The Grampians

March 2020

29 February 2020

Following a summer surrounded by fires, and then being subjected to floods, with most of our favourite hikes in the Blue Mountains closed as a result of one or other of these events, we decided to finally visit the Grampians in North West Victoria. The Grampians experienced fires about five years ago, which meant we had to postpone visits. Now they are comparatively free from the ravages of weather.
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We left the Blue Mountains on Saturday 29th February, spent the first night in Wagga Wagga (forgettable). The motel was pleasant enough, on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River which attracted birds.
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We walked along the levees behind the motel protecting low-lying parts of the town from a flooding Murrumbidgee. The river and trees were attractive.
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1 March 2020

The trip took us through Rutherglen, where we learned about the Victorian High Country wines, which were better than we expected.
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We drove across the Murray River several times, including past a large lake (Moodemere) which must have recently flooded trees and forest, judging from stumps in the water.
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The second night we stayed in a Yurt at Talo Retreat, Moana, and used the opportunities in the evening to explore the Echuca Historic Wharf area. This gives a glimpse of the extensive historic commercial trade along the Murray (and Darling) supporting agriculture and business in SA, VIC and NSW.
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The river is revealed walking along a stretch close to the yurt in the morning.
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The last leg of the journey took us to Day Dream Cottage, in Halls Gap, our home for the next days. In fact it was so good - a real home away from home - that we extended our booking from 3 to 4 nights. We would have extended it further, but had not realised that Victoria's Labour Day long week-end was about to start, which meant the accommodation was booked and the Grampians National Park would be too full.
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3 March 2020

Our first hike involved doing the classic Pinnacles Track using the Wonderland Loop, which included the Venus Baths, Splitters Fall, and the Grand Canyon. The track was not boring with lots of bolder hopping, steps, slots and rock walking. The views were good, and the trip back somewhat longer than we expected. The stats were 14 k and 600 m climb.
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We arrived home tired, but did drive to explore the Silverband Falls, and also got a better sense of the road network in the park.
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A simple meal and early night was what we needed.

4 March 2020

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On Day 2 we decided to explore the Northern sections of the park, which required slighty less hiking. Our route included opportunities to visit:
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The Balconies;
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McKenzies Falls;
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Mount Zero;
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The Gulgurn Manja Shelter; and
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part of the hike to Hollow Mountain.
We had not anticipated the extent to which the last mentioned required ledge creeping, and vertigo is a challenge. But we obtained a sense of the Northern Section, and know what to do next time.
The Indigenous Art at the Gulgurn Manja Shelter was better than we expected. Some of the best sites for art are closed following the fires.
Overall we probably completed about 11 k of hiking and about 400 m climb.
We ate out at the Kookaburra Pub - good food if a little rich.

Thursday 5th March

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The weater was slightly inclement on the third day but we managed to climb almost to the top of Mount Rosea, but as the main purpose was for views, and the mist and fog was impenetrable, we decided to forgo the last section.
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We were able to climb to the top of the hightest Mountain in the Grampians, Mt William.
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As it was host to a Telstra Tower, there was a road all the way to the top, but we had to park some way from the top, and walk on the road. Fortunately the mist broke occasionally and we were able to capture a few views. We enjoyed the very different vegetation, and obtained quite interesting photos as a reminder.
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Friday 6th March

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We left our "home away from home" stopping at the Bunjil cave. The setting enables one to consider the significance of this place, and the artwork is culturally important, as the image of the information plaque attests.
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The night was a stop in Wangaratta just south of Albury Wodonga.
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The motel we had booked was far from wonderful, but we had been concerned about accommodation given the Labour Day week-end. The town at least has a river with a park and restaurants that make the most of the setting.

Saturday 7th March

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The drive to Jindabyne where we had reserved a cottage in the Holiday Park was fun - lots of narrow roads high in the mountains, with opportunities to get a sense of how the fire had affected Kosciuszko National Park.

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Our cottage had all we needed for the next three nights, and we were able to hike in-between showers, mist and fog. The starkness of the alpine region in contrast with wooded countryside was fun, with the occasional snow gum offering great photo opportunities.
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8 March 2020

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We repeated several of the walks we had done before. The Illawong walk was done in misty weather, and offered good river, mountain and snow gum views. A family of black cockatoos got us started.
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There were many signs of wombats along the trail.
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A new walk for us was the Waterfall walking track, leaving from Sawpit. It gave a good idea about the bush in the region.
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9 March 2020

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We started the Kosciuszko walk at Charlotte Pass. Most of the drive up the valley was in mist and rain, but it was largely clear at the top with intermittent mist.
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The hike to the top of Mt Kosciuszko was long and a bit boring as we had to take the more direct route there and back given that the water in the Snowy River was a little high, with the footing on the stepping stones looking very suspect.
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The arctic scenery along the route was very photogenic.
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There were various "things" to see along the route, like huts, snakes and diggers.
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10 March 2020

We returned home via many of the fire ravaged areas of the South Eastern Coast of Australia, including Bargo, which was in the epicentre of the fire storm. It seemed to be buzzing with somewhat intermittent evidence of houses having been burned down.
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The grass was unbelievably green which offered a stark contrast to the burnt mountain sides.
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Although long stretches of trees on the sides of the road were burnt, the regeneration of the gums was evident, and the towns all seemed to be active and busy.
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We spent a night in a holiday park in Bateman's Bay in a cottage that fronted the River Clyde - so much better than the typical motel unit.
Around this time we started reading the tea leaves about the implications of the virus, so headed home to Glebe, via the fish outlet in Kyama where we had lunch.



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