You’ve book a few days away in the Grampians, and you are planning to hike to all the lookouts and see all the waterfalls. But you’ve arrived, and it’s raining – and the forecast says it’s going to be a downpour for the whole of your visit. Urgh! That doesn’t mean your visit is a waste. Here’s what to do in Halls Gap when it’s raining!
About the Grampians & Halls Gap
The Grampians are a region of Victoria roughly three hours drive from Melbourne, so it’s a popular weekend destination for locals as well as visitors to the state. Halls Gap is the most central town of the region, although it is by no means the only place to stop.
Known as Gariweld, the traditional owners are the Djab Wurrung and Jardwardjali people. The Grampians are well known as an outdoor location, offering stunning scenery for hiking, with views and waterfalls the main attractions. There are also activities like climbing and abseiling, horse riding, swimming, kayaking, fishing, playing golf, visiting the zoo, or simply just enjoying being outside.
To really enjoy all the region has to offer, I recommend a stay of three or four days. Even in winter there should be some dry days to allow you to explore. To help with the other days, take a look at this list.
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What to do in Halls Gap when it’s Raining
During my recent trip, we had very low cloud (so no views!) for our whole trip. On one day, it was forecast to rain for the whole day. I researched and left all of the inside activities for that day. Just a warning though, I hope your rainy day is not on a Monday or Tuesday like ours was, because we found a lot of places closed.
Go Wine Tasting
This is probably my favourite, since wine tasting is almost a hobby all on its own! The Grampians is one of the 22 wine regions in Victoria, and it is quite spread out over the region, with the sixteen cellar doors stretching from Horsham to Ararat.
There are two wineries quite close to Halls Gap. They are Fallen Giants Vineyard and Pomonal Estate. I’d love to tell you they are fabulous (and they quite probably are!) but they are both only open from Wednesday to Sunday, so we couldn’t visit.
We travelled for around thirty minutes to the small town of Great Western, where we stopped in at two cellar doors that were open on this cold, rainy Monday. Both Seppelt Winery and Grampians Estate were lovely places to do some wine tasting.
Seppelt Winery is best known for having extensive underground cellars. It is possible to do tours of the cellars to take a look. The tours generally run on the hour in the middle part of the day, and sadly we just missed the last one. The staff were great though and I would certainly recommend dropping in.
Grampians Estate is home to some of the oldest Riesling vines anywhere in the world. The Grampians was another wine region that escaped the dreaded phylloxera that destroyed vines all over the world. I can attest that these vines make a nice wine, and I brought home a bottle of the riesling to share with friends.
If you don’t want to drive yourself, Grampians Wine Tours over a range of tours that might suit.
Another option could be an experience at one of the cellar doors. While Mountainside Wines might just be the furthest cellar door from Halls Gap (about an hour by car), they also offer three experiences that would be perfect on a rainy day
Visit a Craft Brewery
So perhaps wine is not your thing, or you don’t want to travel outside of Halls Gap, then you could while away the afternoon tasting some of the craft beers at Paper, Scissors, Rock Brew Co, right there on the main street.
While I admit I am not a beer drinker, my husband is, so we called in for a quick look. The tasting paddle ended up being very generous serves of four different beers, so it was really a good thing I wasn’t drinking as one of us needed to drive!
My husband’s verdict was that the beers were all very drinkable – except perhaps the Resinate double IPA, which at 8.8% was a “big beer!”. Apparently, only one of these was needed at a time.
Paper Scissors Rock also have some great meals available, and also occasionally have live music there too.
Enjoy a Mystery Picnic
A great way to taste some of the local Grampians foods is to do a Mystery Picnic. These are always a fun few hours as you solve clues to work out where you are going to go, picking up ingredients along the way to make a picnic. The Mystery Picnic I did in Adelaide was all done on foot, but the one here in the Grampians requires you to have a car, so could certainly be managed in the rain.
And as for the picnic itself, they do suggest an undercover location you can eat at, but there is nothing to say you can’t also take it back to your accommodation and enjoy it in front or a warm fire (or heater at least!)
There are Mystery Picnic options for couples, families and friends.
