What is Kanawinka?
Australia may be referred to as a relatively young nation, but the well preserved ancient landscape provides many precious windows into the past. The Kanawinka Geotrail takes you on a surprising journey through this amazing landscape, enabling visitors to travel back in time over thousands and thousands of years.
The surface geology of western Victoria and south-eastern Australia is a striking contrast of sweeping plains and spectacular cones which are largely the product of volcanic activity. In fact, with six sites of international significance and 14 of national significance, this area is Australia’s most extensive volcanic province. The history of these geological masterpieces comenced when great outpourings of volcanic material through vents took place.
Lava flows spread evenly across the existing plains, followed valleys, flowed under water, and in some cases forced upwards into rough, stony hills called tumuli, or steeper scoria cones. Many of the eruptions were witnessed by the indigenous peoples of the area who have inhabited this region for up to 45,000 years, and feature prominently in stories of the dreaming.
Aboriginal people also made use of the stones from the lava flow to construct channels linking the wetlands, weirs, fish-traps, wind breaks and stone huts, and excellent examples created by the Gunditjmara people can be found around Lake Condah in particular.
Later, during the 1870s and 80s, European settlers utilised the volcanic stone cleared from the land to construct dry stone walls in order to grow crops and introduce stock. Many examples can be found surrounding Camperdown on the Dry Stone Walls Heritage Trail.
The Kanawinka Geopark’s spectacular and intriguing volcanic landscape also offers a range of other visitor experiences, from a 45-minute tour to the surface of Mount Gambier’s Blue Lake, to the 45 minute walk up Mount Schank and down to the crater floor.