There was always the option to stay in our hotel room and binge-watch another Netflix show, I suppose. I preferred to believe there was a comfortable distance between the guests of Halls Gap and life-per-usual.
This is The Grampians. Another day means another peak.We were surrounded on all sides by startling rocky monoliths. Dramatic; imposing; each offering their own reward upon completion of the challenge they laid before us. After the breath-taking 360 degree panorama of Mt Sturgeon and the climactic thrill of Chatauqua peak’s rocky scramble the day before, our goal was a view west, over the National Park.
Mount Rosea was calling our names.
We were promised a rapid ‘steep ascent’ but were initially delivered a moderately hilly countryside ramble. Wide, deliberate paths kept us on track through tall woodland, shielding us from a fierce sun, streaking through the forest.
Occasional lookouts had us reaching for our cameras time and again, as the majesty of this spectacular corner of the world persistently betrayed the convention that beauty is found at the highest points. The path to the top meandered, providing fantastic views in all directions, and the ground beneath our feet grew richer in colour before changing dramatically. The yellow brick road led to the blackened path to Mordor.
‘I think this might be our steep ascent’ she said, optimistically.
In fact, this was Rosea’s bluff; the pre-cursor not just to a challenging gradient, but to a very real sense of wilderness. The mountain was toying with us like a puppeteer.
As the path gave way to sheer rock faces, the yellow arrows acting as our subtle guides as if clues in a vast, empty maze, became harder to spot. As we climbed, the rocks seemed to grow around us and we became amongst them, forming a synergy with our environment as it beckoned us forward, obstructing us whilst providing safe passage as we navigated huge boulders and gigantic rock formations.
Clambering, hoisting and saturated, we hauled our way through the ascent, marvelling at the different environments this mountain treated us with, ever aware that the rate of our climb would soon provide our reward, and so it did, first in the shape of Eagle Rock, an outpost overlooking a view of the national park that was simply stunning.
‘Do you think this is it?’ she panted. I affirmed conclusively, as Rosea’s actual peak chuckled in my peripheral. So sure were we of our accomplishment, we began to congratulate other intrepid adventurers on their achievement, as they arrived behind us. It took a hiker with a means of measuring distance to cheerfully inform us we were over a kilometre away from our intended destination.
It would take a considerably creative imagination to conceive of beauty beyond where we stood, and we’re still unsure whether the peak truly outranked the view from Eagle Rock. But we were not to be outdone – we were here to conquer Mount Rosea, so walk on we must.
From Eagle Rock, the most spectacular experience we encountered was the final kilometre journey to the top. The path rises and falls through a rocky labyrinth, providing mini-caves, jumps, bridges and a natural architecture so exhilarating it was easy to forget the punishment we’d given our weary feet. Huge boulders greeted our final stretch as we accomplished one more peak with an overwhelming view and a deeper appreciation of Mother Nature.
It’s trite to assume anyone truly ‘conquers’ a mountain of this magnitude of size and beauty. Mountains like Rosea are, in fact, humbling reminders of the timeless, towering magnificence we’re privileged to experience.
The real triumph is Rosea herself, and the gift she offers those who heed her call.