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September 25, 2013 / oneworld82

Grampians National Park

Step back:

If you get to Hahndorf the way I did, you might think that this charming town be hours away from mainstream civilization; until you realize that a big motorway runs close by, meaning that you are only 20 minutes away from Adelaide. These people are lucky: beach, national parks (Coorong National Park is a shore park inhabited by many animals among which pelicans), hills, vineyards are just steps away from the city. Anyway, this time we headed east.

My next destination was Horsham, one of the gateways to the Grampians National Park, a stunning beauty situated in northwestern Victoria. The motorway to Horsham is like a straight line drawn in the sand: substitute gum trees for corn fields and we could be in Kansas. Small villages and grain silos dot the landscape; the 100 kph speed limit is way too restrictive for such a freeway. In any case, four hours later I arrived in Horsham, a thriving town way bigger that anything encountered ever since leaving Adelaide. The city is nothing special, although it retains a certain Australia, XIX century charm in its central part.

Horsham

Horsham

After a pasta dinner and a night of rest I woke up early the next morning heading to the national park. Here the sightings began: emus and kangaroos were spotted regularly in a scenery that changed from plains, to hills, to mountains.

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Animals we were saying. Although I had spotted wild kangaroos the day before, this was the first time I was able to photograph them, first from a distance, and then from close-up. Pretty fantastic sight, for foreigners like myself!

Kangaroo flying... sorry, jumping... by

Kangaroo flying… sorry, jumping… by

More 'roos

More ‘roos

emu

emu

A flock of sheep

A flock of sheep

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From Horsham to Hall's Gap through the Grampians National Park

From Horsham to Hall’s Gap through the Grampians National Park

Gum trees everywhere

Gum trees everywhere

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The Grampians are a wonderful park, where a person could literally spend days exploring the natural wonders found in this relatively small reserve (it takes about two hours to cross it north to south); we stopped by the Mackenzie Falls: beautiful!

Mackenzie Fallas, Grampians National Park

Mackenzie Falls, Grampians National Park

Friendly kangaroo near the Falls path

Beautiful Kookaburra

Beautiful Kookaburra

I drove around the winding roads up and down the forested mountains; the scenery is simply spectacular: plenty of detours and points of interests denote abundance of sightseeing spots and activities opportunities. But nothing could have prepared me for the stunning view I enjoyed from the “Balconies” lookout, a series of stony ridges over a deep cliff that enjoy an open view over an ample, open valley filled with gum trees. The view is simply majestic. I likened the place to the Grand Canyon or to the Blyde River Canyon. A sight like this really makes you feel smaller, insignificant. I feel that words cannot do justice to the scenery that opened in front of us, for there are no words to describe it. Pictures, perhaps, will work better.

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Yes, clearly insignificant!

Yes, clearly insignificant!

Balconies Lookout

Balconies Lookout

I hit the road again, down to the coast. More rolling hills, more bucolic scenery. Dunkeld, then Penhurst – communities that seemed to have popped out from a distant past. In the latter I had lunch at a general store that worked as local restaurant, grocery store, and supply store.

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Penhurst - General Store

Penhurst – General Store

Meat pie for lunch with tomato sauce on top

Meat pie for lunch with tomato sauce on top

I arrived in Port Fairy by mid afternoon – ready to start the Great Ocean Road part of this adventure.

To the ocean!

To the ocean!

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