From intrepid bush walks teeming with local wildlife to local produce and world-class wines, a weekend in the Grampians promises adventure and romance, all rolled into one. Just a few hours from Melbourne, this breathtaking national park is one of the most picturesque regions in Australia – a place where stunning scenery and gourmet cuisine collide.
And with an array of charming retreats to retire to – many of which quietly mimic the natural beauty of their scenic surrounds – there’s no better place to relax and unwind. A romantic, rural idyll that delivers on every front. We guarantee a weekend in the Grampians to be nothing short of magical. Here’s where to eat, drink, stay and play in this rustic Victorian wonderland.
1. Go on a hike
Take in as many natural sites as can you muster. And the best way (by far) to do it is by foot. The Grampians Peaks Trail caters to beginners and seasoned hikers alike, giving both the chance to take in Mother Nature in all her glory. You can opt for the full three-day hike or drive to one of the many multiple car parks along the trail, and access relatively quick bushwalks, where you’ll be spoilt with rugged mountain ranges, craggy canyons and trickling waterfalls.
2. Chase some waterfalls
MacKenzie Falls is an easy, two-kilometre walk that will take about two hours to reach – but rest assured that your efforts will be well rewarded. As you make your way to the base of the waterfall, you’ll be so close to the action that you’ll feel the spray of the falling water splashing on your face. If you’re not up to the two-hour long trek, there’s a lookout about 20 minutes in where you can gaze at the waterfall from afar.
3. Learn about the region’s Aboriginal history
The Grampians is pivotal to many ancient Aboriginal stories in South-Western Victoria, and so naturally, there’s a lot to learn about the unique Aboriginal culture and history that exists here. Explore Aboriginal rock art sites, learn about the traditional owners and discover the dreamtime story of how the Grampians were created on a visit to Brambuk.
4. Take in some art in the Great Outdoors
Proving that art and culture isn’t always limited to museums, Horsham’s 200km Silo Art Trail – an innovative art project where renowned street artists from Australia and across the globe transform wheat silos into giant works of art – is located in the Grampians, and is soon to become Australia’s biggest outdoor gallery. Cruise from town to town to take in the spectacular installations.
5. Go on a helicopter ride
Offering a variety of different flights over the Grampians, Grampians Helicopters features everything from short joyrides with a history lesson of the region, to long scenic tours. There’s even a food-and-wine option that’ll see you fly from Best’s Wines to Red Rock Olives. Now that’s what we call a designated driver!
For delicious food and local wines, venture out to Dunkeld’s shining culinary star, the Royal Mail Hotel. The mint-hued Art Deco building houses Wickens, a mesmerising open-kitchen that serves a daily changing menu, all sourced from Australia’s largest working kitchen garden. The public bar and wine cellar make this mainstay an absolute must.
98 Parker St, Dunkeld
You don’t get much fresher then straight from the farm itself, and Red Rock Olives’ farm gate café is all about the best of fresh. Serving up best local and seasonal produce from their expansive olive grove, food lovers are in for a treat with their array of moreish delights. The café has implemented a ‘Backyard Trading’ concept, allowing local and small-scale growers to donate their produce, so you’ll get to sample all the unique flavours of the area.
3594 Ararat - Halls Gap Rd, Pomonal
The idyllic café of Harvest Halls Gap doubles up as a providore and a gorgeous stopover – there are two stylish guesthouses available to book that make the perfect retreat for a weekend getaway. Stop here for either breakfast, lunch or dinner if you’re after a simple and light meal, and if the weather permits, be sure to sit out on the front porch, overlooking the rugged mountains beyond.
2 Heath St, Halls Gap
Who doesn’t love a good bakery? For all of your baked goods, look no further than Waack’s Bakery — an award-winning bakery store located in Stawell. Don’t believe us? There’s even a cabinet full of trophies to prove it. And should you need more proof, just go ahead and try either their vanilla slice, hot cross buns, or meat and gourmet pies.
172/168 Barkly St, Ararat
After a hard day mountain trekking, cool down with a nice cool treat from Coolas Ice Creamery. Take your pick from classics like peppermint choc-chip and hokey pokey, to more adventurous flavours like rock-salt caramel and Baileys. This ice creamery also caters for extra hungry hikers with cheesy hot dogs, toasted waffles, coffee, sundaes and hot potatoes.
97 Grampians Rd, Halls
There are several great wineries in the region, but the aptly named Grampians Estate winery is a must. Take a seat at one of the tables on their sun-drenched patio and sample their award-winning sparkling shiraz, with matching local produce recommended by their friendly knowledgeable staff.
477 Western Hwy, Great Western
2. Best’s Wines
If you want an incredible taste of history on the side of your wine tasting, then Best’s Wines Concongella Cellar Door should be one of your pit stops. The cellar door is housed in the original stables, built in 1866, with tastings also held inside the Best family cabin, built in the same year.
111 Bests Rd, Great Western VIC
Offering free wine tastings, Fallen Giants vineyard, on the Eastern slopes of the Grampians has stunning views to match the estate’s well-known Shiraz, Cabernet and Riesling. They also offer delicious produce platters and even let you borrow a picnic blanket, so you can plant yourself on the lawn with a bottle of your choice. You had us at ‘free wine tastings’.
4113 Ararat-Halls Gap Rd, Halls Gap
If you stopped by the Royal Mail Hotel to sample the culinary delights at Wickens restaurant, then be sure to browse their 28,000 bottle, award-winning wine cellar. The friendly staff will take you through the wine tour and tasting with one of the largest private collections of Bordeaux and Burgundy in the Southern Hemisphere.
98 Parker St, Dunkeld
Mount Langi Ghiran is regarded as one of the most beautiful vineyard sites in Australia — and for all the right reasons. Surrounded by towering granite cliffs, the cellar door features five tasting wines, which are rotated regularly. On long weekends or during special events, Museum Releases and Limited Releases are also available for tasting.
80 Vine Rd, Bayindeen
Take some time out in your own secluded, self-contained cottage, high up in the Grampians on 22 acres of incredible bushland. Kangaroos in the Top Paddock is an idyllic retreat with expansive windows that provide picturesque mountain views. Grazing kangaroos also roam the property, so you’ll get front row seats to a free wildlife show too.
3062 Northern Grampians Rd, Wartook Valley
$270 - $380 per night
For nature lovers seeking seclusion and privacy, Icon Central Halls Gap is one of the most luxurious retreats in the region. With stunning mountains and waterfront vistas, the property also features a sauna, private outdoor courtyard, and open wood fire and pizza oven.
Icon Central, Halls Gap, Valley Drive
$750 - $1500 for a two night stay
Soak up the natural beauty of the Grampians with a stay at the DULC nature retreat. The single and two-storey timber holiday cabins have a pared-back design, but with all the luxe trimmings, like king size beds, espresso machines, leather armchairs, spa baths and gas log fires. Dreamy.
9 Thryptomene Court Halls Gap
$360 per night
The accommodation offerings at the Royal Mail Hotel are designed to cater for all tastes. The Deluxe Mountain View rooms are modern and stylishly appointed, with private balconies overlooking the mountains and the converted original bluestone shearers, whilst Cook’s Cottages offer a little more personality to your stay.
98 Parker St, Dunkeld
$270-$35 per night
If you’d prefer to go glamping in the Grampians, Wanderlust Glamping has you covered. Providing cosy and comfortable camping options, beautiful bell tents will be set up for you in advance, kitted out with all your creature comforts. Get a taste of the Great Outdoors as you gaze up at the stars and toast to the many spectacular sunsets, that are literally on your door (tent) step.
From $260 for two nights