After our six weeks in Western Australia it was time to pack (never an easy challenge), return our car (we found out that the car rental company went bust) and fly off to Melbourne. As it was Christmas Eve we even got some Christmas singers in the very empty Perth Airport where we had to kill 7 hours before our flight.
After picking up our new rental car we headed downtown where we stayed with our friend Annie. It’s always nice to meet friends around the world, even more so on Christmas. In true Australien fashion, we had a fantastic Christmas BBQ in the afternoon at friends of hers.
The next day Annie joined us for a few days of camping. After stocking up on gear (including a way too small tent for Hazel and me) we headed south towards Wilsons Promontory which we visited the next day.
The Prom, as locals call it, is a beautiful national park. We visited it already in 2012 but it’s definitely a place worthwhile to revisit.
We started off with the Lilly Pilly Gully walk through some pristine forests and we even saw some beautiful parrots.
Afterwards, we headed to Tidal River the main campground of the prom. And man was it packed – all the holiday crowd made it even difficult to find a parking.
After a visit to the beach and lunch, we headed to Squeaky Beach. It indeed squeaks when you walk on it. Before heading out of the park we even saw some Kangaroos.
Beautiful Tarra Valley
After leaving the Prom we headed up northwards to Tarra Valley where we stayed at the beautiful Fernholm Holiday Park. The park is situated right in the middle of the lush valley.
The next day we stopped at the Tarra Falls which didn’t carry much water before driving to the Cyathea Falls. We absolutely loved the lush setting with the gigantic trees and huge ferns. The Corrigan Suspension Bridge near Balook was another worthwhile stop.
In our opinion, Tarra Valley is really a worthwhile, lesser-known destination in Vicotria (now you know it).
Escaping the Bushfires
After leaving Tarra Valley we headed to the South Gippsland region where we spent a night in Lakes Entrances which was well packed with people enjoying the holidays.
By then the sky was already a bit hazy and only hours later the authorities asked people to evacuate the area due to the bushfires. As you most likely know by now Eastern Vicotria and New South Wales were hit by the most devasting bushfires this year. So we were definitely relieved that we left in time.
Before setting up camp (by now we bought the much needed bigger tent) we stopped at Noojee Trestle Bridge – a beautiful old railway bridge.
Happy New Year from the Grampians
The next morning we dropped off Annie who took the train back to Melbourne (we would meet her again in a few days). We surely missed our camping buddy already.
We pitched our tent just in time in Ballarat before it started to rain and the temperature dropped by about ten degrees (which was highly welcomed).
The next morning we visited the lovely Botanical Garden before heading towards the Grampians National Park.
The park is one of the big-ticket items of Victoria and we immediately saw why. The landscape and the huge limestone mountains are just breathtaking. To top things off our campground at Halls Gap was just below the mountains in a truly beautiful setting.
The next morning it was suddenly first of January – so a (belated) Happy New Year to all readers.
After a lazy first half-day of the year, we headed out to visit a few nearby attractions including a giant Koala.
First, we visited two Aboriginal art sites with painting dating up to 22 000 years back (that is really old by any standards). We were impressed by how well preserved the paintings at the Gulgurn Manja and Ngamadjidj Shelter were. Two days later on our way out we also stopped at the Bunjil Shelter.
On the way back to the campground we stopped at the MacKenzie Falls and enjoyed the breathtaking views from the Reed Lookout and the Balconies.
Hiking for a View
The next morning it was time for the first hike of the year. We decided to do the Wonderland Loop up to the Pinnacle. The hike was quite demanding as it involved scrambling over some rocks and was definitely a good workout. In addition, the day turned out to be quite hot and we were happy to have left early and have brought plenty of water.
In any case, it was all worthwhile as we got rewarded by spectacular views from the Pinnacles and impressive rock formations up the Grand Canyon and Silent Road (probably named so because everybody is too out of breath to talk).
We can only recommend the Grampians – definitely a highlight of Victoria.