by Jean Bellis (co-Trip Leader)
With Peter having taking the Friday off and I only working till 10am we were planning to leaving home by 12 and meet up with Bev and Michael at Rockbank. Things did not go exactly to plan and we finally got away at about 12.45pm. Bev and Michael had lunch at Rockbank and headed off together. As we were getting close to Ararat we could hear them talking on the radio as they left Ararat so we made contact and arrange to meet up with them in Halls Gap. Rick and Jackie heard us talking and also called in. They were planning to have a break in Ararat so we fueled up and kept going. As we got closer to Halls Gap we made contact with Bev and Michael, and Rick let us know that they were not too far behind so we decided to wait and all go onto the campground together. After a stop to refuel for those who hadn’t at Ararat and stock up on a few other supplies we were ready to head off when Rick announced that he had lost Jackie. She had headed off to find the newsagency to buy a magazine. Rick declared that he couldn’t leave her behind or he and Josh would starve without the cook.
We headed up Mt Victory Road taking in some of the damage done by the floods and marveling at the rock formation known as the “Elephants Hide”. Then it was a left turn onto Rose Creek Rd and then left again on Philip’s Track and into the campsite at about 5.00pm. There were quite a few campers already set up, including a group with a large fire going just across the fence from the area that Peter was wanting which was still free. We quickly worked out how we would fit everyone in and placed cars to keep places for those still to come. We set up camp and collected wood for a fire later in the evening and had tea. Bev set off the alarm in her van as she had forgotten to open up the window/vent. Lisa and Andrew, Jamie, Steve and Janelle all arrived during the evening. With the fire going we all sat around and talked and waited to see who else may have arrived. The group next door had grown as more of their group had arrived and now they had fairly loud music as well as loud voices. The campsite was certainly filling up and we were glad that we had gotten there early.
We decided to head to bed having decided that the others would not arrive till the next day. The music from the group next door was still very loud and was making it very hard for any of us to get much sleep. At about 2.00 am Peter got up and went over to them to ask if they were aware of what time it was and could the music be turned off as others were trying to sleep. They apologised and soon after all was quiet and we were able to get some sleep.
Katie and Peter arrived early Saturday morning as we were all getting up and having breakfast. They had camped on the side of the road just out of Beauford. They too had had a sleepless night due to all the trucks going past. There were a few kangaroos around the campsite and lots of birds including kookaburras and a parrot which sat in the tree above the picnic table and dropped pieces of leave, twig and nut onto us. We left camp at about 9.30 and headed along Philips Track, right onto Rose Creek Road and then right onto Taylors Track (Burrong Short cut 4WD track). There was nothing challenging about the track but it was a pretty drive and cut some distance off that kept us off the bitumen. We turned right onto the Mt Victory road and stopped at Reed’s Lookout with wonderful views over the central valley of the Grampians. From here we continued along the Mt Victory Rd and then left onto the Mt Difficult Rd and to Boroka Lookout. This look out is east of Halls Gap and gives wonderful view up the valley to Rockland Reservoir and out of the plains.
Here Lisa and Andrew decided that they need to go into Halls Gap to buy vegetables, mainly broccoli for dinner that night. A few others took the opportunity to put in some orders as well. We then backtracked a short distance to Old Mill Track (4WD) which turned out to be a very good dry weather gravel road. Checked out a nice little camp site but it was all fenced off into small individual sites so not really suitable for a group trip. As we drove into Lake Wartook we witnessed a couple on the dam wall with the man down on his knee proposing. We witness the ring go on then the kiss. This was the signal for Janelle to let them know that they had an audience with some blasts on the car horn. We congratulated them, admired the ring and offered to take some photos for them before they made a hasty retreat. Some of us walked across the dam wall and took in the view and checked out the pumps.
