One of the most picturesque caravan parks in Victoria is nestled at the foot of the Grampians, which also happens to be one of my favourite places to walk.
We first camped at Lakeside over 30 years ago. I remember all our walks, the grunting koalas at night having loads of raunchy fun in a tree behind us and, if my memory serves me correctly, our tent was flooded. Aah yes, it was memorable.
Fast forward to February 2020. A lot’s changed since then. We’re back, this time with a van, and the caravan park has undergone a huge transformation, as life often does.
We’re back with two special guests, Catherine, aka Cyranny, from Canada, and David, her partner. It was here we spent the first two nights of our mini Victorian tour, my first unofficial guided tour! If you missed my post about how this came about, you can read it here.
So, why do I love this place so much?
The Welcome and the Wildlife
It’s smiles and genuine warmth when you rock up at Lakeside Tourist Park in Halls Gap. Owner Josephina and her enthusiastic staff greet us with smiles and banter and we instantly feel we’re in a special place.
There’s great coffee at reception, local wines for sale, advice and suggestions on things to do, complimentary birdseed to feed the squillion of birds and maps of the area, even though we already knew where we wanted to go! Welcome to Lakeside.
It didn’t take long to set up camp, and we had plenty of company. Cockatoos and colourful rosellas drop in and visit, ducks waddle past and kangaroos laze in the background … that’s the daily traffic here. Our powered site backed onto the adjoining valley where emus wander and roos graze in the distance.
This place is the epitome of an Australian wildlife adventure and Catherine found out firsthand just how friendly the local cockatoos could be.
Yep, it’s all smiles but it got a little bit wild and bloody. I’ll let her tell you all about it here.
Who would have thought that a trip to the loo could take so long … or be so much fun.
Walk around the park and be inspired, literally. On the walls of buildings, cabins, fences, inside the modern amenities, that resemble more like bathrooms of a five star hotel, and the impressive camp kitchen and cosy lounge are a host of feel good mood boards.
Needless to say, a walk anywhere took me ages. It’s easy to get sidetracked here, with all the quotes, the whizz bang trampolines and roos that keep hopping out in front of you.
Did I mention walking?
The Grampians National Park is big enough that you feel like you’re the only one around for miles, even when, in reality, you’re only two hours from your car at the Wonderland Carpark. That’s the cheat’s way. Otherwise you can walk the entire 10kms walk from Halls Gap. Here’s my wandering hubby coming back down from the Pinnacle.
The walk to the Pinnacle takes you through the precariously placed boulders of the Grampians’ very own Grand Canyon before you have to squeeze through a crevice called Silent Street to reach the rocky formation jutting out of the cliff that is The Pinnacle.
This place is sensory overload … in the best possible way.
You can walk for an hour or you can trek for days but I think our walk was just long enough!
Ahh, this was pure bliss.
After a big day of climbing mountains we were keen to have a dip in this beautiful wood heated pool, the only one of its type in Australia. It’s like an oasis. And an hour in here was heaven.
In summer it’s heated to about 28C and in winter to a whopping 38C. Pure bliss.
The Waterfalls and those awesome views
If the Pinnacle was all about going up, Mackenzie Falls was all about going down. I was looking forward to taking our guests to this special spot, undoubtedly the most visited waterfall in the Grampians.
Down at the bottom of the steps, where the falls cascade in all their glory, close your eyes and absorb the sounds. Feel the spray. Dip your feet in the water. On a warm summers day it was magic.
As we were soaking up the sun with our toes dipped in the water, I felt a deep sense of contentment and gratitude. Catherine and I spoke about our blogs and all the special connections we’d made. She even wrote about it here.
This is a place of contemplation, of big skies and a place to appreciate nature.
Whether it was a sunset from Reeds Lookout or at the very top of the Pinnacle it’s hard not to feel a deep sense of satisfaction. Here’s Catherine doing her victory salute at the top.
You can read her story of the climb to the top here.
For me, however, the best part was all the stuff along the way … walking through the incredible rock formations of the Grand Canyon and Silent Street.
I felt the same the night before, on our sunset walk to Reeds Lookout (aka the Balconies). As we stood at the lookout, right on dusk, the colours illuminating the sky and mountain crevices were breath taking.
This is a place to find your zen.
I’ll be honest, it was a bit of an undignified scramble to get up on this rock but hey, they wanted a photo, so I obliged!
As is the way I approach life, the journey is really at the heart of living and we made the most of every moment, savouring the views, the cool fresh mountain air and the fabulous company. It still felt a bit surreal that we were sharing our favourite spots with Catherine and David.
Our stay at Lakeside passed happily, with good dose of adventure and relaxation. Plus a little bit of unexpected drama with Cyranny’s intimate cockatoo encounter … yes, our adventure was off to a flying and wild start!
After our two hot summery days in the Grampians our next overnight destination was Port Campbell, the starting point of our delicious “reverse” trip along the Great Ocean Road. The weather was going to get a tad more challenging but, as far as I was concerned, the only forecast I could see in front of us had three letters. FUN.
After all, like anything in life, it’s what you make of it.
And so the journey continues.
Enjoy it all, wherever you are.
In love and light
Sharing with Jo’s Monday Walks
Was it all just a dream? As fuzzy as this photo is, no it wasn’t. To read more about our stay in the Grampians, from Cyranny’s eyes, do check out the posts I’ve linked.