Macarthur is the gatweay to the beautiful Mt Eccles national park. The Macarthur landscape is dominated by Mt Eccles an extinct volcano to the west of the town. The land surrounding the township is rich and fertile. Evidence of volcanic activity is obvious at Mt Eccles. Follow the historic trail around the town featuring around 23 interesting buildings or sites.
Mt Eccles National Park
Mt Eccles National Park is only a five minute drive west of Macarthur via a sealed. Geologists estimate that Mt Eccles first erupted around 30,000 years ago, producing a river of hot molten lava that flowed around 50km south to the sea. This lava flow effectively dammed rivers and streams forming large wetlands and swamps. Mt Eccles National park features several walking tracks, a camping area and excellent picnic facilities. The geological features include Lake Surprise, a beautiful crater lake, lava canals, a natural bridge, lava blisters, collapsed lava tunnels and lava cake (take a torch). The park also contains Victoria's last great stand of manna gum woodland, the favourite food of the resident koala population.
This historic town is set nestled in the lea of a dormant volcano called Tower Hill. Koroit has a fascinating Irish charm. A large number of Irish immigrants made Koroit their home in the 1840s and 1850s, with one of the most obvious links between Koroit and Ireland the potato crops grown in the rich volcanic soil surrounding the town. The Koroit Irish Festival is held annually on the first weekend in May to celebrate the town's heritage.
Tower Hill State Game Reserve to the east of Port Fairy is a rare example of a nested maar volcano, and was declared Victoria's first National Park in 1892. Local animals and plant species are in abundance however it wasn't always like this. Following European settlements of the western district land was cleared for farming purposes and the area became quite degraded and barren. In the 1960s groups of people including field naturalists, school children, sporting shooters and many others began to restore the landscape. Overtime as the trees and shrubs matured, birds and animals returned to Tower Hill. Picnic facilities, an interpretive centre, tours and walking trails make this a "must do" activity.
Hawkesdale is located 30km from Port Fairy along the C178 the main tourist route between Port Fairy and The Grampians.
You will love the local landmark, "the funkiest toilet in the South West" with fabulous murals designed and painted by the young people of the Hawkesdale area. Try the outdoor pool, open in the summer months or stroll along the historic walking trail which begins at Apex Park - a great picnic spot. Hawkesdale is an ideal rest stop on your journey north.
The small village of Yambuk is situated on the Princes Highway, west of Port Fairy. The Yambuk Inn, a beautiful historic hotel on the north side of the highway was built in the early 1870's and still trades today.
Just to the west of Yambuk is Codrington, not a town or village but a farming area, which is now the site of a wind farm. Victoria's first wind farm was built in 2001. More than 40 turbines have been built to provide clean, green energy for Victoria. Tours of the wind farm by groups can be arranged how ever the towers are easily sighted from the Princes Highway.
The Hopkins River meanders through the Moyne Shire until it reaches Wangoom where it plunges down a rocky escarpment before making its way to the sea at Warrnambool. A viewing platform offers fantastic viewing and photo opportunities. There are picnic facilities in the reserve. Best times for viewing the falls are winter and spring when rainfall is usually at its peak.
When we think of Killarney, we think of a beautiful beach, surfing and some great fishing. It’s a top spot for whiting, Australian salmon and flathead. A boat launching ramp is available, just follow the signs from the car park. Traditionally the land has been used for onion and potato growing and of course it’s lush dairy country as well.
A short drive west of Port Fairy you will find The Crags. Crags is a wild and scenic section of the coastline with calcified tree roots, jagged outcrops and panoramic views along the coast. The rocky cliffs protect small bays and are rich in wildlife including significant Silver Gull breeding site on the eastern most island. you can view the whole reserve from the lookout including Lady Julia Percy Island offshore.
The are contains many aboriginal cultural sites and places and has spiritual connections with Lady Julia Percy Island. The Crags was used over many thousand of years as a gathering, ceremonial and feasting place for Aboriginal people. Its cultural significance is listed un the National Estate of Australia.
Ralph Illidge Sanctuary
The Ralph Illidge Sanctuary is a peaceful, relaxed and scenic reserve which is a safe haven for a variety of animals, flora and fauna.
Just 25 minutes drive east of Warrnambool, or less than an hour from Port Fairy, the sanctuary is easily found off the Warrnambool -Cobden Road.
Visitors are able to enjoy the native wildlife, many walking tracks, visit the information centre or have a picnic or barbecue (shelters, tables and gas barbecues are provided).
The reserve was donated to the Victorian Conservation Trust (now Trust for Nature) in 1975 by Ralph Illidge to ensure the long-term protection of the flora and fauna on the property. Additional land has been acquired and added to the reserve through public fund raising programs. The reserve was severely burnt during the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 but has regrown to now provide an important habitat for species such as the Potoroo, Powerful Owl, Rufous Bristlebird and White Goshawk.
Guided walks and group bookings can be arranged by contacting the sanctuary on 5566 2319 or Leader, Kevin Sparrow on 55626217. Further information can be found at www.warrnambool.org/bimbimbi/
Admission to the sanctuary costs just a gold coin donation. It is closed on days of Total Fire Ban.
Lady Julia Percy Island
West of Port Fairy, Lady Julia Percy island is Australia's only submarine volcano. When lava erupts under water a typical type of lava called pillow lava occurs. These are tube like structures where the interaction with water forms a crust on the outside and molten lava continues to flow inside. This island is home to the largest colony of fur seals in the Southern Hemisphere and several bird species. These include diving petrel, peregrine falcon, fairy prion and sooty oyster catchers. A number of small but unusual plant species survive in the caves in the cliff walls.
Tours are available and details can be found at the Visitor Information Centre