A One Day Grampians Getaway to Clear Your Head
I started a full time job in May this year, and it wasn’t long before winter rolled around the blues kicked in. My head became a cloud of deadlines and mismatched names and faces, as work followed me home and the sun itself seemed out of my reach.
As the weeks and months rolled on, I felt that a weekend trip to the mountains for some fresh air and scenic views was just what I needed. But at the same time, I’m not a planner. The logistics of picking somewhere to go in the first place, and then the drive there and back, and then all of the stress that could come with things that might go wrong – a flat tyre, waiting for parking, getting lost along the way – made the trip seem like more trouble than it was worth.
In the end, I booked a one day trip to the Grampians because I wanted a getaway without all the stress of planning and transportation. I wanted to be up on the peaks looking down onto the land with cold mountain air in my lungs, and I wanted my head to be clear of any stress about where I’d go next or when and how I’d drive home. I wanted a one day escape where I could feel in good hands, and be guided around the lookout points of one of Victoria’s most beautiful national parks without a care in my mind.
And if that’s the kind of trip you want, I can’t recommend this tour enough.
Our tour guide Chris picked up most of the group from St Paul’s Cathedral in the CBD. He was a lovely and clear communicator who told us the details of the trip from the get-go. The Grampians are about a three hour drive from Melbourne, and we’d stop in a little town called Beaufort for a coffee and bathroom break at around the halfway mark. I came ready with a good book, playlist and some podcasts, which made the drive surprisingly enjoyable to unwind and get ready for the day ahead.
Our first stop in Hall’s Gap was the Indigenous Culture Centre, an important place to learn the indigenous history of this country and land for tourists and locals alike, even down to something as simple as its traditional name, Gariwerd. In sections of the centre where Australia’s history of discrimination was clearly on display, it was humbling and eye opening to see how travellers from abroad empathised so strongly with Australia’s indigenous history, which was an unexpected but very appreciated part of the tour.
Before hitting the hills we stopped for some lunch – pizza provided in the cost of the tour. Having a moment to meet the other members of our group led to a highlight that I wasn’t expecting, the companionship. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the rest of the day with a group of 20-something travellers from Germany, Japan, France, England and Singapore. The vibe of the group had that same air of openness and lightheartedness that made me feel like I could have been travelling myself, instead of only a 3 hour drive from home.
Next up, Chris drove us to a scenic platform at the Buruka Lookout, where we had a gorgeous view of Hall’s Gap as the clouds parted to light up the valley. A few selfies and panoramas later, we stopped by Broken Falls and MacKenzie Falls with an hour to roam freely around the area. The stairwell down to MacKenzie Falls is steep, the but the waterfall is a great place to hop around rock pools and climb the surrounding boulders. When the sun is out, the rainbow mist that sprays out from the falls are gorgeous, while also making for some great photo opportunities.
Our last stop was a one kilometre walk from Reed’s Lookout to The Balconies. It’s a much flatter and calmer walk than the one down the waterfalls before it, and another great opportunity to hang back and enjoy the peace and quiet of the tree-lined path, or get to know your fellow travellers a little better. The Balconies provided arguably the most iconic photo opportunities of the whole tour, despite the sun hiding behind the clouds when we were there.
Before getting back into the bus, a curtain of rain started to fall across the valley beneath us, and it really felt like we were leaving just at the right time. I hadn’t hiked across the hills or camped under the stars like memories of The Grampians more often hold, but I’d gotten exactly what I needed. My head was calm and clear again, and I slept like a baby through the night.