After a long period of 2020 pandemic lockdown, my wife and I decided we needed a well-earned trip away from the city. With all 6 million Melbournians having the same idea it was difficult to find a place to stay for the Christmas period. After a lot of searching, I found a cabin for rent at Halls Gap, a little town at the base of a sandstone mountain range 250 km west of Melbourne. I had been there 30 years earlier as a high school student but couldn’t remember much.

The Grampians in western Victoria

The drive from Melbourne is just under 3 hours. You can break that up with a lunch stop at the Beechworth Bakery in Ballarat.

Grampians Chalets

We found a lovely place to stay for reasonable rates. Click the link here for Grampians Chalets. Peter from Switzerland will look after you.

The view from Mount William f14, iso 50, 1/6 sec, panoramic stich.

This epic landscape shot from Mt William was not easy to find. I only found this location by chance. As far as I know the vantage point is not listed on any of the other photography blogs. In my opinion this is the best composition in the entire mountain range. I’m keeping the location secret for my Grampians photography workshop.

Be careful when you drive up and back on the Mount William road. On the way I passed 1 wallaby, 3 emus, 1 large deer and a suicidal Kangaroo that tested my van’s braking ability.

We booked a 4 night stay so that meant I had 4 sunrises and 4 sunsets to work with. Now you’d think that would be quite enough but here’s the thing. I found that most of the views face the morning light in east and require driving and walking up to the vantage points. So combine that with Australia’s daylight savings time and that means very, very early mornings. Taking that into mind I was completely exhausted after 2 mornings and evenings of shooting so I decided to take the 3rd day off to catch up on rest.

Short video

The Balconies, Grampians f2.8, iso 1600, 1/125 sec

The view from the balconies lookout is the only view I took that faces the sunset in the west. I stood on the cliff edge outside of the safety rail to take this shot. I was initially really pissed off that this tourist sat in my shot right at the last minute when the light was at it’s best. I asked him politely to move for me and managed to capture shots without and with him in the composition. I ended up keeping him in the shot as it just looks right to have someone sitting on the cliff edge. I also was lucky that his red jumper falls into the complementary colour theory against the green background.

For this shot I focus stacked 2 shots together. 1 for the foreground and 1 for the background. The mountains had quite a bit of haze over them but I was able to clear that up with the dehaze tool on Adobe Lightroom.

Purple Rain (Mackenzie Falls) f5.0, iso 50, 1.6 sec, panorama stitch

The drive from Halls Gap to Mackenzie falls is up and over the top of the range. It takes about 45 minutes to arrive at the car park, from there you will need to treck down a steep track with 260 stairs. Shout out to my 5-month pregnant wife who made the trip down to the bottom of the falls with me. We went in the evening but if I went again I would go in the morning so as to include some colour in the sky behind the falls.

Halls Gap from Boroka Lookout, composition of a fast foreground frame and slow background frame.

This shot was taken behind the safety rail. Yes you can get a great shot from behind the safety rail but you will need to turn up early to beat the hordes of tourists. Just don’t be tempted to do the selfy thing on the cliff edge or you may end up like this poor woman 2 weeks prior to our visit.

Summary:

The Grampians is one of the best photography locations in Victoria. It offers multiple different genres of landscape photography. If you arrive in winter you will be able to take some spectacular astrophotography shots as the milky way comes into view during that time of year. I will definitely be making multiple trips back to this location in the future.