If you want to make core memories for you and your loved ones, take a road trip through our amazing state to the Grampians in Victoria. It’s the ultimate road trip destination and let’s be honest, it’s South Australia’s prettiest sister region!
Your adventure begins as soon as you drive up the Western Highway. With giant roadside art installations and colourful silos, quaint country towns with award winning bakeries, quirky pubs and coffee shops, waterfalls, walking trails and adventure playgrounds, the journey to the Grampians is just as sweet as the destination itself.
So, do what we did and take the wheel the Grampians way. We packed up our families and headed 490km west on what turned out to be an unforgettable adventure.
10 reasons to take the wheel the Grampians way…
1. The Giant Koala
Between Stawell and Horsham, you’ll find one of Australia’s iconic BIG things — The Giant Koala! You simply cannot drive past this enormous icon without stopping for a photo… and, of course, a coffee/toilet break.
2. Art attack
Fancy a spot of culture with your road trip? Horsham is home to the Horsham Regional Art Gallery which is full with a rotating line-up of high quality local, national and even international art exhibitions and interactive displays for the kids to enjoy. Ararat’s Art Gallery is also worth a visit with gorgeous local art on display, and the cherry on top is that it’s free to view.
3. Playgrounds for days
How do you keep the kids from saying, “Are we there yet?” every five minutes? You tire them out at an Adventure Playground, and almost every regional town has one! Most playgrounds have an area for kids to scoot or ride, and some even have a skate park attached.
Here are my kids’ top picks:
- Adventure Island Playground and Pump Track, Horsham
- Ararat Skatepark, Ararat
- Lakes Edge Adventure Playground, Hamilton
4. The Rhino Rumble
For a privately-owned zoo, Halls Gap Zoo sets the bar high! It’s no wonder everyone who has been there absolutely raves about it, and its good reputation has spread well beyond the Victorian border. Not only is it super interactive, so the kids can get up close and personal feed the animals, but there’s also a gigantic playground where little ones can run wild.
What sets this zoo apart is the Rhino Rumble experience! You can join the keepers and hang out with a two-tonne Southern White Rhino, feeding and scratching his beautiful soft skin. You might even be lucky enough to indulge him with a spa treatment and help give him a well-deserved mud bath!
5. Parmy-Parma Heaven
Parmy, Parma… tom-ah-to, tom-ay-to… however you pronounce it, they’re great in the Grampians! At Barney’s Bistro in Pomonal you get a good old country vibe, as well as top-notch pub grub. Their parmies are crunchy on the outside, coupled with perfectly cooked chicken breast inside. You can’t come to the Grampians without stopping by Barney’s for a beer (or softie) and a meal!
While you’re on the hunt for the best parmies, just around the bend from Barney’s is the Halls Gap Hotel. These guys have taken pub meals to the next level with a fancy menu fit for the foodies and kids! According to my six year old, Halls Gap Hotel has the best spaghetti bolognese he’s ever tried in his life and my nine year old raved about the kids’ steak and veggies. The owners get it. They have kids so their restaurant and menu is designed so children can enjoy their fave meal, as well as playtime in the Brat Shack. And, while the kids are entertained, parents can actually feel relaxed and enjoy a fine dining pub experience. Hot tip: don’t say no to their chips — they have just the right amount of crunch and salt that will make you scream for more.
Speaking of screaming, I scream for ice cream! The ice creamery at Halls Gap is exactly what the doctor ordered, with all the extras! And there’s a playground directly opposite so kids can burn off all that sweet energy afterwards.
6. Hole in One
Golf anyone? Look, I’m no golf enthusiast but playing competitive sport against my family at Grampians Adventure Golf and MOCO Gallery at the foot of the Grampians was possibly one of the best afternoons ever! The lumps, bumps, water and shortcuts will keep you entertained for hours on end. After nailing it in the golf department, grab a coffee and peruse the gorgeous artwork at the gallery inside.
7. Look out!
Grab your best sneakers or hiking boots and go on a gentle stroll or full day adventure in the Grampians (known as Gariwerd to the local Aboriginal people) National Park. There are so many tracks, off-road trails, scenic routes and viewing platforms to check out. Here are six walking trails your Fitbit might enjoy…
A very popular walking trail and it’s no guesses as to why! Hikers are rewarded with absolutely gorgeous views of Halls Gap and the gigantic rock formations of the Grampians. There are three trails that all reach The Pinnacle — and they all vary in distance and grade, so just pick which one suits you best, or even better, try all three!
This 2km walk from the carpark will take you to the highest point in the Grampians. The summit gives views across the mountain range as well as Pomonal, Moyston and Ararat.
You’ll want to have good shoes for this one! Boronia Peak is a rocky climb up to the summit but it’s worth every step because once you reach the top, you’ll get superb views of Lake Fyans and Fyans Valley.
This one is suited to a more experienced hiker. Your feet will take you 6.5km through winding woodland, and the locals recommend that you explore Mount Abrupt (Mud-Dadjug) in spring to early summer — it’s apparently stunning!
At the southern end of the Grampians National Park, this easy walk will show off wonderful views of Mount Abrupt (Mud-Dadjug), and nearby Dunkeld. Bring your camera, it’s all Instagram-worthy!
8. The Venus Baths
You don’t have to be Sir Edmund Hillary to explore Halls Gap. In fact, the easy 2.3km track to the Venus Baths is a great walk and relatively flat, making it accessible for almost any age. Simply park in Halls Gap below the caravan park and head on in. The rock pools fill up with fresh water, so during the warmer months feel free to splash around and cool off. When there’s no water, you can simply take a seat and enjoy the peace and quiet of this beautiful natural wonder.
9. A spooky history tour!
Google Ararat and the main attraction is J Ward, a Lunatic Asylum for the criminally insane. My cup of tea? Probs not! But after 10 minutes of the tour, I didn’t want to leave. Learning all about the history on a guided tour by passionate volunteers, you’ll be taken back in time, learning all about Ararat’s oldest jail and all the spooky stories of past inmates. BOO!
10. Outdoor action
The best way to explore the Grampians and get your heart rate up at the same time, is by booking an adventure experience with Absolute Outdoors. From young families (like mine) to hardcore explorers, these guys have a wide range of activities to excite you! My little family tried rock climbing and it was ridiculously fun and only a little bit scary, lols! Adrian was our guide and he decked us out in all the gear, including shoes, helmet and harness so we were super safe and looked every bit the part! The best thing is you can go as high as you like, there’s no pressure to cliff-hang or even get to the top. They also offer a bunch of other experiences so jump on their website and get crack-a-lacking!