Explore ancient mountainous landscapes on foot and camp in solitude amongst eucalypt forests on the first stage of the soon-to-be 13-day Grampians Peaks Trail.
- Get a taste of the 13-day Grampians Peaks Trail
- Climb two of the most popular peaks in Gariwerd/Grampians National Park
- Pitch your tent amongst gorgeous gum forests
Three Days on the GPT
The Grampians Peaks Trail is due to open in late 2020, and I can’t bloody wait. The GPT will be a 13-day, 160km route connecting the summits of Gariwerd, the ancient mountainous region and traditional land of the Djab Wurrung and the Jardwadjali peoples, in north-west Victoria.
If you’re too eager to wait, you can already tackle Stage One – a 3 day, 36km loop from Halls Gap to Bugiga Camp and back, via Borough Huts Campground. Only have time for a quick weekender? You can organise a one-way shuttle and finish up at your vehicle at Borough Huts Campground.
This section of the hike shows off two of Grampians National Park’s most popular peaks – the Pinnacle and Mount Rosea, each tackled with an undulating climb and rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the mountains and farmland of Victoria’s north-west. It’s a real tease, giving you a glimpse of what’ll undoubtedly be a special experience when the full trail opens.’
Day 1: Hall’s Gap to Bugiga Camp
I woke early after free-camping at Plantation Campground, 10km north of Halls Gap, Grampians National Park’s small town centre. After caffeine-fuelling at local café Harvest, a quick phone call to my mother and registering my hike, I started my solo trip from the head of the Wonderland Loop trail on a clear, hot January day.
The trail steers out from behind the Halls Gap Caravan Park and quickly becomes a beautiful gum forest, crossing a dry river and meanders beneath tall sandstone rocks.
A steady ascent leads to Venus Baths, a series of pools, which in rainier seasons would be filled with crisp water. After a seriously long drought and an already blistering summer, it was unsurprising that only two pools had water trickling into them. Regardless, I considered the shoulder-deep water enough to warrant a break to cool down. So worth it!
Continuing up toward the Pinnacle, an exposed rocky path leads up through the Grand Canyon. Layers of ancient sandstone form boulders and twisted chasms. I had fond flashbacks of visiting this area about 18 years ago as a kid. The landscape dwarfed me back then, and it still does. Hoards of families and groups visiting from the city joined the trail to conquer the Pinnacle as a day hike (one of many easily accessed trails throughout the park).
After a lunch break perched high on the cliff overlooking Halls Gap, Lake Bellfield and Fyans Valley, I quickly lost the crowds as I continued my trek toward Bugiga Camp, the first of 11 new camping sites being built for the GPT. After a few hours in exposed sunlight, the last section between Sundial car park and the campground is a shady bushland of grass plants and banksias.
The hiker’s camp at Bugiga Camp is a sustainability-focused camp, made up of a series of round wooden platforms suspended above the ground and connected by a boardwalk. Each of the 12 pre-booked platforms has enough space for a tent and faces out to the eucalypt forest or the regal Mount William.
There’s a central communal shelter and food preparation space built from rusted red iron, two pit toilets and a water tank. Everything else has to be brought in and out by hikers, including 3-4L of water per person, and fires are not permitted. For larger groups, check out the Stony Creek group hikers camp a further 3.3km along the trail.
At Bugiga I whiled away the afternoon in quiet contemplation, reading and watching small robins flit about hunting for seeds as the sun slowly set behind Mount William. Only two other people camped at Bugiga that night. The stars popped brightly through the canopy above me. The definition of solitude!
Wearing a 15kg pack carrying all my supplies, it was strenuous at times but I paused frequently to look back across the valley. It’s here I truly started to appreciate the scale of this national park, which covers over 1,600 hectares.
Gariwerd (which means ‘pointed mountain’) is an intrinsically spiritual place for Aboriginal people, as it’s central to the Dreaming. Evidence of early occupation dates back at least 20,000 years. It provides a wealth of shelter, food and water for many organisms including the rare brush-tailed rock wallaby, echidnas, and more than two hundred bird species.
Gariwerd also hosts 90 percent of Victoria’s rock art sites and almost one third of the state’s native flora. One night in this park simply scrapes the surface of the significance of this land for thousands of generations before us and into the future. It’s a privilege to explore here.
After reaching a vertical lookout at Gate of the East Wind, I revelled in a full expansive view of Lake Bellfield and the surrounding mountains. The path then twists and turns beneath and around boulders, requiring a fair amount of rock hopping and climbing along the ridgeline.
After about 2.5 hours ascending I reached the peak of Mount Rosea, a rocky plateau which offers stunning 360-degree views over Mount William and the Serra Ranges. I basked in the sun, drinking coffee and snacking, while a handful of other people nearby did the same.
The descent follows down a series of large rocky sandstone steps into a dense banksia and fern forest. By this stage I was fairly fatigued but soon the path became an easy bushwalking track surrounded by giant gums. I kept meandering until I reached a clearing, a small river crossing and the signs of Borough Huts Campground.
Day 3: Borough Huts Campground to Halls Gap
My overnighter ended at Borough Huts as I’d arranged a shuttle service with Absolute Outdoors. However to complete the three day circuit you’ll camp the second night at Borough Huts, a large vehicle-based, group campground next to the Grampians Tourists road. The third day follows a trail around Lake Bellfield, along the base of the Mount Williams Range back to Halls Gap.
All details for planning your hike can be found on the Parks Victoria website. Camping gear, food, water and even alcohol drops can be arranged with local touring companies like Absolute Outdoors or Grampians Peaks Co if you don’t want to carry it all. Visit Brambuk the National Park and Culture Centre to register your hike and gain up to date information on the park, weather, track conditions and any warnings.
- Register hiking intentions at Brambuk Cultural Centre
- Sturdy walking shoes
- Tent and sleeping gear
- 3L water per person per day
- Food for 2-3 days
- Gas camping stove
- First aid kit
How To Get There
The trailhead starts at the Wonderland Loop close to the Halls Gap Caravan Park, 3.5 hours drive north-west of Melbourne. For the one way hike, organise a shuttle service for the morning you intend to commence the walk with Absolute Outdoors or Grampians Peaks Co, parking your car at Borough Huts. The team will drop you off back at the starting point.
Distance Covered / Elevation Gained / Duration
Halls Gap to Borough Huts Campground – 22km
Total distance back to Halls Gap – 36km
Elevation gained – 700m
This story first appeared in get lost magazine and we’re stoked to be a part of it.