As I write, I'm relaxing at my B&B (and occasionally throwing a stick for the resident pup), which happens to double up as a winery with its very own Cellar Door. I'm talking about Pierrepoint Wines near to Hamilton, a picturesque town south of The Grampians National Park.
I'm entitled to drink a glass or two. I've done a lot of driving to get here; all the way from Brisbane in fact, in a 2003 0.8 litre Daewoo Matiz (impressive, I know). I'm on my way to Adelaide tomorrow where the South Australia adventure begins. But more on that in another post, another day.
Today I want to talk about hiking, 'squirrel style'. This does not mean hiking with a bushy tail, oh no, but a combination of speed hiking, boulder jumping, jogging and branch swinging in order to get up and down the mountain in a ninja fashion.
This results in a much faster completion time of whatever hike in The Grampians you wish to tackle, making way for more quality Cellar Door time and cake.
On the subject of cake, if you're in the area, swing by Cafe Catalpa in Tarrington. There I enjoyed a couple of Earl Greys, a barramundi and seafood risotto lunch, plus a couple of dessert slices.
Here are 2 hikes you can do 'squirrel style' easily in half a day - why, half a morning - each.
Guides say 4-5 hours round trip. I say 3 hours at a squirrel's pace.
The car park is easy to find. Put Mount Rosea car park into Google Maps and it'll take you straight there on a one way road from Hall's Gap. Once parked, make sure you don't miss the sign post for the trail on the left, walking straight past it to follow the service road, which is what I did!
The trail begins as a pleasant walk through forest - not very steep and you might see a roo if you're lucky.
After a while, it develops into a rocky landscape for you to jump across, from boulder to boulder. The rocks are large and smooth so you can be quick about it, without worrying you're going to twist your ankle. This is somewhere you can get really squirrelly.
And the time you make up hopping, skipping and jumping can easily be spent photographing the incredible views that Mount Rosea has to offer. Every time you round a corner, you're faced with a more spectacular view than the last. There are plenty of large, secure rocks jutting out from which you can take aim with your camera. But be careful, 'cos there are sheer drops below.
Mount Rosea offers the best views in The Grampians according to the guys at the Kookaburra Motor Lodge in Hall's Gap, which is where I stayed. It's only 20 mins drive away from this hike and self-catered.
Guides say 3 hours round trip. I did it in 2.
This is a good one to do if you're based more towards Dunkeld and Hamilton. Treat yourself to a room at Pierrepoint Winery and get stuck into the Cellar Door from the comfort of your own accommodation, or stay in an Airbnb Farm Stay like this one in Tarrington - there's a gorgeous pup to play with at whichever one you choose!
Mount Abrupt is a half an hour drive away, rising impressively from the road. If you put Mount Rosea into Google Maps, you need to drive past where it takes you. Further down the road on the right is the car park. Park and cross the highway on foot; the trail begins up some stone steps from the road. It's much steeper than Rosea, with loose rubble and spikey rocks, so it's harder on the feet. This is less squirrel style, and more of a constant uphill chug. Still, it's possible to do it quickly if you're not afraid of getting sweaty.
When you're done, head over to Cafe Catalpa and smash some lunch, local wine and cake. In the words of Withnail, while making a nuisance of himself in a tea room in Penrith, "we want the finest wines available to humanity; we want them here and we want them now."
If you want to know what the best hiking boots are for squirrel hiking, click here to read my Scarpa hiking boots review. Not only do I love them, but the whole of the rest of my family now wears and loves them too (yes, we're THAT family - out hiking together, in our matching boots).