Grampians National Park

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Grampians National Park / Gariwerd
Grampians National Park / Gariwerd viewed from north of Boroka Peak
Australia Victoria relief location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Grampians National Park / Gariwerd
Nearest town or city Halls Gap
Coordinates 37°12′28″S142°23′59″E / 37.20778°S 142.39972°E / -37.20778; 142.39972 Coordinates: 37°12′28″S142°23′59″E / 37.20778°S 142.39972°E / -37.20778; 142.39972
Established1 July 1984 (1984-07-01) [1]
Area1,672.19 km2 (645.6 sq mi) [1]
Managing authorities Parks Victoria
Website Grampians National Park / Gariwerd
See also Protected areas of Victoria

The Grampians National Park commonly referred to as The Grampians, is a national park located in the Grampians region of Victoria, Australia. The Jardwadjali name for the mountain range itself is Gariwerd. [2]


The 167,219-hectare (413,210-acre) national park is situated between Stawell and Horsham on the Western Highway and Dunkeld on the Glenelg Highway, 260 kilometres (160 mi) west of Melbourne and 460 kilometres (290 mi) east of Adelaide. Proclaimed as a national park on 1 July 1984, the park was listed on the National Heritage List on 15 December 2006 for its outstanding natural beauty and being one of the richest Aboriginal rock art sites in south-eastern Australia. [3]

The Grampians feature a striking series of mountain ranges of sandstone. The Gariwerd area features about 90% of the rock art in the state. [4]


Grampians / Gariwerd at dusk Grampian National Park Victoria.jpg
Grampians / Gariwerd at dusk

At the time of European colonisation, the Grampians had a number of indigenous names, one of which was Gariwerd in the western Kulin language of the Mukjarawaint, [5] Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung people, who lived in the area and who shared 90 per cent of their vocabulary. [6]

According to historian Benjamin Wilkie, the name Gariwerd was first written down in 1841, taken from a Jardwadjali speaker by the Chief Protector of Aborigines, George Augustus Robinson, as Currewurt. From speakers of the Djab Wurrung language or Djargurd Wurrung language, to the east, he recorded "Erewurrr, country of the Grampians" – likely a mishearing of Gariwerd. Recorded variations on Gariwerd include Cowa, Gowah, and Gar – generic words for a pointed mountain. Dhauwurd Wurrung language speakers from the south-west coast of Victoria called the mountains Murraibuggum, while Wathawurrung (Wathaurong) speakers used the name Tolotmutgo. [6]

In 1836, the explorer and Surveyor General of New South Wales Sir Thomas Mitchell named Gariwerd after the Grampian Mountains in his native Scotland. According to Wilkie, Mitchell first referred to Gariwerd as the Coast Mountains and, in July 1836, called them the Gulielmian Mountains after William IV of the United Kingdom (Gulielmi IV Regis). Members of his expedition referred to the mountains as the Gulielmean, Gulielman, and the Blue Gulielmean Mountains. Later in 1836, Mitchell settled on Grampians, and the Grampians National Park took that name in 1984. [7]

After a two-year consultation process, the park was renamed Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park in 1991, but that proved controversial and was reversed after the election of the Kennett government in 1992. [8] The 1998 Geographic Place Names Act reinstated the dual naming of geographical features, [9] and that has been subsequently adopted in the park, based on Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung names for rock art sites and landscape features, with the Australian National Heritage List referring to "Grampians National Park (Gariwerd)". [3]


This area is a distinct physiographic section of the larger Western Victorian Highlands province, which, in turn, is part of the larger East Australian Cordillera physiographic division.


Grampians 12 4 05 to 15 4 05 039.jpg
A190, Grampians National Park, Australia, The Balconies, 2007.JPG
Left: View from the Balconies overlook into Victoria Valley. Right: View from Boroka Lookout with Halls Gap out of frame to left (note image file name incorrectly describes this as taken from the Balconies)

The general form that the ranges take is: from the west, a series of low-angled sandstone ridges running roughly north–south. The eastern sides of the ridges, where the sedimentary layers have faulted, are steep and beyond the vertical in place - notably at Hollow Mountain near Dadswells Bridge at the northern end of the ranges.


