Ah, The Grampians, one of my happy places. We have visited many times in the past and twice now with the kids. I’ve put together a list of some of the best hikes in the Grampians with kids that we have been on. I don’t think this list covers all of them – there are plenty more and as we explore more of them I’ll update this list.
What you can find in this post
- 1 Halls Gap
- 2 The best hikes in the Grampians with kids
- 3 Other things to do in and around Halls Gap with kids
- 4 Other things to note when considering walks in the Grampians with kids
Halls Gap, a 3 hour drive from Melbourne is a tourist town in the middle of the Grampians National Park and is surrounded by amazing tall peaks. Halls Gap features a great children’s playground in town with barbeques, a solar heated pool (Summer hours) and all the shops you need for a short break including a supermarket, petrol station, ATM’s, post office, chemist, bakery and a (always popular) ice cream shop! There are also a number of restaurants and pubs for any meals out you fancy.
There are lots of accommodation option in Halls Gap and surrounding Grampians area. We have never camped here before (but checked out quite a few of the camping areas) always choosing a house rental.
Staying in a house is a great way to travel if you have a family. You can spread out, keep to routines, cook up a storm and relax when the kids go to bed (hello, wine!!). Some places include linen and others don’t. Sometimes it is worth the little extra cost to hire linen so you don’t need to pack as much.
We travelled late after work so the kids could fall asleep and they were easy to transfer into bed as soon as we arrived (they were in their PJ’s already). You can look at this in 2 ways – yes it’s expensive to pay for an extra nights accommodation when you are getting there so late but at the same time it is great to wake up the next morning and you are already on holidays! No 3 hour drive in the morning to get to your destination. So, for any destinations that are that little bit further away we tend to go at night – the kids can sleep and we get a good few hours driving out of the way – I hate wasting a day driving. We did this exact same thing when we spent a three day weekend at Lake Catani, Mt Buffalo which is a similar length drive.
On our most recent visit we went on 6 different hikes over 3 days, were wowed by the kangaroo’s and had a quick visit to the zoo (Ned was 5 and Olive 3 – so lots of walking for little legs). There are a number of different short walks in the area and I think the hikes we did over this weekend are our pick of the bunch for hiking in the Grampians with kids.
The best hikes in the Grampians with kids
We decided to go on the hardest walk on the first morning – The Pinnacle. You can see “The Pinnacle” from in town, it is one of the rocky outcrops when you look up! There are a couple of different ways to hike up to The Pinnacle. You can leave directly from the Halls Gap township but this is much longer and I’d say much too far for little legs.
There is a route from the Sundial carpark which is apparently the easiest but we have never gone this way. Would love to hear if you have completed the hike to The Pinnacle along this route and if you think it’s worth doing (to be honest I think it would have to be pretty amazing to be better than leaving from the Wonderland car park!).
The couple of times we have done this walk we have always left from the Wonderland Carpark which is about a 10 minute drive from Halls Gap. The car park is tiny and unless you are there first thing you’ll be forced to park back along the road. There are toilets available at the car park.
A great way to do this walk is to head to the left once you have started and head up through the Grand Canyon (this isn’t a one way track but it is usually very busy with little room to move over so we found it easier to return via the other track – which is well sign posted). This is the part of the walk which the kids loved the best – tight spaces, ladders, rock jumping, rock scrambling etc. The walk continues up through Silent Street before continuing to rise up to the top of The Pinnacle. This walk is rated as a little more challenging – our group had a 5, 4 and a 3 year old (and a 11 month old in the backpack) and they all made it fine!
We definitely had 4 seasons in one day from t-shirts and then rain jackets! The view was a little obscured because of the cloud but they were moving so quickly that we had time to point out the Halls Gap township and Lake Bellfield to the kids before we were nearly frozen to the spot! It was very chilly. I’d definitely recommend wearing layers that you can remove and put back on as necessary. A rain jacket is also a good idea. We only had a 30% chance of a shower on our hike but it rained quite heavily at times.
You return to the car park via the same track but you just veer off once you get to the top of the Grand Canyon as mentioned above which is well sign posted.
