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Stapylton Circuit Walk

If push came to shove and I was forced to decide which was the most exciting short daywalk in Victoria, I’d have to award that crown to the Hollow Mountain / Mount Stapylton Circuit in the Grampians National Park. Not only does the walk cross one of the most spectacular exposed rock ridges in the park but it is also one of the most challenging (both mentally and physically). The walk links Hollow Mountain Carpark to Hollow Mountain, descends back down to the wind-scoured caves of the Hollow Mountain Block before climbing back up and across the rock ridges leading to the summit of Mount Stapylton. The walk continues on down the official trail through the wooded Stapylton Amphitheatre and back to Mount Zero Picnic Area. A short road bash brings you back to the Hollow Mountain Carpark. All up the circuit is 6.6km, which doesn’t sound very far but most walkers should allow at least 5 hours to complete it.

The Hollow Mountain / Mount Stapylton Circuit certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted as there is quite a bit of exposed scrambling, some tricky route-finding and some fairly scary jumps over dizzying voids. Luckily, for most experienced walkers these obstacles are well within their capabilities. Such is its popularity that on any fine Saturday or Sunday there may be multiple parties making their way slowly across the tops.

Which brings me to my point. A few years ago I was commissioned to write about this walk for inclusion in a scrumptious coffee-table tome on the best walks in Australia. Although the book never saw the light of day it was interesting that Parks Victoria looked seriously at the legal implications should I and the publishers publish details of the walk to an Australia-wide audience. Parks Victoria saw this walk as a legal minefield and obviously felt that they could not be seen in any way to be officially promoting it. Obviously there are genuine issues about inexperienced hikers attempting walks such as this and Parks Victoria have every right to be concerned. However, Parks Victoria need to understand that walking trails are not just for casual family strolls. Many of the world’s great walks follow outstanding natural features and some of these are very challenging indeed. In Europe or North America land managers have a far greater understanding of the needs of more experienced walkers. The amazing four-day Via Delle Bocchette in the Brenta Dolomites (Italy) would be an alien concept here in Australia.

As it is, Karen and I completed the Hollow Mountain / Mount Stapylton Circuit last Saturday and loved every minute of it. Most definitely one of the great Victorian walks. I will be writing it up for our forthcoming Daywalks Around Victoria book which will be available in the shops and through our web site early this spring. The GPS will be available as a free download.

15 thoughts on “Stapylton Circuit Walk

  1. Got to agree with you there, done this walk twice now and looking forward to doing it again. Both times I have avoided the gap by dropping of to the left and with a bit of a scramble work your way around to a gully and back up again. Never thought of jumping over it, maybe you have longer legs…

  2. Indeed, this is the best day hike of its kind in Victoria. Any serious hiker must complete this. The challenges are well rewarded, including the scramble across the ravine … which once completed does not seem so scary after all. Thank you for including this hike in your recent publication.

  3. Just completed this at night. Doing by headlamp certainly adds an extra dimension. We climbed down the ravine a little then stepped over. Fantastic walk and my first time in the grampians. Took us 2.5 hours but we had two cars and parked one in mt zero and one at hollow mt to avoid the road walk section.

  4. Must read your particular take on the walk. Have done it three times and never had to jump any ravine.

    1. The ravine can be easily avoided but it takes about 10min to complete the detour. Most confident scramblers have no issue with just stepping over the void.

  5. I will be looking for the ravine this Saturday. I have never been aware of trying to avoid it. Looks like a fun step across.

  6. After checking your gps route, I realise our routes are quite divergent!

  7. I’m keen as to so this stayplton hike.

    What’s your thoughts on the southern circuit of the cathedrals (wells cave scramble and the ridge traverse) in comparison to this?

    I did the 12.5km circuit on my own (friends weren’t game) and was completely fine. I’m considering doing stayplton solo as well

    1. Hi Chelle. This walk is a bit more difficult and committing than the Cathedral walk (via Wells Cave). There is a bit more route finding but not overly so especially if you did the Wells Cave Track without any difficulty. Have fun but choose a nice day as rain and or wind would make the walk a lot more difficult.

  8. Cheers Glenn, that’s my only problem, the route finding. Did you use markers? Compass? Gps maps? Do you happen to know anyone who does it often or is keen to do it.
    It’s like the don’t press button sign, you have to press it. And I totally have to do this hike.

    1. Hi Chelle. The walk has quite a few rock cairns along the way so it isn’t that obscure (although rock cairns have a habit of disappearing and reappearing!. That said, there is some scrambling above drops that may be a bit uncomfortable for some. Nothing difficult though. It will be mainly a matter of working your way along the ridges and keeping an eye out for the easiest way. Just start early, take your time and have fun.

  9. Thanks Glenn for publishing this walk in you day walks guide a few years ago, I would never have found it without that. And it’s definitely my favourite day hike ever. Only done it twice (second time today, jumped the notch this time!) and don’t think I’ve nailed the route yet, as I seem to be doing some fairly awkward down/up climbs in spots, but I just love this place, and the buzz you get completing the “puzzle” of the ridge top. It’s a crazy big rocky, slabby, notchy world up there.
    I wonder Glenn would this walk hold you in good stead to do something like the Mt Anne hike or fed peak in SW Tassie (scrambling wise)? I’ve been eying those off for a while.
    Cheers

  10. on a road trip from Adelaide we had planned to do this hike, we got as far as the top of hollow mountain, but we weren’t entirely sure where to from there? do you have to climb a small cliff to get onto the ridge? any tips?

  11. Hi Roxanne. The walk is fairly straightforward from the top of Hollow Mountain but only if you are experienced with scrambling and have route-finding skills in rocky terrain. You’ll need to work your way along the highest part of the crest (maybe 100m or so) before scrambling down and across to the main ridge. Beware as there are some big drops.

  12. I actually turned back on this one (Stapylton to Hollow Mt) about 100m from the end. I went back and reversed it to find the real route. Defintinely exciting. Would do again.

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