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Prior to going on a trip through southern Victoria I was told of an interesting article in a magazine about a national park surrounding an extinct volcano. A bit of digging around revealed there were examples of lava tubes and a lake within the remaining crater. The place? Mt Eccles, about 150kms south of the Grampians. A place that sounded worthy of a visit.
The day we arrived around 3pm we were a bit surprised to find only three other camps - nobody in the office, a small notice to pick a camp site and leave your fee in an envelope and place in a slot in the wall of the office. The campsites were good, one hot shower and toilet (each for male and female) was ample for this crowd. No power for the van was a small price to pay for solitude and the company of koalas, roos and birds.
Day two provided great walking following the lava flows, exploring the volcanic caves (tubes) and watching the comings and goings of swallows who use the tubes as nesting sites. We were also looking out for snakes who also frequent the tubes looking for food such as young birds and bats. There were many koalas to be seen watching us watching them. A few leeches added variety to the day. A circuit around the lake and a visit to the top of the mountain gave some appreciation of the events some six and a half thousand years ago that created these now eroded rivers of molten rock.
Mt Napier some 40kms away towards the Grampians is also an extinct volcano but unlike Mt Eccles it still has the traditional cone shape.
Mt Eccles was noted by George Bass when he circumnavigated Australia, but not named at that time. The lake in the crater (Lake Surprise) was named in the early thirties by a local schoolgirl winning a naming competition. It is interesting to note that a similar formation of lava tubes in north Queensland is at a place known as - Mt Surprise (!) - now a fairly popular tourist spot.
It is a shame Mt Eccles is so far away - it would make a great program for Wednesday walks.