Whether your thing is bracing walks amidst stunning bush scenery, a perfect shiraz at one of the oldest wineries in Victoria, or taking in a sky full of stars on a perfectly clear night – you’ll find it in the Grampians. Just a few hours out of Melbourne, the national park is one of the most picturesque and abundant regions in Australia. It’s a big call, sure, but once you’ve been to the Grampians you’ll be inclined to agree. In partnership with Converse, we’ve created the perfect itinerary for a weekend escape to the Grampians. Don’t worry about our southern weather’s predilection for unpredictability – the Grampians are breathtaking in any conditions.
Set off early from Melbourne – depending on the traffic, it’s going to take you around three or four hours to get to the Grampians. Arrive in Halls Gap and check into your nature retreat cabin at DULC. The accommodation is engulfed in the peaceful wilderness yet tastefully modern, opt for the treehouse suite if you can. Unpack and spend some time exploring the surrounding area and breathing in some of that cool, clean mountain air.
Jump in the car and head five minutes down the road into town for dinner. Harvest in Hall’s Gap started doing evening service as of January this year, and we’re really glad they did. Dine on locally sourced Greenvale Farm pork tenderloin served with a sweet apple cider reduction, celeriac puree and green beans; or enjoy tender pasta stuffed with roasted pumpkin and topped with peppery pecorino and green olives. After dinner, head back to your cabin and sit out on the deck with a glass of wine under a canopy of stars before retiring to your soft loft bed.
Wake up and feel extremely small compared to the mountains of the Grampians National Park that are looming large all around you. Then, lace up your shoes for a day of hiking and exploring – you’re going to conquer those trails. But first: coffee. Mosey to Livefast Café for their mushroom stack; or dine like royalty with eggs royale, served with herbed waffles, smoked salmon and béarnaise sauce. It might sound indulgent, but you’re going to need the sustenance later while you’re scrambling up a rocky path. Their coffee is so good you’re going to want two – so have a latte with brekky and then grab a takeaway for the drive out to the mountains.
Those mountains are begging to be explored, and a trip to the Grampians is begging you to get active. Drive to the MacKenzie Falls car park and set off on a moderately challenging hike to the base of this marvellous cascading waterfall. Once you get to the falls, the views are nothing short of stunning. Fine rainbow-tinged mists hang above it – and because it flows all year round you’ll be guaranteed a great sight no matter the season. If the urge to splash around in the rock pools beckons, get wet and snap the perfect waterfall pic from within the water.
Once you’ve spent a couple of hours exploring the mountains from the ground, it makes sense that you might take to the skies and explore from on high! A 25-minute scenic flight with Grampians Helicopters will skim you across mountains, over sights like the Roses Gap adventure school camp and over the top of Mackenzie Falls, all with a commentary from your pilot about local sights and some of the history of the area. If you take the trip with three people, there’s a discount.
Get ready for a night of incredible food and fine dining. The Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld boasts a tasting menu that really lets the chefs flex their creative muscles with a range of ever-changing dishes. Choose to opt for the tasting menu and you’ll be treated to six or eight courses of seasonal, local produce presented exquisitely on a plate. There’s a real sincerity with the food here; the team are intent on letting delicious food speak for itself, albeit in a pretty spectacular fashion. The dining room is simply decorated and the venue is positioned on some pretty grounds, so if you get there a bit early you can take a walk around as you work up an appetite. The menu shifts with the season, but the winter tasting options includes dishes like Royal Mail beef with carrots in fig leaf, barley and cheddar; and poached quince, rosemary ice cream and Jerusalem artichoke. There’s also the option to dine à la carte, and to be honest both options look equally tantalising. Wear your stretchy pants.
This morning you’re heading to Silverband Falls for a short jaunt in the scrub. The track is only 700 metres long but very pretty, and takes you through dappled shady forests and brushing past maidenhair ferns. Keep an eye out for birds and lizards enjoying the morning sun.
Head off from Hall’s Gap and grab a coffee and an apple turnover at locally renowned Waacks bakery in Stawell. These guys have been delivering country-style bakery fare and hospitality since 1996, and are a casual road-trip stop that promises to revitalise. Not too much further past Stawell you’ll see the signs for Best’s. Take the left turn and motor down to one of the oldest wineries in Australia. The Best’s cool climate shiraz is ranked among the finest in Australia, and once you have a sip at their cellar door you’ll see why. Kick off your visit to this old spot (they’re celebrating 150 years soon) with a Concongella Cellar Walk, where you can see the original hand-dug tunnels and explore the cobwebbed passages. After your brief history lesson, head back up into the cosy cellar door (if it’s cool the wood fire will be crackling away in the corner) and enjoy a relaxed tasting of what they’ve got on for the day.
Just past Ararat stop in at Mount Langhi Giran State Park and enjoy a short trek past ancient red gums to the summit. After you’ve enjoyed the sights and soaked up the view, sneak in one more visit to another winery on the way back to Melbourne; Mount Langhi Giran. Overseen by chief winemaker Ben Haines, the famed Langi Shiraz is hand harvested from the ‘Langi Old Block’ and is highly acclaimed for its stunning fruit, pepper and spice flavours. Pick up a bottle or two for a special occasion.
Words: Laura Dawson.
Ready to tackle the elements? Pack your wet weather gear and hit the road for to explore this Victorian gem in all its rainy glory. We spent all weekend in Converse’s new weatherproof Chuck Taylor All Star II Rubber — can recommend for rain, hail or shine.