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22 November 2020
The entire Lifestyle Wimmera Edition 6 is available online. READ IT HERE!
By Dean Lawson
It is hard to describe that feeling when staring towards a distant horizon from a rugged sandstone escarpment in Grampians National Park.
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There is an immediate sense of nature’s grandeur combined with a feeling of insignificance as you soak up the magnitude and magnificence of such a vista.
From a lofty vantage position, the mountain ranges’ giant slabs of tilted rock, shaped from ancient times of upheaval, become clearly evident.
Looking north to south through a spring haze, the rise on the western flanks of ‘the Gramps’ are smooth and gradual, but on the other side they burst forward, jagged and harsh.
In the distance they loom dark and forbidding.
At the base of mighty walls of rocks bleached in ashen charcoals to cream and vibrant ochre, and pock-marked with gnarls, drip lines and hollows, sprawls a flotsam of Australian dryland wilderness.
Looking down at the carpet of eucalyptus green, interspersed with sticks of grey, occasional blackened scars of past fires break the subtle colour flow, a reminder of the potentially tempestuous nature of this part of the world.
Sun breaking through scattered cloud reflects brightly from shallow pools created from sporadic showers.
There is a slight scent of sweet native blossom in the air and breaking the isolation is the nondescript hum of nature – a mix of bird song, insect calls and the rustle of millions of leaves agitated by a southwesterly breeze that has brushed the area with its erosive pallet since time began.
The mountain range, in the heart of western Victoria, holds a special place for many who have long enjoyed escaping to and-or feeding off its richness.
It is a part of Australia that more people from around the world will soon become more familiar as they come to recognise the lure of a $30-million adventure tourism project.
Grampians Peaks Trail, which provides visitors with a 13-day opportunity to trek and camp from one end of the Grampians to the other, is set to modify the park’s already burgeoning reputation as a tourist destination.
The journey from Mt Zero in the north to Mt Abrupt in the south, involving a skilfully constructed trail and series of campsite accommodation modules and hubs inside the national park, is likely to be a must-do for people around the world.
Grampians Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman said work on much of the trail would be finished by the end of the year, with expectations that 2021 would be a boom year in interest.
“I think walking the trail will become a must-do thing for 2021. As people pencil in wilderness-holiday options, Grampians Peaks Trail, as part of Icon Walks of Victoria, will find its way to the top of the to-do list,” he said.
“What people can expect apart from simply walking the peaks trail, will be an intimate experience.
“It highlights the dramatic peaks and panoramic views of the Grampians, while at the same time providing visitors with connections to an ancient landscape.
“It will provide insight into the rich culture of the Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people who have walked these trails for millennia.
“And of course this is combined with outstanding state-of-the-art adventure-trail facilities.
“Construction of the trails and tracks has been nothing short of impressive. It is quite amazing and some of the stonemasonry is incredible.
“Globally, there is little doubt Grampians Peaks Trail will be recognised as one of the best walks in the world.”
The trail has been a collaborative project subject to several years of planning and involving millions of dollars in state and federal government funding.
Grampians National Park, part of an area also known as Gariwerd, covers 167,219 square kilometres and is made up of a series of sandstone ranges.
It is home to one of the largest collections of historic rock-art sites in southern Australia and vast examples of southeast Australian plants, animals and eco-systems. It also abounds in wildflower displays in late winter and spring.