What do you think when you hear ‘The Grampians’? Probably;
‘It’s somewhere in Victoria, there’s a town called Halls Gap, annnnnnnd not much else’.
Yes, the Grampians are in Victoria and yes there is a cute little tourist town called Halls Gap, but did you know there’s also adrenaline-inducing adventure, world class food and wine, all ages family activities, wildlife, golf, bush walking and fishing?
A few years ago I was lucky enough to be the winner of a holiday competition. The prize was $2,000 to spend however I liked on a holiday visiting the Grampians region of Victoria (three hours out of Melbourne) which was a five hour drive from my home city of Adelaide.
I was excited to win a holiday but to be honest, I wasn’t that excited when booking everything. I mean, it was hardly a trip to the Maldives or somewhere impressive like that. Well, the Grampians are underestimated. It truly was one of the most amazing holidays we ever had (second only to a month spent in Darwin and a surprise holiday in Fiji).
I remember going to the Grampians as a kid with my parents and brothers (probably in our clapped out Mitsubishi L300 van, as embarrassing as it was we had some great holidays in that thing), but I couldn’t remember much about the place so I did a little searching online and was surprised to find so many things to do and gorgeous places to stay. Why hadn’t I heard more about this place or remember it? This made my task of booking a holiday quite difficult because in the wise words of Ron Burgundy, there’s so many activities!
Choosing the accommodation excited me the most. At the time we didn’t really have a lot of spare cash to splurge so to have $2,000 to spend however we liked was pretty special. I didn’t spend too far out of our comfort zone though, we wanted the best bang for buck.
Despite growing up in the city hubby and I are country at heart so this place immediately jumped out at us the moment we laid eyes on it (and it fit the budget), ‘Kangaroos In The Top Paddock’. Its made of fire-resistant rammed earth, seamlessly blending the home into its natural surrounds and on the outside it kind of gave off Tuscan/Moroccan vibes. On the inside, warm terracotta tiles, combustion wood fireplace, big leather couches, solid wood furniture and exposed timber beams gave off a more country homestead vibe.
It’s a stunning homestead surrounded by 22 acres of bush with unsurpassed views across the Grampians mountain range. There’s a herb and vegetable garden to pick from when cooking in the open plan kitchen, a romantic combustion wood heater for chilly winter nights, comfy beds and wildlife that love to join in for breakfast and dinner. We were in heaven.
I love how immediately relaxed I felt when walking through the doors, it had such a homey feel.
There’s a good range of books, music and games for quite nights in and its secluded enough to have a relaxing or romantic holiday without being too far from the spectacular things the Grampians region offers.
The accommodation we stayed at is not designed to accommodate large families because its only a two bedroom home with queen beds, however if you were a family of three or four it could work. There are also plenty of other great accommodation options nearby offering similar native experiences if you have a family larger than four people.
For somewhere to have a short escape to celebrate a special anniversary, have some alone time, take your little family on an unplugged holiday away from the city (yes, the property we stayed in had no internet or wifi), or to enjoy spending time with close friends, this is the place to go.
Our days usually began with breakfast on the front porch with some new furry friends before heading off on a day of adventure.
We booked a half-day quad bike tour (including lunch) with Steve of Grampians Quad Bike Adventures. He was extremely knowledgeable, super fun and gave us a great experience.
After taking us through a safety briefing (his quad bikes are serious terrain monsters), we set off riding through bush, forest and farmland stopping halfway to refresh with lunch and coffee, then made our way back through the same route with slightly different diversions to change up the scenery and really put the quads (and my undies) through their paces.
There’s a few cool surprises you’ll experience along the way but I won’t spoil it by telling you, you’ll have to experience it for yourself. (*TIP* Watch out for the roo’s, they’re everywhere!… and super cute too)
The following day we decided to take it down a notch and spent it at Halls Gap Zoo. For a few hours out of the nearest capital city they certainly had some great animals including meerkat, marmoset, spider monkey, various exotic snakes and reptiles, bilby and extremely rare yellow and red tailed black cockatoos. The enclosures were a good size and all the animals looked happy and healthy, which is really important to me as an avid animal lover and activist.
Now that we were nice and relaxed meandering around the zoo after a day on the quads, we decided to ramp up the adrenaline again. How else would we do it than to climb a 30 metre high cliff and throw ourselves off?
We booked a half-day rock climbing and abseiling tour with Grampians Mountain Adventure Company. Tori was extremely professional and did her very best to make me feel at ease, bless her little mountain boots, but I’ll never forget the conversation we had when I was teetering on the edge of that bloody cliff;
Tori – “It’s ok love, I’ve done this hundreds of times, you’re totally safe”
Me – “That’s nice but this is my first time and I feel like I’m gonna die”
I was scared shitless and cried, but I still put my big girl pants on and did it. I’m so glad I did because look at the beautiful view I was rewarded with…
Now that my bowels had returned to normal and feet were back on the ground, our next day of adventure was experiencing the magnificent waterfalls and bushwalks the Grampians are well known for.
The most popular walk and waterfall of the region is McKenzie Falls. I think I actually remember doing this walk as a kid way back when our parents took us to the gramps and dragged us out of our beds at the arse-crack of dawn to experience it when there were no tourists around. At the time I just wanted to curl up and sleep but now that I’m old enough to appreciate the sacredness of mother nature I realize how special these moments were.
Our J man will now be blessed with the very same tradition of waking up at arse-crackness to walk through trees and shit, wondering how long it would be until he too can go home and watch cartoons on the couch in his undies before growing up to appreciate the awesomeness of his parents for caring, and the beauty of mother nature.
The final activity of our trip was the most anticipated. A wine tour with Grampians Eco Tours. We were in the early days of transitioning from cider and pre-mixed drinks to something a little more sophisticated, so I purposely booked this full day wine tour as our final activity to really take the time to appreciate the region and relax.
Our palettes were becoming more refined and we were a little more open to try new things and even now our most favourite sparkling wine (or Australian Champagne, which we found on this tour) is the Seppelt Champs Elysees. Seppelt was the absolute highlight of the wine tour, with tours deep down into underground tunnels, learning about the early wine-making processes in Australia and the history of the wineries in the region. Sadly there was no recognition of aboriginal history which is very important to me.
Six days and five nights later we made our five hour drive home feeling tired but happy, refreshed and connected.
So, how much was our five night / six day holiday in the Grampians?
- Accommodation 5 nights – $1,270
- 1/2 Day Quad Bike Tour + Lunch – $260
- Halls Gap Zoo – $52
- 1/2 Day Rock Climbing & Abseiling – $190
- 1/2 Day Wine Tour – $225
- Fuel – two full tanks $170
- Food $100
- Alcohol $80
TOTAL – $2,537
(Prices based on two adults)
Would I recommend this holiday to friends and family? Abso-friggen-lutely. I’m currently in the process of booking it all again for next year, I can’t wait!
* This is not a sponsored post.
I was looking at photos of our holiday recently and remembered how much I loved it so I decided to blog about the sucker. I hope you enjoyed this post, if you did, don’t forget to share!!!