It’s a long way to Perth, and there are many places, I want to see on the way. The first one is Grampians National Park recommended to me by quite few friends. Leaving Melbourne is not easy. I often use hitchwiki to find good place to hitch out of the city. It works great! My first driver picks me up after 15 min and drives me 200km! Kim is heading back home to Adelaide. A lovely lady entertains me with conversation and points to me a couple of black cockatoo Australian birds.
Stawell is a quiet town, but I’m lucky. 2 hikers are driving straight to Grampians. They leave me at the front of the Brambuk Cultural Centre in Halls Gap.
I want a map with recommended hikes and info on free campsites in the area. I get a free map and info that the closest free campsite is 10 km by foot! I am ready to ask random people if I can camp in their gardens. Luckily encountered friendly ranger informs me about another free campsite 3.5 km away from Halls Gap and gives me a lift 🙂
Once I set up my tent, I hitch towards McKenzie Falls. Barry, two of his daughters and a friend are heading exactly there. They squeeze me into their car. On the way we stop at Reeds lookout and Balconies. Amazing view of the park area, trees and mountains covers the horizon. 30 pictures later we drive towards the falls. A huge waterfall is surrounded by rock formations, creating a canyon. A rainbow reflects on the falling water. It’s a beautiful place.
I say bye to my amazing companions and enjoy 3 km track towards Zumstein Picnic area. I see my first wallaby. These cute animals are very similar to kangaroos. There are some differences tho. They tend to spend time on their own rather then in packs. Zumstein is quiet and it is getting late. Not thinking much I ask a passing by ladies for lift. They are walking to a car on a parking lot nearby. Half an hour later, they drop me back in town. The grassy square is full of wild kangaroos. They get used to the people, you can easily approach some of them and pet. I’m aware of the bigger ones, they could easily hurt me.
The sun is setting on my way to the camp. That’s when the tragedy happens. I delete a poor quality video… No! I’ve deleted the whole folder with pictures and videos taken today! A quick look online makes me realise there is no chance to retrieve them without rooting my phone and there is no easy fix for my model. It’s not the end of the world. My journey just started and tomorrow is another day.
I get up early and prepare for a long day hiking. It is 3 km walk to Halls Gap town. A couple of passing cars leaves just dust behind them. It is a pleasant walk tho. The sun is rising and kangaroos are out in a big number.
The bakery is opened and so is the local petrol station. I use public toilet and wash myself. There are showers at the information centre but it opens at 9 am. Before 8 am I am already walking the track towards The Pinnacle. I’m leaving behind waking up town and numerous expensive campsites.
I decide to follow Grampians Peaks Trail towards Lake Bellfield and admire the sunset from the top of Mount William at the end of the day. It means I need to hike 20 km and climb a couple of peaks on the way.
I’m not seeing anyone on the trail. I arrive to Venus Baths. It’s a rock formation with big puddles of water, created by passing by stream. I am not impressed at first, but explore the area and find a cute place.
Splitter Falls are close by. The route is slowly raising up, I’m full of energy and push through easily. The falls are disappointing, just a few drops of water. It’s however a free source of water, which I always welcome.
Hitchhiking Tip -LifeStraw
It’s an amazing water filter. It can clean up to 1000 litres of water while taking care of all biological hazard. You can use it to drink water from lakes and rivers. It can filter chemicals so it’s a one thing to be aware of. You can purchase in online or find in stores for 30 – 40 dollars.
I discover new perk – water sufficiency. Once I fill up my bottle with water and satisfy my thirst I rush forward. Some places cannot be photographed. The photo can be a shallow representation of the view before your eyes. The Grand Canyon is one of them. I meet a couple of friendly Aussies (slang for Australians) and we enjoy the hike through canyon together.
They are freshly married and fun. We hike The Pinnacle. It’s a rock elevation with an amazing view of the park and Lake Bellfield. We join another group of tourists and walk to an interesting rock formation nearby. The photo session starts!
I continue on my own. Most of the visitors are reaching the Pinnacle and heading back to the car park few km away. I quickly pass by a Lakeview lookout occupied by a couple of families. Not far from there, I encounter a group of climbers with ropes and other equipment taking on a 50 m wall. A couple i met at my campsite mentioned that Grampians are one of the best climbing sites in Australia thanks to the type of rock and great location.
I go of trail and visit deserted Bugiga camp. Some kind soul left a water tank. I replenish my water bottle and continue towards Mount Rosea. It’s still early when I complete 8 km day one of Grampians Peaks Trail. I feel a bit tired and the real challenge is on front of me. The hike towards Mount Rosea is the most difficult part of the trail. While resting in the shadow of rock, I’m approached by Max and Jonas.
We have great time hiking Mt Rosea. Max has GoPro action camera with him, we are acting and joking. I’m pretty tired, but boys motivate me to keep pushing. Once at the top we have a rest and enjoy the view.
Guys are heading back to the car park. We agree to meet for the sunset at Mt William. I quickly realise my LifeStraw filter bottle is not a big help if there is no water in the area. A 6 km walk towards Lake Bellfield is rather uneventful. At some point a wallaby scares the shit out of me by jumping out of a nearby bush. Rather than walking another 2 km to Borough Huts Campground, which is the end of day two Grampians Peaks Trail, I aim at the Lake Bellfield.
It’s already 25 km from my tent. I emptied my bottle few km earlier. My mouth feels like a desert. There is no other source of water in the area. I’m dehydrated and look forward to a swim in the lake. No! The lake is surrounded by thick forest with no easy access, I misread the map. I’m exhausted and disappointed. I try to catch a ride at the road to Hells Gap. I fail miserably, it’s getting late and people are reluctant to help. I try to stop a Police car, but they also ignore me.
I see a car heading in the opposite direction slowing down. It’s Jonas and Max! We laugh and share stories on the way to Mount William. The parking area is half way up. We are hiking another mountain. It takes me a while to reach the top. I’m exhausted but very happy. I watch the sun setting. I love the moment when sky changes the colour.
Guys give me a lift back to my campsite. We stop on the way and buy some sweets. It’s very dark, there are no clouds and stars shine brightly. Boys drop me close to my tent. They also travel to Perth and offer to share a ride. I say no. I have different plans for the route forward. I like them, but I want to continue hitchhike. I thank them and wish them a great journey. I hope to see them again.