Grampians National Park is one of the best in Australia and should be high on your list when visiting Victoria. A Melbourne to Grampians road trip is the perfect way to explore this area over 3 or 4 days.
Grampians NP is full of fantastic hiking trails and spectacular waterfalls so this will definitely be an active trip. There’s nothing better than getting out of the city and into nature but this itinerary also offers the possibility of relaxation.
Apart from the natural wonders of the Grampians you can also see ancient aboriginal rock art, explore one of Australia’s best wine regions and check out the unique attractions in Ballarat.
Read this guide to discover all of the best places to see in the Grampians and the most efficient way to do it. There are options to visit the spa town of Daylesford or to drive the Great Ocean Road if you have a little more time.
Table of Contents
Melbourne to Grampians Road Trip – Overview
Melbourne to Grampians Road Trip Summary
Day 1 – Start the day in Ballarat exploring some of the best attractions. Continue to your Halls Gap accommodation in the afternoon
Nights 1 to 3 – Halls Gap
Day 2 – Tick off the top highlights of the Grampians along the beautiful Mt Victory Rd
Day 3 – Spend a day casually driving between the other Grampians attractions
Day 4 – Head back to Melbourne or stop in to Daylesford to treat yourself after all the hiking
Night 4 – Daylesford or Melbourne
Optional – If you have a few more days to spare then you can head back to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road. See this section of the guide for details.
Distance from Melbourne to Grampians National Park
The distance from Melbourne to Grampians NP is 250km
How Long Will I Need for a Melbourne to Grampians Road Trip?
This trip should ideally be done over 4 days. If you are in a real rush then you can head straight to the Grampians and see the main highlights in 2 days/1 night.
Conversely if you have more time and want to drive the Great Ocean Road then you should allow 7 days for this trip.
Best Time of Year To Visit Grampians National Park
The bumper seasons of Spring and Autumn are a great time to visit. The cooler temperatures make hiking more enjoyable. In Spring the waterfalls are usually flowing nicely and the wildflowers bloom but there is a higher chance of rain.
The Best Travel Insurance for Road Trips
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Hiring a Car
If you don’t have a car then you can use the following link to search for one. We always use Rental Cars to find the best price between various operators. There is an option to include full insurance with no excess, which is highly recommended.
Best Tours from Melbourne to Grampians National Park
Grampians National Park Small Group Tour from Melbourne – This single day tour is great if you’re short on time but still want to see some of the top highlights of the Grampians. You’ll get to hike the ‘Grand Canyon’ and see MacKenzie Falls as well as a number of other stops.
2-Day Great Ocean Road & Grampians Escape – Letting someone else do the driving means you can maximise the sights you get to see. If you are visiting Melbourne or have limited time off then this is perfect to still see these top highlights of Victoria.
Melbourne to Grampians Road Trip
You’re route to the Grampians will take you right through Ballarat. This allows you the opportunity to see some of the great sights in the area. Your first stop should be Lal Lal Falls; it’s only a 25min detour vs driving straight to Ballarat and is well worth it if there has been recent rain.
You probably won’t be able to do everything below in one day but that’s ok because you’ll have a reason to come back!
Lal Lal Falls
This waterfall is set within a pretty nature reserve and the viewing platform is conveniently located near the parking lot. There are toilets on site so you don’t have to worry about rushing to Ballarat.
The waterfall is best after rain so if you’re doing a Melbourne to Grampians road trip in summer then it may not be worth it. You will also be visiting several great waterfalls in the Grampians, but I personally like to see as many as possible!
Sovereign Hill Historic Site
This extensive site is a replica gold mining village on the former site of a working gold mine. It’s a super fun place to visit, with costumed characters, coach rides, underground mine tours and 1850s style shops.
They have really gone all out here and this is reflected in the numerous tourism awards. This is definitely the most fun way to learn about history and will be enjoyed by adults and kids alike.
- Tue – Sun
- 10am – 5pm
- Adult – $39
- Child (5-15) – $20
- Concession – $32
- Family (2 Adults, 2 Children) – $99
- Single Parent Family – $71
Ballarat Wildlife Park
This is a comprehensive and fantastic wildlife park to visit whether you’re a local or a tourist. They have all the major native animals including some rare ones like Cassowaries and Tasmanian Devils.
The hands-on encounters are particularly great for overseas visitors; this is where to get the classic koala selfie! Or perhaps you want to test your nerve as they drape a big snake around your neck?
9am to 5pm – Daily
- Adult: $36
- Child (5-15): $19.50
- Concession: $29.50
- Family (2 Adults, 4 Children): $98
This is possibly the only medieval castle in Australia; of course it’s just a replica but we can pretend! Pretending is actually what Kryal Castle is all about, with daily live jousting shows, costumed actors, knight school, a torture museum and much more.
