Welcome to the perfect Grampians itinerary for a weekend getaway.
We’ve done this trip ourselves on a few occasions and I have written up my favourite spots, places to stay and secret places.
The ancient land of Gariweld is filled with mystery and includes some of the best works of Aboriginal Rock Art in Victoria.
It is a natural wonder of Victoria, with a long history and an incredibly peaceful place to escape the bustle of Melbourne life.
In this post you’ll find my detailed itinerary, with tips on the best places to visit plus a map to help guide you.
- Grampians Itinerary TL;DR
- Grampians Basic Info
- Grampians Itinerary: Day 1
- Reed Lookout and The Balconies
- Grampians Itinerary: Day 2
- Finishing Up
Grampians Itinerary TL;DR
Here is a quick summary of my Grampians 48hr itinerary which you can browse through in just a few seconds. All of these points have further information later on in this post.
- Day 0
- Whilst this Itinerary is for a weekend or 48hrs, to make the most of it, I suggest travelling to the Grampians on the Friday night giving you all of Saturday to explore before returning on the Sunday evening
- Book to stay at Halls Gap which is the only town in the Grampians
- Day 1
- Drive up to and see Boroka Lookout, 20 minutes from Halls Gap
- Drive a further 8km where you can park and see both Reed Lookout and The Balconies.
- Drive another 8km or so and walk down the steep steps to Mackenzie Falls, Broken Falls and do the 1.4km walk to Fish Falls
- Drive to Zummstein Picnic Spot for lunch where you have a good chance of seeing wild emus
- Drive out to Ngamadjidj Shelter along some typically Australia sand roads
- Finish the day at Gulgorn Manja for a beautiful sunset view
- Day 2
- Have a lazy morning at your accommodation enjoying the peace and quiet of the Grampians and browsing around Halls Gap
- Head over to the magnificent Brambuk Cultural Centre to learn the history of Gariweld and the Indigenous people of Australia
- Head over for a round of adventure golf at Grampians Adventure Golf
- Have a stroll around Lake Bellfield
- Drive the spectacular red sand roads around Lake Bellfield before finishing the trip at Bunjil’s Shelter
- Head back to Melbourne
Grampians Itinerary Map
This map is custom built with all the places I discuss in the itinerary above. It’s easy to open in your own Google Maps, just click the icon in the top right-hand corner.
Grampians Basic Info
Where to Stay in the Grampians
This is one of those occasions where a name isn’t over-hyped, it truly is a little slice of heaven hidden away in the woods.
A brilliant kitchen (with really cool coffee machine), log fire (with wood provided) and a wonderful little veranda to sit out on as the parrots come home to roost, I could lose days in a place like this.
A Heavenly Escape
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How Far is the Grampians from Melbourne?
The Grampians are around 275km by road from Melbourne, so leave yourself three to four hours to get to Halls Gap depending on which part of the city you’re coming from.
For this post, I’m going to assume you’re coming here by car, as if you are on a scheduled tour from the city it will be hard to choose your own itinerary.
Grampians Itinerary: Day 1
Your first stop on this Grampians itinerary is Boroka Lookout. Around 20 mins drive from Halls Gap up some steep roads, the viewing platform above is only two minutes from the car.
Looking out over Wartook Reservoir, the views are spectacular and also ideal to pop back to in the evening, as the sun sets in this direction.
Reed Lookout and The Balconies
A two for one deal for you here.
A further 8km on from Boroka Lookout you’ll find Reed Lookout and The Balconies.
Reed Lookout is about 200m up a path on the left, whereas The Balconies are around a 1km walk up a gentle incline up some beautiful red sand paths.
Reed Lookout offers another view out over Wartook Reservoir, over a huge expanse of forest.
The Balconies are one of the iconic sights of the Grampians, with ancient granite rock formations sticking out above the valley floor with no support. The Balconies is a well-thought-out and descriptive name, though personally, I think ‘sticky-out unsupported granite thing’ would have been just as good.
Another 8km drive and you’ll get to Mackenzie Falls, another icon on this Grampians itinerary.
Be prepared though, there are 260 steps down from the car park to get to the base of this waterfall which can get quite slippery on a wet day. It is well worth the effort though, with a beautiful pool at the bottom in a valley filled with lush ferns.
Mackenzie River Walk (& Fish Falls)
Technically this is another combo deal, with the Mackenzie River walk starting out from the bottom of Mackenzie Falls and along the river valley.
It was around 1.4km on a fairly flat riverside track to get to Fish Falls, with every step filled with beautiful surprises from rock pools and kookaburras through to the iron steps above and unusual native plants.
You’ll need to turn around and do the same walk back when you get to Fish Falls, so there’s no getting out of those 260 steps back up to the car park!
Zumsteins Picnic Area
We happened upon this place rather than planned to come here as it was on the road out to our next destination.
Zumsteins was one of Australia’s first holiday retreats, but got removed back in the early 1990s when the Grampians was declared a National Park. Some of the old buildings still remain, with some information signs telling the history and tables set up to stop for lunch.
