In my research with Google Maps, I work out it’s going to be just over five hours drive. 469.5km. Add the breaks in, and we have a whole day. I’m still not sure whether I’m crazy or not. For one, I don’t particularly like driving long distances. Second, I’m taking three kids with me - alone. Hmm.
Where am I going? Wartook, at the Grampians. It's about 40 minutes the other side of Horsham (coming from Adelaide). My dad has property over there, and he is always asking us to go. Hubby can't come due to work, so I hold my tongue the right way and hope for the best. Three kids in my car and me. It will be interesting.
The Happy Wanderer Holiday Resort could have had potential some years ago. Now it is run down. The views from the log cabins are beautiful. One afternoon I wander over and am stopped in my tracks by the view in front of me. Grassy plains lead my eye to the soaring mountain range hiding the horizon. I can imagine sitting on the deck, watching kangaroos graze, as the sun goes down. But alas, not tonight. I hear ‘mum, excavate with me. Nobody wants to play with me.’
Halls Gap is just 30km away. The slow drive through the tree-canopied mountains is easy. The inconvenience of having to keep an eye (or two) on the road (as I am the driver) instead of the forest of trees that keep enticing me with their beauty is slightly annoying. I also smile at the quirky tree growth (after the monster bush fires about a year ago) that covers the trunk of each tree like a hairy bear. Little sprouts of leaves cover each trunk from close to the ground up to the highest limbs.
The town of Halls Gap itself is like a setting out of a movie. On one side of the main road is the caravan parks and playground, hemmed in by the towering rock face behind. The other has, among other small buildings and stores, a cute collection of shops bordering a shaded lawn area. Umbrellas and picnic tables are full with latte-sipping hikers. We walk the porch that runs the length of the shops, browsing the souvenirs, crystals and fortunately, missing the lolly shop then head over to the playground. I resist the urge to get coffee - just.
After a recommendation by the Visitor Centre as to where we could go with five kids aged 4-13-years-old, we walk to Venus Baths. An easy 2km return walks to half a dozen rock pools of varying sizes and depths where the children jump and slide and get wet. Me too. It was worth listening to the whine from some of the kids on the walk up - the kids didn't want to leave. It also means I don't lie, saying 'it will be worth it' to keep the kids going on the way up - seeing as I'd never visited before.
I carefully mention to my dad that next time we come over to the Grampians I'd like to stay in Halls Gap - even though it's not near his property. The caravan parks look nice, there is a big playground at the public park in front for the kids, and multiple hikes begin at the foot of the mountain rock face. I can hike without having to drive anywhere. And now the kids know about these very fun rock pools to slip, splish and splash about in.
So, you ask, how did the trip go? Really well. The kids entertained each other, we didn't lose anyone, and I kept my sanity with the drive there and back. Even though we had a 1.5-hour wait in Bordertown for my dad who was running late (a normal occurrence).
Did I enjoy it? Hmm. I loved the exploring but was happy to escape kids (yes, even mine) when I got home.
Would I do it again? Yes. But not to Wartook. Halls Gap is my Grampians spot.
Secret weapon? iPads for the car. Cousins for play. Lots of food. No food with artificial colours or too much sugar - especially in the car.