A breezy, three-hour drive out of Melbourne sits the Grampians Mountain Range and campsites. It’s a beautiful weekend trip to take out of the city, to exchange skyscrapers for mountain peaks, and tram rides for hikes. I wanted to go here for a weekend since first arriving in Melbourne, but not owning any camping gear AND not having a car was making organizing the adventure a bit difficult.
Fortunately – I met someone who had everything I needed, and we planned a camping weekend to close out 2018, and my 26th birthday.
We drove up to the ranges on a Friday, escaping the city before traffic jams set in. It was a relaxing drive through rural Victoria, great for wildlife spotting. We saw kangaroos, wallabies (I’m pretty sure) and an echidna on the side of the road. Be super careful when driving at dusk or during the night in Australia – animals are everywhere!
For dinner, we stopped at The Wander Inn, a little restaurant not far from our campsite reservation. It was a neat little spot, seemed to be family-owned and everyone there was super friendly. They even let us buy some of their bags of ice since we had forgotten to pick some up, and there weren’t any other convenience shops nearby. Don’t forget ice when you go!
Hiking to the Pinnacle
From the parking area, this hike takes about two hours round-trip including a break at the top. The journey is a beautiful one – with various gorges and rock formations you have to scurry over, as well as some trails that open up to stunning vistas.
It is a relatively easy hike, with clearly marked trails and spots to stop if you need to take a breather. It wasn’t too crowded, which was great. We had many stretches of trail all to ourselves, enabling soaking up nature and enjoying the climb. I’d recommend bringing at least 1 liter of water per person, and definitely some healthy (or not so healthy) snacks to enjoy at the top. It’s a beautiful view – so accompanying it with some food makes it even better!
Lake Bellfield Swim
After working up a sweat on our Saturday hike, cooling off with a swim was a must for me. This is my one issue with camping – I love it, but if I can’t go for a swim to at least give myself an illusion of being clean, I get uncomfortable and ornery REAL quick.
This lake can be seen from the summit of the Pinnacle hike, and it’s a massive, freshwater reservoir. The water is clean – only man-powered or electric motors are allowed to avoid contamination, as it is a water supply for the local towns. Enjoy a swim, bring a floaty, or even kayak around for a few hours to cool off in the surrounding beauty of the Grampians mountains.
This town situated right in the heart of the Grampians range is a lovely spot to visit if you want to enjoy a restaurant meal during your camping weekend, or at least fuel up with a good coffee before a day of hiking. An iced cold brew from Livefast Cafe is a great option – we stopped here just for a coffee, but their whole menu looks incredible!
This was my first experience sleeping in a rooftop tent! This tent by the Adventure Kings was fantastic – easy to set up, with a foam mattress that was pretty comfortable to sleep on. It was exciting to climb up a ladder into a tent, being above the ground meant breezes and that we weren’t on wet grass. It did rain a little bit during the weekend, so having that elevation over the damp ground was perfect.
To be adequately prepared for a camping weekend, some meal planning is essential. Write out a list for each meal you’ll be eating while on your trip – and don’t forget about packing the cooking supplies like oil, salt, pepper, and other condiments that you’d normally have sitting in the fridge or cupboard at home. We had delicious breakfasts, sandwiches for lunches, and burritos one night for dinner. The convenient part about camping not too far from a town is that there’s no need to panic if you forget something – just pop in and pick it up.
Don’t forget a corkscrew if you’re packing a bottle of wine or a bottle-opener if you have non-twist off beers!