Tumuli Lava Blisters and Byaduk Caves

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!

A Hidden Gem in the Narrawong State Forest: Sawpit Camping Area

One of the things I always try to do when I am out and about on a road trip or holiday is to see something new or visit a place I haven’t visited before. 

Even though we are camping at the same place we’ve camped at every January since 2014, there are still new things to explore. Last year we visited the wonderful Bay of Whales Gallery nestled in the hills above Narrawong.

Today we ventured up to Mt Clay in the Narrawong State Forest to check out The Sawpit picnic and free camping area. It’s only a short distance from where we are camping by the Surrey River at  Narrawong.

It’s really gorgeous up there. The natural bush forest is beautiful, a glorious natural canopy above the blackened tree trunks, reminders of bushfires In years past. 

The camping area is well designed, providing numerous sites for campers to spread out from one another.

Walking tracks enable visitors to immerse themselves in the environment on walks of different lengths, and the historic lumber cart and log display are reminders of the history that gave the area its name. 

Everything is clearly signposted, including a reminder for campers to take their rubbish home: given that everything was clean and tidy, it’s really encouraging to see that most of the visitors have been conscientious in that regard. 

Still, it seems that things are not always easily understood, as demonstrated by my own friend’s response to the following sign: 

Friend: “20 minutes one way. Why would you only go one way?”
Me: ”It’s a loop…”
Friend, after a few moments of thought: ”Oh. Yeah.”

What surprises me most is that many people don’t even know it’s there. It really is a hidden gem.