Three hours west of Melbourne, the Grampians National Park is home to rugged rock formations, breathtaking panoramas and indigenous rock art dating back 22,000 years. Popular with hikers, the area has a multitude of walking trails and scenic lookouts, but it also boasts impressive art galleries and museums, as well as more unusual sites. From the Silo Art Trail to haunted asylums and zoos, here are some of Culture Trip’s favourite things to see and do in the Grampians.
Built in the mid-19th century as the Ararat Gaol, J Ward transitioned into a maximum-security psychiatric ward for the criminally insane in 1887. Housing and treating Victoria’s mentally ill for over 125 years, J Ward was still operating up until 1991, when it finally closed its doors. Take a guided tour or ghost tour of the complex, with its eerie architecture and abandoned buildings, including the gallows, and learn about the stories of the murderers and the murdered, whose spirits are still believed to haunt J Ward — or so they say.
While the Grampians may be better known for its waterfalls and wildflowers than its wine, the region is home to some of the oldest vines in the world. The perfect way to wind down after a day exploring, the Grampians are home to some of the state’s most varied and unique cellar doors, with some dating back to the 1800s.
One of Victoria’s most popular new attractions, the Silo Art Trail zig-zags through the countryside above the Grampians. Although trying to squeeze seeing all of these incredible painted silos on the Victoria Silo Art Trail into one day could be a bit much – around a six- to seven-hour road trip – some of the closer ones like Sheep Hills and Rupanyup are well worth a visit if you can spare a few hours.
Additional reporting by Cassie Wilkins.