Batten down the hatches. I’m back. Then again, I didn’t really go away. Yeah, as you can see I went up to the Grampians for a few days, but on the whole, all I’ve been doing is sleep for the past month. Sounds a bit slack? Probably, but let me explain. Oh, this will be a long post as well, as I need to bring you up date with everything that’s been happening (not much).
I’ve been flat as a tack for a month or so and after having some blood tests the results indicate high CRP levels and an elevated fat bastarditis. Actually, I’ve no idea about the CRP test, as it says the body carries an infection of some sort, but it ends there. I asked the doctor and she said it means I’ve got something, but who knows what. Huh? It really is the CRAP test. In the end, she said to come back in a month if I’m still low on power. Oh, one other thing. I’ve got laughably low levels of Vitamin D. It’s so low, you’d think I was living in an igloo in the Arctic circle, instead of this sun drenched joint. In my summer walking, I tend to cover myself so much, I look like an Egyptian mummy. I may have to alter that concept? Hike without a shirt? Maybe go a step further? Balls out and really scare fellow trail wanderers?
Anyway, a Grampians trip with the Smuffin’s was organised long ago, so it was a case of still going, but anything amazingly tricky was binned. Instead, it was tourist walks only. Actually, I must mention one thing about the accommodation. We’ve always stayed at the Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park. It’s a few kilometres from Halls Gap, so it seems a little more relaxed from the tourist hubbub. Definitely a welcoming place and I must say, my cabin was roughly one million times better than any caravan park cabin I’ve ever been in before. Have a look at this.
It’s surrounded by full blown Australiana wildlife as well. Walk outside and there will be photographic cockatoos…
…and kangaroos carrying passengers.
If you’re from overseas and wanted to see Australian wildlife wandering around, then this is a pretty good place to be. I guess it explains why I heard a multitude of European accents whenever I went to the park office. Then again, I assume they were European, as there are two things I’m really crap at. Identifying an accent and guessing ages.
As an example. When I was working, someone asked me a question, which I knew could be answered by a bloke who worked outside my office.
I said, “Go see the Scottish bloke in the office down the hall.”
Other person said, “Scottish? He’s from Liverpool.”
I said, “Oh. Same hemisphere, so close enough?”
That’s how good I am with accents. When it comes to ages, I’m not much better. I could have someone say, “How old do you think my son is?”
I say, “Oh, I don’t know. Two?”
They say, “No, he’s five.”
I say, “Oh. Only three years off. Close enough surely?”
Okay, back to the walking business. There’s one thing about the Grampians. Do you realise I’ve never been to any of the little, more touristy wanders near Halls Gap? In my run-down state, I felt it was a good chance to have a look at a few. There’s a good reason why a visit to the Pinnacle, Grampians National Park is the most well known of the shorter walks, as the summit views are great.
Besides the potential sights, we had a less strenuous plan up our sleeves, as we decided to forget about the climb from Halls Gap and instead, start at the Wonderland car park. Yeah, I know, it’s slightly embarrassing, but that’s the way it goes. Now you know, can I remotely talk up this walk as being even remotely arduous? No.
I actually wasn’t going to do any posts, as generally the photo-taking did my head in. My usual camera was on the blink, so it was a case of dragging out an old one and making do. I contemplated going back and re-doing this walk with repaired camera and then writing this entry with lovely photos, but one thing was stopping me. I couldn’t be stuffed.
So, early in the afternoon, we were dropped off at the Wonderland carpark and Lady Smuffin sent us on our way with packed sandwiches. Before we get into it, I’ll just leave this photo here.
Anyway, there are two ways to the Pinnacle from there and one was noted as, ‘being easy for small children’. I was tempted to follow this, but the remnants of my pride elected to follow the ‘harder’ route. Up through the Grand Canyon.
Hang on. What’s with the name? I’m sure you’re aware of the American one and how it looks. The main thing you need to know about the Grampians version is it’s a lot smaller. As in miniature. I guess if you’re as tall as an average garden gnome, then it would look enormous? It’s still good, but unfortunately, being the world’s tallest man (and widest) I wasn’t struck by complete awe. I mean, it even has handrails. ‘Rather Nice Canyon’ is probably a better moniker.
It took us about 10 minutes to walk through, but in my wasted state, I must admit, I was spent. We’d covered at least 250 metres and even I, who’s happy to call it a day on most occasions, thought it was a bit early to pull the pin. Mind you, taking images was problematic, as the sky was a washed out, featureless grey, not to mention showers kept passing through. Oh, it was also absolutely freezing. I know it’s winter, but I usually don’t feel the cold too often. Maybe it was due to my sick state, as I really felt a chill to the bones.
The climb continued steadily, but it wasn’t all civilised. There were a couple of steep sections, which required a bit of verve and skill to negotiate. Here’s Smuffin ascending one particularly gnarly piece of landscape.
