Grampians National Park is one of Victoria’s prime locations for hiking and camping. With its spectacular rock formations, grand waterfalls, abundant wildlife, and impressive Aboriginal rock arts, the Grampians National Park is the best place to escape from the everyday hustles and bustles.
The Grampians National Park is massive. You can spend days or even weeks within the Grampians to explore its wonderful nature. However, for many people, a visit to the Grampians National Park is typically a part of their Great Ocean Road trip or a weekend away from Melbourne.
I have recently visited the Grampians as part of my road trip between Adelaide and Melbourne. Although I was not able to visit all of Grampians’ amazing attractions, I was able to explore many of its well-known attractions during my 1-day visit.
Ideally, you should spend at least a couple of days in the Grampians to truly experience what this wonderful national park has to offer. Nonetheless, you can still get a good taste of the Grampians in only 1-day.
To help navigate through your day trip to the Grampians, I have put together this detailed 1-day itinerary to the Grampians National Park, based on my recent visit. Hope you can find it helpful.
Information on how to get to the Grampians, where to eat and stay in the Grampians, and what to prepare for a visit to the Grampians is also provided for your convenience.
1-Day Itinerary to the Grampians National Park
MacKenzie Falls is a stunning tiered, cascading waterfall in the Grampians National Park. Because of its immense beauty, MacKenzie Falls has been a major drawing card for the Grampians National Park.
MacKenzie Falls is about a 30-minute drive from Halls Gap. However, because of the winding roads in the Grampians, you may need to prepare for a longer driving time if you are not familiar with driving in the hills. The road is also shared with native wildlife, which you will likely encounter at some point during your drive in the Grampians & make sure you pay special attention and share the road when driving here.
Once you have arrived at the MacKenzie Falls Carpark, there is a short flat walk to a lookout platform first before taking the stairs to the base of MacKenzie Falls. From the lookout platform, you can get a decent view of the beautiful valley that MacKenzie Falls is in, but you won’t get the full view of MacKenzie Falls until you have descended to the base.
The descent to MacKenzie Falls is formed by 260 steps, which gets increasingly steep and narrow towards the base. The sandstone surface near the base also tends to be wet and slippery & make sure you take extra care when heading down to MacKenzie Falls.
Another thing to be aware of when visiting MacKenzie Falls is the patchy phone reception near MacKenzie Falls (and within the Grampians in general). You may still have phone reception near the carpark, but once you have descended to the base of MacKenzie Falls, you will have no reception at all. (I had two SIM cards from different telco networks & they both lost receptions near the base of MacKenzie Falls).
Once you have reached the base of MacKenzie Falls, you will be greeted by a spectacular waterfall plunging over 30 metres into the deep rock pool beneath it. Because of the sheer size and force of MacKenzie Falls, there is a lot of water mist generated from the waterfall & you may need to be prepared for getting a bit wet when heading down here.
With that being said, all the hard work and trade-offs for visiting here will be paid off once you have seen how grand and picturesque MacKenzie Falls is. Make sure you also plan enough time to sit near the base of MacKenzie Falls to admire its immense beauty and enjoy some solitude.
The return walk between the carpark and the base of MacKenzie Falls itself only took me about 20 minutes. However, I did spend at least half an hour at the base of MacKenzie Falls walking around, admiring the views, and taking photos.
You can also continue the walk further from the base of MacKenzie Falls to visit Fish Falls and more, but you may not have enough time to visit them in this day trip itinerary.
Reed Lookout & The Balconies
After visiting MacKenzie Falls, you can drive about 10 minutes toward Halls Gap’s direction to visit Reed Lookout and The Balconies.
Reed Lookout is right next to the carpark for Reed Lookout and The Balconies. From Reed Lookout, you can get a great bird’s eye view of the beautiful Victoria Valley and the rolling mountains in the distance.
Because I visited the Grampians on a rainy day, the visibility was not the best that morning. Hence, the photos above are not a good representation of how beautiful the views from Reed Lookout and The Balconies are.
From Reed Lookout, there is a 1.1 km walk to The Balconies. This walk is relatively flat and only took me about 15 minutes (one way). Along the walk, you can also find some interesting rock formations on the left-hand side.
The Balconies are two impressive rock platforms, one on top of the other, sticking out prominently from a mountain cliff. It is among one of the most photographed landmarks in the Grampians.
In many photos from The Balconies, you will also find people posing on one of these platforms. However, the track to access the platforms has been blocked off for safety reasons, so I was only able to admire them from a distance.
