Ahhh, the Grampians! A bucket list destination for people around the world, and since people from around the world cannot explore this nature-wonderland, we will and you definitely should.
The Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park is the magical, mystical annual holiday destination of one of my school friends, who would return after their week-long holidays, relentlessly boasting about the brilliance of this beloved holiday hot-spot. Finally, it was my time to experience the greatness of the Grampians with our big Adelady #grampiansroadtrip.
Our holiday started where all great road trips out of Adelaide commence — the petrol station at the bottom of the freeway. Some snacks and coffees later and we were on our way. To discover the route we took, and some of the antics we got up to along the way, jump over and read Jimmy’s article, My wife gave me a 3-day Halls Gap pass.
Making a good and proper road trip out of this dream destination, we chose to stop multiple times along the way. Lauren and Hayley have bladders the sizes of peas, but there are benefits to that when you get to stop in places like the stunning Horsham, Victoria and check out everything this bustling little town square has to offer.
Oh, hey Horsham!
Once in Horsham, we peeled off from the group and did our own thing as a couple, embarking on foot around this surprising town. We grabbed a map and set off on the Public Art and Heritage Trail. This is a self-guided look at a mix of the modern and historic beauty Horsham has to offer — like the historic Post Office Bell, Bradbury Lane mural; a masterpiece created by local artist Nichola Clarke who worked with local youth groups to create it. The inspiration? Their idea of what a future Horsham looks like — so bright and joyful! On this walking tour, we managed to hotfoot it across to the Horsham Regional Art Gallery, check out the Roof Top Ribbon and the Original Horsham Letterbox, as well as so much more.
Again, you can read about a bunch of brilliant family activities we crashed with Hayley and Jimmy’s family, here, like the Grampians Adventure Golf (there was no way I was missing the chance to putt my way around these gorgeous gardens, waterfalls and ponds); and the heavenly Halls Gap Zoo and our wondrous White Rhino experience (where Kapamba stole my whole heart). We had a great time taking part in these bucket list fun-filled family activities, but we definitely needed our couple time, especially with a baby coming any second now, so continue the read for all the hot tips of what to do in the Grampians with your love.
Tantalising tastes are all around
We checked in and dumped our bags at our Pomonal Airbnb and headed straight for Red Rock Olives. It was a handy 34-second drive from our lodging, and such a treat after a long day of driving. We arrived to happy families enjoying olive and olive oil tastings, chickens cooing, games and basketball being played and tasting platters being devoured. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy as a family or as a couple, as you soak in the local sights and delights. The Red Rock Olives shopfront is stacked with oils, olives and salts that you’ll definitely want to take home with you, like Beer Salt, Chilli Salt, Apple Balsamic Mixed Olives and SO much more. You can learn more about Red Rock Olives, here.
At dinner on night one, we enjoyed the must-visit Barney’s Bar and Bistro in Pomonal. This place is a true nod to outback Australia with its rustic, renovated barn charm. The menu, as expansive and delicious as its surrounds, made it a truly enjoyable dining experience, only surpassed by the warmth and comedic hospitality of its owners. Have a drink, grab a meal, play a game of pool, relax by the fire and be utterly surprised by the affordable and delicious fare this institution has on offer.
Night two saw us check out the Halls Gap Hotel. Again, the glorious Grampians hospitality continued with yet another fabulous feast. We ordered way more than we should have, or needed, but that’s what happens when you’re faced with a truly expansive and hypnotising menu. Braised Beef Brisket, Pork Belly Porchetta… I could go on for days, or you could check it out for yourself here: https://www.hallsgaphotel.com.
Hot tip: The pizzas at the Halls Gap Hotel are also an A-plus. We got takeaway from here on night three and chowed down at home, so delicious!
Wine on the mind, sorry Lauren!
There are pluses and minuses to having a pregnant partner on a trip like the Grampians. On one hand, you’ve got a designated driver. On the other, she couldn’t enjoy all the local drinking delights that I could, and did.
