Exploring the hidden beauty of the Grampians

With one of Australia’s most unique national parks only a three-hour drive from Melbourne, The Grampians is the perfect place to shed off the city.  

To help you plan your journey, we’ve compiled a road trip checklist. Now all you need to do is gather some friends, jump in the car and let the good times roll.

Watch our full road trip video and check out the detailed itinerary below. 

Mackenzie Falls

Impressive in size alone, Mackenzie Falls is a natural masterpiece of cascading, pristine water that you could stare, slack-jawed, at for hours. There are two walks to choose from to best appreciate the waterfall, each approximately 2km long. You can make your way to the base of the falls for a look close enough to fill your nostrils with the fresh mist floating through the air or take a more leisurely stroll to the lookout platform and soak in the whole scene from the bluff, although it’s highly recommended you opt for the double whammy and do both.

Harvest Halls Gap

Not only is the Grampians a wonderful place for traversing the great outdoors, its pristine natural conditions makes it the perfect spot for cultivating delicious food and wine. To celebrate the locally grown ingredients the region has to offer, Harvest Cafe offers an almost exclusively locally sourced menu, capped off with beers and wine from the area. There are a range of grazing plates or big meals to suit any level of hunger, plus there are options for the gluten free as well as vegetarians and vegans, so nobody has to go hungry. On site, you’ll also find a pantry bursting with local produce you can take home with you.

Grampians Olive Co.

The family owned Grampians Olive Co. is one of Australia’s oldest olive groves, originally established in 1943, and is well worth a visit for lovers of olive oil (read: everyone). Taking full advantage of the superb growing conditions the area offers, Grampians Olive Co specialise in organic olive oil, and their award-winning products prove they’ve got the whole thing down to a science. The family love visitors, so drop in and say hello. The grove itself is stunning and not only can you learn a great deal about how the liquid gold is produced, but you can even have a taste and grab some bottles to take home with you.

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Brambuk Cultural Centre

Offering a historical perspective of a site rich in Aboriginal culture, Brambuk Cultural Centre is a must for anyone visiting the area. Traditionally known as Gariwerd, the land is of great cultural significance and contains over 80% of Victoria’s Aboriginal rock art across approximately 60 sites. Visit the Brambuk Cultural Centre for the opportunity to experience Gariwerd’s history through a tour led by Aboriginal guides who will not only take you to the best spots, but will provide an insight into the historical and spiritual importance of the land. The Cultural Centre itself is worth dropping in for too, with its architectural design representing the mountains of Gariwerd and the wings of a cockatoo.

Reeds/Boroka Lookout 

The most rewarding part of any hike is when you reach the top and look out over the landscape you just conquered, therefore lookouts are the best because you can get that feeling without having to put in the hard yards. Reeds Lookout offers sweeping views of the Victoria Valley, with Victoria Range, Serra Range, Lake Wartook and Mt Difficult Range laid out neatly before your eyes. We suggest getting out of bed early for this stop because the sunrise from Boroka Lookout is nothing short of breathtaking. Watch the day begin as you take in the views towards Halls Gap and Lake Bellfield with the Wonderland Range, Mt William Range in perfect sight. Seriously, postcard-worthy stuff.

Barney’s Bistro 

A short drive from Halls Gap, sitting at the foot of the Grampians National Park, you’ll find the true definition of a country pub with Barney’s Bistro. Housed within a renovated barn, Barney’s Bistro has a certain charm that you just won’t find in city venues. Inside, the rustic setting will have you feeling right at home as you pull up a chair, grab an ice cold frothy and dig into some pub fare. Although at first glance the menu might be what you’d expect from a country bistro, on closer inspection you’ll find a selection of fresh and inspired takes on your typical counter meal - take the Mediterranean calzone with grilled eggplant and zucchini, olives, artichoke hearts and feta cheese, for example.

Montara Wines, Ararat

The last thing left to tick off your list on this road trip is a visit to Montara Wines, an expansive vineyard within the idyllic setting of a lush, green landscape offering panoramic views of the Grampians in the distance. Established in 1970, with the addition of the historical colonial-style cellar door built seven years later, the vineyard’s history is worth asking about while you’re sipping on a glass of matured pinot noir.  Make a day of your visit, the vineyard offers picnics amongst the vines with an assortment of cheeses, wine and charcuterie to choose from as well as helicopter flights for the best views of the area. There are also accommodation packages and a shuttle bus available if you get a little too carried away with the tastings.

Keen for more road trip ideas? Check out our guides to Lorne and South Gippsland