There’s no better time than spring to pack some hiking shoes, throw a bag in the car and head out west towards the Grampians. The rugged, woolly mountains and majestic rocky cliffs are out of this world in any season; but in spring the land is teeming with wildlife, the place is a riot of colour, and the produce is unbelievably fresh. The Grampians National Park is enormous, and you could easily spend a week or two camping and exploring the region at your own pace. But if you only have a weekend, we’ve picked out a few highlights between Dunkeld, Halls Gap and Beaufort to spend a couple of days against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Australia.
It doesn’t get much better than this. Wake up in one of these secluded, light-filled lodges each morning to find a spectacular view of the mountainous national park waiting for you outside your window. The open-plan lodge features a log fireplace, a king size bed, complete kitchen, wide-screen TV and DVD, and a spa. Drive slow around the lodge – there’s a thriving population of friendly kangaroos that like the area too.
51 Birdswing Road, Halls Gap
(03) 5356 6243
Three Troupers Pantry
Whether you’ve been driving a couple of hours from Melbourne or heading home at the end of your trip, this is the place to refuel. Take your pick from country-style pies, sausage rolls, burgers, and there’s decent coffee to boot. It’s also the shopfront for Three Troupers microbrewery, so be sure to try a tasting flight with your grub. Look for the red door.
44 Neill Street, Beaufort
(03) 5349 2002
The Royal Mail Hotel
There was a collective sigh of disappointment as Dan Hunter stepped down from the head chef role at this three-hatted restaurant earlier this year, but it’s clear that newcomer Robin Wickens is more than capable of stepping up. With produce picked twice daily from the kitchen garden, the menu changes daily and the food is astoundingly bold and fresh – there’s no need for culinary theatrics here. One of regional Australia’s finest dining experiences.
98 Parker Street, Dunkeld
(03) 5577 2241
The Old Bakery and Wild Plum Cafe
A lot of regional cafes like to throw ‘old’ in their signage, but these guys have long-earned the right. Open in Dunkeld in 1887, The Old Bakery is home to an original, man-sized wood-fired oven in which is still operational to bake up to 200 loaves at a time. Stop by for a gourmet pie, a slice of cake, or take away one of their famous sourdoughs.
97 Martin Street, Dunkeld
(03) 5577 2354
LiveFast Lifestyle Cafe
If you’re after generous servings of good old-fashioned breakfast fare, LiveFast is a solid choice. The coffee is good and there are gluten free options too. A light lunch menu includes quiches, toasties and seasonal salads.
Shop 5, Stoney Creek Stores, Halls Gap
(03) 5356 4400
Royal Mail Kitchen Tour
Take the Royal Mail Hotel kitchen garden tour before your meal if you can – it’s amazing to be able to recognise the fresh greens on your plate, plucked only scant hours before. Home to 450 different species of vegetables and herbs, this is culinary Eden, and supplies the kitchen with 65-80% of the produce they use daily. An unforgettable highlight.
(03) 5577 2241
Climb the Pinnacle
There so many walks to take (the Grampians National Park spans nearly 1700 square kilometres), but if you only have time for one, go straight to The Pinnacle. It is the path most travelled, but for good reason – the stomach-turning drop over Halls Gap is spectacular and deeply humbling. Take plenty of water, and bring some lunch to eat at the peak.
Wonderland walking area, Halls Gap
Mount Zero Olives Farm
Achieving almost celebrity recognition on Melbourne menus now, there’s a bit of a bit of a thrill hurtling past the sign directing you to the home of Victoria’s most famous olives. An hour out of Halls Gap, the drive is worth it to share a tasting plate in the farm shop and cafe. Just try not to walk out of there with a bag full of oils, tapenade and of course, olives.
41 Mount Zero Road, Laharum
(03) 5383 8280
Mt Langi Ghiran – The Gap Vineyard and Cellar Door
Just down the road from Boroka Downs and set against the backdrop of Mount William Ranges, The Gap vineyard is an extension of the awarded Mount Langi Ghiran group. The Grampians region is known for its Riesling and Shiraz, so be sure to bring home a bottle of one (or both).
Pomonal Road, Halls Gap
(03) 5356 4252
Roz Greenwood Old & Rare Books
This unassuming bookstore is home to some precious fragments of history, specialising in the western Victorian area. For example, one of their most prized books is an early, illustrated edition of Major T.L. Mitchell’s expedition of the region valued at around $3000. There’s plenty at a more affordable price though – pick up something special to take back home.
107a Parker Street, Dunkeld
(03) 5577 2365
Broadsheet’s trip to the Grampians was made possible by Grampians Tourism.