Looking out across the vast expanse of low lying sandstone mountain ranges in the Grampians National Park, I am struck with an overwhelming feeling of insignificance.
I think about the time it has taken to create this amazing natural wonder. Millions and millions of years of pressure and pounding from the elements. They are not the tallest or the grandest mountain range in the world, but it is because of time that they are this way. No longer are they at the mercy of tectonic plates shifting beneath them forcing their peaks higher into the sky. They have been there forever and will be until the forces batter them down.
The Aboriginal name for these ranges is Gariwerd and they have called The Grampians home for over 20,000 years. Can you imagine the connection you must feel to a place when your ancestry goes back over 20 millennia?
This is something that I struggle to fathom, but it gives me a little understanding for how the traditional owners of this land feel about their home. They are part of the land and they managed to use it for survival, generation after generation and keep it virtually in the same condition they found it when they first arrived.
It remains as a very spiritual place to traditional tribes of the area. Around 90% of the rock art found in Victoria is spread across sites throughout Gariwerd. It is a place abundant in life, food, shelter and water. Aboriginal life flourished through these ranges as did their dreamtime stories of creation.
The great ancestor spirit Bunjil, began to create the world we see around us. The mountains, the lakes, the forests and the rivers. He created all the plants and all the animals. When he finished creating the mountain ranges he would take the form of an eagle and fly over his creations. Their roots in the land grow deeper than you or I could possibly imagine.
Today The Grampians are one of Victoria's most visited natural tourist attractions. For those that want to relax and indulge, you can sample the many great wineries and restaurants in the region. For the more adventurous, The Grampians has hundreds of kilometres of trails to hike and explore. There are dozens of day hikes ranging from easy 1km strolls to more challenging ascents, all ending with breathtaking views of the ranges.
If you really want to get away from the crowds, overnight hikes such as the Wonderland Walk at around 32km can be done in two to three days. Around Halls Gap there are several beautiful rivers and waterfalls to simply stop and stare at for a while and feel the stresses of life dissolve.
Some of the best rock climbing sites in Victoria are found in the Grampians if you're up for a more vertical challenge and if you want to learn, there are several companies in the area that can show you the ropes. If you're up for some action on the water, the lakes and reservoirs in the region offer fantastic scenic kayaking and fresh water fishing in the right seasons.
The Grampians is definitely a place I feel a connection with. It gives me a greater understanding of the country that I am so fortunate to call home, as well as of the rich Indigenous history of the area. It is so important for us that we keep their culture alive, to protect and conserve the precious historical sites throughout the park and to have a greater understanding and respect for a place where we are all just visitors throughout time.
Written by James Unthank
You can see more of James' adventures on Instagram: @jim_delmar