You may know the Grampians as home to sandstone mountains, abundant wildlife, spectacular waterfalls and plenty of walking tracks. But this rugged western landscape has more than meets the eye. Dotted among the vineyards and wondrous vistas are some pretty out-there experiences that set it aside from other parts of regional Victoria - and make it a great place to escape from the regular inner-city hustle.
HIKE GRAMPIANS PEAKS TRAIL
One of the Walk Victoria's Icons' long-distance trails, the Grampians Peaks Trail has had its first section just completed. The 36-kilometre circuit is a three-day, two-night trek departing from Halls Gap. First up, you'll pass the Venus Baths track, which you can take a short and easy detour to and see the deep, sandstone rock pools. Proceed to Splitters Falls, then through a rocky gully to the ancient rock formations of the Grand Canyon. From here, you'll approach Pinnacle Lookout, with spectacular views over Mount William, Halls Gap and Fyans Valley. Continue along Grampians Peaks Trail to your campsite for the night at Bugiga.
Day two brings an ascent to Mount Rosea summit and, at 991 metres elevation, you'll cop 360-degree views over the Serra and Mount William Ranges, before settling in at Borough Hut Campground for your second night's stay. Round off the trek with a six-hour amble back to Halls Gap.
GO ON A LANTERN GHOST TOUR
Located in the former gold-mining town of Ararat, J Ward has a haunted past. Once the old town jail, J Ward then became an asylum for the criminally insane. It housed some of Victoria's most troubled and dangerous men - including Chopper Read, Garry David (Webb) and Bill Wallace - under the highest security and in fairly horrific conditions. It's a pretty bone-chilling place. Closing in 1991, the defunct building now contains a museum complex, with tours running multiple times a day.
But, if you want the full shake-in-your-boots experience, wander the halls at night on a lantern ghost tour. Kicking off at 9.30pm on Friday and Saturdays, the two-hour tour lets you explore the hangman's gallows, governor's bathroom, the original kitchen, shower block, grave sites, west wing, exercise yards and, of course, the J Ward block.
VISIT HISTORIC WINERY TUNNELS
Best's Great Western is one of the oldest and continuously family owned and operated wineries in the country, making it one of the best vineyards to stop into while you're in the Grampians. Kick off your visit to this old spot (it's celebrating 150 years soon) with a Concongella Cellar Walk, where you can see the 1860s-built, hand-dug tunnels and explore the cobwebbed passages. Although it was renovated in the 1940s for white wine maturation and bottling, the underground cellar sections are still are a great insight into the winery's heritage.
SLEEP AMONG A VINEYARD'S VINES
Another historic winery in the region is Seppelt. Established in 1863, Seppelt is the birthplace of Australian sparkling shiraz and is basically synonymous with Victorian viticulture. you can actually rest your noggin right here in the vineyard. Run by Wanderlust Glamping, the glamping here is a great option for those wanting to experience the great outdoors with the comfort of an Airbnb - plus, have the added bonus of wines galore right next door.
SUNSETS AT THE BALCONIES
With its own namesake national park, the Grampians is a natural paradise with plenty of hikes and sites to keep you busy. Home to impressive sandstone mountains and Victoria's largest waterfall - MacKenzie Falls - the Grampians National Park boasts natural beauty by the bucketload. Even more so come sundown.
Just a quick, one-kilometre walk will get you to a unique rock formation called The Balconies. Here, you'll catch sweeping views across Victoria Valley with Mount Victory standing proudly in the distance. Start from Reed Lookout Carpark and walk along the relatively easy track through native shrub and rocky paths to get to the panoramic lookout point. Remember to pack your camera and torch.