The Best of Victoria's Natural Wonders
Every year thousands of people hitch up their caravans and head to the Australian Outback in search of adventure and spectacular countryside. They will indeed find what they seek. But if you don't have the time for a long road trip take heart, you don't have to leave Victoria to see some astonishing natural wonders.
1. The Pinnacle
is a rocky spur in the Grampians which overlooks the town of Halls Gap and Lake Bellfield as well as revealing vistas stretching over vast areas of Western Victoria. The rugged sandstone mountain range that is the Grampians is a thought to be 380 million years old.
The Pinnacle Lookout can be reached in number of ways with the easiest being a 4.2km return walk from the Sundial carpark via Devils Gap. Halls Gap, the gateway to The Grampians is around 250kms and just under three hours from the Melbourne CBD on the Western Highway.
2. The Petrified Forest
at Cape Bridgewater near Portland is a series of cylindrical limestone formations which look like petrified trees. The formation of the Petrified Forest is disputed. Some claim is was an ancient forest of Moonah trees which became covered in sand. Water seeped through creating a crust of limestone around the trunk which is all that remained after the organic matter had rotted away. Others claim the tree trunk shape is coincidental and the formations are the result of the natural erosion of the stone. Whatever the cause the Petrified Forest is a spectacular sight.
at Cape Bridgewater are just past the Petrified Forest. During high seas large spouts of sea spray shoot through basalt and scoria rock.
The Petrified Forest and the Blowholes are on Blowholes Road, on Cape Bridgewater and are only a short walk from the Blowholes carpark. Cape Bridgewater is just under 400kms and four and a half hours from Melbourne and is only 20 minutes from Portland.
3. The Red Rock Reserve Volcanic Site Lookout
overlooks 30 volcanic crater lakes including Lake Corangamite which is a salt water lake. Some volcanic cones are also visible. Part of the Kanawinka Geopark, Red Rock is Victoria's youngest volcano, with eruptions believed to have taken place between 6,000 and 12,000 years ago.
A set of stairs leads to the lookout from where visitors can take in expansive 360 degree views that stretch for kilometres. Don't worry if the stairs are too challenging, the views from the car park are still spectacular. There is a second lookout on which there is also a soldier's memorial. Both lookouts are clearly signed at a fork in the road and both are worth the visit.
Red Rock Reserve Lookout is 17kms north of Colac along Corangamite Lake Road. Colac is around 150kms and an hour and a half from the Melbourne CBD. There are picnic tables and public toilets at the base of the hill.
4. The Organ Pipes
are towering basalt columns of up to 70 metres that from a cliff face in the Organ Pipes National Park. The columns were formed when molten lava from Mount Holden cooled and cracked between 2.5 and 2.8 million years ago. The columns are generally hexagonal but some have been found to have eight sides.
The Organ Pipes National Park is in Keilor North, around 20kms from the Melbourne CBD on the Calder Highway. The Organ Pipes Park office is on Organ Pipes Road, Diggers Rest. Visitor information can be found on the Parks Victoria website
or by telephoning Parks Victoria on 13 1963.
5. Victoria has a number of caves
, both limestone and volcanic which can be viewed by the public. Stalactites and stalagmites, and shawls and curtains adorn limestone caves like jewels adorn a crown. The twisted and wrinkled surfaces and vents and craters of lava caves attest to a time when the earth was restless and violent.
Most notable are the Buchan Caves and the Princess Margaret Rose Caves, all of which are limestone caves. Buchan Caves in Eastern Victoria are thought to date back 300 to 400 million years and have been a tourist attraction since the 1920's. The Princess Margaret Rose Caves in Western Victoria is home to the rare formations of cave coral, rimstone pools and sawtoothed shawls.
For details on these and other Victoria caves and visitor information click here.
6. The Twelve Apostles
are offshore limestone stacks up to 50 metres high formed as a result of erosion from waves, wind and rain. The softer limestone surrounding the stacks has been worn away providing us with the amazing vista we see today. Unfortunately there are only eight Apostles left, a ninth having collapsed in 2005.
The Twelve Apostles are in the Port Campbell National Park, around an hour and a quarter drive from Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road, 6kms west of Princetown. Detailed visitor information can be found on the website
. Telephone enquiries can be directed to the Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre on 1300 137 255.
7. The Pink Lakes
, Lake Crosbie, Lake Becking, Lake Kenyon and Lake Hardy are salt lakes in the Murray-Sunset National Park. The pink colour is caused by the combination of red algae and the solid salt bed of the lakes. The colour is at its best just after rain when nutrients washed into the lakes encourage algae growth. At other times the lakes can be very pale and in some instances white.
The Murray-Sunset National Park about 50kms south-west of Mildura and 60kms west of Ouyen along the Mallee Highway and Kinga Lakes Road. It is about 550kms and six and a half hours from the Melbourne CBD.
8. The Thurra Sand Dunes
tower 30 metres above the Thurra River in the Croajingolong National Park. Views from atop the dunes accord both inland and ocean vistas. The dunes can be accessed by the Thurra River Dunes Walk
, a 4km return, 2 hour walk from the Thurra River carpark.
The Thurra River campground is in the far east of Victoria, 486kms and five and three quarter hours from the Melbourne CBD and is 30 minutes south of Cann River.
9. Squeaky Beach
is a white sand beach on Wilsons Promontory that squeaks as you walk on it. The grains of quartz that make up the sand are almost spherical rather than sharp like ordinary sand and cause the squeaking sound as they rub together. These 'talking' sands and the weathered granite boulders typical of the area make this not only a pristinely beautiful beach but a geological wonder.
The beach has its own car park with public toilets but can also be reached on foot from Lilly Pilly Gully carpark, Picnic Bay or Tidal River. Wilsons Promontory is around 200kms and two and a half hours from Melbourne's CBD.
10. Lake Tyrell
is a salt lake which has gained renown for its mirror like qualities, particularly at sunset. The lake which is often dry can be covered with a layer of shallow water in winter.
Lake Tyrell is 6kms out of Seal Lake which is around 350kms and four hours from the Melbourne CBD via Bendigo.
are well represented in Victoria although not all have strong flows all the time and during drought some may cease to flow at all. Popular since the 1860's the Steavenson Falls in Marysville are floodlit between dusk and midnight. The MacKenzie Falls in The Grampians flow all year round and are renowned for fine sprays of rainbow mist. The Trentham Falls, at 32 metres may be the longest single drop falls in Victoria.
For details on these and other Victoria waterfalls and visitor information click here
12. Peninsula Hot Springs
is the first spa and relaxation retreat in Victoria to utilise naturally warm underground water. Bores into the Port Phillip Basin draw 47°C thermal water from an aquifer more than 600 metres underground. These thermal mineral waters flow into the pools and private baths of the resort.
The Peninsula Hot Springs is at Springs Lane, Fingal on the Mornington Peninsula. They can be contacted via their website
or by telephone on (03) 5950 8777. Peninsula Hot Springs is around 100kms and an hour and a quarter from the Melbourne CBD.
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