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Walking the Northern Grampians Peaks Trail – one year after opening

In November 2022 after months of planning and frantic campsite booking to capture that elusive Cup Weekend spot I set off to walk the northern section of the Grampians Peaks Trail (GPT) with a group of friends. The trip which was almost exactly a year after the trail first opened was an exciting opportunity to see one of the best new walks in the country.

This 4 day adventure in the northern Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park had a bit of everything including sunny days, gushing waterfalls, rolling thunderstorms, windy peaks, emergency rescues and stunning views.

Day one – Mount Zero Picnic Ground to Barigar Hike-in Campground

As soon as we found our bearing and set off we were immediately met with a climb up some of the distinctive Grampians rocky ground which would be a feature of our walk. As we followed the first few kilometres of the trail we passed by several rock climbing sites continuing our climb towards Mount Stapylton which was the first major waypoint of our first day.

As we climbed up to the mountain we encountered a rock which looked like a bird but the rumbles of bad weather started to overshadow this sight as the clouds rolled in. After summiting Mount Stapylton we sat down for a typical hiking lunch of wraps with a bit of cheese and salami. One of these fillings, a dry aged Dutch Gouda (selected for being the hardest cheese in the supermarket) was possibly the best cheese I have ever eaten and it’s fair to say it improved the spirits of the group greatly.

Not long after we packed up lunch and made our final push towards Barigar the rain started to hit us in waves. We crossed creeks and passed by a water tank before reaching a stunning, free flowing waterfall just outside the campsite. We arrived in the park after several months of heavy continuous rain which has made almost every creek and waterfall in the park reach capacity meaning our trip was all that bit more beautiful.

Just a few hundred metres further down the track we reached the campground which included camping platforms, a fantastic group shelter and a water tank for us to refill our bottles. Before some of us started to head to bed for the big day ahead we made some truly delicious hiking tacos which I will definitely be repeating in future.

Some of us who weren’t too tired decided to stay up. We first went off and did a short night walk, climbing some rocks and enjoying the sunset. When we got back we joined a game of cards with some of the other hikers on the trail with us who we really enjoyed chatting with.

Day two – Barigar Hike-in Campground to Gar Hike-in Campground

This day started early as we had quite a bit of climbing ahead, the walk was relatively flat through a wonderland of giant mushrooms and along the top of a ridge line which looked below to the valley. It wasn’t long until we reached the Gar Trailhead where the climb began and along the way we were met with increasingly beautiful waterfalls, each one bigger than the last.

As we passed by each waterfall we took a moment to cool down and enjoy the refreshing mist that surrounded the area. The trail was made of large rocky steps all the way up from the falls and at times felt almost endless but we kept climbing with the goal of having lunch when we arrived at the campsite pushing us.

The trail which followed any natural path it could was something beyond beautiful. As you walked on this day you started to feel part of the landscape with the views becoming better and better as we climbed. It wasn’t long before we could see all the way back to where we started on the first day and this gave the entire group a feeling of accomplishment.

After a final push up the rocky path which precedes the campsite we arrived around 2 in the afternoon. We sat down for a good lunch, set up camp and watched the storms roll in from the comfort of the chairs at Gar Campground. Though we had already reached the camp this day was far from over with quite an eventful night ahead.