Mount Schank is a volcanic cone formed by explosive eruptions, pyroclastic flows and lava flows. A highly prominent volcanic cone, it is generally regarded as the youngest volcano in Australia and is believed to have been active as recently as 2,000 years ago. It is thus still classified as dormant and not extinct. A State Heritage area of national significance, Mount Schank is 158 metres in height, it has a walking track to the crater rim with views over the surrounding district. The track continues down into the central core of the volcano.
Elevation: 1,011 metres.
Where is it?: South East. 17 kilometres south of Mount Gambier on route to Port MacDonnell.
Mt Schank volcano consists of 2 dry craters. The northern crater is circular and 300 m in diameter. The older, smaller, southern crater is 200 m in diameter and partially overlapped by the larger crater. Eruptions were explosive with pyroclastic flows and lava flows. Future eruptions are possible at the volcano.
Mount Schank is at the western extremity of the volcanic plains of the Western District of Victoria. They are recent in age and illustrate a variety of well preserved terrestrial volcanic landforms. Local aboriginal legends record the eruption of some of the volcanoes of the area. The volcanic plains of western Victoria have numerous conical hills that comprise scoria cones. The Sugarloaf is a classic example that is found near Mt Leura. These scoria cones are produced by fire-fountaining and where vesicular pyroclastics are deposited around the vent. The district also features numerous maars.
Mt Gambier crater
Other volcanic formations of the Western Victoria
Mt Gambier (SA): The famous Blue Lake of Mt. Gambier in South Australian was formed out of a volcanic crater, which last erupted 5000 years ago, making it the youngest group of volcanoes on the continent of Australia. The Blue Lake mysteriously turns from a winter grey colour to a brilliant azure blue in the month of November, lasting till April. This has been a mystery for many, many years, until it was finally scientifically explained to be attributed to a special algae that grows in the lake. The lake is one of four similar lakes near the town of Mt Gambier which supply the town with its water as well as attracting tourists to the productive farming communities in South Australia's south-east corner.
Mount Napier (Vic): Believed to be one of the youngest volcanoes in Australia, Mount Napier is a composite lava shield with a superimposed scoria cone. The cone rises 150 m above the surrounding plains to an elevation of 440 m, making it the highest point on the Western District Plains of Victoria. It erupted about 5,290 BC. The main crater has a spatter rampart 30 m long and 15 m high. The crater is about 50 m in diameter and 20 m deep. In the Harman Valley, lava from Mount Napier flowed for over 15 km to a depth of over 30 m. The entrance to Bridge Cave in the Harman Valley flow of Mount Napier is one of a series of aligned lava tubes, presumably formed from the same flow. The lava tubes descend to over 20 m below the surface of the Harman Valley.
Tower Hill (Vic): Tower Hill State Game Reserve near Warnnambool, Victoria, sits snugly inside an extinct volcano, a beautiful haven for wildlife with koalas, emus, kangaroos and many species of waterbirds roaming freely. Located only 15 kilometres west of Warrnambool, Tower Hill is popular with people of all ages for picnics, bushwalking and wildlife watching. It formed some 25,000 years ago in a violent volcanic eruption that created a funnel shaped maar - later filled by a lake - and the islands.
Mount Eccles (Vic): Mt Eccles is believed to be one the most recent volcanic sites in western Victoria. Lake Surprise now fills the crater and is fed by underground springs. It is believed that three craters combined to form the depression shown. Boulders of vesicular basalt (which contains numerous gas holes) are seen near the lookout tower. Basalt is believed to have flowed from here to the sea, some dozens of kilometres away. Scoria, a rock formed from lava thrown into the air, also occurs; this rock has been quarried from the eastern slope. This attractive national park offers walks around the crater rim and lake shore, and to nearby lava canals and caves. In a relatively small area many features illustrating relationships between rock characteristics and resultant landforms can be found. Bird life is prolific in the crater vegetation.
Mount Sugarloaf from Mount Leura
Mount Leura and Mount Sugarloaf (Vic): The volcanic features in the Camperdown district were formed within the last 20,000 years making them some of the youngest of their type in Victoria. The basement rocks of the district are mostly marine sediments laid down in the later part of the Miocene Period roughly 15 to 20 million years ago.
Camperdown was established at the foot of Mount Leura and Mount Sugarloaf which are actually part of a much larger volcanic complex known as the Leura Maar. It is a shallow oval shaped depression about 2.5 kilometres long, 1.7 kilometres wide and up to 50 metres deep which originated from a series of major volcanic explosions, possibly 22,000 years ago. The Leura Maar may have been formed in just a few months.