Visit a dormant volcano at Tower Hill in Victoria, Australia
Being able to walk around inside a volcano sounds scary, unless the volcano is dormant. Tower Hill, near Warrnambool in the South West of Victoria, is a dormant volcanic formation believed to have erupted over 32,000 years ago.
It looms out of the surrounding almost flat farmlands. The 11km crater rim shows layers of rock face which are a geologists dream.
The volcano is 3.2km (2 miles) wide and 80 metres (260 feet) high with gradients between 10% to 80%. There is no cost to enter and access is along a one way road that allows you to drive across a lake onto the islands in the centre. Then drive through natural bushland, back up and out again.
Long ago the shallow crater (maar) filled with water, and later eruptions created the islands in the centre. The cone shaped hills (tuff rings) were also formed from explosions.
There are many different bush walks here. I walked in the late afternoon around the Journey to the last volcano trek. Using a walking pole, the path was easy to navigate. A bit steep at the beginning, it was worth the walk down as the path around the lake was flat and easy to follow.
This took me via one of the lakes here. Watching the swans and ducks play as the sun started to set was serene and peaceful, a far cry from when the lava flowed here centuries ago.
Kangaroos graze peacefully on the grass here, with emus also calling this area home. They are used to humans walking around, but do not attempt to touch them as they are can be known to strike when threatened. Koalas live here too, but as they are nocturnal creatures I didn't see any during my visit.
The Dhauwurd Wurrung, also known as the Gunditjmara or Gunditjamara, are the Aboriginal traditional land owners of this area. Some of the clans may have witnessed the eruptions at Tower Hill as their oral traditions include tales of the eruptions.
From the late 1830's European settlers came to the area, attracted by the fertile soil and plentiful water supplies for farming. However, they cut down trees in the area for fuel and housing, leaving an almost barren landscape. In 1892 Tower Hill was declared Victoria's first national park and the area has been in recovery since then. It is now a beautiful area to visit. Picnic seating and toilets are located near the visitor centre almost in the middle of the central islands. It is also lovely to get up close to native animals in their own habitat.