Wergaia and Wemba Wemba songwriter Alice Skye is based in Melbourne, but home for her will always be Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park, Victoria’s craggy western ranges. Raised in Horsham, on the banks of the Wimmera river, Skye broke onto the local music scene with the critically acclaimed 2018 album, Friends with Feelings, before signing on with Bad Apples, an Indigenous-driven record label that celebrates First Nations artists.
“The first song I released, ‘You are the Mountains’, still sums up a lot of my feelings towards the Gariwerd landscape,” Skye says. “I grew up going to the mountains, swimming in its waterholes, looking from the firetower at Mt Bepcha, walking through the campgrounds where my parents met and lived."
Since the release of Friends with Feelings, Skye has teamed up with twin musicians Sam and Kane King (two childhood friends from Horsham), who play guitar and drums in her live shows, backing up Skye’s gut-wrenching musical poetry. The crew plan to take Skye’s latest album, I Feel Better but I Don’t Feel Good, on the road in 2022.
We caught up with Skye to chat all things Grampians, including her top music tips for the region.
1. Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre (temporarily closed)
I haven't been back to Brambuk since I was a kid, but I have memories of walking around the gardens and seeing photos of my family. If you're going to visit anywhere, checking in with the local mob’s cultural centre is a good place to start.
2. Fish Falls
Any time I'm at home and it's warm I go to Fish Falls. I grew up here with my friends in high school, whenever I have friends from the city over, this is where I take them. My parents met during a BBQ at Zumsteins, which is where you start your walk to Fish Falls. I think it will always be one of my favourite places to return to. Perfect on a hot day to walk, have a swim, and be dry by the time you get back to the car.
3. The Bunyip Pub, Cavendish
Cavendish is a small town I spent a lot of time in growing up. It sits alongside the Wannon river. I love a country pub, and I love stories of bunyips. But that combo aside, the food at The Bunyip Pub is delicious and local. I think my duck egg pasta came from ducks just up the road. It feels good to eat things you know were grown right there.
4. Lake Bellfield
Lake Bellfield is a beautiful lake, tucked up in the mountains, perfect for a swim, kayak or fish. Going as a teenager it felt like the closest thing to a beach experience.
5. Barney’s Bistro, Pomonal
I'll admit I'm making this recommendation having never actually been to Barney's Bistro, but I have heard only amazing things, and it's definitely on my wish list. Pomonal itself is a beautiful spot, too. It’s a little community in the Grampians, with lots of live music to their town hall.