Emus walking down the main street. An ancient heritage-listed National Park full of tracks leading to teeming waterfalls, Aboriginal rock art and breath-taking lookouts. See some of the oldest vines in the world and soak up the buzz of the pre-vintage activities in the local cellars. All this is waiting for you this summer just 3 hours north-west of Melbourne. Yes, the Grampians is home to all this and more.
This largely undiscovered region in Victoria makes for a great escape from the city and the perfect place to explore during your summer holiday.
The beating heart of the Grampians is its National Park but there are many other activities for the whole family to enjoy, from a zoo and museum to more adventurous pursuits, such as helicopter tours and rock climbing.
Here’s our guide to the best things to do in the Grampians this summer.
The Grampians National Park covers an impressive 167,200 hectares and is dominated by sandstone mountains, impressive waterfalls, abundant native fauna and impressive views. Drive to the Boroka Lookout to see what we mean. Or take the 40-minute walk from MacKenzie Falls carpark to the MacKenzie Falls Lookout – impressive. The Pinnacle Hiking Trail circuit is longer and more challenging, but worth the effort. The views are awe inspiring. Of course, there are many more walks to do. Check out our favourite walks in the Grampians.
There is no better way to see the Grampians than from above. With Grampians Helicopters you can take scenic, winery and lunch tours. The Best’s Picnic Lunch is a great way to get to our cellar door. After flying over our historic vineyards you’ll land among the vines and have a tasting of our entire line-up of wines and a guided tour of the cellars before enjoying a delicious picnic hamper. No matter which tour you choose you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the National Park, mountain ranges, farmland, towns and vineyards – it’s an exhilarating experience taking in amazingly beautiful, diverse country.
Wheat silos are dotted all over this part of Victoria and they are slowly being transformed into art. The Silo Art Trail covers 200km and features the work of internationally acclaimed street artists. You can see these amazing paintings on a self-drive, guided bus or helicopter tour.
Officially just outside the Grampians region, the Royal Mail at Dunkeld is not to be missed – it’s a bucket-list wining and dining experience. Book in for dinner Wednesday to Saturday or for lunch on Saturday at the renowned restaurant Wickens and you’ll be taken on a culinary journey. The five- and eight-course menus are inspired by what’s in season in the 1.2-hectare kitchen garden. And don’t miss seeing the impressive cellar, which holds 28,000 bottles. Tours run from Tuesday–Sunday at 3:30pm.
A pair of rare white rhinos have recently arrived at Halls Gap Zoo in the hope there will be baby white rhinos very soon, which is good news for this threatened species. While you’re here also check out the meerkats, giraffe, cheetah, red panda, lemurs – the zoo has 160 species in total.
Need to cool off? Head to Lake Fyans, a short drive from Halls Gap Zoo. This lake has a sandy white beach and is ideal for all swimming levels. It’s also a great spot for water skiing, fishing and kayaking. Make sure you pack swimmers and a towel!
The Grampians is called Gariwerd by the local Aboriginal people and you can learn what makes it special at Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap. Owned and operated by Aboriginal people, at this multi-award-winning centre you’ll get an insight into the culture of the Indigenous population of western Victoria. Try your hand at basket weaving, didgeridoo music, traditional dance, boomerang throwing and painting. Afterwards, get a taste of native foods at The Bush Tucker Café.
The Grampians is home to the largest number of Indigenous rock art sites in southern Australia. In the National Park around 60 sites and more than 4,000 different motifs have been identified. Don’t miss The Bunjil shelter in the Black Range Scenic Reserve near Stawell and is regarded as one of the most significant sites in south-east Australia. It is easily accessible as is Manja and Billimina in western Grampians, and Ngamadjidj and Gulgurn Manja shelters to the north.
You could be mistaken for thinking you have been transported to China when you arrive at Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre. At the centre you’ll learn that is was the Chinese who founded the town of Ararat in the Grampians. The Chinese came to this part of Victoria during the gold rush. Here you can try gold panning and Chinese calligraphy, play traditional Chinese games and see the mining tunnel discovered when the centre was built.
What better way to explore the foothills of Grampians National Park than on horseback. With horses suitable for beginners and experienced riders, Grampians Horse Riding
Grampians Horse Riding takes small groups along a 12-kilometre forest track taking in some beautiful scenery.
Feeling brave? For the truly adventurous Hangin’ Out runs professional guided rock climbing and abseiling tours and courses. You don’t need to have had any experience, Hangin’ Out will teach you, and the Grampians is one of the best places to rock climb with stunning world-renowned sandstone rock faces. It’s a great family activity – the kids will love it!
Of course, no visit to the Grampians would be complete without stopping in for a spot of wine tasting at Best’s in Great Western. Our rustic Concongella Cellar Door in the original red gum slab stables is filled with history. Take the self-guided tour of the cellars and then freshen up your palate by trying our Great Western Rosé – it’s summer after all – before we take you through our other delicious wines.