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Published: April 11th 2015
Halls Gap in the very heart of the Grampions and recognised the world over as a great place to base yourself whilst exploring the area.Only a small town with tourists adding greatly to the local revenue, it has all that is required for visitors and locals alike. Forestry and some agriculture are the mainstay for the local population which number just 700 people.Nestled at the foot of the Wonderland and MT William Ranges the town is within easy walking distance to some wonderful scenic tracks.Drive a little way out of town and you are in high country with stunning walks and cascading waterfalls.
A drive up to the Mackenzie Falls reaches a car park where a short walk takes you to the viewing platform overlooking these majestic falls which are Victoria's largest and probably the most photographed given the ease of access to the platform. Access to the base of the falls is via a 30min walk one way along a steep path.There are many wonderful look outs reached by car and short walks as well as some more demanding walks.We spent several days traversing the countryside to access some of these wonderful scenic lookouts but by far the Pinnacles
were the most spectacular. With an hour to walk in and up it was graded as medium with a lot of steps but given the number of people who made it and some with children I was surprised at the number of people at the top at where a lookout has been erected on a natural overhang giving a 360deg view of the surrounding countryside,spectacular at an elevation of 1560ft.We have spent nearly a week here and have enjoyed the many walks and drives that there is on offer but it's time to move on so we head for Horsham
Easter is fast approaching and all the campgrounds around any attractions will soon fill up, Halls Gap campground which we are leaving is fully booked over the long week end.We are booked into a caravan park just outside Horsham and it to is fully booked for the holiday.Only 75km from Halls Gap on a twisting narrow road which is unsuitable for caravans we have to add another 25km to our journey via Stawell a town famous for it's foot race held every Easter. Horsham is a small but thriving town located on the banks of the Wimmera river and
serves as the business centre for the Wimmera valley which consists of a range of smaller towns and villages.With a population of over 15,000 it is the largest city in the Wimmera area.Settled in the early late 1800's by James Monckton Darlot who named the settlement after his home town in England, Horsham.The town grew with the land becoming part of the great wheat belt and sheep rearing country, the town was declared a city in 1949. lying on a flood plain surrounded by the Grampians the town has been flooded many times most recent being in 2011 when the Wimmera river rose 4.71m in which 600 houses were damaged.The black Saturday fires in 2009 also affected Horsham with 14,000 acres burnt around the city's edge,the golf club and 8 homes were effected with the small satellite town of Haven the hardest hit.
The fields are golden with the stems of the wheat that has been harvested and stretch as far as the eye can see as they wait patiently for the ploughs to start the process all over again. Where there is no golden fields there are sheep grazing on lush grass and there are lots of them.The
countryside is a patchwork of colour with fields neatly divided by wire fences and some hedgerows.In the distance stands the towering cliffs of the Grampians, a draw card for walkers and rock climbers from all over the globe,having come from Halls Gap on the other side of the range we now see a different skyline and have access to other walks and beauty spots.A short drive out of town we reach Natimuk a small but famous town nestled under Mt Arapiles a mecca for rock climbers from all over the world.A drive up the twisting mountain road leads to a car park giving access to a short climb to the summit, the views are spectacular.No climbers on the rock face today but the sheer beauty of the rocky outcrops are amazing.However the next day was market day so another visit to Natimuk and we are in luck, climbers on the rock face, we watch in amazement at these athletes as the pit themselves against the hazards of their chosen sport.
Every year at Easter a small town some 60km from Horsham holds an Easter Festival. Warracknabeal holds this festival over 3 days with activities and attractions for everyone.A street
parade made up of local business and dignities together with a collection of classic cars and farm machinery head the attractions. A major art show is on for the full week end show casing some international artists including a local international sculpture . Buskers line the main street before heading to the local lions park to compete in the buskers competition.A horse race meeting tops off the week end.It's wonderful to see these small towns maintaining a great sense of community unlike so many major towns.The weather is kind with sunshine all day making sitting in the lions park listening to the buskers very pleasent.
A national gem and mineral show is held in Horsham every 4/5 years and it's on this week end.Never having been to such an event we did't know what to expect.With over 200 stalls exhibiting and selling all kinds of minerals,rocks and precious gems.There is such an interest in this event it is held over 4 days and spread over several acres with covered accommodation for some of the more precious exhibits.Every type of fossil,mineral,rock and gem are on show here and there are thousands of people milling around. The fossicking fraternity are in
their element bartering for samples and swapping stories about their own attempts to find hidden gems.All types of tools are available for both the professional and amateur fossicker together with tools for polishing rocks,what an amazing event.
There are so many events and attractions happening all over the Easter holiday but we cant't attend them all.One such event is the Stawell gift, an annual event for athletes of all ages running over several distances and attracting some of Australia's up and coming athletes with eyes on international careers.Held since 1878 at the end of the gold rush the race has developed into the oldest and richest foot race in Australia together with a great day out for locals and visitors alike.Maybe next time.Our time here has come to an end as we move off toward the Australian centre and Uluru but not before we pass through and visit some outback towns.
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