Kryal Castle is a great stop for those travelling with kids, the only risk being that they probably won’t want to leave! You will likely have to choose between here and sovereign hill as they both require considerable time to explore.
- 10am to 4pm – Weekends only
- 10am to 4pm – Daily during Victorian school holidays
- Adult (16+): $35
- Child: $22
- Concession: $28
- Family (2 Adults, 2 Children): $99
- Single Parent Family: $85
Where to Stay in Halls Gap
The town of Halls Gap sits at the heart of Grampians National Park. This is the best place to base yourself for your time here. Alternatively, if you have camping gear or a campervan then check out the amazing camp site below.
Grampians Eco YHA – Here you can get no-frills private rooms for a great price, only 1km from the town centre. There are communal lounges with wood fires and a kitchen.
Halls Gap Log Cabins – Mountains and log cabins go hand in hand. This accommodation offers seasonal log fires and some cabins have hot tubs.
Marwood Luxury Villas – Treat yourself with these beautiful self-contained stone chalets. They are set amongst forest and the grounds are full of wildlife. The chalets feature wood-fires and spa-baths.
Smiths’ Mill Campground – Located right near MacKenzie Falls, this camp ground is perfect for sunrise/sunset photography of the falls. You won’t have easy access to town but it’s close to many of the top Grampians attractions.
There are a lot of great things to do in the Grampians, but many of the main highlights are along a single road. Mt Victory Rd branches off the main road just north of town and takes you up into the mountains with spectacular views along the way.
Below you will find the main highlights in the order that you reach them. We recommend this order as you will do the most difficult hike first while the day is cooler. Don’t worry if you get tired or don’t have time for everything here as you can easily come back this way tomorrow.
Grand Canyon & Pinnacle Lookout Hike
Around 3km from town you’ll find the turnoff for Wonderland Rd which leads to a car park. This is the trailhead for the best hike in the Grampians. It’s a reasonably challenging hike so it’s best to do in the morning before it gets hot. The hike is 5.5km return and passes through some amazing rock formations.
The destination at the end is one of the best lookouts I’ve ever seen. The Pinnacle Lookout sits right on the tip of one of the huge protruding wedges of rock. Climb out to the end for panoramic views of the national park and the town far below.
Unfortunately the route via the Grand Canyon is currently closed due to an issue with the staircase at the far end. There is an alternate route to the lookout and you can still hike the Grand Canyon separately if you want (you get great views of it from above on the alternate route).
Next turn-off along the main road will be Mt Difficult Rd on the right. This leads to the Boroka Lookout which is the most popular in the park. It is close to the carpark to give your legs a rest after the hike. The lookout offers a great view of Lake Bellfield and the surrounding countryside.
Once you are back on the main road it’s only 2km further to the left turn for Reed Lookout. This is an ok lookout, but you will want to head down the trail leading a short distance to The Balconies.
This photogenic rock formation sits in front of the fantastic backdrop of the south and western sides of the national park. This is a different view than the previous two lookouts so make sure you don’t miss it.
MacKenzie Falls is the crown jewel among the many attractions in the Grampians. This incredible waterfall sits within a deep and spectacular valley. There are a few different walks in the area, two are quite easy paths that lead to lookouts over the valley and falls. These are wheelchair accessible.
To experience the power and beauty of the crashing water from below requires a little more exertion. It’s a 2km track from the carpark and has around 260 stairs. It’s well worth it to see the waterfall from up close and the rocks crossing the river are a perfect spot for photos.
It’ll probably be time to start heading back to town now. If you still have some energy then you might take an alternative route past Silverband Falls. This involves a right turn down Silverband Rd and about 10min drive to the carpark for the trailhead. If you are tired then you can do this tomorrow as it’s only 9mins from town.
An easy 1.8km trail follows a creek line until reaching the falls. These falls have an interesting backdrop of layered rock but the real highlight is the disappearing water! After falling to the ground the water enters an underground river before re-appearing 50m or so downstream. This is best viewed after rain or in the wetter seasons but should still have some flow in summer.
The previous day is a big one if you tick off everything on the list. You can slow the pace down today and casually drive between some of the outlying attractions. Below you’ll find more recommended attractions within and nearby Grampians National Park.
If your legs aren’t too sore from yesterday’s hikes then you might want to try the Grampians highest peak. The peak of Mount William is an impressive 1,167m but you don’t have to climb all that. There is a road for much of the way and then a 4km return walk from the parking area, taking around 1.5hrs total.
It’s quite a steep trail and most of it is on a paved access road which some people don’t like. There are a couple of towers and a small building at the top. If you walk past the buildings then you’ll find the view-point which looks out over the entire Grampians.
Aboriginal Rock Art Sites
The Grampians features a really large concentration of aboriginal rock art sites. Some of these have been dated to over 20,000 years old. There are 5 sites open to the public and they are found in quite scenic caves and rocky outcrops.
