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5000 came for cool jazz to hose down bushfire blues

February 24, 2006
5000 came for cool jazz to hose down bushfire blues

Halls Gap 'opened for business' with the sound of the finest jazz music in the country leading the way and attracted more than 5000 visitors, Beth Gibson of Northern Grampians Shire Council told GSA.Therewere129 bandsat the 20th Grampians Jazz Festival which openedon Friday, Feb. 10and ended on Sunday, Feb. 12. After 20 years of cool sounds recent bushfires had no chance against hot jazz musicians from all around Australia as they got into traditional New Orleans, mainstream, Dixieland, swing and modern jazz music.
Helen Marshall, Manager of Halls Gap Lakeside Caravan Park told GoSeeAustralia that the Jazz Festival brought the good times back to Hall Gap - It was great to have our park full of happy, music loving guests for the weekend of February 10 to 13, she said. On the Saturday night we all enjoyed Jazzen on Trads special performance at Lakeside so much that Sunday night our barbecue area experienced more music, dancing and of course a few empty bottles of wine.
The kookaburras and rosellas love having our guests here as it means more meal times with bags of wild birdseed in abundance. No doubt, handfeeding the birds is an experience all our guests enjoy. The large number of kangaroos entertains our guests and special visits from the local deer and our small family of emu delight them too.
On Monday morning 200 guests enjoyed a pancake breakfast provided by Lakeside from 8am 10am. Empty plates returned for the second or third serving of Helens mothers recipe.
Guests loved the thick pancakes with a delightful selection of toppings, many requested the recipe to take home with them, Helen said.
On Wed. Feb 15 Helen and her husband Tom went for a drive to Mount William car park and that brought smiles too.
Editor's note: Place your cursor on thepictures to read the captions.
Green Regrowth and grass trees, Mt William, pic. Helen Marshall We are amazed at the regrowth already occurring, she said. Lots of ferns are poking through the charred ground and the grass trees are green.
With more roads opening daily the sights of regeneration will be awesome cant wait for the wildflower season! Helen said.
The jazz bands included Hot'B'Hines, Swing It! Ragtime Rollers and Derek Dalton's Phoenix Jazz Band. Headlining musicians include Gavan Gow, Graham Coyle, Gail Kingston, Nyn Hamilton, Marlene Richards and Pippa Wilson. There were also five big school bands.

Ralphys Takeaway gives thanksOrganising committee member, Doug McDonald told GoSeeAustralia jazz lovers make and annual pilgrimage to Halls Gap for one of the biggest events on the Australian music calendar.

In its 20th year, the Grampians Jazz Festival attracts not only music lovers, but visitors from around the region, interstate and from overseas, said Mr McDonald.

Halls Gap businesses are excited about the influx of visitors. All venueswere within walking distance of each other so the jazz fans could move around and listen to whatever talentthey desired, he said.

The PROGRAMMED VENUES for the festival were -

  • Mountain Grand Guesthouse
  • Centenary Hall
  • Pinnacle Lodge
  • Colonial Motor Inn
  • Plus various marquees in the main street and behind main street shops

and the Parkgate Resort, Halls Gap, gets a ringside seat at the fires, pic. Samantha MagillCASUAL VENUES

  • Kookaburra Restaurant
  • Ralphy's Restaurant
  • Halls Gap Hotel
  • Morningside
  • Quarry Restaurant
  • The Valley Inn Lodges

The Grampians people are survivors. It shows in the way they feel about their region. You have to really love something to appreciate its beauty when recent raging bushfires threaten to engulf everything you have worked to create.

But Samantha Magill of Parkgate Resort, Grampians Rd, Halls Gap is typical of caravan park owners who love the Grampians so her words capture the natural power of the place What a horrendous experience, she told GSA.But we got some amazing shots of the fire in the mountains, as destructive as it was you had to marvel at its power and beauty. Samantha's pictures are included in this feature and the feature Parkies face the firestormas are shots from Lakeside Caravan Park.

Parkgate owner operators Richard and Glenda Naudi and Daniel and Samantha Magill, came to Halls Gap in December 1998 and they stayed.

Like Bob and Millie Farmer at Lake Fyans Holiday Park 12 minutes drive from Halls Gap, the Grampians National Park and from the Western Highway at Stawell they have become part of the area.

Firestorm smokeThe Grampians has more than 1,000 species of ferns and flowering plants native to the Grampians and this is expected to be an outstanding wildflower year fertilised by the nutrients which come as a by-product in the ash of bushfires.

