260km (161 miles) NW of Melbourne
One of Victoria's most popular attractions, the rugged Grampians National Park rises some 1,000m (3,280 ft.) from the plains, appearing from the distance like some kind of monumental island. The park, which is an ecological meeting place of Victoria's western volcanic plains and the forested Great Dividing Range, contains a third of all the wildflowers native to Victoria and most of the surviving Aboriginal rock art in southeastern Australia. The wildlife is rich and varied, and kangaroos, koalas, emus, gliders, and echidnas are easy to spot.
The main town is Halls Gap, in a valley between the southern tip of the Mount Difficult Range and the northern tip of the Mount William Range. It's a good place to stock up on supplies. The Wonderland Range, with its stunning scenery, is close to Halls Gap, too. There are plenty of short strolls, and longer bushwalks are available.
A must-do stop is the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre (tel. 03/5361 4000; www.brambuk.com.au), adjacent to the National Park and Cultural Centre . It offers an excellent introduction to the area's Aboriginal history and seven accessible rock-art sites. The Gariwerd Dreaming Theatre there shows two short movies depicting the creation story of the Grampians and an account of the area's Aboriginal and European history, geology, flora, and fauna; presentations are hourly. Entrance to the center is free, and it's open daily from 9am to 5pm. Guided tours, which include rock painting sites, run on weekdays at 9:30am and cost from A$20 adults and A$15 children for a 2-hour tour, including entry to the Gariwerd Dreaming Theatre. Allow 2 to 3 hours.