The rock material that composes the high peaks is sandstone which was laid down from rivers during the Devonian period 425 - 415 million years ago. [10] This sediment slowly accumulated to a depth of 7 kilometres (4.3 mi); this was later raised and tilted for its present form.[ citation needed ] A number of stratigraphic layers have been identified, such as the Silverband Formation, the Mount Difficult Subgroup and the Red Man Bluff Subgroup. [10] The coarse grain and fine lamination of the Silverstone Formation, along with undulations at the surface, is thought to have been an estuarine backwater before becoming preserved around 400 million years ago. [11]

The Southern Ocean reached the base of the northern and western edges of the mountain range about 40 million years ago, the deposition from the range forming the sea floor which is now Little Desert National Park.[ citation needed ]

The highest peak is Mount William at 1,167 metres (3,829 ft). Numerous waterfalls, such as Mackenzie Falls, are found in the park and are easily accessible via a well-developed road network.[ citation needed ]

The western part of the park, with the rock formation known as The Fortress to the right Grampians Fortress Stevage.jpg
The western part of the park, with the rock formation known as The Fortress to the right


Due to being an exposed peak in the far west of Victoria, Mount William features especially cool maximum temperatures throughout the year. Winter cloud cover is profound; with an extraordinary 26 days of precipitation in July, constituting an annual total of 211—quite possibly the highest figure of any site in mainland Australia. Snowfalls are both frequent and heavy throughout the year.

Climate data for Grampians (Mount William, 2005–2020); 1,150 m AMSL; 37.30° S, 142.60° E
Record high °C (°F)36.6
Average high °C (°F)21.4
Average low °C (°F)10.3
Record low °C (°F)0.9
Average precipitation mm (inches)67.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Source: [12]

Cultural heritage

Evidence of vertebrate life

The Silverband Formation (see Geology above) was the source of sandstone paving slabs used for the construction of a nearby Cobb & Co station in 1873. The surface of one paver contained 23 impressions, the tracks of a four-legged animal around 850 millimetres (33 in) in length, which have been described as the oldest trace of a vertebrate walking on land. [11]

Aboriginal Australian heritage

To the Jardwadjali and Djab wurrung peoples, Gariwerd was central to the dreaming of the creator, Bunjil, and buledji Brambimbula, the two brothers Bram, who were responsible for the creation and naming of many landscape features in western Victoria.

Grampians National Park (Gariwerd) is one of the richest Indigenous rock art sites in south-eastern Australia and was listed on the National Heritage List for its natural beauty as well as its past and continuing Aboriginal cultural associations. [13] Motifs painted in numerous caves include depictions of humans, human hands, animal tracks and birds. Notable rock art sites include: [3] [14]

The rock art was created by Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung peoples, and while Aboriginal communities continue to pass on knowledge and cultural traditions, much Indigenous knowledge has also been lost since European settlement of the area from 1840. The significance of the right hand prints at Gulgurn Manja is now unknown. [15]

One of the most significant Aboriginal cultural sites in south-eastern Australia is Bunjil's Shelter, not within the park area, but in Black Range Scenic Reserve near Stawell. [16] It is the only known rock art depiction of Bunjil, the creator-being in Aboriginal Australian mythology. [17]

Dual naming of features has been adopted in the park based on Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung names for rock art sites and landscape features, including: [18]


Gariwerd and the Grampians National Park has been a popular destination for recreation and tourism since the middle of the nineteenth century. According to Wilkie, the extension of railways to nearby Stawell, Ararat and Dunkeld were an important factor in the mountains' increasing popularity in the early twentieth century; growing car ownership and the construction of tourist roads in the ranges during the 1920s were also significant. [19]


