The Grampians is famous for its impressive natural scenery, but it’s worth taking a weekend away for many more reasons than just that.
The Grampians National Park is more than 1600 square kilometres of breathtaking scenery. The region’s waterfalls, rolling hills, rugged mountains and wildlife are a three-hour drive from Melbourne, but if you’ve been, you don’t need us to tell you it’s worth it.
On the hospitality front, the Grampians is a quiet achiever. Its reputation for food and wine has grown steadily over the past few years, and is becoming increasingly hard to ignore. The Royal Mail Hotel dining room in Dunkeld is known around the world for its extensive wine list (there are more than 2000 options stored in a cellar across the road), and its menu is inspired by the on-site organic kitchen garden. You can get a Melbourne-standard coffee from many cafes and the region’s wineries are raising eyebrows for their quality.
If quaint country charm is what you’re after, Stawell’s Waack’s bakery once made a half-kilometre-long lamington just to lift the town’s spirit. Dunkeld Old Bakery bakes its sourdough in one of the state’s oldest bread ovens.
Here are our recommendations for where to explore in this stunning part of western Victoria.
Welcome to The Grampians
NEAREST CAPITAL CITY
Food ranges from highly-awarded restaurants to local bakeries. Grab an eight-course tasting menu, or a meat pie.
Sample some sparkling shiraz from the internationally acclaimed Grampians wine region.
This family-run vineyard has been operating since the 1860s, making it one of the oldest wineries in the country. Riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and dolcetto are all grown here, but Best’s is renowned for its shiraz, which is among the finest in Australia. Don’t leave without a tour of the historic hand-dug cellar.
It’s not just food and wine. Take a hike and enjoy the view.
Grampians Peaks Trail
It will take you three days to hike the rugged and rewarding first stage of the Grampians Peaks Trail, but you don’t have to walk it all to get the highlights. Inexperienced hikers (or those with limited time) can drive to one of multiple car parks along the trail, and access relatively quick bushwalks to see rugged mountain ranges, canyons and multiple waterfalls. The Pinnacle lookout at the top of the trail has panoramic views of the entire national park.
MacKenzie Falls is an easy, two-kilometre walk that will take about two hours (including rest stops and waterfall admiration). You can walk to a lookout in 20 minutes, but don’t. Stick it out and you’ll be rewarded at the base of the falls by a close up of the majestic waterfall in all its glory. Water cascades over huge Grampians cliffs into the deep pool below it all year round, sending sprays of rainbow mist into the air.
Husband-and-wife Justin Neofitou and Justine Hide started Grampians Helicopters in December 2015. They offer a number of different flights over the Grampians, from short joyrides that include a history of the region, to longer scenic tours. A food-and-wine helicopter tour will fly you from Best’s Wines to Red Rock Olives and save you a half-hour drive. All flights include sweeping views of vineyards, cliffs and jagged mountains.
Accommodation ranges from hotel service, to self-contained units, to nature retreats.
The Down Under Log Cabins are what getting-away-from-it-all dreams are made of. Each room has polished-concrete floors, floor-to-ceiling timber walls and a balcony with breathtaking views of the Grampians National Park. Bathrooms have sunken spa baths and floor-to-ceiling glass (guests have reported wallabies watching them shower). There are five cabins over five acres. They sell out fast.
ITINERARY: FOOD AND WINE TOUR OF THE GRAMPIANS
Make the most of the region and spend a day hiking, eating, drinking and exploring.