Trying to capture the Grampians in photos

Jacqueline Le
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The Grampians National Park is one of Victoria's most popular natural attractions for bushwalking.

The Grampians National Park is one of Victoria's most popular natural attractions for bushwalking.

Have you ever taken a photo of a mountain landscape only to be a little disappointed with the image?

It has nothing to do with the view, but the physical limitations of a two-dimensional photo.

And maybe a little to do with photographic ability.

Either way, most of the photos I took in the Grampians National Park don't capture what it feels like to stand on a rocky ledge and look out across its 160,000-plus hectares.

They also don't quite capture what it feels like to look up at the jagged sandstone mountain ranges looming over flat farming land.

The way the ranges abruptly rise up from the seemingly endless plains is almost like a child's drawing - a horizontal crayon line that suddenly becomes a jagged, saw-tooth outline.

Up close, those ranges give way to ancient sandstone formations, forests, waterfalls and panoramic views.

It's no wonder the park is one of Victoria's most popular natural attractions for camping, rock climbing, bushwalking and photography.

Luckily the park is also big enough to explore without running into another person for hours, even days - which is what happened to a Melbourne father who spent five days lost in the Grampians wilderness over the New Year period.

But don't worry, there's dozens of tried and tested walking tracks - ranging from easy to carrying-all-your-supplies-for-several days - to take out the guesswork.

Most people start on the park's eastern edge at the gateway village of Halls Gap, a three-hour drive from Melbourne.

At the heart of Fyans Valley and surrounded by the Wonderland and Mount William ranges, Halls Gap manages to fulfil its tourism functions without falling victim to it.

The village is a proud ambassador for the region, as is local cafe Harvest Halls Gap, whose menu features 26 regional producers and craft beers from Ballarat brewers Athletic Club and Rebellion.

The weatherboard house-turned-provedore also serves cool climate wines made in the Grampians region, but don't let that distract you.

One of the Grampians' best lookouts is also the easiest to reach on Mt Victory Road, 15 kilometres from Halls Gap and a car park less than 20 metres away.

The view from the cliffside platforms at Boroka Lookout take in the Mt William and Wonderland ranges, as well as the plains to the east of the Grampians.

If you're after something more challenging but are pressed for time, the walk to The Pinnacle from Wonderland carpark is 2.1km and takes about one hour and 30 minutes.

The ascent will take you through the precariously placed boulders of the Grampians' very own Grand Canyon before squeezing through a crevice called Silent Street to reach the rocky formation jutting out of the cliff that is The Pinnacle.

There's a longer 9km walk that begins in Halls Gap, but the Wonderland loop is not a bad way to cheat.

MacKenzie Falls are also considered a "must do", but the track to the quieter Fish Falls from Zumsteins picnic area takes you through shallow water crossings in the MacKenzie River.

The stream leads you to the base of Fish Falls, where water cascades over terraced rocks into a small pool that's deep enough for a quick dip.

No camera or smartphone can capture what that feels like, or the fear of seeing other bushwalkers have their photo taken from The Balconies lookout with nothing between them and and the Victoria Valley hundreds of metres below.

But even if photos can't capture that, they're still a nice reminder of why you felt the need to immortalise those experiences.


GETTING THERE: The Grampians National Park is 260 kilometres or a three-hour drive west of Melbourne. You can also take a train from Melbourne to nearby Ararat or Stawell and take a connecting bus to Halls Gap.

STAYING THERE: You can camp among kangaroos at Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park next to Lake Bellfield from $36 per night, or glamp in one of their bell tents for $150 per night. They also have cabins and caravans available. Prices differ between low and high season.

PLAYING THERE: You'll find all the answers to all your questions about the Grampians' Aboriginal history at the Brambuk Cultural Centre (277 Grampians Road, Halls Gap) which also organises guided ancient rock art tours. The Halls Gap Visitor Information Centre (117-119 Grampians Rd) also has information about walks to suit all fitness levels.