There is a tourist information centre in Parker St (the Glenelg Highway) which is open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily. It can supply you pamphlets relating to various walks in and around town, tel: (03) 5577 2558.
Old Reservoir Walk
The Old Reservoir Walk starts behind the information centre. It initially follows the creek at the bottom of town, below the motel, taking in the old reservoir, the arboretum, the sawmill and other attractions. A related pamphlet is available from the information centre.
The town's Arboretum was a community project based on the old Water Reserve. There are over 700 trees in the reserve, including what is allegedly the second-largest collection of oaks in Australia. It is situated just outside of town (directions can be obtained from the information centre).
Dunkeld Historical Museum
Dunkeld Historical Museum is located in an old bluestone church (1865) in Templeton St. It is open Sundays and public holidays from 1.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. A major attraction is a stump allegedly engraved by Major Mitchell during his Australia Felix expedition. There is also material pertaining to the area's pre-colonial inhabitants, to the histories of local wool stations and the havoc wrought by the 1944 bushfires.
The Skin Inn
The Skin Inn sells sheepskin products, knitting wools, a nursery, craft supplies, garden ornaments and bric-a-brac. It is located in Parker St, tel: (03) 5577 2251.
Antiques and Temptations
Antiques and Temptations is located in Parker St, opposite the hotel, and is open daily. It sells gifts and artworks.
3 km north of town, at the junction of Victoria Valley Rd and Grampians Tourist Road (the road to Halls Gap), is a parking area to the left which is the start of a well-formed walking track (6.8 km return). It crosses a small footbridge and ascends slowly through open forest of brown stringybark and grass trees. After 1 km you will pass another track to the right. The track steepens then emerges from the forest into tall heathland. A prominent rock cairn to the left of the track denotes a viewing area offering perspectives of Mount Abrupt and the smaller Mt Piccaninny to the north-east. The track proceeds past a rock shelter on the left to the open summit (548 m above sea-level) from whence there are excellent views. There are swamp wallabies about and, from July to December, plenty of wildflowers about.
Victoria Valley Nature Drive
At the aforementioned intersection, the Grampians Tourist Road heads off to the right and Victoria Valley Rd to the left. The latter leads through the Victoria Valley which has been declared a wildlife sanctuary. There are fine views and extensive redgum woodlands with wildflowers, shady picnic areas and plenty of emus and kangaroos.
Freshwater Lake Reserve is 8 km from Dunkeld along this road. It has good barbecues and birdlife. On the other side of the road is the Grampians Golf Course. If you don't wish to play it is still very pleasant to stroll along the edge of the fairways as there are wallabies, kangaroos, emus and echidnae about.
The Victoria Valley Nature Drive is outlined in material available at the Grampians National Park Visitor Centre, tel: (03) 5356 4381. The road heads north then north-east to rejoin the Grampians Road about 30 km north of Dunkeld.
4.5 km from Dunkeld, along the Grampians Tourist Road, is a turnoff on the left which leads to a parking area by the town reservoir. There is an easy-going walk to the peak of Mt Piccaninny (422 m above sea-level) which offers views of Dunkeld to the south, Mt Sturgeon to the south-west and Mt Abrupt to the north-east. Turn left before the gate, walk to the rifle range and follow the track up the back of Piccaninny. There are plenty of orchids about.
8 km north of Dunkeld, along the Grampians Tourist Road, is a small signposted parking area on the right-hand side of the road. A steep and difficult track to the summit of Mt Abrupt (6 km return) starts on the opposite side of the road. It leads through thick forest then ascends steeply to a rocky ridge north of Mt Abrupt. The track then follows the ridge southwards although this part of the path isn't obvious. Watch out for small rock cairns and red arrows on boulders. A last steep ascent ends at the boulder-strewn summit (827 m) which affords some of the finest views in the area.
About 40 km from Dunkeld on the Halls Gap Road is a turnoff on the right into the unsealed Jimmy Creek Rd. It leads to Mafeking. Some small sawmilling companies worked this area for timber in the 19th century but the area is of interest today because of a short-lived goldrush which occurred in 1900. The landscape was devastated by the goldminers who removed the wattle, tea-tree and bracken fern in the search for gold. The stringybark forests were lopped to supply bark and timber for miner's huts, mining stays and fuel. Some old trees remain, along with fern gullies and regenerating forest.
There is an attractive picnic area, a campground and an information board but this area is definitely unsuitable for children as there are a number of dangerous mineshafts.
Brownings Walk (one hour return) takes in some remaining historic features. A pamphlet is available from the Grampian National Park Visitors' Centre at Halls Gap,tel: (03) 5356 4381. It identifies various features of the walk, including an old-growth stringybark, a regenerated gully, the site of the first claim, tail races, old shafts, a dam embankment used for water storage and open-cut minesites which were worked by means of hydraulic sluicing. A jet of water was directed onto the face of a cutting to dislodge material. The earth was then shovelled into a contraption known as a 'Tom' which consisted of two boxes laid atop one another. Water was directed into the upper box where a grate trapped the coarser gravels, stones and rocks while the finer particles of gravel, sand and gold fell through to the second box. There a series of bars or ripples at the bottom of the box helped trap fine gold particles while the water and lighter material ran off as overflow.
Grampians National Park
Just north of the turnoff to Mafeking, on the other side of the Halls Gap Rd, is the Jimmy Creek picnic area and campground.
200 m north of the campground, on the Halls Gap Road, is the start of the Stockyard Saddle Walk (13.2-km return) which leads to the tip of the Serra Range, passing through Teddy Bear's Gap. A brochure outlining this, and other walks in the Southern Grampians, is available from the Grampian National Park Visitors' Centre at Halls Gap,tel: (03) 5356 4381.
56 km from Dunkeld there is a turnoff on the right which leads, after another 10 km, to a carpark at the base of Mt William (aka Mt Duwil) which, at 1187 m, is the highest point in the Grampians. A steep 1.5-km walking track leads from the carpark to the summit from whence the views are exceptional. The best time for this ascent is at sunrise or sunset.
About 3 km further north, just south of Lake Bellfield, is the large Borough Huts Campground which is situated in an open area next to Fyans Creek. A project (completed in 1881) to transfer water from this creek to Stawell bought workers into this area and the small township of Borough Huts emerged.
For further information on Grampians National Park see entry on Halls Gap.
Along Victoria Valley Road is a 40-ha property known as 'Heathlands' owned by naturalist Graham Pizzey, author of Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. His home is effectively a birdhide surrounded by bush that is home to around 140 bird species with another 160 or so species in the wider region. There are also wallabies, kangaroos and about 1000 plant species. Graham and his wife offer accommodation for four people, a large natural history library and, of course, fine birdwatching opportunities, together with tuition in recognising 'field-marks' and calls and discussions about the way the birds mesh with one another and their environment, tel: (03) 5577 2501.
The area has some fine 4WD tracks - Henham Track, Bullawin Rd, Goat Track, Brady's Swamp, Watgania Gap via Mafeking and many others. They are subject to seasonal closures.