Known as Gariwerd by local Indigenous people, Grampians National Park is a place of spectacular natural beauty and is the site of a major Aboriginal rock art region in south-eastern Australia.
Major Thomas Mitchell named the mountains after scaling Mt Duwil (Mt William), the highest peak in the Grampians, with a small group of explorers in 1836. He chose 'the Grampians' after the rugged region in his native Scotland. European settlers arrived after hearing his favourable reports of potential grazing.
The Grampians soon became a centre for farming, mining and timber production, and a source of water for surrounding farmland. The Grampians were designated as State Forest in 1872 and declared a National Park in 1984.
The Grampians are famous for beautiful landscapes - high rocky plateaus and sheltered gullies contrast with the surrounding flat and open farmland adjoining the park. The drama of the landscape is enhanced by numerous rock formations, waterfalls and clear streams, lookouts with panoramic views over forests, woodlands, wetlands, fern gullies, and spectacular spring flowers. Geological processes have sculpted sweeping slopes, craggy peaks and massive sandstone cliffs.
Depicting the natural landscape
The dramatic landforms have inspired numerous works by significant Australian artists in a range of media including painting, poetry, literature, photography and film.
As an island of bushland in a largely cleared agricultural landscape, the Grampians support over 975 native plant species, representing over one third of the total Victorian flora. Many of these species are only found here.
During spring the park puts on a colourful display of wildflowers, including Grampians boronia, blue pin-cushion lily, Grampians parrot-pea, and Grampians thryptomene. The area is abundant in 'bacon and eggs' pea flowers, and also has more than 75 orchid species. This incredible biodiversity is due to the wide variety of rock and soil types and environmental niches.
The variety of vegetation, topography and habitats provides shelter and food for at least 230 bird species. The low open shrubby woodlands in the park support many different nectar-feeding birds, and the tall open forests are important for species that live in hollows, such as the powerful owl.
The Grampians wetlands, particularly those in the south of the park, support a diverse community of waterbirds, including the great egret. The numerous cliff faces provide nesting sites for the peregrine falcon, and large populations of emus are found throughout the lowland areas. The diverse habitats throughout the park also support a wide range of animals, reptiles, amphibians, native fish, huntsmen spiders and butterflies. The richness in water beetles is indicative of the region's health and its broad biodiversity.
Protecting threatened species
Many threatened species of plants and animals are found in the Grampians, including the Grampians pincushion lily and the southern pipewort. Nationally threatened animals recorded in the park include the endangered red-tailed black cockatoo, and smoky mouse. There is also the vulnerable swift parrot, warty bell frog, brush-tailed rock wallaby, long-nosed potoroo, and heath rat.
Aboriginal rock sites
The Grampians have an extraordinarily rich array of Aboriginal rock art sites, with motifs that include depictions of human figures, animal tracks and birds. Notable rock art sites are:
- Billimina (Glenisla shelter)
- Jananginj Njani (Camp of the Emu's Foot)
- Manja (Cave of Hands)
- Larngibunja (Cave of Fishes)
- Ngamadjidj (Cave of Ghosts)
- Gulgurn Manja (Flat Rock).
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