Red Rock in the Clouds – Mura Mura/Mt Zero(364m)

“On a Mish” #129 Red Rock in the Clouds. Mura Mura/Mt Zero(364m). Grampians National Park. Victoria. Australia. 8.5.2016. Australia isn’t renowned for having large mountains like Aotearoa, but the uplifted land it has is home to some of the best rock climbing on the planet. After jumping across the ditch it was time to go ‘On a Mish’ in a new land. Starting in Melbourne, we left the busy city behind and drove west into a strange and interesting new world. In a place best known for hot and dry weather, our climbing trip to the many excellent crags of Grampians National Park was interrupted by a day of drizzle and low cloud. So instead of rock climbing, the plan was a hiking mission to the Mura Mura/Mt Zero(364m) trail in the northern end of the park…

From the local tourist hub of Halls Gap it takes about an hour or so to drive up and around Hollow Mountain to the Mura Mura/Mt Zero car park on dirt roads. A word of warning – driving in this area can be made very interesting when every so often the local Kangaroos randomly jump into oncoming traffic! We weren’t planning on getting many views of the huge plains of Western Victoria, as the mountain was completely engulfed in low cloud drizzle.

The first section of the track was climbing up a slightly sloping rock ramp, into a sheltered area of bush and forest, which contains some of the most popular climbing crags in the area. The forest had a very spooky feel to it, with partially burnt gum trees from forest fires earlier in the year, wrapped in a thick mist of damp cloud.

The track passed the impressive orange and black stained vertical sandstone walls of the Stapylton Amphitheatre, a place where the best spider humans come to climb. After the amphitheatre we wandered past Swan Rock, no doubting why it is called that!

Swan Rock

After Swan Rock the track swung around the southern end of the mountain and we began to gain altitude.

A short, steeper part of the track led to a viewing platform, which I’m sure would be a great view of the vast expanses of the plains of West Victoria. Unfortunately the vast red landscape was covered in cloud.

From the platform the route was far more demanding as it became a scramble up the sandstone. The first exciting part was up a chimney to a small ledge, which we followed blindly in thick fog. The track then went through and up a mini valley before a final exposed traverse around a small rock face leading the rest of the way up to the summit.

From the top the view was… cloud, so there wasn’t any point in staying on summit for too long. Instead we slowly down-climbed our way to the easier ground back at the viewing platform. Normally I’m sure this would be very easy, however with heavy dew wetting all exposed surfaces we needed to be very careful.

From the platform the track is all walking, and it was an easy wander in the clouds back past Swan Rock to the car park.

Even though we didn’t see the vast views it was still a great side trip for when the weather doesn’t suit climbing. And because of the cloud I’d love to get back there to see the view from the summit one day. Cheers Australia for the very cool mish!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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