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Victorian Volcanic Plains Geotour

Discover Victoria Collection
3 Days - Melbourne - Victorian Volcanic Plains - Hamilton - Warrnambool

3 Day Volcanic Tour Overview

This Signature small group personalised Geotour lets you explore and discover the geology, waterfalls, lakes, mountains, lava tubes, Aboriginal and early European cultural impacts on these plains to present day Australian lifestyle.

The gently undulating Volcanic Plains of western Victoria are the third largest volcanic plain in the world and are formed of lava flows up to 60 metres thick and are studded with 400 volcanoes which have been erupting over the past five million to eight thousand years ago.

Eco Tourism Certified


  • You will be travelling with an Ecotourism Green Travel Leader, certified by Ecotourism Australia.
  • Central Highlands volcanic scenery, the uplands region close to Ballarat.
  • Internationally significant Red Rock volcanic complex with over 40 eruption points, the lookout provides 360 degree views of other volcanic features.
  • Stoney Rises, most prominent stoney rises in Victoria, is characterised by its rocky and undulating landscape.
  • Camperdown – Mt Leura, Lake Bullen Merri & Lake Gnotuk, part of a large volcanic system of volcanic cones and maar systems forming lakes.
  • Mount Noorat, named after Aboriginal elder and a traditional meeting place.
  • Penshurst – Volcano Discovery Centre (Seasonal) & Mt Rouse, which had one of the longest lava flows on the plains.
  • Hamilton, a beautiful small city and the wool capital of Victoria.
  • Nigretta & Wannon Waterfalls, spectacular in season when the rivers are in full flow.
  • Mt Napier State Park – Mt Napier is the youngest and highest of the volcano’s on the plain
  • Byaduk Caves, are the most extensive natural lave caves in Australia.
  • Budj Bim National Park, name give by Gunditjmara indigenous peoples.
  • Crater filled Lake Surprise and lava tubes. World Heritage listed landscape for Aboriginal culture.
  • Tower Hill Nature Reserve, one of the largest maar volcanoes in the world, now a lake with an island in the middle known for wildlife and
  • Aboriginal interpretation centre.
  • Warrnambool, major coastal city adjacent to the plains.
  • Hopkins Waterfalls, spectacular waterfall in season pouring over a basalt escarpment.
  • Derrinallum – Mt Elephant, one of the highest and most prominent volcanoes on the plain, from a certain angle, looks like an elephant.


  1. 1The price includes all taxes, entrance fees, meals (B,MT,D) and commissions.
  2. The tour is available all year, except over Easter period and the last 2 weeks of December.
  3.  *The tour can depart from Ballarat and Geelong. If you wish to depart from Ballarat or Geelong, contact us so we can make arrangements for you.
  4. We are Free Independent Traveller (Solo) friendly. You won’t be paying any surcharge and there are no minimum numbers.
  5. Small Group Personalised Tour, group size – 1 to 5 pers. If you have a larger group, contact us so we can make arrangements.
  6. You will be departing and returning to Melbourne by fast train. This reduces the Carbon Footprint & Climate Change impact.
Price & Departures

2024 Departure Dates.
Departs on Wednesday 


14 & 21

13 & 20

10 & 17

08 & 15

12 & 19

10 & 17

14 & 21

11 & 18

09 & 16

13 & 20


Please refer to our Terms and Conditions prior to booking

Day 1 Melbourne - Victorian Volcanic Plains - Hamilton

In the morning you will be met at *Southern Cross Railway Station by your Golden Nugget Discovery Tours Eco Guide. The adventure begins as we take the fast train to Ballarat.
On arrival in Ballarat, we transfer to our tour van and head north to see the many ex volcanoes in the Creswick / Smeaton region.

We now head south to the flat plains, stopping on the way at Mount Buninyong, one of the largest of the ex volcanoes. At Mount Buninyong we see the crater and the fabulous views of the surrounding countryside.

Travelling across the volcanic plains we head to Red Rock. Red Rock has over 40 eruption points in the internationally significant volcanic complex, with 7 major crater lakes within the scoria cones. From the lookout you can see Lake Corangamite, which is Victoria’s largest natural lake and is RAMSAR listed, you can also see the ex volcanoes of Mount Elephant, Mount Porndon and Mount Sugarloaf.

