Grampians National Park

Picture of Dan, Craig and Cain.

Me, Craig and Cain in the Grampians.

Dec. 28 - 30, 2014
Days 164 – 166

When Craig isn't adventuring around the world, he's working as a tour guide near Melbourne. He began a three-day trip to the Grampians, one of the area's nicest national parks. Before he left, he lent me his van and told me to pick up Cain and meet him in the park! Despite his generosity, there was a small issue: I had never driven on the left. I was really nervous when I got behind the wheel, like it was my first time ever driving. The good news was that the shifter had the same pattern I was used to (first gear was top-left), and the pedals were in the same location (right foot = gas/brake, left foot = clutch). I pulled onto a busy street and drove with extreme caution, thinking: stay to the left, stay to the left... After around fifteen minutes I started to get the hang of it. Maybe driving on the left wasn't so difficult, after all. Then I proceeded to pull onto the right side of the road. I only realized my mistake when a car came toward me, flashing its lights.

Eventually I reached Cain's place and picked her up. She helped me navigate through Melbourne's crowded streets, and I only pulled onto the wrong side of the road once. Soon, we were outside of the city and driving through the countryside. It was the classic Australian road trip.

We stopped for a kabob dinner in Ballarat (pop. 20,000), the last “big city” until Adelaide, 400 miles away. Continuing on our journey, the freeway narrowed to a two-lane highway. We were just a couple of hours from Melbourne and it already felt like the middle of nowhere. And we still were nowhere near the Outback.

When we got to the park, Cain and I went for a hike to the top of Mount Rosea. It was a brisk walk, and the view from the top was amazing. It was so windy, it felt like I was surfing. We didn't see anyone else, although the torrential downpour that hit us during our walk back to the van might have had something to do with that.

Picture of kangaroo.

Well hello there!

We drove to the visitor's center to dry off, and we bumped into Craig's tour group. The skies cleared in the afternoon, so we followed the others along the park's winding roads to several more lookout points and McKenzie Falls. At the end of the day, we saw a kookaburra, with a call that sounds like it's laughing at you. Finally, we went to a park where the local kangaroos congregate. They were fairly used to humans, and most were happy to lie in the sun. A large group of tourists surrounded them, occasionally spooking one of them into hopping for its life.

The following day we checked out The Pinnacle, the most famous lookout point with wide views of the Grampians. The hike back to the van took us through canyons that showed off the natural beauty of the park. It was quite the gob-stopping place, as the Aussie's say.

While Craig continued with his tour, Cain and I drove back to Melbourne. I took a long nap, said goodbye to Cain and met up with Craig once again after his tour had ended. He wanted to start a new adventure the next day, so he drove us to his hometown of Geelong to stock up on food. It was really strange to walk through a supermarket with a guy like Craig. He's at home chasing snakes in the Outback or paddling a canoe down the Amazon, but he seems out-of-place buying potatoes and carrots in a suburban megastore, even more so in a shopping mall. Nevertheless, by the end of the night we had a week's worth of food and we were camping in yet another park, ready for the next adventure.

More photos from the Grampians

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