From here we headed up the Chinaman’s track. How many of the group took the track around the gate only to find that the gate was open?? This track offered us some good 4WDing and wonderful views before we popped out in to the bitumen on the Roses Gap Road. A quick trip into Roses Gap to meet up with Andrew and Lisa after their shopping trip and then we turned left onto the Mt Zero-Halls Gap Rd then left onto Copper Mine track with a stop at Galton Gorge for lunch. I suggested a walk down to the Gorge as the last time I had been there was a lot water. After a short but steep walk down there was hardly any water but we still climbed over the rocks and explored. Rick picked a flower off a bush and asked what sort of flower that was. No-one knew but we told him that he was not meant to pick flowers in National Parks. This lead to a discussion about flowers and people giving others flowers. Katie mentioned that Peter hardly ever gives her flowers. So back at the cars Peter presented her with a small bunch of wild flowers. The rest of the afternoon was on good gravel roads with lots of wonderful views of the mountains, rocks, etc. We covered Pohlner Rd, Smiths Rd, Flagstaff Track, Northern Grampians Road, Asses Ears Road, Lodge Rd and Glenelg River Road and back to camp. During the day we saw lots of wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, emus and along Glenelg River road a couple of snakes.
Back at camp we relaxed and had a visit from The Wimmera 4WD Club, who were Camp Hosts for the weekend. They gave out show bags from Parks and 4WD Vic and a questionnaire to be filled out. They asked our plans and what tracks we were planning to use. They gave us their best 3 tracks , Chinamen’s ( which we had done that day) Launders ( which was on the literary for Monday) and the fire tracks that run Parallel with Mt Zero – Halls Gap Road. In the bags was a copy of Trackwatch and, as Steve was flipping through his copy, he discovered that it was the copy that had the article on the Subaru Club in it.
Dave, Antoinette, Justin and Anthony arrived late Saturday Afternoon. After Showers we cooked tea and sat around the campfire talking before heading to bed.
Peter decided to swap around Monday and Sunday’s planned activates. Monday had been planned as more a sightseeing/tourist day but as Steve and Janelle needed to head off early Sunday afternoon, the days were swapped . First Stop of the Day was Mount William the tallest point in the Grampians. The views on the way up to the car park were amazing and the we were staggered by the large scars down the mountainsides caused during the floods. From the Car park it was a 2 km walk to the summit. Michael chose to stay in the car park. I walked about 400 mts and decided that it was too steep for my ankle and headed back down to the car park. Michael and I got out our chairs and sat in the shade. During our talking, Michael commented that he had no idea where North was. I looked at the position of the sun and predicted where I thought it was. Michael got out his phone to see if it had a compass application on it. It didn’t so he downloaded one . I was nearly spot on. Katie joined us in the car park having found the walk too hard on her back. Slowly after about 2 hours the others came back to the camp. They had enjoyed wonderful views, some had seen an echidna and others had seen a pair of Gang Gang cockatoos.
By this stage it was nearly 1pm. Andrew lead most of the group down off the Mount to Lake Bellfield to find toilets and fine a lunch spot while we waited for the Wilson family. We too headed to the lake and the toilets but couldn’t find the others. They had taken the first road into the lake and we had taken the 2nd. A phone call located the others so we went back and joined them. Steve and Janelle said their farewells at this point as they needed to be back in Melbourne for work the next day. After Lunch we headed to Silverband Fall. Here evidence of the floods was devastating. The valley along the creek to the falls was stripped of vegetation, large trees and logs were piled up and we could see what was left of the previous bridge washed down stream. Water and rocks makes a great play area and Josh, Justin and Anthony had great fun. From here it was into Halls Gap for ice creams and fuel and a few other shopping items. Those that went to the ice-cream shops had to stand in queues out the doors. While the Kosters elected to head back to the campsite the rest of us decided to visit Heatherlie Quarry via the firetracks the Wimmera club had told us about. These tracks proved to be great fun with rocks, soft sand, and a few creek crossings.
