Listen closely, can you hear that? It’s the sound when crowds and cars give way to bird songs, trickling waterfalls, the wind through trees and the crunching sound your boots make on the mountain trails of the Grampians National Park. Hiking is serious business here, but there’s such a range of hiking options that almost everyone will find something to their liking.
Head off early on the ultra-popular Pinnacle Walk early in the morning and take the hour-long walk up to a lookout, where you’ll watch green peaks emerge through the mist. Ancient volcanic rocks flank your path, and longer trails offer a challenge to more experienced climbers.
Photography enthusiasts will want to bring a camera to Mt Abrupt, a picturesque slice of rock rising 827 metres over the sprawling Serra Range to the north and Dunkeld to the south. It’s a steep climb to the summit, and keep your eyes out for kangaroos, lizards, peregrine falcons and other creatures on the ascent.
Found smack bang in the middle of the craggy and mostly dry national park, Mackenzie Falls is a gorgeous surprise. You’ll hear the falls before you actually see them as you descend down the steep yet well-marked path. Eventually, you'll set eyes on the cascade, which thunders over a vertical slab of rock into a deep pool of fresh water. Follow the path on the left of the falls towards neighbouring Fish Falls if you want a less crowded waterfall view.
Probably the best view in all of the Grampians (if you’re not that keen on hiking for several hours) is that from Reeds Lookout. From the car park, you can take in breathtaking views over the entire Grampians mountain range. Come at sunset for a real showstopper.
These mountain areas are central to the creation stories of many of the region’s Indigenous communities, who have been living here for thousands of years. Head to Brambuk: the National Park and Cultural Centre and learn more about the region and see Aboriginal art and artefacts from over the years. There’s even the option to join a tour to visit ancient rock art sites across the region traditionally known as Gariwerd.
If you're not much of a hiker, don't stress – there are ample views to be had without having to strap on a pair of hiking boots. As you're making your way to the region, stop off at Ararat and drive up to One Tree Hill Lookout for unparalleled 360-degree views. If there's a footy fan among you, drive from Ararat through Carols Cutting to Moyston, the birthplace of AFL. And once you're in the region, take the scenic drive along Grampians Road (C216) and stop off at one of these lookouts.