A toss-up this morning between the Black Panther and the Emu Café for breakfast — the Emu won with the salmon savoury eggs on the menu.
Bad choice — no salmon! Bacon and Eggs instead, which came served on an icy-cold plate, together with bad watery coffee and a stuff-up with the bill. (This was the second time this month I’ve tried for salmon and eggs for breakfast, and the second time that it’s not been available — I’m starting to suspect a conspiracy)
Down the road to the tourist centre for a look at the maps and national parks exhibits — trying to work out what to do today, then a visit to the Brambuk Cultural Centre for a Koori perspective on the area. The Brambuk building is magnificent, built of sandstone, timber and iron-sheeting on a plan of five interlinked circles, and with a wavy, circular roof reminiscent of a turtle’s shell, or low hills. I just wish that the local council would insist on more buildings like this that fit in with their environment, and a lot fewer of the motels and gift shops that they’ve allowed. In the grounds between the two buildings there’s a garden of local plants, together with a few pieces of sculpture, including this one by Chris Booth, the description I’ve found states that it was influenced by the crest of the cockatoo — a local totem animal, I thought it reminded me of the head and neck of one of the mythological giant emus depicted in the stories inside the building.
We spent the rest of the afternoon dodging rain showers, with varying levels of success, driving between lookout points in the park and walking to visit lookouts and waterfalls.
Silverbud falls, interesting in that the water just vanishes into the ground at the base, its all just loosely packed rock. Even right at its base the ground is dry, and quite solid-feeling rock. An annoyingly loud party of three tourists followed us in there, although only the male of the party seemed to be making all the noise, either talking loudly or whistling through the forest.
From Silverbud we drove up to Sundial car-park, there are at least two walks leading off form here, we chose to walk to Lakeview Lookout, since Mr Noisy had just arrived and was heading off down the other path. Unfortunately they must have turned around, shortly afterwards we could hear him shouting through the bush, chasing away the Eastern Spinebill that was sitting 1m from me as I tried to photograph it.
Windy and damp out at Lakeview lookout, the view was still impressive, it must be fantastic up there on a clear, sunny day. We could see right across the valley to Lake Bellfield — mostly empty while they attempt to fix leaks in the dam wall — and the eastern ridge including Mount ???. Tiny white dots below us in the valley as the flocks of Corellas flew about. On the way back we were literally wading through the wild-flowers along the track, without intending it, we’ve arrived here at almost the peak of the spring wild-flower season.
Retracing our steps we then attempted to reach the Pinnacle, one of the more famous lookouts, and got to within a few hundred metres before the rain hit. We had just passed this impressive mushroom of a rock formation when the grey clouds turned to mist and then to rain. Up on the exposed hill tops, me with no waterproof clothing, Jo folded up into a ball and sat under her umbrella. I retreated to the rock formation and sheltered under an overhang, admiring the view and hoping for the rain to ease off.
After quarter of an hour or more it lessened up enough for us to head back, hungry and a little too damp to head out to the Pinnacle, we’ll have to make do with the postcards taken on the sunny days! Back in the car and up to Reed’s lookout (or Reeds or Reid’s, depending on the map). By now the outside temperature was down to 4.5 °C and the cold misty rain made it quite an effort to get out of the car. As it was, once out of the car, all we could see were the 15 shivering Asian tourists, taking photographs of each other in various combinations against a backdrop that might include spectacular views on a good day…
Enough tourism for the day, back to Halls Gap for a late lunch, hot soup and a glass of red, arriving just in time to see the last quarter of the AFL grand final on the television. The flickering images proved too addictive, so we had to wait and watch as Collingwood lost to the Brisbane Lions — no big loss, neither team means that much to me!
Our accommodation was at “Walsh’s on Wildflower,” a B&B at Pomonal, 10km or so out of Halls Gap. True to their name, there are wildflowers everywhere, a large native garden and magnificent views of the easternmost range of the Grampians.
For something a little less tourist-oriented we drove into Stawell for dinner at the pub. The rest of Stawell seemed deserted, but inside the pub it was lively and warm. This decision worked out well, the Town Hall Hotel was laid-back, full, and served excellent steaks. Strangely, they seemed to refer on their menu to a website for the pub at http://www.townhallhotel.com.au/, I laughed and commented at the time that there were probably quite a few hotels of that name in the country. Checking up on this two days later shows that the website is of a pub somewhere in Sydney — I must have remembered it incorrectly, or they forgot to re-register their domain.