• Kelan River Taroko National Park
  • Plyons Princess Pier
  • Little Penguins St Kilda Pier
  • Panaroma Yarra Valley
  • Chandon Yarra Valley
  • Bidding Goodbye Koh Lipe
  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Taipei
  • Pebbles QiXingTan Beach
  • Candle Rocks Yehliu Geopark
  • Nanya Rock Formations Taipei
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23 December 2013

Grampians (McKenzie Falls, Briggs Bluff)–Day 2

I have a love-hate relationship with hiking. "Hate" - the journey to the summit is likened to swallowing a bitter pill. It's more of a test of patience rather than endurance. The closer you get to the top, it appears that the summit is drifting farther away, with no end in sight. "Love" - once I get a first glimpse of the view from the summit, I am filled with supreme joy.

Oh, did I mention that we bunked in a three-bed dorm room (1 queen size bed and 1 bunker bed, AUD98 per night) at Grampians Eco YHA, Halls Gap for the night? The room was really clean, comfortable and had patio doors which opened out to a courtyard area. The kitchen is spacious and well equipped with stoves, fridges, microwave ovens, plates and cutleries. The TV room is a great place to chill out and relax.

For breakfast, we gobbled down some red bean buns and leftover party pastries, before setting off for McKenzie Falls. It is impossible to visit Grampians without going to McKenzie Falls. Standing over 30 metres in height, this largest waterfall in Victoria is one of only a handful of spills that flow all year round. From MacKenzie Falls Car Park, we veered right from fork of the trail and took an easy 1km stroll towards the viewing platform.

MacKenzie Falls

After, capturing a few shots of this majestic fall, we returned to the fork and started our 0.75km descent towards the base of MacKenzie Falls. Half-way down the trail and there were still no tourist in sight, hence we shamelessly, climbed over the railings and carefully inched our way towards the edge  of the anterior end of the fall. For a moment, I feel like a trespasser, but who cares!!  

MacKenzie Falls

Me, “trespassing”. I bet I’m not the first and last to do so

It feels amazing sitting there, immersing yourself in the moment the tranquillity while streams of water pass you by. I could sit here forever, but the grandeur of the great MacKenzie Falls awaits us at the base. Time to move it move it. We gotta move it move it.

MacKenzie Falls

MacKenzie Falls

Streams of water cascading down huge cliffs into a deep pool that narrows into Mackenzie River 

Within seconds, the base transformed from a silent solitude to a tourist fest. Hence, we decided to leave for lunch before the 5.3km hike to Briggs Bluff. Speaking of lunch, I had the weirdest meal ever! Picture this, peanut butter, raw cabbage leaves, potato chips, tuna chunks wrapped in tortillas or even worst – two bars of Snickers, tuna chunks and raw cabbage!! So how did it taste like? Stay tuned for my post on “Idiotic Stuff to do in Grampians”.

Carb loading done, sunscreen applied liberally, water bottles packed and we’re ready for a much anticipated hike. The first part of the trail is 1.3km to Beehive Falls, which was a flat and wide dirt track. Initially we weren't sure how it'll look like, but expected sounds of pouring water that will eventually guide us to the waterfall. Instead we came across this.

BeeHive Falls

Beehive Falls without the fall - Dry as a bone

After this, the trail squeezes into a steep ascend. In geographical terms a ‘bluff’ according to the freedictionary.com is “a steep promontory, bank, or cliff, particularly one formed by river erosion on the outside bend of a meander”. However, I reckon the name Briggs Bluff suggests otherwise, as it’s easy for one to lose the trail (especially during the descend) because lines of flat rocks go off in different directions. Even with a compass, and brochure map in hand, we somehow manage to get lost several times. As if, hours traipsing on uneven tracks weren’t enough, for most parts, we had to clamber up slopes of loose rocks and near vertical sandstones.

Briggs Bluff

Follow the yellow arrows

Briggs Bluff

Briggs Bluff

I posted these photos, to give a sense of the size and steepness of our passage. 5 hours of these, amazingly fun. When I said fun, I meant gruelling, at least for someone who had virtually no experience with near vertical sandstones. I had to grip tightly onto the sandstones and  haul myself up. Every step I took, I wonder how in the world am I gonna get down?! No time for self-pity, we had to trudge onwards and upwards. Well, the journey wasn’t that all arduous, as we were treated onto the first plateau where the view of Briggs Bluff was finally insight. After ~1km, the route loops into the main plateau, through a rock arch and arriving at an intersection.

Briggs Bluff

Unfortunately, our navigation skills were not perfect. From an intersection, we veered right instead of left and found ourselves walking aimlessly towards Mount Difficult. It wasn't until we came across three girls whom like us, took the wrong path. Hence, we turned around, went all the way back to the intersection and found the proper trail head for Take 2 i.e. left.  

Again, hauling ourselves up the rock  face with our hands, we finally reached the last phase of the trek and made it to the summit.  

Briggs Bluff

Briggs Bluff

Looking out from Briggs Bluff over the Western Victorian plans and the Northern Grampians, was a surreal and profoundly satisfying. 30 hours prior to this moment, I was trembling at Boronia Peak as I allowed my fear of heights to dominate my being. At this point in time, I won’t profess that I am Spiderman, but me being able to stand calmly at the edge of the cliff (well nearly), tells me that Achilles heel of mine is ‘curable’.

Our return journey back down the same route wasn’t the smoothest descent as we had to detour a few times before we located the next yellow arrow. That involved clambering up and down steep rocky peaks numerous times. My advice would be to take note of the small markers of passage on your way up.

All in all, the trip to Grampians was all I wanted and more. Great workout, great scenic views and great company. Though it’s a short weekend getaway, there’s so many elements to Grampians that I would like to put together including a comprehensive tourist guide, a food review of The Views Restaurant and a post on “Idiotic stuff to do in Grampians”. So stay tuned.