So the summer fires which swept into the Grampians and forced the evacuation of Halls Gap at their height have a floral aftermath.

Wildflowers provide a dramatic splash of colour across the region from August to November and Halls Gap Wildflower Show in September is a good reason to spend time in the Grampians.

The Grampians scenery is unique in Australia, and offers one of the most interesting regions in the country for bushwalkers, scenic drives, caravanning, Recreational Vehicles, motor homes, campervans and 4WD enthusiast.

Water bomber copter Elvis attacksWaterfalls crash in cascades, in a region that is also home to 200 species of birds, legions of wallabies, kangaroos, koalas and emus. Several hundred kilometres of sealed, gravel and earth roads, carefully planned to minimise environmental impact, help open up the Grampians to visitors.

Halls Gap is the traditional heart of Victoria's Grampians. It was found through the pioneering curiosity that built Australian when in 1841 Charles Hall discovered a gap in the mountains and found the valley that carries his name. The Gap brought cattle to the area.

From Halls Gap pleasant drives on good roads lead to a choice of lakes like Fyans, Bellfield, Lonsdale, Wartook and Moora Moora. The lakes are part of the excellent fishing available throughout the region. Include Lake Wooroonook, Volcano and Teddington Reservoirs to the favourites and try the Avoca and Avon Rivers. If you are over 18 get a fishing licence.

A recreational fishing licence is needed in any inland or estuary in Victorian waters (including up to three nautical miles offshore).

Charred Halls Gap Pomonal RoadThere are exceptions: You will not need a licence to fish if you are: under 18 years of age; 70 years of age or over; or a holder of a Victorian Seniors Card; Veterans' Affairs Pensioner Card; Veterans' Affairs Repatriation Health Card coded (TPI). Commonwealth Pensioner Concession Card coded either (DSP), (DSP Blind), (AGE), (AGE Blind) or (CAR)

A licence may be obtained from the Dept of Primary Industry, Fishing and Aquaculture, or at some of the local fishing and bait shops in the region. Phone the Dept of Primary Industry, Fishing and Aquaculture 136.186 (Customer Service). To report fishing offences 13 34 74.

The jagged rocky impact of the Grampians reaches more than 1000m above the surrounding fertile plains about 260km west of Melbourne and 460km east of Adelaide.

It was close work at Lake FyansGariwerd is the traditional Koori name for the Grampians and many clans have left evidence of their culture in an association that spans more than 10,000 years. In 1991 the traditional names of many places and features in the Grampians were restored in recognition of the traditions and mythology of Victoria's traditional people. Gariwerd is the home of the largest collection of art sites in south-eastern Australia. This traditional art is to be found in shelters like Billimina, Bunjils, Manja, Gulgurn Manja and Ngamadjidj.

The Brambuk and National Park Cultural Centre, at Halls Gap impart knowledge of culture, history and art. The centre can be contacted on 03 5356 4452.

Explorer Major Thomas Mitchell discovered this remarkable region in 1836 and gave Gariwerd its European title from his own nostalgia as the jagged peaks recalled the ramparts of the Grampians of his native Scotland.

Regrowth from Dec 31 fireThe Wonderland Range is the most popular section of the Grampians with it amazing rock formations, canyons, waterfalls and lookouts with views to the Fyans Valley.

More then 160km of walking tracks offer options from gentle strolls to challenging expeditions. Walking is the best way to see the region, although horse riding is a popular option and the area offers striking scenery for on and off-road touring. There are more than 50 walking tracks and they vary in distance and the physical demands they imposed on walkers.

Be prepared and seek information before heading off in the Grampians National Park. This is a place where the weather changes quickly as the summer winds which recently fanned raging bushfires illustrate.

But water as much as earth and fire is a natural signature in this ancient country and beautiful waterfalls cascade throughout the Grampians National Park. For example MacKenzie Falls is one of four waterfalls in the MacKenzie River Gorge. The falls flow all year but are usually best between June and October. A short walk from the Mt Victory Rd parking area reveals an excellent view of the falls.

Manager Helen Marshall gets down to business at Lakeside Caravan Park From MacKenzie Falls Kiosk a 2km return track leads to the base of the falls. The track is strenuous in places. So put on sturdy shoes, carry a warm waterproof jacket, sunscreen, wear a hat and carry drinking water and some food. Let someone reliable know your plans before you go.

In addition to unstructured touring and activities in the Grampians information on adventurer and eco-style tours is available from the Halls Gap Visitor Information centre.

