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The minibus tour.
The minibus tour.
Kayaking in the Grampians.
Taking a dip — looks cold.

Grampians backpacker

Thursday, December 12, 2002
Almost anything goes when you are heading for downright dirty, Victorian outback fun.

When Lucas Paull was 21, he backpacked his way around the world. He met so many other travellers who were curious about Australia, he decided to come home and start his own business — with a difference.

High Spirit Outdoor Adventures offer backpacking and camping trips for small groups, and Lucas loves taking visitors into the beautiful Grampians National Park in one of his buses.

Tours begin at Flinders Street Station in Melbourne and take the scenic route to the park, along the Great Ocean Road. The drive takes around three-and-a-half hours, and along the way, Lucas talks about local wildlife, history and Aboriginal culture.

The trip enters the Grampians through Halls Gap along a winding, dirt road. Reid's Lookout gives wonderful views of the mountains and the lake where Lucas's bush camp is located. You drive through a forest of tall trees, a red gum forest, a tea-tree scrub and through a river gorge.

Lucas lived in the park for five years, so has a great knowledge of it. He has the only permanent camping set-up within a Victorian National Park, and High Spirit has exclusive use. There is no electricity — all night light comes from candles and the campfire.

The sleeping tent is made from old army tents and is 40m by 40m square. It holds 13 bunks with sheets, blankets and pillows, but there is the option of sleeping under the stars in a swag.

There is a dining room which doubles as a chill-out area made from canvas, resembling a Bedouin tent.

The kitchen is made from an army tent, complete with a BYO bar area. Lucas prepares the meals, and everyone pitches in with preparation and washing up. Most meals are accompanied by a camp oven damper!

Water for showering is heated in a barrel by a wood fire. There is one shower, and it has no curtain. The bush sauna tent is 2m by 4m, made from truck tarpaulins over a bush frame. A fire is lit under a 44-gallon drum of water, and when it's boiling, steam is pumped into the tent past eucalyptus leaves, so giving a fresh and energising smell.

Lake Moora Moora Reservoir is a fresh lake and can be very cold, but Lucas usually jumps in and others follow.

There are long Canadian canoes for paddling in the peaceful waters, with a grand mountain backdrop and just the sound of native birds as company.

The park's dirt tracks are a cyclist's paradise. The best ones are about five kilometres away from camp, and the bikes are taken there by trailer. The views are quite wonderful.

Sitting around the bushfire swapping stories is a highlight of the day. Lucas plays a mean didgeridoo and also has PVC pipes, which are good for people to try emulating the haunting sound.

Word is that the highlight is having a bush sauna, jumping in the extremely cold lake and covering yourself with 400-million-year-old mud. It's good for exfoliation and, Lucas says, a load of fun.

Most of High Spirit's customers are international backpackers — usually around half from the UK and the rest made up of Dutch, Germans, Swiss, Canadians and Americans. They are all looking for the same thing — wide open spaces, no phones, no television, electricity, planes or cars.

Location

Along Victoria's Great Ocean Road.

Cost

High Spirit Outdoor Adventures' three-day tours, including all transport, accommodation, meals and activities, cost $199 per person. Tours operate year round.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

High Spirit Outdoor Adventures
Ph: (03) 9391 8188 or 1800 21 2020
Fax: (03) 9809 4380 Mob: 0412 233 888
Website: www.highspirit.com.au

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