Section hike on the Grampians Peaks Trail – Gariwerd NP
Finally, after many months in lockdown and not being able to leave my home due to Covid restrictions, I was sitting in the car and driving towards the northeast of Victoria to go for a short hike. It was early December, and it was time – time to get out!
It felt strange to be driving up the Western Highway towards the Grampians. The Grampians Peaks Trail had just officially opened and I was curious to see how the new campgrounds and facilities had been set up. I had also packed some of my new product prototypes, which I was keen to take out and see how they performed. After a 5-hour drive I arrived at the Mt Zero carpark.
From Mt Zero trailhead I hiked south – I hadn’t made much of a plan but I had packed food for at least 3 days. I ended up creating a 4-night loop, hiking parts of the northern section of the Grampian Peaks Trail in both directions. Due to coldish weather and gusty winds on the way south, and warm sunshine on the way back a few days later, it was a totally different experience in each direction, which I really enjoyed. I also ventured off the Peaks Trail and explored other areas. I couldn’t avoid some road walking, but traffic was minimal and I saw only three cars while walking along a road for a few hours. With good phone reception (check your provider), I was able to book the campgrounds during the day when I knew how far I was going to hike. However, this might not be possible during peak season.
Around Mt Stapylton the trail goes through a rocky landscape, mostly along a ridge line, which provides beautiful views in all directions. It also crosses an area of fresh regrowth which would have been burned some years ago.
While enjoying the landscape make sure to keep your eyes open for local snakes, which like to hang out on the warm rocks of the trail preparing for the hunt at night.
Throughout the hike I came across natural water sources. Some small creeks were flowing, and a few ponds had standing water in them. Frogs were hiding and letting me know they were there. If you walk later in summer or in years with a drier winter and spring, make sure to carry enough water with you.
On my way back north I stayed at Barigar campsite, one of the new campsites on the Peaks Trail. It has a large communal shelter plus individual wooden platforms with chains to set up your tent or tarp. It took me a while to figure out how to set up my tarp – I didn’t use the chains as they were too close to each other for my setup, but I tied the front of the tarp to the planks, and had the rear corners hang over the edge so I could stake them in the ground, which worked perfectly.
The communal shelter is simple but functional and fits well into the landscape. I think that considering the location and anticipated traffic coming through, it offers good solutions to accommodate visitors and protect the surrounding nature. The local owls don't seem to mind the visitors and provided me with an impressive evening concert from all sides of the valley.
I visited only the one Peaks Trail campground and spent the other nights at other campgrounds within the park, so I can’t comment on other spots along the official trail.
I will be back for another outing to explore more after the heat of the summer.
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