The rocky peaks of the Grampians form the dramatic backdrop to one of Australia's most historical wine regions, the birthplace of Australia's sparkling wine industry in the 1860s.

The district of Great Western lends its name one of the best-known sparkling wines in Australia, and a tour of Seppelts National Trust-classified underground tunnels a unique experience.

Birds return to local caravan parks This is one of Australia's most acclaimed wine regions. Table wines, especially shiraz and riesling, with chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon add to the richness and diversity. Some of the shiraz vines are the oldest in the world.

The Grampians wine region includes vineyards and wineries around the city of Ararat and the townships of Halls Gap, Buangor and Great Western.

The Western Highway (A8) runs inland from Melbourne to link Adelaide through country which is typically Australian. Beaufort, Ararat, Stawell, Horsham, Dimboola and Kaniva are markers on an experience that includes wineries, fine public buildings, goldfields, athletics, quintessential Australiana, deserts, and rural enterprise

The Great Grape Road Touring Route (Courtesy Tourism Victoria).

Recommended duration: three days

Total distance: MelbourneBallarat 112km, Great Ocean Road and WarrnamboolBallarat 174km.

Driving time: MelbourneBallarat 1hr 30mins, Great Ocean Road and WarrnamboolBallarat 1hr 45mins.

The Great Grape Road touring route is a scenic circuit through the Pyrenees, Grampians and Ballarat wine regions of western Victoria. These wine regions produce some of Australia's finest cool-climate wines most notably shiraz, which has earned international recognition.

Local cellar door experiences range in style from sophisticated tasting rooms to barrel-side tastings in underground tunnels. Winemakers are keen to share their experiences and their produce as you compare and contrast the highly individual flavours of the three regions.

The first vines in the Grampians region were planted in 1863 (some are the oldest shiraz vines in the world). Today the scenic countryside around Ararat, Buangor, Great Western and Hall Gaps is home to wineries like historic Seppelts and Best's, Great Western and newer vineyards such as Mt Langi Ghiran and Montara. Grampians wines are known for their strong berry flavours and soft tannins.

After leaving the mountainous terrain of the Grampians, the Great Grape Road swings east toward the soaring Pyrenees, a splendid backdrop for a tasting at the region's excellent wineries.

The rich purple berry fruit flavours of the region's cabernet sauvignon and shiraz offer hints of mint and eucalyptus. And its chardonnay sauvignon blanc show soft stone fruit flavours and a refreshing acidity.

From the Pyrenees, the Great Grape Road swings south to the nine wineries of the Ballarat region, where the climate is ideal for chardonnay and pinot noir. The long growing season here produces complex and subtle wines flint and citrus in the chardonnay and spice and rich berry character in the pinot noir.

Grey Kangaroo alive and feedingAt the Southern end of the Grampians, near the village of Dunkeld, Mount Sturgeon raises towering cliffs on an escarpment, which seems slashed by a gigantic chainsaw.

The walk up the mountains flanks is steep and interesting; with magnificent views once the crest is gained, across the Western Plains to Hamilton and in the direction of Ballarat and Melbourne.

Editor's note: Dress for the experience in stout, comfortable footwear and loose clothing, which copes with the variations of exercise that reflects the season.

Wear a hat and take something to drink. Bush walking experiences are always best shared, as two heads are better than one in the event of a mishap, and it is always nice to share the pleasures of doing something new and exciting.

Lakeside Road CP sign is a great survivorHorsham is a typical busy rural and retail centre. It is the closest major town to Mt Zero and the northern end of the Grampians range, making it a good starting point for exploration. Horsham is also a good base as it is central to Mt Arapiles -Tooan State Park, Little Desert National Park, Black Range State Park and the Northern Grampians.

The Regional Art Gallery surprises with a collection of important works and the Botanic Gardens offer a pleasant spot for lunch.

Mt Arapiles, north of the main Grampians chain, was initially discovered and climbed by rock climbers from around the world; it is now being discovered by backpackers and the touring visitor.

Some of the best views of the region are from the mount. In September yearly the yellow canola, green wheat and barley mixed with the brown fallow paddocks makes a brilliant patchwork of colour. Natimuk is a quaint village, home to a growing array of antique and craft shops. Aboriginal history and culture is important and the mount hosts a wealth of heritage.

The Little Desert blooms with wildflowers in the spring and offers some excellent safe walks from a family stroll to a four-day bush walk.

The Wartook Valley offers diverse scenery, attractions and activities including olive groves, Aboriginal rock art, waterfalls, kangaroos and emus, horse riding as well as magnificent wildflowers.