- Walk – The Pinnacle
- Distance – 5.5km return from The Wonderland Carpark
- Details – Challenging for little legs. Steps, rock scrambling, rock steps, slippery, windy, exposed
The afternoon after walking to The Pinnacle we spent some time on the oval watching the kangaroos and having running races on the cricket pitch (well Ned was racing – not sure where he gets the energy). We were walking back to the house along the track behind the oval and came to the start of the walk to Clematis Falls. Ned was super keen to check this out so we had a late afternoon walk!
This is a simple walk and it is around 2km return and took us about 45 minutes. The path is slightly up hill on the way to the falls and there are some rocks to climb over once you reach the falls. It is a great walk to spot kangaroos.
The falls had water but I have read some reviews that say they were dry – so maybe best after some rain. If you would like to drive to the start of the walk there is parking available at the oval. You can also start this walk from in town from behind the caravan park and follow the path through the Botanical Gardens which adds a little to the distance.
- Walk – Clematis Falls
- Distance – Approx 2km return (depending where you start from)
- Details – Gradual up hill, rocks to cross at the end, tree roots etc exposed so you need to watch where you are walking
Venus Baths Walk
This is another great little walk to do with kids in the Grampians. We walked from our holiday house along the track at the back of the oval and through the Botanical Gardens, but you can find the start of the path at the back of the caravan park over the little bridge and through the gate.
The track is very well formed and an easy little walk which is just over 2km return. Make sure you spend some time looking up at the amazing rock formations – they are just spectacular.
This would be a great spot to have a little water play if the weather was warm. Ned and Olive (so Ross had no choice!!) both sat down straight away and took their shoes off for a splash. There are parts which are quite deep so you need to have your eyes on the kids the whole time. It is also very slippery – and it was cold!!!
You can make this a loop by crossing over the bridge at the end of the walk and heading back into Halls Gap along this path. It is not as well formed as the other path but it is by no means hard.
- Walk – Venus Bath Walk
- Distance – Approx 2 km return
- Details – Well formed path one direction (off road if you take the alternative return path)
Reeds Lookout and the Balconies
Reeds Lookout and the Balconies are about 15km’s out of town and the road is quite windy – be aware if you have any little (or big) ones that get a little green in the car!
This is another car park which is tiny and by the time we were leaving there were cars parked down along the road.
Reeds Lookout has wonderful views over the valley but it was absolutely freezing when we were there.
The walk to the balconies leaves from the same car park. This is another easy 2km return walk along a well maintained path passing through some different scenery with great views out the left hand side before arriving at the Balconies for a magnificent view over the Victoria Valley. There looks to be so much undiscovered bush land! The Balconies are now all fenced off but at one stage you were able to walk out and sit on the ledge. Ross did this as a teenager! How times change!
- Walk – Reed Lookout and The Balconies
- Distance – Reeds Lookout is at the carpark. The Balconies walk is approx 2km return
- Details – Well formed path, no rock hopping/scrambling, kids found this more of a struggle as it was flat and well formed!
After the Balconies hike we decided to continue on to MacKenzie Falls as it is approximately 10 minutes drive past the Balconies (approx. 25 minutes from Halls Gap). As soon as we arrived we knew that this was one of the more popular walks in the Grampians. The car park was packed. There are toiles and picnic tables available. I think the earlier you arrive the quieter the walks will be.
The walk down to the bottom of the falls is a 2km return walk which goes straight down, therefore straight back up!!! Give yourself an hour for this walk. The path starts as a flat walking path and then there are steps, many steps for little legs but there were plenty of kids giving it a go (and plenty having piggybacks like Miss Olive!). You don’t realise how steep it is until you start the walk back up. The path is narrow in parts allowing only one way traffic so in sections you might need to wait at the top/bottom of the stairs until there is a gap. Take your time as to not slip if the path is wet and to catch your breath as you need to.
You have glimpses of the falls on the way down and once at the bottom there are some rocks to hop across to cross the river. Once across there are ample photo opportunities. You are not allowed to swim in the river.
If you don’t want to walk all those steps then your best bet is to view the falls from the Bluff Lookout. This is an easy 2km return walk along a formed tracks which takes you to the Bluff Lookout where you can view MacKenzie Falls and the river as it flows through the gorge.
The falls flow all year round (it might just be a trickle over summer thought depending on the rainfall).
