After an extremely busy start to the year I recently enjoyed a tech-free holiday in the Grampians. Due to Easter being later this year, and falling close to ANZAC day, I was fortunate to have 3 days annual leave which resulted in 10 days away from work.
We live in a society where technology is constantly surrounding us. We have access to Wi-Fi in most locations, and mobile phones and tablets within arms reach. With the Internet of Things we can also use our smart phone to operate our home appliances. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
Technology has geared me into a constant go-go-go mode, and makes me impatient, and seeking instant gratification. Having a partner who also works in technology, we often find ourselves trapped in a cycle of “always on”, which makes it difficult to be present, and enjoy the smaller things in life.
We have introduced various practices to help us disconnect from technology: For example:
- Technology free hours
- Taking our shoes off, and putting our feet in the grass
- Weekend walks and hiking
These are great practices to include in your weekly routine but sometimes you need to completely disconnect and have a tech-free holiday.
My partner Joel and I recently did this, and went on an adventure through the Grampians National Park.
Grampians National Park
Grampians National Park is a nature reserve in Victoria, Australia. It’s known for its sandstone mountains, wildflowers and wildlife including echidnas and wallabies. It’s located near the village of Halls Gap, and its trails lead to waterfalls like MacKenzie Falls, and lookouts such as the Balconies which have views of the Victoria Range.
Our two-day hike was 30km long – 14km on the first day, and 16km on the second. Starting at Halls Gap, a small tourist town, a 3 hour drive southwest from Melbourne. We camped overnight at different campgrounds on the trail. The first night at a small, secluded campsite called Bugiga, and the second night at Borough Huts.
There was an option to walk a 3rd day, which takes you back to Halls Gap, however we were advised it was along a fire trial, and not as picturesque as the first two days. So we parked our car at Borough Huts before setting off, and organised a transfer into Halls Gap (10 min drive) to start the walk.
Absolute Outdoors, a local camping and adventure store at Halls Gap provide a number of services for people walking the Grampians trail. They provide shuttle transportation from Borough Huts to Halls Gap, plus drop extra supplies such as water and food at the camp sites if you’d prefer not to carry everything with you.
Day One: Halls Gap to Bugiga
The first day was absolutely stunning, and we found ourselves stopping every few hundred metres to soak up the beautiful view. However it is the most visited section of the Grampians Peaks Trail so it was busy. It was Easter Sunday and there were a couple of hundred people walking this section of the trail, on their way up to Pinnacle lookout.
The majority of people turned around at Pinnacle lookout. However we continued walking the trail towards our destination, which meant there was less people on this section of the track. We completed the first day in just under 3 hours (including a 30 minute lunch break).
Camping at Bugiga Hiker Camp was beyond our expectations. The campsite accommodates up to 24 people, with 12 purpose built platforms nestled into the landscape, and looking down through a valley. There are drop toilets and a covered common area for eating. There is no running water, so we organised with Absolute Outdoors to drop water off for us.
Day Two: Bugiga to Borough Huts
The second day was our favourite. There was hardly any people on this section of the trail – we probably saw 10 people all day after we left Bugiga – so it was much more peaceful. The trail continued up, heading to Mount Rosea, and the views along the way honestly took your breath away. Amazing.
We completed the walk in 4.5 hours, with a few extended breaks to enjoy the view.
While the first day was shorter in distance, it was definitely harder, climbing 164 flights in comparison to 116 flights on the second day.
Benefits of a Tech-free Holiday
Joel and I returned from the Grampians with hearts overflowing with love and gratitude, not just for ourselves but for the smaller things in life. Such as:
- A dry, warm and soft bed
- A real pillow, instead of a sleeping bag case stuffed with dirty clothes
- Access to clean and running water
- Toilets that flush
- Warm showers
- Warm food
We noticed a significant change in our need for technology. Not having our phones when in the company of others, and checking them less frequently throughout the day. More conscious of laptop usage, and having designated time to work on our business.
We also grew stronger as a couple. Two days completely disconnected from the world allowed us to spend quality 1:1 time together. We worked as a team to overcome obstacles, asked each other deeply vulnerable questions, saw each other at our smelliest, remembered old card games and laughed a lot.
Regaining control on our Digital Detox
We live in a world where we are ‘always on’. We feel the need to be contactable 24/7, and find it difficult to get off-the-grid and have a digital detox from our social platforms, instant messenger and emails. Particularly the younger generations, with increased anxiety levels and a constant “fear of missing out” (FOMO) without their digital devices.
The digital detox meant Joel and I were able to regain control of our lives, and live more in the present moment.
Some additional benefits of a tech-free holiday include:
- Improve quality of sleep
- Improve your ability to be present in the moment
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Boost your mental clarity and positivity
- Increase your level of productivity
- Improve human connection
Our trip to the Grampians is exactly what Joel and I needed to completely disconnect from work, and our businesses. Forcing yourself into a digital detox is initially uncomfortable but I guarantee your mind and body will thank you for it.
Bonus tips for the Grampians Peaks Trail
- You need to book your campsites in advance through VIC Parks (links below). Make sure you book early during peak holiday season.
- Campsite 3 or 5 at Bugiga Hiker Camp have the best view
- Use Absolute Outdoors to transport water to your camping spots so you don’t have to carry water for the 2-3 day hike. They can also drop any extra food you don’t want to carry.
- Make sure you have warm gear. It dropped to 4 degrees during the night (in late April).
- Pack playing cards or a book so you have something to do at the campsite
- Wear comfortable walking shoes with good grip. The walk from Bugiga to Borough Huts has a steep downhill section with a few slippery rocks.
- If you have kids, we’d recommend only doing the walk from Halls Gap to The Pinnacle and back.
- Bring snacks to keep your energy levels up
- Grampians Peaks Trail: https://www.visitgrampians.com.au/what-to-do/grampians-peaks-trail/the-trail
- VIC Parks Grampians Peaks Trail: https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/grampians-national-park/things-to-do/grampians-peaks-trail
- Bugiga Hiker Camp, VIC Parks: https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/grampians-national-park/things-to-do/bugiga-hiker-camp
- Borough Huts Campground, VIC Parks: https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/grampians-national-park/things-to-do/borough-huts-campground2