Mount William is known within the gliding community for the "Grampians Wave", a weather phenomenon that sometimes enables glider pilots to reach extreme altitudes of the order of 28,000 ft (8,500 m). This predominantly occurs during the months of May, June, September and October when strong westerly winds flow at right angles to the ridge, and produce a large-scale standing wave. [20]

Rock climbing

The Grampians is a famous rock climbing destination, with the first routes being established in the 1960s. [21] Notable routes include The Wheel of Life (V15 / 35) and Groove Train (33) which attract world class climbers. [22] Australian adventurer Jon Muir regards the Grampians, along with the Arapiles, as near perfect in their combination of access, climate and type of rock. [23]

In March 2019, 30% of climbing areas were closed by Parks Victoria due to cultural and ecological concerns, namely bolting, chalk marks, and making access paths through vegetation. [24] [21] [25] It closed 70% of bouldering routes, and 50% of sport climbing. [26]

Parks Victoria were accused by climbers of exaggerating damage and acting heavy handedly by pitting them against traditional owners, of whom they are "natural allies". [27] [25] [28] Jon Muir and renowned Australian mountaineer Tim Macartney-Snape have criticised Parks Victoria’s handling of the situation, with Muir saying, “The climbers haven’t really been taken into the equation”, and Macartney-Snape saying, “It’s really the way it has been managed. It’s a blight on Australian administration of natural land.” [23]


In 2015 Parks Victoria started building the 160 km Grampians Peaks Trail. [29] The trail, which takes inspiration from popular Tasmanian trails, is designed to take 13 days to walk and crosses the length of the park. [30] It was officially opened on 12 November 2021. [31]

The most popular walking area for day trippers is the Wonderland area near Halls Gap. In summer the ranges can get very hot and dry. Winter and spring are the best times for walking. The Wonderland area is also host to "The Grand Canyon" on the "Wonderland Loop" on one of the tracks to the "Pinnacle".

In spring, the Grampians wildflowers are an attraction. Colloquially known as the ‘garden of Victoria’, the Grampians is home to 975 native plant species (including more than 75 orchid species), representing one third of the total Victorian flora, and many of these species are only found in the Grampians, including the Grampians pincushion lily (Borya mirabilis), one of the rarest native lilies in Australia. [3]

Tourist centres

Halls Gap / Budja Budja is the largest service town in the area and is located at a point roughly equidistant between the towns of Ararat and Stawell. The town is located towards the eastern side of the park and offers accommodation to the many tourists who visit the area.

The Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap is owned and managed by Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung people from five Aboriginal communities with historic links to the Gariwerd-Grampians ranges and the surrounding plains. [32]

A 180deg panoramic view looking roughly east from The Pinnacle, providing views of Halls Gap on the left and Lake Bellfield on the right Grampians Panorama from Pinnacle Edit 1 - Nov 2008.jpg
A 180° panoramic view looking roughly east from The Pinnacle, providing views of Halls Gap on the left and Lake Bellfield on the right

Food and Wine Festival

Grampians National Park is home to one of Australia's longest running food and wine festivals, Grampians Grape Escape, held over the first weekend of May in Halls Gap every year. Launched in 1992, the Grampians Grape Escape is a hallmark event for Victoria and provides food and wine offerings by more than 100 local artisan producers, live music and family entertainment. [33]

Natural disasters

Typical regrowth after the bushfire Eucalypt trees, Australia, 15 months after a bushfire.jpg
Typical regrowth after the bushfire

A major bushfire burned out about 50% of the Grampians National Park in January 2006. Soon afterwards the first signs of regeneration were already visible with, for example, regrowth of the eucalyptus trees. Many trees exhibit epicormic growth, where a mass of young shoots re-sprout along the whole length of the trunk to the base of the tree. Major flooding followed 5 years later in January 2011, forcing the closure of some parts of the Grampians National Park for several months.