Leaving Red Rock, we travel along the Princes Highway and stop at the Stoney Rises. The area is characterised by its rocky and undulating landscape. Ridges and depressions up to 15 metres high or deep formed when liquid lava broke through the hardened outer skin of molten lava.

As we travel along the Princes Highway you can see the ex volcano of Mt Porndon, which rises from a complex of lava flows, tuff deposits, scoria cones and craters.

Arriving at the dairy town of Camperdown, we drive to the peak of Mount Leura, an extinct volcano in a maar volcano system. From Mt Leura, you have great views of the plains dotted with lakes and hills of ex volcanoes.

We stop at the large lakes of Lake Bullen Merri and Lake Gnotuk, these lakes are ex maar volcanoes which have filled up with water.

Continuing across the Geopark, out next stop is Mount Noorat.
Mt Noorat is named after local aboriginal elder Ngoora and was a traditional meeting place for the Kirrae Wuurong people. We climb Mt Noorat to see the deep circular crater.
As we travel along the road you will see perfect examples of Dry Stone Wall fences, these were built by the early settlers from England, Scotland and Ireland.

Passing through the town of Mortlake, you can see Mount Shadwell, this ex volcano threw out “bombs” of molten rocks which now contain the pale green crystal – olivine.

Our next stop is at the town of Penshurst, where we go the Volcanoes Discovery Centre (Seasonal) and go to the top of Mount Rouse, this ex volcano had some of the largest lava flows of the all the volcanoes.

After leaving Penshurst, we drive to Hamilton for our overnight accommodation.

Day 1 Summary


  • Rail Ticket Melbourne to Ballarat

Day 2 Hamilton - Victorian Volcanic Plains - Warrnambool

This morning after breakfast we head out west to see some great waterfalls in season on the Wannon River. The first is the Nigretta Falls and the second is the Wannon Falls which has a 30 metre drop in the pool below.

We now head south to the youngest ex volcano in Victoria, Mount Napier, which is in the Mt Napier State Park. We now have a walk along a track through the bush over lava flows and to the top of the mountain to see the crater and marvelous views of the plains.

The next place we go to in the Mt Napier State Park is the Byaduk Caves. These are the most extensive and accessible set of lava caves (tubes) in Australia. Being so young, only 8000 years old, they are largely unweathered and in their natural state.

Driving further south, we come to Harmans Valley to see one of the youngest lava flows dated in Australia. A spectacular lava fountain several hundred metres high roared up form a lava lake in Mt Napier, the lava flowed down Harmans Valley for approximately 24 Kilometres.

Further down the lava flow we stop and have a look at Tumuli, which is when the lava breaks through the lava tube.

Budj Bim National Park is our next stop to see Lake Surprise, which is the crater of the ex volcano and the surrounding lava tubes. Budj Bim was the name give by the local Gunditjmara peoples. This park is also a good place to see kangaroo’s, wallabies and koala’s.

We now head towards Warrnambool on the Southern Ocean coast, on the way we stop at Tower Hill Nature Reserve, which is a nested Maar volcano. The volcano formed 25,000 years ago and is one of the largest maar volcanoes in the world, being 3 kilometre across. Later in the history of the volcano, scoria mounds built up in the centre of the volcano to forms hills. Today the ex volcano has a large lake and has many native animals, plus an Aboriginal cultural centre.

We now leave for Warrnambool to our overnight accommodation.

Day 2 Summary


  • Mount Napier State Park,
  • Budj Bim National Park
  • Tower Hill Nature Reserve

Day 3 Warrnambool - Victorian Volcanic Plains - Melbourne

This morning we take a city tour of Warrnambool, which is the largest city on the west coast of Victoria.

Leaving Warrnambool we head to the nearby Hopkins Falls, which tumble over a basalt escarpment. In season these falls look spectacular.

Driving away from the coast we head back onto the volcanic plains and go to Derrinallum, which is at the foot of Mount Elephant. Mt Elephant is the largest of the the scoria volcanoes on the plains, in season we can climb to the top of the mount and see the 90 metre deep crater and the panoramic views of the plains.

Leaving Derrinallum, we continue east across the plains to the city of Geelong, where we catch our fast train back to Southern Cross Railway Station, Melbourne and say our goodbye’s.

Day 3 Summary


  • Rail Ticket Geelong to Melbourne.
Victorian Volcanic Plains Geotour
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