A three hour drive west of Melbourne in your campervan brings you to the wide skies, towering mountains and fertile plains of the Grampians region. The centrepiece of this impressive part of the state is the Grampians National Park, which incorporates four stunning mountain ranges that rise out of the rural plains. The mountains are high and imposing, draped in thick forest and divided up by an inland network of rivers and lakes. Over 200 bird species, 900 species of native plants and and a plethora of local wildlife call them home, and any trip here is going to make you wish you could do the same.
While any visit to the Grampians should first and foremost be about appreciating nature in its finest splendour, there is something special about the towns in this region as well. Scenic, cosy and exceptionally friendly, they provide the perfect base for your campervan adventures. Halls Gap is the largest in the National Park, and the drive to it through the famous 'gap' is as pleasant as the destination itself. Spectacular views of the Wonderland and Mt. William Ranges greet you in every direction, and you have your choice of every style of accommodation you may want. If you are not content with just taking in the scenery, then do it with a set of clubs in your hands on the aptly named Mt Difficult Golf Course. There is also a wildlife park to explore, and the tourist oriented nature of this town means all the luxuries such as spas and massage parlours are also available if you feel like a bit of indulgence.
The Grampians are renowned as having some of the finest marked bushwalking trails in the state, and many of these are just a short drive or a walk away from Halls Gap. Particularly famous is the Pinnacle, a lookout that has recently re-opened after being destroyed by bushfire a couple of years ago. It extends outwards from the mountainside, high above the country around it and providing amazing views of the ranges to the north and south. The Park is also renowned for its picturesque waterfalls, and most of these can be reached by a short drive from Halls Gap. Especially impressive is the Mackenzie River Falls, a wide sheet of water plunging into a round rock pool.
The ranges have become a centre for adventure sports and activities in Victoria. Canoeists and kayakers tackle the narrow and fast flowing sections of the rivers, while rock climbers and abseilers throw themselves up and down the steep mountain slopes. The centre for this sort of activity is Mt. Arapiles, a large outcrop near the town of Natimuk that has been dubbed Victoria's 'Ayers Rock'. The range of gradients on its slopes means it caters to all levels of climbing ability, and it is also popular amongst walkers and sightseers.
If you appreciate your food and drink, then the Grampians will be right up your alley. The first vineyards were planted here in 1863, and since then wine production in the region has established itself and gone from strength to strength. The Great Grape Road is a touring route you can take your motorhome on that passes through many of the larger wineries in the region, such as Seppelts and Montara. Seppelts offers a tour of its labyrinthe-like cellar tunnels and through its immaculately kept grounds which is a great way to build up a thirst. The fertile Grampian soils also produce superb quality olives, and livestock and cheese production is well established here. This makes eating out in some of the fine restaurants an exciting and rewarding experience!
The town of Ararat, just east of the National Park, is an interesting trip to take in your campervan because of the great scenery through the Grampians foothills and because of the town itself. The area its in is of immense historical importance to the aboriginal people, and this is reflected in the Langi Morgala Folk Museum and its collection of artifacts. Ararat is also widely known as being an old gold rush town, after the Chinese hit gold here and Chinese miners saturated the town seeking their fortune. The Gum San Museum pays tribute to the history of these miners, showcasing the history of the Chinese miners through exhibitions that incorporate sight, sound and touch. While not taking in the museums in the town enjoy browsing its beautifully kept botanical gardens or its unique old world architecture.
With so much to do in the Grampians it would be a good idea to give yourself as much time to plan your trip there as possible. You will be glad of your campervan as it gives you the freedom to take in as much of this expansive region as you like. Many visitors plan their trips here to coincide with the bloom of the wildflowers, so if you are able to visit in late winter, spring or early summer you will be greeted by the sea of colour of the blossoming flowers.