The Grampians

Take One:

We planned a weekend away in the Grampians, with an Aradale Lunatic Asylum and J Ward visit, so we booked accommodation in Ararat which is close by to use as our base.

As they say in the classics, the ‘best laid plans of mice and men, often go astray’… add women to that too vbg.  We headed up the Western Highway towards Ballarat, veered off towards Horsham, drove through very cute and quaint Beaufort (plan to go back there, lots of old photographic worthy buildings), lunched at the Cottage Garden Cafe in Beaufort … scones with jam and cream..yummy… and arrived in Ararat around 12.30pm
As we couldn’t book into our accom until three, we decided, armed with all the maps, directions, info from the Internet I had printed out, plus Lucy’s Tom Tom to head off and see a waterfall.  Originally the plan was to see Mackenzie Falls, but as the Parks Victoria site said the base of the waterfall was closed due to storm damage, and it’s not worth seeing a waterfall just from the top, we drove off looking for Beehive Falls.  And were still looking an hour later.
Roses Gap Road with Grampians in distance

Roses Gap Road with Grampians in distance

Like the fabled Utopia, its out there somewhere, but hidden behind the mists of time and lost travelers.  We drove down Roses Gap Road (dirt road all the way)  for over half an hour, stirring up a massive dust cloud behind us, and never found the ‘Roses Gap Car park  that was on that road (according to the directions printed out) and never found Beehive Falls.

We did see some great views of the Grampians as we drove its length and breadth… but that’s as close as we got 🙁  As it was by now around 2.30 we turned around, headed back to Ararat and after  brief but obligatory stop at MacDonald’s for a late lunch we arrived at our cottage around 4pm and loved it on sight.

Golf Links Retreat Cottage

Golf Links Retreat Cottage

We were greeted by our very hospitable hosts Merren and Peter, who introduced us to the gorgeous cottage Golf Links Retreat we were staying in.  Set in beautiful gardens it’s a Bluestone brick exterior, old exposed brick walls and timber ceilings inside, two storey, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom.. breakfast basket, Coonara heater.. heaven!!  We took the princess too and she took to it straight way… it was ‘home’ for three days and that’s just what it felt like..home.  We do plan to go back and find those waterfalls next time too!

Morning - the neighbours from the golf course next door came to visit

 

 

Which Maggie was none too sure about :-)

Which ‘the princess’ was none too sure about 🙂

As Saturday was very wet and rained ALL day we decided to stay in and do some ‘arting’.  We had taken supplies with us and spent the day making gazillions of chipboard tiles that we will be adhering to large canvases.  Sunday was just as overcast and cool.. but only brief showers so we decided to head off to Aradale Mental Hospital  It started life named Aradale Lunatic Asylum and take the tour (link will give you all the info on it)

Aradale, built in 1866 and closed in 1998

Aradale, built in 1866 and closed in 1998

The outside of it was beautiful.. huge, huge complex of around 70 buildings.. but inside it had suffered from renovations in the 50’s and 70’s and wasn’t what I was expecting.  It was more interesting once we got into the older parts.

 Monday, we were heading home but stopped off and took the tour of J ward.  J Ward started out as a gold fields prison back in 1859 and when gold ran out the ‘Lunacy Department’ (I kid you not) acquired it as a prison for the criminally insane.  It housed the most dangerous and violent offenders that were deemed unfit due to mental issues to stand trial, and here they were detained ‘at the Governor’s pleasure’ under the highest security (and lowest conditions).  One famous inmate was Garry David Webb
Main Cell Block - above the netting is the original gallows from when it was a Gaol.  Three men were hanged here

Main Cell Block – above the netting is the original gallows from when it was a Gaol. Three men were hanged here

J Ward Kitchen

J Ward Kitchen

J Ward, original bathhouse -  windowless dungeon like room under the complex.. and ONE bath used by all inmates

J Ward, original bathhouse – windowless dungeon like room under the complex.. and ONE bath used by all inmates

After our tour (very interesting with a very informative guide)  we continued our journey back home.  As I said, we do plan to go back again to both Ararat and the Golf Links Retreat…find those waterfalls and take the ghost tour of J ward!

Take Two:

Lucy and I returned to Ararat armed with better maps and a goal to finally see a waterfall in the Grampians.  We had taken a wrong turn last time and ended up travelling for miles on a dirt road.. this time we were prepared. Friday we drove straight to Halls Gap and saw Reids Lookout, The Balconies and a little bit of McKenzie Falls (track to the base was closed).  However the track to Broken Falls was open and more our style (suitable for the fitness challenged).  Broken Falls are quite pretty, and I could see why they were named so, the water plunges over the top but splits into several separate falls… was quite hard to get a good shot from the viewing platform though… quite a few trees blocked our view…(where’s a chainsaw when you want one lol).
Broken Falls

Broken Falls

We were booked in at the Links Retreat B&B again… very nice little bluestone cottage alongside the golf course..we’d sit on the veranda and watch the golfers go by… and try to putt around the kangaroos who were lifetime members. We had taken our art journals to work on… two big suitcases of supplies and a small bag of clothes each… I should have taken a pic of the table as we worked on them.. hmmm maybe not…think our hosts would have had a heart attack at the mess we made (but we cleaned up before we left
Chalambar Golf Club

Chalambar Golf Club

Saturday we headed back to McKenzie Falls via Stawell for breakfast, was sunny but cool morning but unfortunately it was raining quite a bit up in the hills and I didnt get a shot of them (Lucy did using my tripod which we were sharing but the rain came down in buckets as she finished so we packed it in) and we returned to Ararat for lunch.  At least that was the plan.  Ararat shuts at 1pm on saturday.  Almost nothing open… except McDonalds which we were sick of… no nice cafe’s… so we comprised and had a very nice Subway lunch before returning to our cottage to art for the rest of the day.
Sunday in Ararat… bustling town of 8200 very sleepy people it seems… as Ararat was totally deserted and dead at 11am… few shops were opening but it seems there is very little Sunday trading in Ararat.  It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there.

Sunday night the sun shone so we headed up the road to One Tree Hill… odd name for something that is covered in trees, but thats country folk for you.  We had timed our visit to coincide with sunset and the view was beautiful

One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill

Monday morning was back on the road home… our art journals had quite a few pages done… we had a lovely time… and made a two new resolutions (never visit somewhere with bad internet access and make sure the town stays open past 1950)

The Rusty Ramblers

The Rusty Ramblers

 

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