We have just had the most lovely, slow but busy, relaxed as you can be with a bossy toddler and crawling baby, four days in Halls Gap with Matt’s family – mum and dad, brother and partner, sister and husband, cousins x4 for our girls to play with and be entertained by. The little getaway was to celebrate our marvellous Mumma (Matt’s mum, my husband’s mother, I don’t have a ‘mother-in-law’, just ask her!) marking her seventy turns around the sun. Definitely something to celebrate, don’t you think? At first Wendy didn’t want to do too much – nonsense, we said! We insisted the occasion had to be suitably marked. Where would Mumma want to go for a family holiday? The Grampians was always the answer. Matt’s grandparents spent many a Summer holiday at the Halls Gap caravan park with their family in the 1950’s and 60’s, it holds special memories for Wendy as a little girl and as a mum with her own tribe in tow too. I had never been to the Grampians really, only passing through Ararat when we lived in South Australia in 2013-14. Halls Gap is such a pretty little town and surrounds, although we arrived in the dark so I didn’t get an overview of ‘the gap’ and mountains until we got exploring…
And exploring we went! Just a few short walks, and a longer one for Matt early one morning up to the Pinnacle and back. Together we scampered up the Grand Canyon though, with enthusiastic small people – the cousins range in age from 13, 9, 4, 3, 2 and Harriet who hitched an easy ride on Daddy’s back in the Ergo. We stopped for a little picnic on the rocks at the top, then onto lunch at the Sundial and finally a wheelchair accessible walk to Silverband Falls in the later afternoon. It was freeeeeeeezing by then. So so so cold! But we were well rugged up and the sun actually made it perfect walking weather – crisp and invigorating. Our little adventurer Eleanor made it most of the way on both walks, although at times Daddy carried her – 20kg Eleanor and 10kg Harriet, poor Daddy! She is at that awkward in betweener age, too little to do too much walking and too heavy to carry. Her big cousin Maddie who is 18 months older did really well though, so I can see on the horizon doing more walks…just as Harriet is entering the phase Eleanor is currently in!
See? Pretty. The Grampians impressive rocky outcrops give quite the grand backdrop, even if it was close to freezing conditions and Eleanor was quite astonished: “I can’t feel my fingers! My fingers!” Back at the house we hibernated from the Arctic blast with a roaring fire, warming curries and a good glass or two of red, toasting Mumma and showering her with family time, which she said is the best gift she could have asked for – us! Unfortunately Eleanor’s cousins were pretty sick, and although we tried to keep a distance between them, that is fairly impossible when you’ve got a four, three, two and one year old living and playing together 24/7. Touch wood we haven’t been contaminated with the gastro bug, and the time spent with the girl’s cousins of similar ages is always special (and important I think). Memories of six in the steaming spa bath in the house at Halls Gap will be with us for awhile!
The little village nestled into the mountains is quite charming in Winter especially, although I haven’t experienced it in Summer (yet). The surrounding hills were covered in the low clouds and the days were short and dark, cosy and slow. Harriet spent a lot of time bundled up in the pram in her hand knitted Winter woolies. Eleanor had her new scooter with us, and despite there being a sealed path all the way into town from the house we were staying in, she still walked the 3km and I carried ‘Sensible Mince’ mostly. Of course. And yes, that is what she has named her hot pink unicorn. ‘Sensible Mince’. I don’t even know where to begin with that one… #kidsareweird
Mummy and Mumma got their coffee fixes on our adventures in town, whilst the children ate ice cream’s by Stony Creek despite the already icy conditions! Some Halls Gap traditions need to be upheld, no matter the weather. Eleanor and Maddie found the perfect big puddle to ride scooters through, and I thanked my lucky stars that I had packed the gumboots and snow jacket! Although her jeans were wet through as well. That’s ok, what are giant puddle discoveries with cousins for?! Other parents watched on in horror as their little cherubs wanted to do the same as our wild child, sorry parents! But a lovely older grandparently couple who watched Eleanor from the bridge having a marvellous time in the puddle told me I was “obviously a great mum, that’s what she should be doing! Should be more of it!”
A long weekend full to overflowing with love and family – just as Mumma wanted. I do hope she felt the pure adoration we all have for her – the matriarch to our brood, guiding us all through so many bumps and hiccups and highs and special times. Wendy is the ying to my yang – she has taught me so very much about what it is to be a Mother, she is always at the ready with wisdom and grace, wit and humour. Our girls are so lucky to have a Mumma such as her, another amazing woman role model for them to learn positivity, patience and the importance of hard work and perseverance. Lucky lucky lucky.
As for Halls Gap – we will be back! Hopefully many times over, to start our own family traditions like Mumma and Matt’s Nan and Pop – a new generation of Western kids exploring in the Grampians.
We stayed at Paradise Peaks on High Road – can highly recommend! The house sleeps 14 and has a roaring fire, great kitchen, large lounge and open plan dining, outdoor barbecue area and fire pit, enormous bathroom with spa and is set back off the road in lovely bush surrounds. We had kangaroos out our bedroom windows and the kids scootered around under the veranda despite the rain. Perfect house for us! Wheelchair friendly obviously too.
In Halls Gap we enjoyed coffee at Harvest Cafe. We did the Grand Canyon and Silverband Falls walks, and Matt, his sister and his dad walked from the Wonderland carpark up to the Pinnacle and back into Halls Gap.