The sites are spread around the park and fairly far from one another. You can visit the official website for an overview of each site and choose one or more that most interest you.
This unique waterfall is located in the northern part of the park, just 25mins drive from Halls Gap. It requires a 2.8km return walk to reach which will take around 1.5hrs. It’s an easy and pleasant trail following a creek.
From afar the water plunges quite a height over some nice sandstone cliffs. This aspect of the fall is best after rains but the really unique feature is the water pooling at the bottom.
The rock pool at the bottom has a colour and formation that causes the water to look like honey. This is where it gets it’s name and is a nice opportunity for photographers.
Grampians Wine Region
In addition to one of the most beautiful national parks in Australia, this area also contains an excellent wine region! There’s over 150 years of winemaking history here, with some amazing old cellars to visit and some of the world’s oldest vines.
You can easily tour this region from Halls Gap in a 100km loop via Stawell and Ararat. Along the Western Highway from Stawell to Ararat you will find many of the cellar doors.
The vineyards at Seppelt and Best’s date from the 1800’s and they both offer award winning tasting experiences and cellar tours. If you only visit these two you can just backtrack the way you came for a 30min drive each way.
Halls Gap Zoo
Just outside Halls Gap you can also find Victoria’s largest regional zoo. They have a huge range of animals and a great system of open air enclosures. You can see both Australian native animals as well a whole range of exotic African species.
There are over 160 species in total here so there is definitely a lot to explore. Find out more information and search for tickets on the official website.
If you have a tight schedule then you can head home this morning. For an additional night and a great alternative route back to Melbourne, you might consider visiting Daylesford.
This is one of only a small handful of spa towns in Australia and is famous for it’s mineral water. After two solid days of hiking and sightseeing you will have earned a little pampering!
As mentioned earlier, if you have a few extra days then you can alternatively drive the Great Ocean Road back to Melbourne. See the final section of this post or click the link for details.
Today and tonight should be all about relaxation and Daylesford is the perfect place to do that. Check in to one of the beautiful accommodation options, soak your body in the mineral waters and then head out for some amazing dining!
Below you will find some brief recommendations of what to do in Daylesford. There are a number of bathhouses and galleries so check out this full list if you want to explore more options.
The top activity in Daylesford is soaking in the mineral springs followed by various spa treatments. The best option is to combine your stay with a spa package. Below are two of the most highly rated spa/accommodation options in Daylesford.
Peppers Mineral Spring Hotel – Located in a 1930’s guesthouse, this property offers a highly rated spa centre with everything you could want. Soak in the warm waters then choose from one of the many spa treatments.
Shizuka Ryokan Japanese Country Spa – This property offers a unique opportunity to experience traditional Japanese accommodation. The experience is fully immersive, with the rooms, food and spa all adhering to the traditional Japanese theme.
There are a number of galleries in Daylesford so art buffs will be kept busy. One of the must-see spots is the former Holy Cross Convent that has been converted to house a museum, multiple galleries, a restored chapel and a café.
The property is surrounded by lovely landscaped gardens and is also situated at the base of the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens.
Craft Beer and Cider
Anyone who has tried to brew their own beer will know that water quality makes a big difference to taste. This is why it is well worth checking out some of the local offerings that brew with the famous waters of the area.
Returning to Melbourne
You might be heading home today but the trip doesn’t have to be over just yet. Your route back to Melbourne will take you past a historic bakery as well as another of Victoria’s best waterfalls.
Located in the town of Trentham, this bakery dates back to 1891 and has been lovingly restored. They are still using the original wood-fired oven to bake their authentic sourdough. Visitors can watch the action through a window and you just have to try their delicious bread.
A great option for the drive back is to buy some food from the bakery and enjoy it at Trentham Falls (below).
Just outside the town of the same name is this magnificent waterfall. It features a 32m high single drop and in full flow it’s very impressive to see and hear. It also sits within the Coliban River Scenic Reserve so is a very scenic spot for an early lunch.
Alternative Day 4 – The Great Ocean Road
If you head almost directly south from Halls Gap you will reach the town of Warrnambool on the coast. This is one end of the Great Ocean Road, with the other being Melbourne.
With two days or more added to this itinerary you can also experience this fantastic drive. There are many things to see along this road; check out this guide to the 15 best stops along the Great Ocean Road to help you plan the perfect trip.
Taking this route back to Melbourne is around 500km so you will need at least 2 days to complete it. Apollo Bay is a popular place to stop overnight and is around the half-way point.
On the way from Halls Gap to Apollo Bay you can visit the 12 Apostles and nearby attractions. The following day you will be perfectly situated to explore some of the best parts of Great Otway National Park.
I hope you have an amazing time on this Melbourne to Grampians road trip! Safe Travels.
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