In total, I spend just under 1 hour at Reed Lookout and The Balconies. If you are in a rush, you can certainly shorten this visit to only 30-40 minutes.
Boroka Lookout is only a short drive from Reed Lookout via Mount Difficult Road. The viewing platforms are only a short walk from the carpark. The walk was flat and well maintained (suitable for wheelchair access).
From Boroka Lookout, you can obtain a magnificent view of Halls Gap, Lake Bellfield, and the Mount William Range (Mount William Range has the highest peak in the Grampians).
However, since the cloud was still not cleared up when I visited Boroka Lookout, I was not able to see anything from these lookouts. With that being said, the view from Boroka Lookout is among one of the best panoramic views in the Grampians (on a clear day obviously) & you should certainly check it out when visiting.
A visit to the Grampians National Park is not complete without a proper hike to admire Grampians’ impressive rock formations close up. Hence, I also joined one of Grampians’ most popular hikes to visit the impressive Pinnacle Lookout.
There are two ways to visit the Pinnacle Lookout: from Wonderland Carpark via Grand Canyon and Silent Street or from Sundial Carpark via Devils Gap.
The walk from Wonderland Carpark to Pinnacle Lookout is one of the most scenic walks in the Grampians. Along this walk, you can visit the spectacular rock formations at the Grand Canyon (the same name as the Grand Canyon in the U.S., but on a much smaller scale) & enjoy some serenity along the awe-inspiring Silent Street. This walk is full of nature’s wonders and a highlight of my visit to the Grampians.
However, the walk between Wonderland Carpark and Pinnacle Lookout is more strenuous than the walk between Sundial Carpark and Pinnacle Lookout. For people with mobility issues, visiting Pinnacle Lookout from Sundial Carpark may be a better option instead.
At Pinnacle Lookout, you will be rewarded with a magnificent panoramic view of Halls Gap and Lake Bellfield. You will also be amazed by the rugged rock formations along the mountain cliffs. It was the best view of my entire visit to the Grampians & well-worth the hard hike.
From Wonderland Carpark, it took me just over 1 hour to arrive at Pinnacle Lookout & about 30 minutes to descend from Pinnacle Lookout back to Wonderland Carpark. To be safe, you may need to plan at least 2 hours for a return walk between Wonderland Carpark and Pinnacle Lookout.
In addition, I also got lost a couple of times along this walk. There were only limited signages indicating where the Pinnacle Lookout is. You will need to rely heavily on those yellow triangle markers (as shown in picture 3) to navigate through the walk. These little markers are really easy to be overlooked & this is exactly what happened to me.
As a word of caution, make sure you are paying attention to where you are heading & be prepared to take the same track back if things do not go as planned. End of the day, your safety is the most important thing!
If you are planning on visiting the Pinnacle Lookout via Sundial Carpark, this return walk will take about 1.5-2 hours to complete.
Halls Gap Botanic Gardens
I completed my visit to the Grampians with a quick visit to Halls Gap Botanic Gardens.
Halls Gap Botanic Gardens is located at the foot of the Grampians National Park. It houses a large selection of native plantations. There are also many interesting sculptures within the botanic garden, which can be a fun place to visit for families with kids.
In the parks nearby (Halls Gap Caravan Park & Halls Gap Recreation Reserve), you can also find many kangaroos and emus walking around. It is a great place to end a visit to the Grampians.
Additional Places you may wish to visit in the Grampians
Venus Baths is nestled in a valley near Halls Gap. You can find a variety of stunning rock pools along the loop walk to Venus Baths & be amazed by the impressive rock formations and beautiful sceneries along the walk.
Access to Venus Baths Loop Walk is via either Halls Gap Botanic Gardens or Halls Gap Caravan Park. This loop walk is just over 2 km long and relatively flat. It should take about 1 hour to complete in a leisurely manner.
The Venus Baths Loop Walk can be a great additional hike after visiting the Pinnacle Lookout. It is also an excellent alternative if the Pinnacle Walk is too strenuous for your liking.
Halls Gap Zoo
Halls Gap Zoo is a large regional zoo, right next to the Grampians National Park.
It houses a large variety of native and exotic animals, such as wallabies/kangaroos, deers, meerkats, red pandas, cheetahs, and giraffes. It is a great place to spend a few hours in & perfect for families with kids.
