The Grampians, 11 km from Dunkeld
Small township at the southern end of the
Dunkeld is a small rural town of some 450 people
located at the foot of the Grampians and at the
southern tip of Grampians National Park. It is
259 km west of Melbourne via the Glenelg
Highway. The surrounding landscape is dominated
by Mt Abrupt (827 m) and Mt Sturgeon (548 m)
which were both named by Major Mitchell who was
the first known European in the area. Mitchell
camped for three days at the foot of Mt Sturgeon
in 1836, during his Australia Felix expedition.
The first pastoralists took up properties
here in the late 1830s. A small township
developed which was initially known as Mt
Sturgeon but, as the early settlers were
predominantly Scottish, it was renamed Dunkeld
after a Scottish town which was the principal
locality of the Caledonian picts in Roman times.
The picturesque setting has drawn a number of
artists over the years, including Louis Buvelot,
Eugene von Guerard and Nicholas Chevalier who
all rendered paintings of the district. The area
is known principally for the production of
The Dunkeld Cup is held every year in
November and the Dunkeld Festival in December.
Things to see:
There is a tourist information centre in Parker
St (the Glenelg Highway) which is open from 9.00
a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily. It can supply you
pamphlets relating to various walks in and
around town, tel: (03) 5577 2558.
Old Reservoir Walk
The Old Reservoir Walk starts behind the
information centre. It initially follows the
creek at the bottom of town, below the motel,
taking in the old reservoir, the arboretum, the
sawmill and other attractions. A related
pamphlet is available from the information
The town's Arboretum was a community project
based on the old Water Reserve. There are over
700 trees in the reserve, including what is
allegedly the second-largest collection of oaks
in Australia. It is situated just outside of
town (directions can be obtained from the
Dunkeld Historical Museum
Dunkeld Historical Museum is located in an old
bluestone church (1865) in Templeton St. It is
open Sundays and public holidays from 1.00 p.m.
to 5.00 p.m. A major attraction is a stump
allegedly engraved by Major Mitchell during his
Australia Felix expedition. There is also
material pertaining to the area's pre-colonial
inhabitants, to the histories of local wool
stations and the havoc wrought by the 1944
The Skin Inn
The Skin Inn sells sheepskin products, knitting
wools, a nursery, craft supplies, garden
ornaments and bric-a-brac. It is located in
Parker St, tel: (03) 5577 2251.
Antiques and Temptations
Antiques and Temptations is located in Parker
St, opposite the hotel, and is open daily. It
sells gifts and artworks.
tree with Mt Sturgeon in the background
3 km north of town, at the junction of Victoria
Valley Rd and Grampians Tourist Road (the road
to Halls Gap), is a parking area to the left
which is the start of a well-formed walking
track (6.8 km return). It crosses a small
footbridge and ascends slowly through open
forest of brown stringybark and grass trees.
After 1 km you will pass another track to the
right. The track steepens then emerges from the
forest into tall heathland. A prominent rock
cairn to the left of the track denotes a viewing
area offering perspectives of Mount Abrupt and
the smaller Mt Piccaninny to the north-east. The
track proceeds past a rock shelter on the left
to the open summit (548 m above sea-level) from
whence there are excellent views. There are
swamp wallabies about and, from July to
December, plenty of wildflowers about.
Victoria Valley Nature Drive
At the aforementioned intersection, the
Grampians Tourist Road heads off to the right
and Victoria Valley Rd to the left. The latter
leads through the Victoria Valley which has been
declared a wildlife sanctuary. There are fine
views and extensive redgum woodlands with
wildflowers, shady picnic areas and plenty of
emus and kangaroos.
Freshwater Lake Reserve is 8 km from Dunkeld
along this road. It has good barbecues and
birdlife. On the other side of the road is the
Grampians Golf Course. If you don't wish to play
it is still very pleasant to stroll along the
edge of the fairways as there are wallabies,
kangaroos, emus and echidnae about.
The Victoria Valley Nature Drive is outlined
in material available at the Grampians National
Park Visitor Centre, tel: (03) 5356 4381. The
road heads north then north-east to rejoin the
Grampians Road about 30 km north of Dunkeld.