- Walk – MacKenzies Falls
- Distance – Approx 2km return
- Details – Lots and lots of steps. This was actually quite challenging so take your time on the way back up.
We were very grateful that our Air B&B host offered a late checkout of 2pm as we were able to take our time on our morning hikes (Balconies and McKenzies Falls) and then have lunch before packing up. The last walk of the day was to Silverband Falls. These falls are about a 10/15 minute drive out of town and although the car park was again small it was not busy when we visited. The walk is 1.4km return and is along a shady easy path. It is a pretty walk with the trees changing along the way from bushland to ferns.
- Walk – Silverband Falls
- Distance – 1.4km
- Details – Flat well formed path
- Starts from – Silverband Falls Carpark. 10/15 minutes through Halls Gap past the Brambuk Cultural Centre.
Other things to do in and around Halls Gap with kids
Fallen Giants Vineyard
I’d recommend a visit to Fallen Giants Vineyard. They have amazing views over the Grampians. There is a little kids play ground and space to run around. You are able to sample the wines, enjoy a cheese platter, pack a picnic or make use of the barbeques.
The cellar door is open Wednesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm.
Halls Gap Zoo
We spent a couple of hours in the afternoon at Halls Gap Zoo. A small little country zoo just out of Halls Gap. The entrance fees were really quite steep adults $28 and children $14 and a family pass (2A and 2C) $70. The zoo is open 10am-5pm everyday apart from Christmas Day.
Once you have paid your entrance free you are given a basic map and list of animals – it was time to work out who wanted to see what! We got to see everything in our couple of hours visit – the path to follow is very simple and there is no need to worry that you may veer off and miss something.
There is no café on site (basic lollies, chips and drinks available at reception) so I would recommend taking snacks or a picnic and there are BBQ’s and picnic tables. There are also seats along the path for rests if needed.
The zoo was not busy in the afternoon when we visited but had been busy during the day as we were not charged for the little bag of animal feed ($2) as the animals were apparently not very hungry anymore!
There are a large number of animals on display including monkeys, cheetah, reindeer (with a great description of how and when they loose their antlers – I never knew this!), birds (which we were told a number of times by Ned were boring), dingoes, giraffes, bison, horses and pigs.
It was lovely having the deer and peacocks roaming around freely and if they were hungry it would have been a treat for the kids to feed them. The kangaroos were still peckish and the kids did enjoy feeding and interacting with them (Ned doesn’t mind having a conversation with animals!).
The bison were absolutely massive and would love to know how thick the fur on their faces actually is and whether it is soft to touch or quite rough.
Personally, I think Ned and Olive were very tired by this point – they had already walked the Balconies, MacKenzie Falls and Silverband Falls – so their little legs were tiring.
Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre
We have visited the Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre in the past and there is a lot of information on the history of the Grampians.
Halls Gap Oval
If you are wanting to see loads of kangaroos then you must take a walk around the Halls Gap oval. There are stax of kangaroos eating and lazing around. Just remember they are wild so don’t try to touch them (yes, we saw people trying to do this!). It’s one of the most popular areas of Victoria to see kangaroos.
Other things to note when considering walks in the Grampians with kids
After the zoo we headed to Ararat for dinner (we ended up having pizza as it was one of the only places open on a Sunday night – we didn’t even consider that there wouldn’t be any pubs open on a Sunday night in a country town) before putting the kids in their PJ’s and heading home.
We were home in Melbourne around 9.30pm and transferred the kids straight into bed. Again, we hate wasting part of the day travelling, so being able to make the most of a full day, having dinner and then driving home late is exactly our style! Just think about what might be open for dinner on your drive home.
We really felt like we made the most of 3 days away in the Grampians with the kids, hiking, exploring and having fun. I definitely recommend booking a weekend/long weekend to the Grampians with your family and taking your kids on some of the hikes. It is really special for the kids to experience this part of the world.
Before setting off on any walk make sure you check the conditions and any closures with Parks Victoria first and you’ll find maps etc on their website. Take a range of clothing, snacks, water (plenty of water!), sunscreen, hats, beanies and a sense of adventure.
Have you been to the Grampians with your family? What hikes did you go on? Have we missed any which we should put on our must do for our next visit?
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