Click here to book your Grampians Mystery Picnic
Visit Brambuk National Park & Cultural Centre
Created with the help of the traditional owners of the area, the cultural centre is a nice way to learn a little about the area and the people.
There are two buildings here. The one you come to first is about the Grampians National Park. Here you can find information about the area, as well as a gift shop for all your souvenirs and a cafe. There was some great information here for hikes around the Grampians, including the new multi-day Grampians Peaks Trail. Find details too for popular attractions such as the Pinnacle Lookout and Mackenzie Falls.
If you are travelling with kids, pick up free colouring in sheets, treasure hunts and other “Junior Rangers” activities.
Make your way out the back door and towards the second building, which is the Cultural Centre. Here you will find all sorts of Aboriginal artefacts. Unfortunately we were not having much luck on this trip, and this building was closed due to renovations. There was no information saying when it would be opened again, but looking through the doors, it looked close to being ready.
Check out Some Local Artists
As you are driving around the town and nearby areas, look out for small art galleries and craft workshops, and stop in and have a look.
Some of the places we noticed throughout the day include:
- Art of the Wild – Steve Morvell Wildlife Art, Studio & Gallery
- Grampians Furniture – local redgum used to make unique (and beautiful!) furniture pieces
- James McMurtrie – Glass Blowing Studio & Gallery
If you are travelling to nearby towns (perhaps doing some wine tasting) take a look there too for interesting local artists.
Create Your Own Farm Gate Tour
We love to pop into little farm gates we see as we drive around. It’s always fun to chat to a local producer and learn about the produce of the area, and even better to take some of the tasty products home to fill your cupboards. This is a great way to support the local area you are visiting too, knowing your tourist dollars are going straight to the people creating the products.
Again, Monday is not a good day for this, but we did happen to catch Five Ducks Farm open. They grow a whole pile of berries and other fruit here and turn it into jams and other products. They also have some chickens and bees too, for farm-fresh eggs and honey. They also support a lot of the other local producers by selling their items here too.
It was great chatting to Anita about the evolution of the farm and her products. We left with some of her honey, and some vegan hot chocolate powder that I am REALLY excited about.
Also stop into Red Rock Olives and taste their olives, oils and other products. There’s a cafe here too that claims to showcase local products, so this could be another great place to find out more.
Go Hiking Anyway!
Wet weather seems to follow me around, so I’ve actually come to the conclusion it’s always going to be raining when I want to do something outdoors. So I’ve bought myself a great waterproof jacket, pants, and even shoes. Now I can just don the wet weather gear, and go out hiking anyway! Over the years we have had some great hikes in the rain.
Of course it is important to be careful of your surroundings, especially if hiking over slippery rocks or in places where creeks could be running faster and higher due to the rain, but if you can safely still take a walk, get out into the Grampians National Park and give it a go – I dare you!
Where to Stay in Halls Gap
We stayed in a cabin in the Big4 NRMA Halls Gap Holiday Park. This is a great park with good amenities and I would happily recommend it. There are plenty of other great options, from hotels to B&Bs, farm stays to camp grounds. Click below to have a look.
Where to Eat in Halls Gap
There were two places we ate in Halls Gap that I would happily recommend.
Livefast Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, and does great cafe style food. It is toasty warm inside too, so if you have just come from hiking or being outside, this is a great place to get a hot drink and warm up, even if you are not eating a meal.
The food though is great. We had lunch here, choosing it because we knew it had plant-based options for me, and we were not disappointed. They cater for a wide range of dietary requirements, and it was absolutely no trouble.
Every person we asked for restaurant recommendations – and a few people we didn’t ask! – said we had to eat at Spirit of Punjab. As the name suggests, this is an Indian restaurant, with a delicious range of food. While we were eating there early on a rainy Monday night in the middle of winter (certainly not busy season!) and there were a good number of tables taken, I can imagine this place would be overflowing on weekends or holidays, so I recommend booking in advance.
Not only was the food great, and more than we could eat (yes, I took the leftovers home for dinner the next day!), they have a fun “waiter” to watch while eating – a robot that carries meals to the table if the other wait staff are busy. This is a great solution to the staff shortage that has hit many businesses since Covid, and a fun novelty for diners.
Exploring more of Australia? These posts may help
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Things to do in Mount Gambier, South Australia
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