Just 15 km on the other side of Mildura was ‘Big Lizzie’, a giant steam engine that had cleared a lot of the land in the area for agriculture early last century. Julian had visited this as a kid and was keen to show the boys. It was certainly a monster, complete with rolling flat footed ‘dreadnaught’ wheels. It weighs 45 tonnes, had a top speed of only 3km/hr and a turning circle of 60m.
It was during the longish, 350km drive to Halls Gap that we finally finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We started this series on the Nullarbor and carefully paced it to last us through many a dull stretch of highway. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. While we have all really enjoyed listening to the books, Julian and I are glad that the constant requests to listen to “HP”, which are usually accompanied by louder and louder humming of “Harry Potter in 99 seconds” until we put it on will finally stop.
We took a quick detour into Horsham to top up our supplies and visit our first Aldi since Warrnambool – did you know all you eastern residents that Aldi hasn’t made it past Vic yet? – I am very happy to be eating their $8 panettone again! We mistakenly took the scenic route into Halls Gap across a windy, windy mountain road and arrived at Halls Gap Caravan Park in time to meet friends Adam, Lisa and Isla arriving (from such posts as Mt Gambier). They had driven up for the night to meet up with us and we enjoyed a relaxed evening BBQ. The boys had a blast with our site just a stones throw from the local playground and the whole place was a hive of tourist activity including many families.
The next morning we all did a short walk to Venus Pools before they headed off after lunch. It was lovely to catch up again and delightful to see how much Isla had grown. Now 13 months old she’s a bundle of cuteness and Sam was very taken with her! With guests departed it was time for Julian to tackle the big job of installing the new solar panel. Luckily it had been waiting at reception on our arrival and thankfully the caravan park was able to lend Julian the ladders we needed to access the roof of Alice. A few careful hours later and wahlah! Hey presto – new solar panel installed and working.
On Sunday we tackled The Pinnacle from Halls Gap. A solid 10.5km loop walk up to a spectacular rocky outcrop on the edge of the range. It was a long climb up but the views were amazing. It really hit home that we are back in civilization again. There was a constant stream of tourists at the lookout of all shapes and sizes, I guess we are only 3 hours from Melbourne now and the Grampians are justifiably popular.
We moved the next morning to a free camp just 10km out of town just on the edge of the NP and filled in the next 3 days with more walks and drives as well as abseiling and a trip to the Halls Gap Zoo.
Plantation Campground, just north of Halls Gap, home for four nights.
Team Ellis tackle the 15m high beginner abseiling course.
At the Balconies lookout later in the afternoon and another cairn garden on the way!
The next day we tackled McKenzie Falls and Fish Falls.
We all enjoyed cooling off in the McKenzie River downstream from Fish Falls.
Finally on our last day we hit the zoo and splashed out on a Meerkat encounter.
A shame that our only sighting of a Cassowary during our trip was at a zoo.
Whilst we now feel like we’re out of the bush and back into relative civilisation and we agreed that the Grampians could easily be somewhere much closer to home, we loved the walks and the magnificent vistas. This area was another ‘bucket list’ stop for us, and lived up to our expectations. Abseiling and the zoo were a nice added bonus too! A beautiful spot to spend a week.