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Into the Grampians

When I planned my trip I thought it would be fun to go down the coast to the Great Ocean Road and then back up the coast all the way to Cairns and then back to Sydney. After talking to people and seeing some photos, I decided to head up through the Grampians to Adelaide and then back across to the East Coast.So, after a quick stop in Port Fairy, I’m now in the Grampians, at Hall’s Gap. What a beautiful place. The Grampian themselves rise up out of the plains so abuptly they decided to name the first big one Mount Abrupt. Just North of Dunkeld, Mount Sturgeon and Abrupt look over the city. From here it looks to be a gently climb to the top. Nope! It’s not the steepest pitch I’ve been up but it’s certainly not flat. The views from the trail near the top and the summit are extremely rewarding being on the edge of the Grampians. Apparently Mount Zero on the north end is similar. It feels like you can see forever over the plains to the ocean.STE_1016Further up the road to Hall’s Gap is the turn off to Silverband Falls. Not a bad little set of falls and a welcome sight after the dryness of a lot of Australia, even right now. It’s hard to imagine they are attempting to claw their way out of a horrible drought. The rain in Apollo Bay and here seemed to indicate otherwise but those of the lakes that actually have water in them are at their lowest levels in a long time. The interesting part of Silverband Falls is that the water pours over the edge and hits the ground but hardly creates a pool at all. The majority of the water goes straight into the ground. About 100 metres “downstream” it reappears and forms a small stream with what appears to be all the water that comes over the falls.IMG_1031Further up the road is Hall’s Gap, a tiny town in the valley of the big peaks here. There’s an information centre, general store, a tiny outdoor store, a few restaurants and that’s about it. You could almost drive through and not even notice this place was here. It reminds me of small mountain towns that swell with the seasonal ski crowd but there’s no ski season in these mountains. Just a wet-ish winter and a dry hot summer. Feels like home. With so few people, there is almost a trail in the surrounding hills for each of them. This my kind of place.With a quick look at the information centre on my way in, I was armed with a few pamphlets and a map that was $3.00. I was getting used to finding all the free information. Apparently the trail system around here warrants a map that you need to pay for. The signs at the parks point out all the trails with good detail but I wouldn’t be able to plan which ones I wanted to hit first or at all so I went for it. Already I’ve referred to it many times in the hostel, in the car and in the bush so it was $3.00 well spent.After getting orientated at the hostel, I headed back to Silverband Falls to check them out and then to the Nature Centre to go for a walk around Fyan’s Creek. It’s a small 2k loop that circles part of the creek and it was definitely a nice way to end the day. The creek is fairly small but just enough water to keep everything moving. On my way there, I was distracted from the trail by 3 emu’s wandering around the park. I had seen a few from afar at Tower Hill but hadn’t been so close. They were moving pretty quick in the other direction so I didn’t get to close but I was happy at the distance I was at. I’ve heard some crazy near-death (not really) experience with those large birds. Near the end I spent some time with a herd of Kangaroos on one of the fields. They seemed very content with me sitting very near them and just watching. I’m assuming they’re used to people wandering around the park and gawking at them. Even photos don’t seem to phase them much.IMG_1064I spent the end of the first day recuperating on a comfy couch beside a nice warm wood fireplace. I’m not going to say it’s very cold here but it wasn’t warm. It can’t get much better than a comfy spot beside a wood fire.[gmap]