Tom from First4x4 promised to take us driving off-road in central Victoria once the pandemic lock-downs had eased and here, they’ve eased, so off we went on the weekend.
We headed out to Ararat to meet up with Tom on Saturday morning. Ararat is a bit more than 2 hours north of where we live, which is just near the start of the Great Ocean Road, otherwise it’s about the same distance to the north-west of Melbourne.
As soon as we met up with Tom, we jumped in his car and drove along the Ararat Ridge, which is right next to the town in the Ararat Hills.
From the top of the ridge, out to one side we could see the Beeripmo Walk where went hiking late last year and in the other direction we had a unspoiled view of the Grampians Mountain Range. It was a decent way to start the exploring.
While we were driving along the ridge, Tom started explaining to us that he saw a huge black cat at Hollow Mountain in the Grampians recently.
For those that haven’t spent a lot of time in Australia: There are many stories of people sighting Pumas in Australia (which are not native to Australia and there are no decent photos or evidence of them being here). They’ve allegedly been seen particularly on the east coast and in Victoria, mainly in the Great Otway National Park and the Grampians. Even just two days ago this article was published on a Government news website about a big black cat sighting in the Otways.
We decided to try and go find it and headed to Hollow Mountain which is the very northern tip of the Grampians. Tom knows the area well and took us down a short cut, so we were able to get there in about 45-50 minutes.
We had already wanted to go trekking at Hollow Mountain, not just because of it’s rugged sandstone cliffs and jagged caves that formed millions of years ago, but to see the Gulgurn Manja Shelter which is a cave that has ancient rock art made by Indigenous Australian children.
Once we made it to Hollow Mountain, we started by heading over to the cave art to take a look and this was just near where Tom believes he saw the Puma.
There were some cat prints in the sand but we didn’t sight a Puma, only the occasional Wallaby and Kangaroo. So, we went trekking and made our way up to the summit of Hollow Mountain.
Here’s a video of our expedition:
Here’s more detailed information and way more photos of the Hollow Mountain Walk and how to get there.