Several years in the past a buddy packed a batch of premixed cosmopolitans on his first multiday hike. It took till the first evening to realise that the heat, syrupy liquid wasn’t fairly as refreshing as he’d hoped in the tropical warmth of north Queensland, but when he’d been on the Grampians Peaks Path (GPT) in western Victoria, it would have been a totally different story.
The second evening of the model new 13-day path is spent at a campsite named Gar, which hugs the lip of an escarpment above a thickly forested bowl, ringed in tiers by jagged mountains that stand up like the partitions of a colosseum. Tent platforms are democratically organized alongside the cliff edge so that everybody has a view to the west, whereas the vegetation between the tents and the sheer rock wall behind offers a welcome sense of privateness.
Close by sits a chic shelter of metal clad in blackened timber with west-facing floor-to-ceiling home windows and a solar-powered USB charging station, whereas the picket deckchairs bolted into the rock are a good further contact (even with out a cocktail in hand). Sitting in a single as the solar turns into a large fireball and a golden haze hovers over the valley beneath, it’s unattainable to deny that Gar is one in all Australia’s most picturesque campsites, although over the subsequent week and a half I’ll discover a few different contenders additional down the observe.
Opened in November 2021 after a number of years of development, the 160km GPT passes via open forest and flower-studded grassland, ascends quartz-capped mountain peaks and skirts shimmering lakes because it crosses the Grampians (Gariwerd) nationwide park from north to south. The path is split into three sections of 4 to 5 days every, and since it connects current tracks with 100km of newly constructed path, it opens up components of the park that have beforehand been all however inaccessible to walkers.
Inside metres of taking my first step on day one, I’ve labored up a sweat as I climb the steep, uncovered slope of cruelly named Flat Rock. It’s scorching work, particularly in the full solar, however the payoff arrives shortly. From the open house at the prime of this preliminary ascent, I can see the pancake-flat plains of the Wimmera stretching out into oblivion – neatly arrayed olive groves and viciously straight fence strains contrasting markedly with the gnarled formations that also tower over me in the different course. No one might accuse this hike of hiding its true nature; whether or not you deal with a few hours or the full 160km, you’ll encounter loads of steep climbs and spectacular lookouts.
Rugged peaks of cracked rubble rise above a wall of vivid orange sandstone and all through the northern part of the stroll there are sudden echoes of Purnululu’s beehive domes. As I progress farther, views to the south reveal a sharp backbone of peaks thrusting up from the surrounding plains, every trying like a wave arrested on the level of breaking.
Days of between eight and 16km would possibly sound like a breeze for seasoned multiday hikers, however ungroomed paths and important elevation modifications conspire to make strolling occasions considerably longer than anticipated. By the time I stroll into Halls Hole at the finish of day 4 (the solely evening not spent at a campsite) I really feel like I’ve totally earned a heat bathe and a chilly drink.
In the days on both facet of the city, I encounter a number of walkers tackling brief sections of the GPT however they skinny out considerably as I proceed south. It means I have the complete landscape to myself for days at a time as I scale rocky ridges, climbing up innumerable stone steps and throughout broad slabs that take up and radiate the solar’s warmth.
The hike’s uncovered nature means the GPT is unquestionably not a summer time stroll – autumn and spring are the greatest occasions to deal with it, with the latter bringing an abundance of wildflowers. A 3rd of Victoria’s plant species – nearly 1,000 in all – are discovered inside the area, and once I attain the Duwul campsite at the finish of day seven, my tent platform is surrounded by yellow and maroon native peas, shy curls of flame grevillea and delicate lilac orchids blooming beneath tough barked gums, wreathed in a halo of crimson flowers.
For days afterwards the means forward is fringed by splashes of crimson, white and pink as the path skirts the easternmost fringe of the Grampians, via sections of grade 5 observe appropriate solely for skilled and well-equipped bushwalkers. It means strolling the entirety of the path is a critical endeavor and of the first 2,000 campsite bookings, solely eight hikers deliberate to deal with the full 13 days.
On a few of the harder sections I wonder if I’m being foolhardy by becoming a member of their ranks however the joys of mountain climbing on this quintessentially Australian landscape come often to the fore. By the last evening of the hike I can see the southernmost slopes of the Grampians and the small city of Dunkeld mirrored in the window of the Mud-Dadjug shelter. Over a makeshift dinner of leftovers, I take pleasure in a front-row seat as the setting solar provides a honeyed glow to all the things it touches, whereas the city lights flicker on beneath a lilac and apricot sky. Above them looms the darkish blue mass of Mt Sturgeon, a reminder that even on the last stretch, I can anticipate some difficult climbs and spectacular lookouts.
If a 13-day hike is a step too far, there are a lot of extra approachable alternate options, particularly in the park’s northern part.
Day hike: From Halls Hole, ascend previous burbling cascades and waterfalls, via bushland wealthy in wildlife to a deep cleft in the rock earlier than rising at The Pinnacle for fabulous views of the city and surrounding landscape.
In a single day: The first day of the GPT follows the wealthy orange rock of Taipan Wall previous seasonal creeks and waterfalls to the Barigar campsite, which sits in a sheltered valley and appears east in direction of a hanging escarpment. In the morning, it’s a 4km stroll to the Gar trailhead.
Multiday: Soak up a few of the highlights of the path on the four-day northern section, which incorporates two of the most hanging campsites at Gar and Werdug, earlier than strolling into Halls Hole. Guided walks additionally deal with this stage.
The author was a visitor of Go to Victoria and the Grampians Peaks Strolling Firm