The Grampians, Australia
When to go
Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) are the best times to visit. Spring brings the blooming wildflowers and orchids, and autumn provides long mild days, which are perfect for walking and climbing. Summer days (December to February) can be oppressively hot, while winter (June to August) tends to be wet, with night-time temperatures sometimes falling to zero.
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PlanesMelbourne Airport (www.melair.com.au) in Tullamarine is the main gateway to regional Victoria. Put down your Lear jet at airports in nearby Stawell, Hamilton, Ararat or Horsham. Asses Ears Wilderness Lodge (+61 (0)3 5383 9215, www.assesearslodge.com.au) in the Wartook Valley has a private airstrip.
TrainsHalls Gap can be reached by a daily V/Line (www.vline.com.au) train-bus service from Melbourne's Southern Cross station in the CBD. It's slow – you must swap the train for a bus at Ballarat and change buses at Stawell. Dunkeld is also serviced daily by a V/Line train-bus connection.
AutomobilesMost visitors arrive by vehicle and having a car is essential to explore the region. From Melbourne take the Western Freeway (M8) to Ballarat. For Halls Gap continue on the Western Highway (A8) to Ararat and then the C222. For Dunkeld take the Glenelg Highway (B160) from Ballarat. Either journey takes about three hours. Those with more time can travel the famously scenic Great Ocean Road (B100) to Warrnambool, turning inland on the C178. Hire car firms in Melbourne include Avis (www.avis.com.au).
TaxisCabs are few and far between in the Grampians, and distances are significant, so fares can be pricey. Nearby operators include Ararat Taxis (03 5352 7777), Stawell Taxis (03 5358 4207) and Horsham Taxis (03 5381 1223).
It’s always a thrill to see wild kangaroos, whether you’re in the Grampians or Daylesford in Victoria, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales or even Australia’s ‘bush capital’ Canberra, all destinations where you’ll get regular sightings of this curious creature. They usually come out at dawn and dusk and are often drawn to golf courses!
Fancy swopping waves for peaks? It’s just over an hour from Port Fairy to country town Dunkeld in the Southern Grampians, backdropped by majestic mountains. Bed down at the Royal Mail Hotel & Mt Sturgeon. After hiking up view-blessed Mt Sturgeon or Mt Abrupt, retreat to the hotel’s renowned restaurant. Chef Robin Wickens helms this mod Australian eatery – reserve in advance, or dine at the relaxed Bistro.