Man, that bit was tough, especially when you’re not carrying proper climbing equipment. We survived though and reached a spot called the ‘Cool Chamber’, which seemed a good spot to rest for a moment. How did we know it was called the ‘Cool Chamber’? Well, that’s easy, as an enormous sign was drilled into the rock telling us.
Um… Is it just me or is the sign a little over the top? Do you think something a little more discreet could be better? I don’t know, maybe a little marker off to the side? Some signage is good, but I don’t know, there needs to be a bit of a balance. If there’s too much, I get reminded of the Far Side cartoon.
Leaving the chamber behind, we continued on, passing other areas of interest. This rock was worth a perusal.
It looked like an upturned goblet, except it’s actually called…
Okay, fair enough. I did the following, resulting in it definitely looking like a lady’s hat. Try this out. Firstly, turn off the lights, then squint your eyes. Now, repeatedly smash yourself across the head with a rolling pin and then look at the rock again. See what I mean? Definitely a hat.
As a side-note. When I was taking a photo of the information pole, I noticed a pair of underpants in the bush. How does one suddenly find their underpants flying off? Then again, maybe they’re from a secondary, less well known feature? The Lady’s Pants? Who knows. It’s certainly a land of mystery up there.
Moving on, pooled water amongst the rocks was always potential photographic material.
Not to mention the unique Grampians landscape. Rocks aplenty, with an occasional tree resting against one.
Our next point of interest was a spot called ‘Silent Street’. I wondered what this actually was, as anything you read about it, generally says, ‘you walk through Silent Street’. Yeah, but what is it? Well, it’s a crevice between the rocks where the path leads…
…before exiting out via some steps at the end.
I enjoyed that section and once past it, we were almost at the Pinnacles itself. It was absolutely freezing, as we approached the well-fenced lookout…
…but the views were worth it. In one direction, looking towards Lake Bellfield…
…and on the other side, Halls Gap.
Now, back to the opening photo of this post. Smuffin is problematic around heights, but he thought he’d try out some slow crawling to the edge to test his nerves.
I’m not sure how this works, but the thing is, he’s not so much scared of heights, but more concerned about other people nearby. I mean, in the spot above, I walked up next to him and began my best Michael Flatley tap dance routine, which elicited, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU’RE AN IDIOT! GET AWAY FROM THE EDGE!” I thought it was clever, but he didn’t find my appalling dance routine funny at all. It was always going to be crap anyway, as I didn’t have any of those clicky things on my heels.
Anyway, we retreated to a semi-sheltered spot to eat our sandwiches and I must admit, with the wind chill, it couldn’t have been much above zero. It was icy, so spending time lolling about the peak wasn’t really on.
My performance for the day was well below par, but it wasn’t a complete wimp-out. Instead of returning the way we’d come, we elected to walk down to Halls Gap via a track, which I’m sure has a name, but stuffed if I can find it anywhere. Let it be known as ‘the track to the left of the Pinnacles lookout’.
The weather really began to turn as we trudged down. Previously there were showers, but now, the clouds were low and a constant mist of rain began falling. Trying to get fancy with pictures was out the window and my care factor for them was low. Here’s what I mean. Enjoy the water spots on the lens.
This route was actually a bit of a knee killer. I’ve never seen so many steel steps? I guess they did the trick, as height dropped quickly and compared to something like timber, I’m sure they’re not as slippery when wet.
The Grampians actually looks great in the rain. Huge rock faces look especially colourful when wet. Like this one.
It wasn’t all about the wet landscape though. Some of the signs were a little interesting. This one caught our eye.
Sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it? Then again, how about this scenario. You’ve fired up your time machine and you’ve appeared at a place where a young Adolf Hitler is playing near a cliff edge. Actually, what would Hitler do for childhood games? Torture insects? Just the usual stuff?
Anyway, can you imagine the misery, which could be avoided if you picked up junior Adolf, held him aloft with both arms outstretched (it would have to be done in full, theatrical style) and then hurled into the abyss. Would you do it? As a result of your Hitler tossing, one could have quite a discussion about possible differences in the world today. Okay, maybe you want someone different? How about Tony Abbott? Actually, poor example, as everyone would do it without even thinking. Maybe someone more obscure? Maybe Simon Cowell?
Moving on, it was well and truly wet as we neared Halls Gap. Also, light was dimming rapidly. Cold and wet is never the greatest of feelings and this sign at the bottom seemed to sum up things quite well. Come to think of it, I tend to ponder these feelings on every hike.
Then we were down and arguably, the most iconic of the Grampians walks was done for the day. What do I make of it all? It’s great, but one could say this about most things in the Grampians. It’s certainly a unique place, which explains why people from across the world travel all this way to visit. Just don’t ask me to identify where they’re from via their accents.
Anyway, we did some more Grampians stuff, but I’m not sure if I’ll write about them all. How much can one crap on with all the walks? I’ve got about 50 sitting in the walk bank, so your guess is as good as mine as to what the next post will be.
Until next time!