A perfect spot for a long weekend getaway camping

Camping at Langi Ghiran State Park, near Ararat, Victoria

It was a long weekend – where to go for our long weekend getaway?

‘What about Langi Ghiran State Park’ suggested Brother-in-law Soeren.

Where?

The idea was very enticing – only 2 hours from Melbourne, not far from Ararat, accessed from the Western Highway. We had often travelled that way when heading for the outback. We always made a beeline for Ararat for that first morning coffee, which was a reward for getting away and out of the city’s morning rush.

We had even seen the brown signs with the funny name as we sped past, and placed it on our ‘must go there one day’ list. For this long weekend getaway ‘one day’ had at last arrived.

Langi Ghiran is a small park featuring rugged granite peaks and gentle sloping woodlands. Aboriginal people of the Djab Wurrung have been connected to this land for thousands of years. There are driving and walking trails in the park and a very nice camping area.

Despite the unfavourable weather forecast, we hitched up the camper trailer and set off, turning from the Western Highway, 14 kilometres east of Ararat, where the brown sign for Langi Ghiran State Park pointed to a side road.

The camp site is located at the end of this road, tucked among the gum trees near a pretty waterfall on Easter Creek. The campsite was full of campers, when we arrived, but most soon disappeared – perhaps influenced by the weather forecast of strong winds and rain.

But for us it was an opportunity to relax over the long weekend with Naree and Soeren, to savour the bush, listen to birds singing, enjoy the long breaks of sunshine between rain clouds, especially after the wind subsided.

A campfire at Langi Ghiran State Park
The campfire at Langi Ghiran State Park

Now was the chance for bacon and eggs on muffins for breakfast. Not only that, but BIL even produced a wonderful lamb roast with potatoes and pumpkin cooked to perfection in the camp oven. I even made a damper, also baked in a camp oven. Well … it was a bit flat – more self-raising flour required? – but it went down all right while still warm.

Easter Creek, Langi Ghiran State Park
Soeren and Naree on the bridge over Easter Creek

There were other things to do near the campsite, such as explore the waterfall on Easter Creek. A walking trail followed the creek up to the smaller of the two reservoirs, while the 4wd Reservoir Track went up to the main reservoir at the top. Both reservoir walls were built from locally hewn granite blocks in 1880. The main reservoir supplied water to Ararat and still forms part of the system today.

Mt Buangor is a short drive back towards Ballarat and we found our way to Richards campsite and car park and the walk to Raglan Falls. At first this is an easy walk through the forest, but soon it climbs steeply following the creek upwards to the falls. There is also a lookout at the top of the falls. A most pleasant walk, but not to be taken lightly as it is quite steep and also slippery underfoot in several places.

There is also Rob Falls accessible from here, requiring a longer walk, and Fern Tree Waterfalls accessed from another road in Mt Buangor State Park.

J Ward at Ararat
J Ward, the former asylum for the criminally insane at Ararat

The township of Ararat was only a short distance away, so we headed there to tour around J Ward, which was once a goal, then an asylum for the criminally insane.

A tour through J Ward is both challenging and enthralling and 90 minutes passed by very quickly. Our guide was very informative and this tour is well worth the small fee involved.

Ararat is a busy, bustling township with a history going back to the gold rush. There are many fine old buildings here and a historic guide is available from the Visitor Information Centre. Next time we might pick up the guide for an informative walking and driving tour.

There are many wineries in this area so we were happy to sample some reds at Fratin Brothers Vineyard.

Our long weekend was over so we packed up and headed home via Ballarat. John was keen to see if the house where his grandparents had lived was still there. Indeed it was and looking just as it had all those many years ago.

Black Swans on Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
Black Swans and cygnets on Lake Wendouree, Ballarat

Lake Wendouree was close by, so we spent some time there, strolling around the Lake and then through the Botanic Gardens. After all the rain the Lake was a little full in some places and spilling over the walkways. The birds didn’t seem to mind, with Spring in full flight with pairs of black swans guarding or guiding their broods of fluffy cygnets.

But a very pleasant end to our long weekend away.