Overnight stays: Dunkeld Caravan Park, Dunkeld; Smiths Mill Campground, Grampians National Park (2 nights)
As we approached the south end of Grampians National Park, there was a green dot on our Google Map I felt just needed to be scratched. I don’t recall when or where I heard about the Royal Mail Hotel, but I had a feeling it wasn’t just an ordinary pub you could take or leave when in the area.
We were planning to head straight to the centre of the National Park, merely passing through the small town of Dunkeld, but Loz and I developed a cunning plan en-route – perhaps we could stay overnight and utilise Deb and Stu’s babysitting service, giving us a long overdue date night, at the Royal Mail Hotel.
Royal Mail Hotel
While Deb, Stu and Liv settled in and enjoyed the amazing value caravan park, we dressed in our motorhome best, excited for a multi-course degustation.
The food and atmosphere here were second to none, and we reckon the food was as good as we’ve eaten anywhere in the world. Not only that, it didn’t break the bank, as many fine-dining restaurants do these days.
It was also nice being able to spend some with just the two of us again. When you’re a travelling party of three you become 24/7 supervisors, which is quite a change from only spending mornings, nights and weekends as a triangle. We have managed to make it work swimmingly for the year, but having not separated for a meal since Broome in June, Loz and I were so happy to spend some time together as a line (rather than triangle), and talk about adult things 😀. A massive thanks to Deb and Stu for allowing this to happen.
The following morning we set off through the National Park, stopping first for a nice walk to the pretty views of Piccininny and a waterfall of which I can’t remember the name of.
While the weather changed its’ mind a million times, we squeezed into a shared site in the hills, among the roos and ripping fireplaces. This formed the perfect base for a couple of nights, allowing us to use the StromBatmobile to explore the following day.
MacKenzie Falls is one of the bigger draw cards for the park and it was suitably impressive, even more so from a distance. We’ve seen what seems like a million waterfalls on this trip, and Loz and Liv are 100% done with them, but I reckon I could see a new one everyday and still not tire of them.
Boroka Lookout gave us one of the most spectacular coffee spots of the trip, as the clouds parted, allowing us to see as far west as possible over the cute bustling town of Halls Gap and surrounds.
For the afternoon I managed to drag Loz along for a 6km return hike to The Pinnacle, while the others patiently waited in the car. This decision was a ripper, as the walk through the Grand Canyon and up to the summit was one of our favourites in Australia. The rock formations reminded us a little of a black version of Karijini, but steep and tough all the way to the top, which offered a remarkable reward.
On our way home we took the short flat walk to check out The Balconies, and agreed to call it a day.
The following day we threw Liv into the StromBatmobile, giving Loz and I another chance to hike together, with our sights set on the steep Mount Hollow.
Turns out we totally missed the unmarked turnoff and by the time we realised we were too far gone, so kept on keeping on, reconnecting with the Stroms and our little mate, excited to start the Murray River together.