Oh, and the big bonus…
They seem to love hanging out around here, so if you haven’t seen one in the wild in Australia, even more incentive to stop off.
Just after the town of Wartook take a right onto a dust road. You can stay on the tarmac for longer, but the dust roads are much more fun and you’ve got a chance of seeing kangaroos in the fields either side.
It’ll take just over half an hour to get to the Ngamadjidj Shelter, where it is a short walk to get to the shelter, the first rock painting of the trip.
Around 80% of all the Aboriginal rock art in Victoria is located in the Grampians National Park. It was one of the main reasons we visited here. There is something almost impossible to comprehend about viewing art work that could be as much as 22,000 years old about people we know very little about.
Unfortunately (like most of the 60,000-year-old culture of Australia) the local Jarnwadjali people were all but wiped out by the European invasion. Most of their history is told in stories so, with the people gone, most of their history is too, as very little of it was written down.
Ngamadjidj Shelter is a unique piece amongst this collection of around 40 sites in the Grampians, as it is painted exclusively in white clay. Originally there were 16 figures here, but some are now very faded, disappearing like the traditions of the people that painted them.
An awe-inspiring stop-off, but one that also left me feeling that in just a few generations time, these places could be gone completely unless more action is taken to preserve them.
Another ten minutes up the same dusty road is Gulgorn Manja.
This is a beautiful location, with the shelter located up a 1km path on an outcrop of rock that looks out across the flat plains beyond. Here we are at the very edge of the Grampians, where you can see just how sharply this ‘inland island’ rises up from the surrounding area. It is thought that around 10 million years ago the sea (which is now 150km away) still lapped up to the edge of the Grampians.
Gulgorn Manja translates as ‘hands of the young people’ with these prints thought to belong to many generations of Jarnwadjali children. There are also paintings of emu footprints here, with the shelter a great lookout point for the local people to see others approaching.
Even without the shelter it is a wonderful location, with the sandstone outcrop home to lots of wildlife (we saw some wallabies here) and a beautiful place to sit and enjoy the early evening.
We cut right back through the centre of the Grampians on the sand roads, getting back to Halls Gap just after 5pm.
Grampians Itinerary: Day 2
Give yourself a much-deserved lie-in on day two and take the time before check-out to enjoy the peaceful surroundings or take a wander through Halls Gap and grab some breakfast.
Brambuk Cultural Centre
Opened in 1989, Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre is the oldest cultural centre in Australia.
It celebrates the history of Gariweld and tells some of the ancient aboriginal stories.
It is also not afraid to educate visitors on Australia’s darkest secrets, how 84% of aboriginal people were wiped out of this country by the European colonialists.
When the Europeans arrived they declared Terra Nullius (nobody’s land) essentially saying this land was not occupied by anyone. This would be insulting to any race, but given the aboriginal people have lineage going back 60,000 years and are now thought to be the oldest culture in the world, it was shocking.
It also meant the indigenous population had no rights. The second Terra Nullius was declared, they were no longer citizens of this new state, and it wasn’t until 1967 these rights were restored, 200 years after the first settlers arrived.
This isn’t a tale that gets told very often in Australia, it’s not even taught in most schools, but it’s an important one to understand and Brambuk Cultural Centre does an amazing job of it.
We spent about 90 minutes here.
Grampians Adventure Golf
Becca and I love a bit of crazy golf, so when we saw the sign for Grampians Adventure Golf we didn’t need any more convincing to pull over.
Located just outside Halls Gap not only is it a brilliant course set it pretty gardens, but there is also a wonderful cafe and art gallery attached. $15 for a round, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, another unplanned stop-off that turned out well.
This ended up being a stop off of just over an hour.
Lake Bellfield was our next stop-off, a great place for a flat walk and some awesome ‘mountains reflected in the water’ photos on a quiet day.
There is lots of waterbird life in the area too, as well as the opportunity to swim and kayak in the summer.
Classic Aussie Roads
The final stop of the day is Bunjil’s Shelter, but to get there I suggest taking the first road after Bellfield Lake where you’ll end up on some narrow sand tracks like the one above.
This was an awesome drive with lots of wildlife around. Take it slow and just enjoy the surroundings, we didn’t see another car for the whole trip. It took about an hour to get from Lake Bellfield to Bunjil’s Shelter.
The final stop-off of the trip, we got here around 1430 leaving ourselves enough time for the three-hour drive back to Melbourne afterwards.
This is probably the most famous of the rock art works in the Grampians, as it is the only known painting of Bunjil, the legendary creator hero in Australian Aboriginal mythology. He is said to be the protector of all the natural world and here is pictured with two dingoes.
Not only is the shelter a staggering sight, again given an age of maybe 20,000 years, but the views from the shelter over the local mountain ranges are also beautiful. A fantastic finale to our wonderful adventure in the Grampians.
I hope you enjoyed this Grampians itinerary and if you decide to follow it will love the places as much as we did.
The Grampians is one of our favourite places in Victoria, so take your time and make the most of every second.
If you have any further suggestions for places you found on your trip, then add them to the comments below.
Have great fun!