Before setting off on our valley route into the Grampians we went up the main road to do a small walk up a small mountain called The Piccaninny. I wonder how long they will get away with this before deciding to call it by some other name, such as what ever the original inhabitants called it. The time for the walk was said to be about 1 ½ hours; for such a short walk, fat chance. The walk turned out to be all climb and set the scene for later in the day; still we got our pictures of Dunkeld. On the journey we also saw Emu's, a large flock of white parrots, and a variety of coloured parrots. We decided to buy a book on Australian birds so we would have some idea as to what we view.
As we drove along side of the mountains we saw more Emu's and came to a 'pedestrian crossing', so stopped to let the stubby tailed lizard seen on the picture complete the journey across the road. During this day and the next we had the chance to converse with 4 other stubbies whilst out on our walks. They are quite chameleon in the way the blend in with their environment, can't say they said much but they were very attentive. After another adrenalin rush of fear, we crossed the mountain pass into the Grampians. My passenger again complaining at the sheer drop along side of her, (don't know what is up with Sylvia, I have the responsibility of worrying about damaging our nice van). We then drove along an easy bit before turning up the road to Mount William.
Another 10 kilometres of whishing I weren't here. The car park was 1.8 kilometres from the 4,159 foot summit and up a sealed road closed to public vehicles; this was the longest 1.8 kilometres we have ever walked and the steepness may have contributed to this perception. The views from the top, the highest point in the Grampians, were special, even viewed through tired legs.
We were immediately welcomed at our camp by 4 Cockatoo's and two Eastern Rosella's; a picture of one of each accompanies this entry. Our walk around the site brought us into more contact with wildlife including kangaroo's. Apparently if you get up at 6 am you see kangaroo's about the camp site; we took this as a given.
The next morning we visited the Cultural Centre and learned that the word aboriginal is a western word, meaning native of the country. Those descended from the original natives of the country prefer to be called Koorie. The original name for the Grampians is Gariwerd and the British were in no doubt that Australia was an inhabited land when they first arrived. Over 60,000 people were already living in the Gariwerd area but if no other European country had already stuck their flag in and claimed the land, it was fair game to claim it for yourself; so that's all right then.
The Cultural Centre was well worth the visit and free. On Friday, 20 January, 2006 lightning ignited a fire on Mount Lubra, which is west of Mount William. The fire was officially contained at 5pm on Thursday 2 February, 2006. In total about 130,000 hectares of public and private land was affected including 47% of the Grampians National Park. We had to stay on the designated roads and paths and many camping spots were inaccessible. There is still a lot of clearing up, repairs to be done, and regeneration to take place. The younger trees were burned black and quite dead, the big trees were black from the flames and yet spouting green from their trunks or at the tops. The Kangaroo Tail, or Grass Trees had all of their lower grass burned off but were showing their burned stems and spouting fresh green tops and a big white flower. See the pictures, one of a burned one and one of two old ones in an area which wasn't burned. The flowers only occur after a bush fire or in severe drought and we have been privileged to see them.
A recommended medium walk from the Cultural Centre was to Boronia Peak, a round trip of supposedly 8 kilometres which turned out to be an assault course. Again the walk seemed all up hill and according to Sylvia's pedometer was more like 8 miles. When we reached and viewed the final assent to the peak we realised we were more peaked than Boronia was, and so turned around. On reaching the camp site for this night at the main (wee) town of Halls Gap, we went on yet another walk, this time to buy some fish and chips as we were too whacked to prepare the meal.