Last year we travelled to Halls Gap to celebrate Matt’s mum’s 70th birthday – it was the middle of Winter with a crawling baby, multiple children under five, four families…so we hired a house (unheard of, as Matt’s family usually camp in the Grampians, was quite against tradition!) Needless to say, it was a great little family holiday jaunt, and we loved the house – nothing fancy, pretty simple but perfect for our needs with lots of bedrooms, wheelchair friendly, no nearby neighbours so the kids could roam wild and free, bush surrounds with kangaroos and emus out our windows. The best bit though? A full circuit of paved verandahs on all sides of the house for the kids scooters! That was apparently Eleanor’s favourite part of the holiday. We thought it was such a good little getaway for our brood that we booked the house again – no need for a special birthday or occasion to go on a family holiday, right?
Although there was a birthday celebrated (14 candles!) and an overload of cousin time. It’s almost comical to think now that we once thought our ‘one-day-children’ wouldn’t have cousins their age! And as they get a bit older the gap closes significantly. Eleanor and her cousin Otis are only two months apart, but Eleanor has serious hero-worship-heart-eyes for big cousin Maddie who is five. Always the step ahead!
Until last year, I had never even been to the Grampians – or anywhere near, really! What a gem it is though – Halls Gap is a pretty unique (and beautiful) place. Surrounded by spectacular rock formations and mountains, with little or big walks to explore – we went on the short walk to Venus Baths which leaves from just near the playground and botanic gardens in town, we fairly easily got a wheelchair, a five year old, two three year olds and a one year old along the path and to the slippery pool’s where the kids had a paddle and the bigger kids climbed ‘the elephant’s hide’.
Matt did some more strenuous walks with his siblings and Dad, and we got our hands on the ‘Trail Rider’ all abilities wheelchair which proved pretty handy on the walk to Fish Falls. A great first test run of something we can use again for Matt’s mum – I didn’t go on the walk so no photos of it in action, but can recommend that it’s easy to use and gets over rocks and tree branches that may be on the path without a worry. It does require at least two people to be at the front and back, but there is also a volunteer ‘sherpa’ program which is such a great idea and we might utilise in the future. Whilst most of the adults were out hiking, we got our playground game on, scooting around the park and having ice-cream by Stony Creek. We packed our bikes and seats for the girls – the first time Harriet had been on the bike, but thankfully Aunty Tarsha rode with her down the steep gravel driveway, as I’d never ridden with a child on before and didn’t fancy that as my first attempt! Harriet seemed non-plussed about the whole affair…
More special memories made in a special place, particularly for Matt’s mum who used to camp at Halls Gap in the caravan park as a little girl. She was happy to report the quaint little village hasn’t changed all that much in 50+ years, slow and simple days spent with a new generation of Grampian explorers. We came home through the southern Grampians, towards Dunkeld and Lake Bolac, chasing cropping and sheep country where Matt used to work driving a header once upon a time – we passed through so much country I’d never seen before, just showing how much there is to see around us and encouraging us to get out and explore more (even if it does drive me a bit batty that Matt has to drive down every four wheel drive track ‘just because he can’ and spends more time trying to see in machinery sheds as we drive along than listening to my riveting conversation!)
Quite the contrast to our freezing Winter holiday in Halls Gap last July! Sunshine and sunscreen still in April – craziness! Lovely for a holiday, but some rain would be nice now we’re home…
Have you explored the Grampians and Halls Gap?
Camping on family holidays or a big communal house?
Got an ag-touring farmer husband too?
We stayed at Paradise Peaks house – which slept seven adults and six kids comfortably, it is a few kilometres walk to the shops of Halls Gap, but there is a sealed path most of the way which we rode bikes, pushed pram and wheelchair and scooted easily along.