After peeling away from the ‘family’ again, we spent some more quality time with each other at the stunning and historic Best’s Wines. Best’s is one of Australia’s oldest and continuously family-owned and operated wineries, crafting extraordinary and iconic wines of elegance and longevity. Their wines are a must-try when you’re in the Grampians, and the old red gum slab tasting room is housed in the original stables and showcases old winery equipment, local maps and Henry Best’s original journal dating back to 1866.
During a quick tasting (which you can either do for free or choose a premium experience), we had a walk around this picture-perfect property and discovered signs from the Original Nursery block, which was planted in the late 1860s by Henry Best and family, the old wooden barn cellar and so much more fantastic history.
Some friends recommended that we take an Underground Cellar Tour at Seppelt Wines, so that was the next stop. Just a few minutes drive away, we had a quick look over the gorgeous grounds, checked out the historical photos and information and then embarked on the unreal Underground Cellar Tour. Known as ‘The Drives’, these underground tunnels were excavated in 1868 by out-of-work gold miners. They are now the largest underground cellars in Australia. Featuring miles and miles of drives, and millions of both full and empty wine bottles, this was a really cool and unique experience, even for a non-drinking pregnant woman. I can’t recommend this once-in-a-lifetime experience enough.
Get lost in the Grampians
Well, we didn’t exactly get lost, but on our way to some of the must-dos on our list, we stumbled across the Pomonal Village Markets. They’re held on the last Sunday of the month from 9am. How can you NOT pick up a home-baked slice of lemon slice and brownies at these markets? Delicious.
We also happened upon Pomonal Estate in our travels. This winery, microbrewery and cider house also offers up delicious food in the cafe, beer and wine tasting paddles with matching handmade chocolates (I took one for the team and got both so Lauren could have the chocolates), and unrivalled views of the stunning Grampians mountains — the perfect backdrop for enjoying more of what this region has to offer. Pomonal Estate also offers luxury accommodation which is right at the top of our list for when we return, you can check it out here.
Views for days, the Grampians way
It’s what you’ve travelled to the Grampians for, right? The views you’ve heard about and seen all over Insta. You can see them from basically everywhere you are in the region, but they’re especially breathtaking from the centre of Halls Gap where we dined in a sunken park overlooking the rolling tree-lined mountains — it was like something out of a movie. Or, you can chuck places like Reed Lookout and Boroka Lookout into your GPS and head on up the mountain.
The drive itself was awesome — winding roads, glimpses of breathtaking views and then you get to Reed Lookout. Oh my god. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it! Reed Lookout was like a scene straight out of the Lion King, with stunning panoramic views of Victoria Valley and the surrounding mountains. Lauren and I stood there for quite a while and soaked in all of the nature and green and beauty. It was a delicious moment of calm, clarity and quiet. We didn’t say anything, but it was like we both knew we had to soak this moment in, because in a matter of weeks, moments of calm like this would be the stuff of our dreams as we’ll be changing dirty nappies and listening to screams.
A super short walk away from the nearby carpark, Boroka Lookout was also a spectacular sight with cliffside viewing platforms which provide picturesque views of plains, lakes and the stunning Grampians mountain ranges. I manage to get some fire pics for the ‘gram’, and also created lasting memories of a special moment that Lauren and I shared at the lookout.
Hot tip: We didn’t make it, but we were told Mackenzie Falls is possibly the most iconic waterfall in the Grampians region. It’s one of the largest waterfalls in Victoria and is must-do when visiting the Grampians National Park. So don’t be like us… definitely get there!
The breathtaking views you’ll fall in love with are available long out of Halls Gap or Pomonal, too! On our way out of town, we made a quick pit stop to catch a waterfall since we were gutted about missing Mackenzie Falls. Wannon Falls presented a remarkable display of water flowing down the falls into a deep plunge pool below.
I could quite simply continue writing about the Grampians for days and weeks, but it truly is something you must experience for yourself. The sights, the sounds, the hospitality — all of it! To learn more, head to the website and book your dream Grampians getaway.
And if you need more inspo, don’t miss Hayley’s article, 10 reasons to take the wheel the Grampians way.
Thanks for joining us on our #grampiansroadtrip.