DREAMING OF SCOTLAND? TREK VICTORIA'S VOLCANIC LAKES + PLAINS

by MARK CUTHELL

It took an overseas trip for me to really appreciate the beauty and unique nature of the Volcanic Lakes and Plains landscape in the Great Ocean Road region.

Living in Scotland and Europe gave me an appreciation for natural beauty in the context of a rich architectural and cultural heritage.

So if you are pining for or dreaming of Keswick in the Lakes District, Yorkshire Dales or the rolling beauty of the Scottish Borders – come get your fix in regional Victoria.

You could even plan your next visit around an annual celebration of the acclaimed Scottish bard Robert Burns. The Camperdown Burns Festival is held in the delightful township of Camperdown, just a 2 hours and 45 minutes on the Princes Hwy from Melbourne.

So grab your best walking shoes, camera and day-pack and experience an 'out of country experience' right in your own 'backyard'. 

Heritage trails

Get in touch with your inner wanderer and discover character filled hotels down quiet country roads. Roll out the picnic rug under grand avenues of oak and elm and soak up the charm of heritage listed buildings and homesteads.

With so many stately homes and a local passion for history it is no wonder our towns and villages are a forager's delight. Step into a world where vintage is always in vogue, talk to a local treasure, shop for a perfect gift and wrap yourself in a warm blanket of nostalgia. Take a walk on a township heritage trail and spend a moment by a local lake or waterhole to contemplate the generations of settlers and traditional owners that have shared the same view.  

Rustic windmills, canola fields and dry stone walls add to the enchantment. You may take time to fall under the spell but be warned the magic of a crackling fire and warm hospitality may have you reaching for your pouch of coin to pay for a night at the inn.

Take in the monthly vintage market in Noorat and spend some time to browse our antique shops, bazaars, craft shops, museums and building renovation yards.

Volcanic treks

Fancy bagging a few volcanic peaks, a lake side stroll or an extended walk on a regional rail trail? Choose your own adventure, or try a few of our suggestions. We’ll throw in the fresh air and warm hospitality for free.  

Drives to volcanic peaks and lake filled views can be accessed at Red Rock lookout and Mount Leura along with summit trails for the more adventurous. Why not tick off all the volcanic peaks? You’ll be rewarded with broad horizons and a fascinating window into a not too distant volcanic past. Take the time out to sample the shops and flavours of our western district townships along the way as many of our towns are within easy strolling distance of the Mounts.   

Mount Elephant, Mount Noorat, and Mount Rouse all have trails that wind their way to a summit with views into the crater and 360 degree panoramas of the surrounding plains available from most. Be sure to get a selfie at the top with the wind in your hair and for photographers with a torch in hand and a sense of adventure there is always a chance to capture a sunrise or sunset to remember.

Many local place names reflect the language of the original inhabitants. Ponder for a moment a people that lived through the very volcanic activity that created this amazing natural landscape. 

Lakeside strolls

Local communities celebrate and revere the lakes and waterways of our volcanic plains. They fill our childhood memories and punctuate our ancestral stories.

In summer heat and winter calm we are drawn to their shores for recreation and quiet reflection. Whether angling, water skiing, swimming, paddling or time spent skimming stones, we invite you to make stories and memories with those you hold dear; you won’t regret the time you’ve spent. 

Lakes near our townships are generally well serviced by jetties, ramps, picnic areas and even in the case of Lake Purrumbete near Camperdown by a Lake Edge Café. While others remain hidden gems that require a sense of adventure and a bit of local knowledge.

Hire a canoe from Lakes and Craters Holiday Park for a paddle in Lake Bullen Merri, throw in a line with a view of Mount Elephant in Lake Tooliorook or plumb the legendary angling and waters of Lake Purrumbete.

  • More about fishing in the Great Ocean Road region

Explore deep crater lakes overshadowed by broad volcanic rims and shallow saline lakes brimming with bird life and reflective views.

  • Tip: read about the healing powers of Lake Keilembete in Alan Marshall’s iconic historical novel 'I Can Jump Puddles'.
  • Go for a dry lake walk in Terang.

Shops + Cafes

Balance out your walks with some shopping and dining.

With so many stately homes and a local passion for history it is no wonder that Camperdown and surrounds are a forager's delight. Shop for a perfect piece for your home or hunt for a bargain at:

  • Oakbrook Collectibles and Arts
  • Hunter and Gatherer
  • Silver Nickel
  • Mammoth Mart
  • Pombo Mart
  • Camperdown Demolition and Collectibles
  • Element Bazaar

For markets and event dates click here.

About the Blogger

MARK CUTHELL

CONTRIBUTOR

Sometime adventure racer, part time clown and full time lover of South West Victoria. Co-ordinator of Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre

View posts
pencil

Share your story

If you've got a story to share about your recent trip to the Great Ocean Road, we'd love to hear it! Send us a blog post, pictures or videos for a chance to be featured in our blog.