Further reading

See also

Related Research Articles

Bunjil Creator deity, culture hero and ancestral being in Australian Aboriginal mythology

Bunjil is a creator deity, culture hero and ancestral being, often depicted as a wedge-tailed eagle in Australian Aboriginal mythology of some of the Aboriginal peoples of Victoria.

Shire of Northern Grampians Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The Shire of Northern Grampians is a local government area in the Wimmera region of Victoria, Australia, located in the western part of the state. It covers an area of 5,730 square kilometres (2,210 sq mi) and in June 2018 had a population of 11,431, having fallen from 12,087 in 2008. It includes the towns of Stawell, St Arnaud, Great Western, Marnoo, Glenorchy, Stuart Mill, Navarre and the tourist town of Halls Gap. It was formed in 1995 from the amalgamation of the City of Stawell, Town of St Arnaud, Shire of Stawell, Shire of Kara Kara and parts of the Shire of Wimmera, Shire of Dunmunkle and Shire of Donald.

Stawell, Victoria Town in Victoria, Australia

Stawell, is an Australian town in the Wimmera region of Victoria 237 kilometres (147 mi) west-north-west of the state capital, Melbourne. Located within the Shire of Northern Grampians local government area, it is a seat of local government for the shire and its main administrative centre. At the 2016 census, Stawell had a population of 6,032.

Ararat, Victoria City in Victoria, Australia

Ararat is a city in south-west Victoria, Australia, about 198 kilometres (120 mi) west of Melbourne, on the Western Highway on the eastern slopes of the Ararat Hills and Cemetery Creek valley between Victoria's Western District and the Wimmera. Its urban population according to 2016 census is 8,297 and services the region of 11,752 residents across the Rural City's boundaries. It is also the home of the 2018/19 GMGA Golf Championship Final.

Wimmera Region in Victoria, Australia

The Wimmera is a region of the Australian state of Victoria. The district is located within parts of the Loddon Mallee and the Grampians regions; and covers the dryland farming area south of the range of Mallee scrub, east of the South Australia border and north of the Great Dividing Range. It can also be defined as the land within the social catchment of Horsham, its main settlement.

Rock art Human-made markings on natural stone

In archaeology, rock art is human-made markings placed on natural surfaces, typically vertical stone surfaces. A high proportion of surviving historic and prehistoric rock art is found in caves or partly enclosed rock shelters; this type also may be called cave art or parietal art. A global phenomenon, rock art is found in many culturally diverse regions of the world. It has been produced in many contexts throughout human history. In terms of technique, the main groups are: petroglyphs, which are carved or scratched into the rock surface, cave paintings, and sculpted rock reliefs. Another technique creates geoglyphs that are formed on the ground. The oldest known rock art dates from the Upper Palaeolithic period, having been found in Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. Anthropologists studying these artworks believe that they likely had magico-religious significance.

Halls Gap Town in Victoria, Australia

Halls Gap is a town in Victoria, Australia. It is located on Grampians Road, adjacent to the Grampians National Park, in the Shire of Northern Grampians local government area. The town is set in the Fyans Valley at the foot of the Wonderland and Mount William ranges. At the 2016 census Halls Gap had a population of 430. The approximate driving time from Melbourne is 3 hours.

St Arnaud, Victoria City in Victoria, Australia

St Arnaud is a town in the Wimmera region of Victoria, Australia, 244 kilometres north west of the capital Melbourne. It is in the Shire of Northern Grampians local government area. At the 2016 census, St Arnaud had a population of 2,193.

Marn Grook Indigenous Australian football game

Marn Grook or marngrook, from the Woiwurung language for "ball" or "game", is the popular collective name for traditional Indigenous Australian football games played at gatherings and celebrations by sometimes more than 100 players.

