Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wed 7 Nov - Grampians VIC

A quick breakfast so we could do a short walk up to Mount William lookout (the highest point in the park) while it was still cool and early.

We started by 7.30am and it's overcast and a little cold but we soon warm up. It's 1.8km each way on a sealed road - all uphill with a grade around 10 degrees. The first half the steepest and we're feeling our calf muscles pinging as they stretch out from yesterday. A few "puff" breaks and stops for views on the way (largely for Di) and we make it to the top in 40 minutes. We pass a single German woman coming down so she got a nice early start.

The uphill walk is worth it. Whilst the top of the mountain is covered in telephone and transmission towers, you can walk around the outside of the fencing and get great views at least in 3 directions.

In winter it must get really cold here as there are warning signs of FALLING ICE. We're sure it's always windy as it it very exposed. Lots of photos and a snack and then we race back down - it takes us about 20 minutes!
Hans would like to do one of the big peaks in the south of the park - and votes for Mt Abrupt, which is a 457m climb over 3.3km. The walk is described as hard and steep with rock hopping and rock scrambling. Di opts out and after dropping Hans at the start of the walk and making arrangements to meet heads into the metropolis of Dunkeld - with a total of 7 shops plus the info centre. A break at the only cafe for tea and toast to supplement a weetbix breakfast about 4 hours earlier, and also some blog updates (although no wifi).

The Mount Abrupt walk is fantastic.

It starts by winding up a hillside and across the sites of 3 different landslides. All credit to the Park Rangers who have created new paths on the sides of the landslides and also across. Some effort has been put in to make the paths withstand any future landslide, but one wonders if that would be enough.

There were a lot of bees and wasps along the path, particularly up on the ranges where there were a lot of spring flowers. Hans got a bit paranoid so used the headphones and listened to music on the way down.
The views from the top of Mount Abrupt are simply stunning in all directions. It was definitely worth it. The path is quite rocky in parts, with lots of loose rocks which meant that descending was to be done a bit more carefully than normal.

The picture below is of the town Dunkeld, just south of the Grampians.
And this is the same road as above, but from the ground, and with Mount Abrupt in the background.
Hans met some very nice people along the path up to Mount Abrupt.
First, a very chatty Swiss woman (whose husband Hans had met going down a bit earlier and he did look bit grey). Well, the Swiss woman said that her husband was not very good with heights and had walked down ahead of her. We chatted for some 15 minutes about the world, life and everything and Hans was getting tips of what to do in Switzerland when we arrive there as part of our gap year in 2013.

Secondly, a very nice couple from the Victorian Ski Alps, who clearly like their hiking as they were in the Grampians all the time, were planning to hike Corsica next year, as well as doing Camino de Santiago de Compostela. They had been traveling for a year in 2008, mostly camping in Europe.

Hans completes the walk in the recommended time of about 2.5 hours and Di meets him with the van at around 1ish. We drive on to Lake Bellefield for a picnic lunch surrounded by Rosellas (lovely birds and very friendly and don't they just love grainy bread)

On our way to our next destination (McKenzie Falls lookout) we decide to pick up ice at Halls Gap township and also enjoy an ice-cream sundae. Very good and well deserved... for Hans at least.

McKenzie Falls lookout is a simple stroll - suitable for wheel chairs and takes about 30 minutes return. We get a good view of the falls, which are quite nice and certainly more water over them than Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains. We take some photos and move on to our Staplyton campsite for tonight.

We settle in to the campsite of our choice at about 5pm and decided to camp a distant from a group of about 15 girl school students. About 30 minutes later a big coaster bus rolls up with about 20 boy school students and they camp sort of opposite us but downhill a bit (far enough away for us to ignore them). However they did set up camp surrounding a group of about 3 tents and when these guys returned from their day of exploration, they quickly realised their nice campsite environment was no more! They promptly unpegged their tents, lifted and walked them to a new location much further away and threw chairs tables and eskies into the back of a ute and moved. We completely understood but it was very amusing to watch.
A lovely dinner of leftover Chicken Tikka Masala and accompaniments, including nice red wine from Coonawarra.
Hans is humming "too many kids in the campground" to a Flight of the Conchords tune... but we figure by 9pm either we or they will be wrapped up in bed (they may yap but the campervan is pretty good at blocking out noise).

Some of the kids play cricket and throw footballs and later in the evening, somebody picks up a guitar and plays and sings "Lion sleeps tonight", but not very well... Anyway, we fall asleep without a hitch...


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