I woke to the sound of rain. Overcast, damp, and chilly outside.
Self-serve continental breakfast. Got my food and a table, then began looking around, admiring the old room. A man at the next table (bearded, probably mid-40s) noticed me studying the room and began talking to me. He was born and raised in Horsham, and he knew a fair bit about the hotel’s history–which he was delighted to share.
Built in 1872, the hotel originally had the graceful verandas and iron lace one sees on so many outback hotels, but the city council thought the veranda posts would be dangerous when parallel parking was established, since the posts were right at the edge of the sidewalk, and cars might hit them. So the posts were torn off and the veranda vanished. There is a group, however, trying to get the verandah put back. An old black and white photo of the hotel was produced, and it definitely was lovelier with the veranda. There were originally eleven fireplaces, several of which were destroyed when walls were knocked out to enlarge the public rooms. But the ones that remain are attractive and the wood paneling and great, divided stairway, with its broad banisters, are still handsome. With a little tender loving care, this could be a truly lovely place once again.
Then baggage back in the car and on the road again. Drove out of Horsham on the Western Highway. Before long, I could see the ragged edge of the Grampian Mountains rising in the distance, behind the rolling, green fields of the area’s many sheep properties. Except for the gum trees and galahs, it could have been Scotland. (Which I suspect was the inspiration for their naming, since I later learned that the original Grampians are in Scotland.)
Past Green Lake, I turned right and headed towards the mountains. The forest closed in around me, and the road began to wind and rise. Before an hour had passed, I reached Zumstein, a picnic and camping ground noted for the presence of large numbers of kangaroos (most of which hang out around the picnic tables, hoping you’ll ignore the “don’t feed the kangaroos” signs).
Continuing on the Zumstein-Halls Gap Road, climbing ever higher, I soon came to the MacKenzie Falls turnoff. I parked the car and set off on the long, steep, wet hike to the falls. The first falls to come into view were the magnificent Broken Falls. I stopped to admire them, and then hiked on through the dripping, green woods and lichen-stained boulders.
The abundant recent rain has caused the rivers to rise dramatically, so half an hour into my hike I found the path completely submerged, and I had to turn around and head back without seeing MacKenzie Falls–though I hardly felt cheated, since Broken Falls were so lush. Plus the track itself was quite wonderful, with abundant greenery, wildflowers, and lovely little gray, brown, and white hummingbirds.