Today, we went for a drive and discovered two natural wonders of the volcanic plains of western Victoria.
The Tumuli Lava Blisters near Byaduk, Victoria, are enormous mounds of basalt lava that have pushed up out of the ground during periods of volcanic activity. Each one is bigger than a house, and while it may look like a pile of rocks, it’s actually all one thing.
The landscape here is dotted with them, but they are quite a rare phenomenon elsewhere in the world.
Less than 10 kilometres away are the Byaduk Caves, which are also formations of basalt lava. They may look like enormous holes in the ground, but they are more interesting than that: these caves were formed when lava from the nearby Mt Napier hardened on the surface while hotter lava continued to flow underneath, creating caves and lava tubes beneath the surface of the ground. The visible openings of the caves occurred when the roofs of the lava tubes collapsed, exposing the rest of the cave to the elements.
People better at walking than I am can venture down into the caves, which contain stalagmites and stalactites, rocks that look like ropes of lava, and bats! Because I have mobility issues thanks to my dodgy spine and fibromyalgia, we stayed on the surface and looked in from above. This was still quite amazing, and I was satisfied with being able to manage the walk and see some impressive geological sights.
In stark contrast to the dark basalt and the yawning cave mouths are the colours and textures above the surface. The blueness of the sky, the summer yellow of the grasses, the leaves of the natural bush and the grey elegance of dead trees reaching to the sky were all vivid.
Further evidence of volcanic activity is the multitude of basalt rocks of all sizes that litter the landscape.
While walking on uneven ground is generally difficult and often painful for me, I found the walking track to be fairly manageable most of the time, but there were a few spots where I struggled and needed a helping hand to walk safely. I certainly wouldn’t like to try it with a wheelchair, either!