Mount Arapiles Rock formation in Victoria, Australia

Mount Arapiles is a rock formation that rises about 140 metres (460 ft) above the Wimmera plains in western Victoria, Australia. It is located in Arapiles approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) west of the town of Natimuk and is part of the Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park. Arapiles is a very popular destination for rock climbers due to the quantity and quality of climbs. It is one of the premier climbing sites in Australia along with the nearby Grampians. The Wotjobaluk name for the formation is Djurid.

Dunkeld, Victoria Town in Victoria, Australia

Dunkeld is a town in Victoria, Australia, at the southern end of the Grampians National Park, in the Shire of Southern Grampians. It is approx 283 km west of Melbourne on the Glenelg Highway. The town's population is holding steady but ageing. At the 2016 census, Dunkeld had a population of 678.

The Langi Ghiran State Park is 14 km east of Ararat in the state of Victoria, Australia. The park covers an area of 2695 ha.

The Jardwadjali (Yartwatjali), also known as the Jaadwa, are an Aboriginal Australian people of the state of Victoria, whose traditional lands occupy the lands in the upper Wimmera River watershed east to Gariwerd (Grampians) and west to Lake Bringalbert.

The Djab Wurrung, also spelt Djabwurrung, Tjapwurrung, Tjap Wurrung, or Djapwarrung, people are Aboriginal Australians whose country is the volcanic plains of central Victoria from the Mount William Range of Gariwerd in the west to the Pyrenees range in the east encompassing the Wimmera River flowing north and the headwaters of the Hopkins River flowing south. The towns of Ararat, Stawell and Hamilton are within their territory. The Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy is located on a proposed highway duplication on the Western Highway south of Ararat. There were 41 Djab Wurrung clans who formed an alliance with the neighbouring Jardwadjali people through intermarriage, shared culture, trade and moiety system before colonisation. Their lands were conquered but never ceded.

Mount William (Victoria) Mountain in Victoria, Australia

Mount William is a mountain of the Grampians Mountain Range, located within the Grampians National Park, in the Australian state of Victoria. The mountain is situated approximately 250 kilometres (160 mi) west-northwest of Melbourne on the eastern edge of the national park, approximately 22 kilometres (14 mi) drive from Halls Gap.

Dhauwurd Wurrung is a term used for a group of languages spoken by various groups of the Gunditjmara people of the Western District of Victoria, Australia. Keerray Woorroong is regarded by some as a separate language, by others as a dialect. The dialect continuum consisted of various lects such as Kuurn Kopan Noot, Big Wurrung, Gai Wurrung, and others. There was no traditional name for the entire dialect continuum and it has been classified and labelled differently by different linguists and researchers. The group of languages is also referred to as Gunditjmara language and the Warrnambool language.

Aboriginal Victorians Indigenous people of the Australian state of Victoria

Aboriginal Victorians, the Aboriginal Australians of Victoria, Australia, occupied the land for tens of thousands of years prior to European settlement. Aboriginal people have lived a semi-nomadic existence of fishing, hunting and gathering, and farming eels in Victoria for at least 40,000 years.

Aboriginal sites of Victoria

Aboriginal sites of Victoria form an important record of human occupation for probably more than 40,000 years. They may be identified from archaeological remains, historical and ethnographic information or continuing oral traditions and encompass places where rituals and ceremonies were performed, occupation sites where people ate, slept and carried out their day to day chores, and ephemeral evidence of people passing through the landscape, such as a discarded axe head or isolated artefact.

Mount Zero, also known as Mura Mura in the Jardwadjali language is the northernmost mountain of the Grampian range. Its prominent conical shape is visible from the Western Highway south of Horsham. Scottish explorer Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell named and then described the mountain as "Mount Zero, a name I applied to a remarkable cone at the western extermity of the chain of mountains." While the peak is inside the National Park, the Mount Zero Olive Farm runs along its northern approaches. Scrub covers the sandstone slopes, with a track running up to the summit from the Mt Zero Picnic Area.

The following will be a maintained list of contemporary Australian environmental and cultural incidents that have resulted in destroyed, degraded or damaged notable cultural or environmental items.


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