ANCIENT VIEWS: OUR VOLCANIC LAKES & PLAINSby GREAT OCEAN ROAD
“The unique volcanic landscape in south-western Victoria was most likely formed from about two million years ago, when lava flowed from many vents. This filled the valleys and created plains with lakes, wetlands and stunning waterfalls from Melbourne to Mount Gambier.
The basalt plains are very fertile, perfect for farming, with some roadsides and reserves sporting colourful wildflowers in spring, and birds of all types. There were also volcanoes that erupted in this region about 40,000 years ago, forming huge crater lakes, such as Lake Purrumbete and Bullen Merri near Camperdown. These are now popular for fishing, boating and walking.
Close to 200,000 years ago, a number of scoria cones appeared as small hills rising above the plains. Scoria is a form of ‘honeycomb’ rock formed when magma melted up through weakened parts of the earth's crust and mixed with water in the soil to be frothed and thrown by the steam high into the air.
Those up for a challenge can summit the four peaks – Mt Leura, Mt Suglarloaf, Mt Noorat and Mt Elephant – all in one day. Or take in a view of them from the observation points on Mt Leura or on Red Rock across Lake Corangamite.
Another significant site is Budj Bim, north of Portland. This is now a UNESCO world heritage site and is the only Australian World Heritage property listed exclusively for its Aboriginal cultural values.
The Budj Bim National Park is co-managed by Gunditjmara Traditional Owners and Parks Victoria. The tranquil lake and surrounding bushland are beautiful to explore but it is most significant because a large, settled Aboriginal community once farmed and smoked eels for food and trade. They used channels and weirs constructed from the abundant local volcanic rock, to manage water flows and trap eels. This is considered to be one of Australia’s earliest and largest aquaculture systems.
This is such a unique landscape to explore.
And the volcanic plates have shifted, so we’re not expecting any new eruptions any time soon!”
- Chris Lang, Committee Member, Mount Elephant Community Management Inc.