How to Get to the Grampians National Park
Driving to the Grampians National Park
The Grampians National Park spans over 167k hectares in western Victoria. It is divided into the Central Grampians, Northern Grampians, and Southern Grampians. With most of Grampians’ major attractions clustered in Central Grampians, most people are only referring to the Central Grampians when planning a visit to Grampians National Park.
Halls Gap is located at the foot of Central Grampians. With a range of essential facilities and easy access to well-known attractions, Halls Gaps has been regarded as the gateway to the Grampians.
Halls Gap is a 3-hour drive from Melbourne; just over a 1.5-hour drive from Ballarat; a 2-hour drive from Warrnambool and Port Fairy; a 2.5-hour drive from Port Campbell; a 5.5-hour drive from Adelaide.
From Halls Gap, many of Grampians famous attractions are all within a 30-minute drive radius.
Visit the Grampians National Park without a Car
A self-drive trip to the Grampians National Park is the ideal way of visiting the Grampians, but you can also visit the Grampians without a car if driving is not an option.
Public transports are available between Melbourne and Halls Gap, but it will take at least 5 hours to get from Melbourne to Halls Gap. From Halls Gap, you will need to walk to all the walking tracks and lookouts, which is not practical for a day trip but doable on a multi-day visit.
If you do not wish to drive to the Grampians and only have a day to spare, a guided day trip to the Grampians can be a much better option. For information on guided tours to the Grampians, you may wish to check out here on Viator.
Where to Stay in the Grampians
Since I was travelling solo, I could not justify the cost of staying in a double room in the Grampians. I ended up booking myself into a female-only dorm room at the Grampians Eco YHA, which was one of the best decisions on this trip.
The location of Grampians Eco YHA was superb. It is close to all the lookouts, walking tracks, and facilities. You can also find abundant kangaroos and wallabies right outside of the hostel. This place was well-maintained & the hosts were also very friendly. There was nothing to fault about this little hostel.
If you are travelling with a travel companion or a family, Grampians Eco YHA does offer double and family rooms, but there weren’t ensuites available. You may wish to look into other options if an ensuite is important to you.
As a heavily touristed town, Halls Gap offers a good selection of hotels and holiday rentals. Because of how popular Grampians National Park is, you may wish to book well ahead of time if visiting during the weekends or school holidays.
For accommodations in Halls Gap, you can check them out here on Booking.com.
Where to Eat and Shop in the Grampians
Halls Gap is the hub for all essential amenities near Central Grampians. There is a range of cafes, restaurants, and takeaway shops along Grampians Road, near Halls Gap Visitor Centre.
A petrol station and convenience stores are also available in Halls Gap to meet all your essential needs.
If you wish for more varieties, Stawell is only a 20-minute drive from Halls Gap & has a bigger selection of eateries and shops on offer.
Tips on Visiting the Grampians National Park
What to Pack and Wear in the Grampians National Park
Similar to visiting many other national parks and walking tracks in Australia, packing adequate food and water is essential when visiting the Grampians National Park. There are cafes and restaurants in Halls Gap, but when you are out on a hike, you do need to prepare for the worst possible case scenario, even though you are only planning for a short hike.
A good set of weather-appropriate clothes and trekking shoes are also essential on any hikes. If you are unsure of what to pack on a hike, I have listed my preferred and recommended clothing items for hiking in this Tasmania Packing List, which you may wish to check out.
Costs of Visiting the Grampians National Park
Entry to the Grampians National Park is free. The main cost for visiting the Grampians is usually the accommodation and transportation expenses.
I stayed in a dorm room at Grampians Eco YHA, which only cost about AUD 40 for a 1-night stay. If I was to stay in a motel or hotel, it would cost me at least AUD 100 for 1 night. However, if you are travelling with a travel companion or in a bigger group, this cost can usually be significantly reduced.
Phone Reception & Navigating within the Grampians National Park
You can typically get decent phone reception in and around Halls Gap, but it will become patchy once you are inside of the Grampians National Park.
Since many of us rely on mobile phones for navigation, you may wish to grab a free paper map from the visitor centre before heading into the Grampians. If you wish to attempt those longer walks, you may wish to purchase a more detailed map instead.
During my visit, I was able to navigate by using a combination of mobile phone and road signs, but it was a bit stressful here and there. In retrospect, a paper map would have helped to ease the stress of losing phone reception.
In terms of which telco to choose from, I believe Telstra is your best bet. If you are not already a Telstra user, you can easily grab a cheap SIM card from a telco that uses Telstra’s network, such as Boost or Belong. They are very affordable and readily available from any airport or convenience store in Australia.