Halls Gap

Halls Gap is a tourist township and holiday resort in the Grampians range in the south-eastern Wimmera region, 25 km west of Stawell. It is situated in a valley on the east side of the Grampians, along which flows Fyans Creek in a northerly direction: the gap is entered as the creek enters the plain on the perimeter of the range.

Halls Gap was named after Charles Hall, a drover/pastoralist who found it in 1842, and it was occasionally used for grazing purposes. The first permanent white settlement, however, was in 1862 when land was rented from the proprietor of the pastoral run which included Halls Gap. Sawmillers began operations in the 1870s. In 1875 the Stawell borough engineer began to construct a weir on Fyans Creek for a water supply system for Stawell. The supply involved flumes across water courses and valleys and a tunnel through the range. The engineer, John D’Alton, successfully completed the works in 1881, providing Stawell with its first reliable water supply. The D’Alton family was an early occupier of Halls Gap, selecting land there in 1878.

Halls Gap became a venue for local holiday makers during the 1890s, and sufficient settlement occurred for a school to be opened in 1890. (It had 25 pupils in 2010). Holidays houses were built at Halls Gap and further upstream at Bellfield. The ‘Borough Huts’ built to accommodate workers and water supply rangers, formed a small village.

A community hall was built in about 1900, and the Stawell Tourist Association (1901) promoted the opening of guest houses. The Bellfield Hotel (60 rooms, dance hall, tennis courts and golf course) was opened in 1924. There were also camping grounds and church convention centres. Tourism further benefitted when the Mount Victory Road was constructed in a westerly direction into the Grampians range from Halls Gap in the late 1920s. Nearer to Halls Gap a member of the D’Alton family plotted the views and natural features in the Wonderland reserve. It is a popular walking area.

Halls Gap is on the side of the Grampians where several water storages have been built for the Wimmera supply system. They include Lake Wartook (1886) and Lake Lonsdale (1903). In 1969 Lake Bellfield was formed on Fyans Creek, adding to the work begun by D’Alton.

The Grampians range has significant associations with Aboriginal life and in 1990 the Brambuk Cultural Centre was opened at Halls Gap. Sympathetically designed with regard to both the landscape and Aboriginal culture, it is managed by several Aboriginal trust organisations.

Halls Gap has a primary school (20 pupils, 2014), seven motels, a hotel, three caravan parks, guest houses, flats and lodges, recreation and sporting facilities, restaurants, a shopping area and an annual wildflower show. In holiday seasons its population approaches 10,000 people, and the public hall is used as a cinema.

In September 2010 and again in January 2011 many parts of regional Victoria experienced widespread severe flooding. In Halls Gap residents were evacuated after flash flooding and landslides threatened to cut off the town and Stony Creek burst its banks. In 2014 it was threatened by bushfires.

The Halls Gap Tourist Hub which joins the hall and the tourism centre with a new galleria and external landscaped spaces was constructed in 2014. The annual Grampians Jazz Festival is hosted in Halls Gap in summer.

Its census populations have been:

census date population
1911 50
1933 140
1947 218
1976 302
1986 234
1996 256
2006 281
2011 305

Further Reading

Jane Calder, The Grampians – a noble range, Victorian National Parks Association, 1987

Robert Kingston, Good place for a grant: a history of the Stawell shire, 1989

Ida Stanton, Bridging the gap: the history of Halls Gap from 1840, the author, 1988