4.5 km from Dunkeld, along the Grampians Tourist
Road, is a turnoff on the left which leads to a
parking area by the town reservoir. There is an
easy-going walk to the peak of Mt Piccaninny
(422 m above sea-level) which offers views of
Dunkeld to the south, Mt Sturgeon to the
south-west and Mt Abrupt to the north-east. Turn
left before the gate, walk to the rifle range
and follow the track up the back of Piccaninny.
There are plenty of orchids about.
8 km north of Dunkeld, along the Grampians
Tourist Road, is a small signposted parking area
on the right-hand side of the road. A steep and
difficult track to the summit of Mt Abrupt (6 km
return) starts on the opposite side of the road.
It leads through thick forest then ascends
steeply to a rocky ridge north of Mt Abrupt. The
track then follows the ridge southwards although
this part of the path isn't obvious. Watch out
for small rock cairns and red arrows on
boulders. A last steep ascent ends at the
boulder-strewn summit (827 m) which affords some
of the finest views in the area.
About 40 km from Dunkeld on the Halls Gap Road
is a turnoff on the right into the unsealed
Jimmy Creek Rd. It leads to Mafeking. Some small
sawmilling companies worked this area for timber
in the 19th century but the area is of interest
today because of a short-lived goldrush which
occurred in 1900. The landscape was devastated
by the goldminers who removed the wattle,
tea-tree and bracken fern in the search for
gold. The stringybark forests were lopped to
supply bark and timber for miner's huts, mining
stays and fuel. Some old trees remain, along
with fern gullies and regenerating forest.
There is an attractive picnic area, a
campground and an information board but this
area is definitely unsuitable for children as
there are a number of dangerous mineshafts.
Brownings Walk (one hour return) takes in
some remaining historic features. A pamphlet is
available from the Grampian National Park
Visitors' Centre at Halls Gap,tel: (03) 5356
4381. It identifies various features of the
walk, including an old-growth stringybark, a
regenerated gully, the site of the first claim,
tail races, old shafts, a dam embankment used
for water storage and open-cut minesites which
were worked by means of hydraulic sluicing. A
jet of water was directed onto the face of a
cutting to dislodge material. The earth was then
shovelled into a contraption known as a 'Tom'
which consisted of two boxes laid atop one
another. Water was directed into the upper box
where a grate trapped the coarser gravels,
stones and rocks while the finer particles of
gravel, sand and gold fell through to the second
box. There a series of bars or ripples at the
bottom of the box helped trap fine gold
particles while the water and lighter material
ran off as overflow.
Grampians National Park
Just north of the turnoff to Mafeking, on the
other side of the Halls Gap Rd, is the Jimmy
Creek picnic area and campground.
200 m north of the campground, on the Halls
Gap Road, is the start of the Stockyard Saddle
Walk (13.2-km return) which leads to the tip of
the Serra Range, passing through Teddy Bear's
Gap. A brochure outlining this, and other walks
in the Southern Grampians, is available from the
Grampian National Park Visitors' Centre at Halls
Gap,tel: (03) 5356 4381.
56 km from Dunkeld there is a turnoff on the
right which leads, after another 10 km, to a
carpark at the base of Mt William (aka Mt Duwil)
which, at 1187 m, is the highest point in the
Grampians. A steep 1.5-km walking track leads
from the carpark to the summit from whence the
views are exceptional. The best time for this
ascent is at sunrise or sunset.
About 3 km further north, just south of Lake
Bellfield, is the large Borough Huts Campground
which is situated in an open area next to Fyans
Creek. A project (completed in 1881) to transfer
water from this creek to Stawell bought workers
into this area and the small township of Borough
For further information on Grampians National
Park see entry on Halls Gap.
Along Victoria Valley Road is a 40-ha property
known as 'Heathlands' owned by naturalist Graham
Pizzey, author of Field Guide to the Birds of
Australia. His home is effectively a birdhide
surrounded by bush that is home to around 140
bird species with another 160 or so species in
the wider region. There are also wallabies,
kangaroos and about 1000 plant species. Graham
and his wife offer accommodation for four
people, a large natural history library and, of
course, fine birdwatching opportunities,
together with tuition in recognising
'field-marks' and calls and discussions about
the way the birds mesh with one another and
their environment, tel: (03) 5577 2501.
The area has some fine 4WD tracks - Henham
Track, Bullawin Rd, Goat Track, Brady's Swamp,
Watgania Gap via Mafeking and many others. They
are subject to seasonal closures.