The Quarry was fascinating as this is were the stone for many of Melbourne building such as Parliament and the State Library came from. There are lots of relics and some houses still there. We then took the quick route back to halls Gap via the Mt Zero halls Gap road.
In Halls Gap the local policeman was pulling over all the cars for breath testing. Back at camp the Jantke shower was put to good use again. After tea we all settled in around the campfire again and watched lightning in the sky.
Monday morning we had a slightly more leisurely morning. Today was also Dave’s Birthday. Bev had travelled with Michael on Saturday and with Jamie on Sunday so Monday Jamie drove Bev in her car. We headed out to via Philips Tk onto Roses Creek Rd and then left onto Wallaby Rocks Track. Along this track we stopped and went out on the rocks for some magnificent views and the more adventurous in the group climbed out and up on the rocks. As the rain looked like it was coming in we moved on quickly and onto Lauders Track. This proved to be a lot of fun and provided a few challenges as we made our way down. From here we took Hines Track and Syphon Road onto Goat Track. This track didn’t really live up to its name as in some places it was wide enough to be a 2 lane road but It did have a few twists and turns and offered some magnificent views as we climbed higher. At the end of Goat Track we stopped at Bilmina campsite for lunch. About half the group then walked in to the falls. More rocks for the boys (big and small) to climb over. Then we took the steeper climb up to the Bilimina Shelter to check out the rock art. While the art was interesting we were more fascinated with the rock shelter itself which was a huge overhang of rock. The views across the valley as we walked down were very spectacular.
From here were travelled a very corrugated road to reach the Henty Highway and go across to check out Rockland Reservoir. During the drought years this reservoir was empty so it was good to see that it was about half full. The boat ramp was still a long long way from the water. Back over the corrugated road onto Hynes Road and Harrops Track with a few little creek crossings. At this point Bev, Jamie and Michael left the group to head into Halls Gap to pick up the birthday cake they had ordered the day before . We checked out the map and noticed that the track to our left would met up with the track we were on again further down so we decided to go check it out.
Along this track we came across a large area of grass trees that were out in flower and were the most amazing sizes and twisted in some interesting ways. We spent a lot of time stopping to take photos. Michael radioed in to say that it looked like we were going to be in for a storm later that evening.
We headed back to camp along the Glenelg River Road and into camp. When those who had been into Halls Gap arrived back we surprised Dave and Josh with a decorated birthday cake ordered the day before.
After tea we all sat around the camp fire until the rain set in and people either headed to bed early or adjourned into Jackie and Rick’s Camper trailer annex.
Tuesday morning people backed up and left a various times. Jamie left first planning to stop at Pommel at the native nurseries to see if he could buy some prickly grevellias as we had seen them flowering everywhere and Jamie really liked them.
The rest of us packed up and left at our own pace. Dave, Antoinette and the boys decided to take their time and were planning to go to the lookouts that we did on the Saturday on their way out.
Bev, Andrew and Lisa, and Peter and I left together. We had to stop on Glenelg River Road for Bev to close the door of her van which she hadn’t closed properly. Going down the Mt Victory Road Peter’s car was pouring out a great deal of blue smoke . We stopped in Ararat to buy lunch which we took out to lake to eat. From here it was a good trip back home.
We had had a great 4 days. For the most part the weather was great. The scenery was breathtaking. We had seen many wildflowers and a great deal of wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, emus, deer, echidnas , snakes, and lots of birds. We had taken lots of photos and enjoyed great company with the other members of the club.
Michael Hartshorne (Forester
Jamie Scott (Suboo, Brumby)
Peter and Katie Mynard (L-Series)
Stephen Whittaker & Janelle Oudshoorn (Forester)
Rick, Jackie and Josh Koster (L-Series)
Andrew and Lisa Jantke (Rodeo)
Bev Davison (Forester)
Dave, Antionette, Anthony & Justin Wilson (Outback)
Peter and Jean Bellis (Forester)