Mount Schank - Mount Gambier's little brother.

Wednesday, 20th Jun 2012 by John Pedler
Categories: Limestone Coast

Mt Schank viewed from Centenary Tower, Mount Gambier

Overshadowed by its famous neighbour, the Blue Lake, Mount Schank is a dormant volcano that looks like a small hill halfway between Mount Gambier and Port MacDonnell. By geological standards it’s a young volcano, first erupting between 4500 and 5000 years ago.

Geologists believe it formed following two phases of volcanic activity. A smaller crater, which can be seen from the southern side of the rim, is a remnant of the first phase.

The trail up the outside of Mount Schank is fairly steep. Steps have been cut into the hillside and there are several seats along the way. Thankfully, these appear more frequently near the top. The view from the rim across lush farmlands certainly makes the climb worthwhile. For a complete 360° view you’ll need to take the rough narrow trail encircling the crater.

View from Mount Schank

Whereas the Blue Lake’s crater sits below the water table and is fed by groundwater flowing slowly through the underlying limestone, Mt Schank’s crater lies above the water table and is dry. A steep overgrown path descends to the crater floor where you’ll find yourself in an amphitheatre formed by the walls. To the north you’ll notice a ridge that is believed to be the remnant of a cinder cone from an earlier eruption.Mount Schank crater

Given the idyllic rural setting that now surrounds Mount Schank, it’s difficult to imagine the mayhem and destruction its violent eruption must have caused. But it seems that some of the locals witnessed it, albeit several thousand years ago. Aboriginal folklore, as recorded by missionary Christina Smith in the mid-1850s, includes the story of Craitbul, a giant ancestor of the Boandik people, who constructed Mount Schank as an oven.

The moaning of a bird spirit drove him and his family away and they built another oven at Mount Gambier. This one, and the next three, were flooded.  These represent Mount Gambier’s four crater lakes – Blue, Valley, Browne and Leg of Mutton. A falling water table has seen Browne Lake and Leg of Mutton Lake dry up.

Things have since settled down at Mount Schank and visitors can now enjoy a barbecue in the pleasant picnic area near the carpark.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Mount Schank is a 15 minute drive south of Mount Gambier.
  • The lawned picnic area has a toilet, a picnic table, a barbecue and a shelter.
  • There is no accommodation or camping facilities at Mount Schank but nearby Mount Gambier has plenty of both.
  • To climb Mount Schank, walk the rim and descend to the crater floor, allow at least a couple of hours.
  • Wear sturdy walking shoes and carry water.
  • Be particularly careful on windy days, as sections of the crater rim are quite narrow.

 

16 comments
Simon
replied 2202 days ago 
I always remember the walk at Mt Schank being one of the highlights of a trip to Mt Gambier when I was younger.
John Pedler
replied 2202 days ago 
Hard work Simon, but definitely worth the effort. John
Nam Huynh
replied 2188 days ago 
We visited Mt Schank last year and my 6 year old son and I made the trek into the crater floor. He loved it so much he talked about his visit and walk for his year 1 sharing time at school. We'll definitely revisit this area when we are in the SE again.
John Pedler
replied 2188 days ago 
Excellent effort for a 6-year old, Nam Huynh. You might have a little adventurer there. John
miss bloger
replied 2045 days ago 
i love mount schank! the view is amazing and i love the history of the crater.i think its just great... :)
John Pedler
replied 2043 days ago 
Hi Miss Bloger, I too am a big fan of Mt Schank. Great views and a great story. John
miss bloger
replied 2045 days ago 
i love mount schank! the view is amazing and i love the history of the crater.i think its just great... :)
jennar analaconooapa
replied 2045 days ago 
long walk. but great view *enjoyable *fun *hard work @never do it again though. pretty good ... overall... OK
John Pedler
replied 2043 days ago 
It sure is a long walk Jennar Anala, particularly if you walk the rim and head down into the crater. But certainly worth it. John
Jules_040
replied 1834 days ago 
Today, My two children and I (6yrs & 2yrs) hiked up Mount Schank (2yr old glued to my poor hip! Lol). It was amazing!! I'm so happy I could share one of my childhood memories with my children. On the way up we were discussing the hard working labourers that build the steps/rails etc, top effort! =•]
John Pedler
replied 1831 days ago 
Heroic effort for your six year old, Jules. That's a tough climb. John.
SandraB
replied 980 days ago 
I love Mount Schank, We have climbed it 5 times this year. The view is spectacular. One of South Australia's hidden gems.
John Pedler
replied 977 days ago 
It's a great spot Sandra, and I hear there's been some recent modifications to the trail to make the climb just a little bit easier. Cheers, John
Tim & Natalie
replied 314 days ago 
The climb up to the viewing platform took under 15 minutes and was so worth it. We went late afternoon and fortunately was not too hot. The views are incredible and well worth the climb. Given more time I would like to have done the full walk down into the crater. (next time!)
John Pedler
replied 314 days ago 
Hi Tim & Natalie, Mt Schank is one of my favourite spots, and the view from the top is certainly something special. And do have a crack at walking to the bottom of the crater next time. It's an odd feeling standing in the middle of a volcano - dormant or otherwise! Cheers, John
John Pedler
replied 314 days ago 
Hi Tim & Natalie, Good job making it to Hell's Hole & Caroline Sinkhole; many people don't even know they exist. And I reckon those cave divers have got some courage. Cheers, John
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