Visitors return to Halls GapThe valley takes in areas known as Dadswell's Bridge, Mt Zero, Laharum, Brimpaen, Roses Gap as well as Wartook itself. The Valley has a full range of accommodation and tourist businesses.

Hamilton is a natural link with South Australia, via the Glenelg Highway.

The city that rose high on the sheep's back ties with the Great Ocean Road via Port Fairy, links with the Grampians at nearby Dunkeld and offers a pivot for the interesting drive to Mount Gambier and two states touring through a striking region.

Hamilton is the centre of fascinating volcanic features.

Mount Napier lava tube and Byaduk volcanic caves are certainly something different. The tumuli beside Old Crusher Rd seem almost man-made in their strangely ordered formations.

GSA's things to see and do

GSA acknowledges input from by regional tourism groups and Tourism Victoria.

The Grampians National Park has some of the best natural scenery in the state.

Koori Culture is revealed through the Brambruk and National Park and Cultural Centre near Halls Gap.

Walking is the best way to see the region via more than 50 tracks. The tracks vary in distance and physical demands.

Beautiful waterfalls cascade in the Grampians National Park. MacKenzie Falls is one of four waterfalls in the MacKenzie River Gorge.

Grampian waters are home to brown and rainbow trout, blackfish and redfin.

Wonderland Range is among the best-known parts of the Grampians. Its rock formations, waterfalls, walking tracks and wildlife make it an ideal area for families and bushwalkers.

The Grampians wineries are the birthplace of Australian sparkling wines and with more than a century of wine making experience, are also famous for table wines.

The Grampians-Pyrenees Wine Country is a wine growing area, which is now more than 132 years old.

One of the worlds richest sprint race, the Stawell Gift, is run every Easter in the rural centre. Stawell Athletics Club ran its first Gift in April 1878. Stawell is Victoria's biggest gold producer.

The Stawell heritage trail is a self-guided or guided tour that looks at Stawell's growth.

The Wartook Valley has a vast array of olive groves, wildflowers, waterfalls aboriginal rock art.

Ararat is an interesting link in the Goldfields and Great Southern Tourist routes and features in the Grampians and Pyrenees Wine Trails.

Guided tours include adventure, eco, night spotlight walks, winery and heritage.

See the Gum San centre and J Ward at Ararat for an insight into the contribution the Chinese made to Australia and the evolution of mental health in Victoria.

The Volcanic Discovery Trail near Hamilton brings Mount Napier into volcanic context across views like the Harman's Valley lava flow.

The nearby Byaduk Caves are Australia's most accessible lava caves. Several are now open to the public with walking tracks and viewing platforms.

Hamilton's art gallery has more than 6000 objects, which include silver, porcelain and glass, oriental ceramics, Australian paintings and 18th century English watercolours.

Mount Arapiles, north of the main Grampians chain, off the Wimmera Highway, is world famous among climbers and offers a spectacular view from its summit, which can be reached by car.

Editor's note: GoSeeAustralia thanks Beth Gibson and her team at Northern Grampians Shire Council, Stawell, Tom Parkes of the Dept of Sustainability and Environment, Parks Victoria, Samantha Magill of Parkgate Resort, Halls Gap for their help with information and pictures to support images taken by GoSeeAustralia.

Prue Daley of Parks Victoria gave GoSee Australia good news from the Grampians today (Feb 24). Mount Victory Road officially re-opened this afternoon.

She says the following sites are also open:
1. Boroka Lookout
2. Reed Lookout
3. Balconies Walk
4. Zumstein Picnic Area
5. Zumstein Historic Walk
MacKenzie Falls, Lake Wartook and Smith Mill remain closed until further notice.

When the first version of this feature was compiled (07.02.2006) Parks Victoria reported that natural attractions north of Roses Gap were accessible. Roads: The road network in the Northern Grampians Shire is now open, Beth Gibson of Northern Grampians Shire Council says.Ararat Rural City Council is seeking assistance to work on roads affected by the bushfires.

She told GoSee Australia today (Feb 21) the 50 percentof roads are now open in Ararat Rural City . For more details call 03 5355 0220.
The Grampians Region Tourism Recovery Group has approved the appointment of a chair person, project coordinator and public relations officer. The Group is also planning a workshop for tourism operators about how to retain bookings. Ph:AngieLush0353588700.
For current information onthe Grampians please check Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 19 63 (within Australia). This After the Fires feature will be regularly updated on GoSeeAustralia as the Grampians region recovers.

Editor's Note also see: