

We returned to camp via Halls Gap, picking up some supplies and exploring some sandy tracks along the way. I had planned at visiting the old ruins at Heatherlie, but it was starting to get a bit late and we had a a roast to cook for tonight.

Henric and I took a 4WD short cut, veering off at Copper Mine Track. There was a nice little campsite along here which had normal 2WD cars in there!

We stocked up on wood and soon returned to camp where everybody else had already returned.

We picked up a little more than wood, also collecting a nice Huntsman Spider. I don't know what the girls were so worried about, he was only a baby.

We also found a little gecko, which surprised me as i didn't think these critters lived so far south. We explored the aboriginal rock shelter with the cave art, then returned to camp for pre-dinner nibbles.

Well, not really nibbles. We had brie, camembert, chips, kabana, pate and all manner of tasty tidbits.

No wonder I always put on weight, despite how much walking and work I do on these camping trips. Dinner was a mix of roast chook, pasta, shasliks and indian.

Next day we headed off after breakfast to walk to the summit of Hollow Mountain.

There were some tricky bits to climb up, but nothing too dramatic. Even Rachael made it up without any problems.

There were a few caves to climb through, and lovely views over the Wimmera.

We returned to the carpark then walked on to the Gulgurn Manja Aboriginal Shelter, with it's many paintings of young childrens hands on the rock walls.

It was time to head on home, and we stopped for lunch along the roadside near Stawell, finishing off the remainder of our food by the cool of a small wetlands, complete with a multitude of ducks.