If you have been hiking for a while and looking for your next challenge, then the Grampians National Park could be it, with absolutely stunning views and beautiful winding trails it is the perfect place to take your hiking skills to the next level.
Part of the preparation is packing; it is important to pack well because once you are on the trail you will have no chance to pick up another water bottle or a sleeping bag. When you start to pack make sure to have the essentials like your Sleeping bag, Sleeping Mat, your optional hiking pillow, a hiking pack, a change of clothes, hiking boots and socks, rain coat, whistle, broad-brim hat, torches, water bottles, any toiletries and your dilly bag (bowl, Knife, Fork, Spoon, tea towel). Once you have everything you will need for yourself, you will need to gather and delegate who will carry group items, if your walking on your own you still need everything here just in a one-person proportion. The items you would need to take for the group as a whole include tents and flies, first aid kits, gas burners or Trangias, matches, maps, compass and any Fuels you need.
One of the final considerations you need to make when packing is what you are going to eat, knowing what to buy for a hike is hard but always remember that you want to pack light. Some great ideas for breakfast while hiking are your cereals with powdered milk because they don't take much preparation and allows you to set off early in the morning, other ideas can include porridge and if your lucky you could even have a cup of coffee. For lunch you could chose many different options but I always think wraps are the best because of how easy they are to organise and require no cooking making them perfect when you are half way down a walking track, things that go well with the wrap are lettuce, tomato, cheese, salami or tuna and some mayo can make an amazing wrap that will give you the energy to keep walking, make sure to make it your own and add some of your own ingredients like cucumber or anything else you want, other lunch items could be sandwiches or rolls but always make sure to make everything will give you the energy to keep hiking. Choosing Dinner can be very hard as when your hiking it is often the meal with the most choice, my favourite for hiking pasta, I chose pasta that could be mixed with water and cooked for a few minuets over a gas stove because it is easy and filling which is very important after a tiring of hiking.
Before driving all the way to the Grampians you might want to book your campsites, make sure to go to the Parks Victoria website to book your campsite so that when you hike you have somewhere to sleep. Booking your campsite stops you from getting fines and also gives vital funding to Parks Victoria to improve trails, utilities and more.
The Grampians are just over 3 hours away from Melbourne’s CBD making it quite the car ride there but once you arrive you enter into the large valleys that make up the parks natural beauty. The hikes starting point is at the sheep hills car-park along Grampians road, this is a great place to get ready to set off for your first day hiking. Once you have set off you will be met with several kilometres of flat ground that will start to rise when you pass Fyans Creek. It will stay on this steady rise for until you reach Mount William Car park where it will start to steepen dramatically as you climb the final stretch towards the top of Mount William. After reaching the top you follow the ridge towards your campsite, you will be met with rolling hills that take you up and down for a few kilometres. Just a few kilometres down the track you will be met with a massive gorge that splits the two sides of the Grampians rangers in half, within the space of just over a kilometre you will descend several hundred metres and once you reach the bottom you will be forced to climb back up there again. Once you have summited back up the other side you will be faced with a short walk of just over a kilometre towards your campsite, the path is marked with little yellow arrows that lead you to the campsite where you can set up camp for the night and cook your dinner.
The next morning after you organise your breakfast and pack down your campsite you will continue your hike along the major Mitchel Plateau taking in grand view of the entire valley below. The track will be almost completely flat for the first five or more kilometres and provides a fantastic opportunity for a photo, after this period of gentle track it then dips down quite suddenly only to level off on a decent down towards your campsite. Around this time is a great spot for lunch, make sure to find somewhere comfortable and out of the sun so you can enjoy the outdoors without being sunburnt. As you travel you will encounter some steep areas along with towering hills that sit above you as you slowly descend deeper into the valley and closer to Jimmy Creek Campground, where you will be spending the night. Remember to purchase your campsite before you go so you aren't left without a place to sleep, the campsite is set up with numbered plots so trying to avoid this is impossible and stops vital money from going to Parks Victoria who run the park and make sure all the facilities and the park itself are looked after and well maintained. Once you arrive it is once again time to set up camp, some of the plots have inbuilt firepits allowing you to have a nice fire to keep warm with, make sure to check fire ratings and bans before you light any fires, after you put out your fire you can safely go to bed and get ready for the third and final day of hiking.
The final day gives you a break from the other days of steep climbs but doesn't come without it's challenges, you start your day by packing up your camp, just after setting off you will cross a small wooden footbridge and then follow a short road that will put you on the path, the first few kilometres will remain mostly flat but as you progress the path starts to become hilly and steep but still very small compared to the days prior. This day of the hike does not offer the spectacular views unlike the previous days but does still give you that total feeling of being in nature and if you’re lucky you may even run into some wildlife, after a few good kilometres you may start to encounter come larger hills and the tops of some of these hills provide a great spot for lunch or morning tea. Past these hills it is mostly straight to the finish line, you will encounter many kilometres of flat walking so having something to listen to like music is a great way to pass the time. once you reach your final kilometre you should start to feel that sense of achievement that comes with completing a hike of this size especially if it is your first time, as you arrive at Sheep Hills Car-park you will get that first opportunity to totally relax after your 3 adventure.
This hike offers you a once in a lifetime experience in this historic national park, it's beauty is unrivalled and is a must do hike for anyone who think they can do it. The hike is not only a huge challenge physically but also a challenge when it comes to planning so be prepared to put some work into it but above all enjoy yourself while experiencing the best Victoria has to offer.
Where: Grampians National Park