Sunday, 3 May 2015

Tower Hill - An Australian Volcano

Tower Hill Lake

It may surprise you but there are actually volcanoes in Australia. Okay, they may not do anything like this:

However since there is a fault line that does pass through Australia it is not surprising that at one time there were active volcanoes here. However these volcanoes are long since dead, so don't expect a major St Helens style eruption any time soon (though anything could happen). There have even been a number of significant earthquakes in Australia, such as:
  • A 6.7 magnitude earthquake in the Canning basin in Western Australia in 1971;
  • A 6.7 magnitude earthquake in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory in 1988;
  • An earthquake in Newcastle on 28 December 1989, which to date has been the most destructive earthquake in Australia's history.
However, due to Australia's sparseness, most of the earthquakes occur in areas of low population and are generally never felt, and if any damage is done, it is usually a cowshed falling down, or a couple of roads that need to be repaired. We do occasionally feel an earthquake closer to the cities, but they generally result in a couple of broken windows, and our Facebook feeds being flooded with jokes such as this:

Adelaide Earthquake
Unfortunately the poor guy had to pick his chair up again three years later
Anyway, despite the plethora of harmless (and not so harmless) earthquakes that rock the Australian continent from time to time, we are actually talking about volcanoes in this post, namely because the place I visited when I was down in Warrnambool was an extinct volcano. There are a few extinct volcanoes scattered around the Australian countryside, if you know where to look, though the most famous would be Mount Gambier, the home of the Blue Lake - which is famous for changing its colour at certain times of the year.

Another of these extinct volcanoes, albeit a much less famous one (probably because it doesn't have a lake the changes colour) is Tower Hill. Tower Hill is a short drive (and probably a much longer walk if you don't happen to own a car) outside of Warranambool and doubles as a wildlife reserve, as well an an extinct volcano. Mind you, I'm not sure how many of the people that were wandering around the reserve the day that we visited knew that they were walking through the crater of an extinct volcano, but if they did, they probably didn't care.

Just in case you needed a map

While I could go into a few more technical details about this particular volcano, I won't simply because I will probably end up boring you to tears, so instead I will direct you to the fount of all human knowledge that happens to be Wikipedia. Instead I will say a few things about this park that, for some reason, I always end up stopping at on may travels past (though one time was simply to marvel at modern technology by placing an order for some shares on my mobile phone while standing in the middle of the country - though I highly doubt I would be able to do the same thing in the Sahara).

The thing that I have always remembered about this park is the narrow, one way, road that winds its way down the cliff, across the lakes, and through the park, to exit at another spot. By the way, when I say that this road is narrow, I mean really, really narrow. It is basically only one car wide, which means that if some dude (like me) decides to stop and take photos, well there are parts (in fact most parts) where you will simply have to stop and wait for the person up the front (usually me) to finish what they are doing. Mind you, I have yet to have a horn beeped at me, but then again I have only driven along this road during a peak period once.

Narrow Road
No overtaking anybody here
In the middle of the drive you can pull over (much to the relief of those travelling behind you) and go for a short walk up to the summit of the outcrop in the middle of the crater. Like all climbs it is probably not the easiest, but I can assure you that it will be quite a lot easier than scaling the side of K-2 (you don't need ropes and hooks, though you may need some warm clothing). The walk itself takes about half-an-hour, so it gives you a bit of exercise, as well as stretching your legs after a long (or not so long) journey by car.

Tower Hill Summit
You climb all the way up here to see - A Rock
The other thing about this park is that it is a nature reserve, which means that you are going to find a number of animals wandering around (though sometimes you have to keep an eye out because they can be pretty hard to spot). Sure enough you are likely to encounter a kangaroo, but then again Kangaroos are so prevalent in the Australian bush you are more than likely to encounter one sooner or later, particularly with the front of your car (yes, they are notorious for standing in the middle of roads playing chicken with your car - though despite popular myth, they generally don't survive the impact). You can even find the odd emu wandering about, usually around the barbeques, since they do like stealing food.

They're pretty harmless, until they attack you that is
One creature that you can find, though you have to keep an eye out, is a koala. You will find them lurking up trees around here. You don't have to worry about mistaking them for Drop Bears though, because despite all of your Australian friends warning you to be careful of them, and not to linger under any trees for too long, you are probably more likely to get hit by a falling branch than a ravaging drop bear. Anyway, here is a size chart that I found somewhere on the internet.

Drop Bear Size Chart
Wikipedia can tell you all about Drop Bears
Anyway, before I finish off, since this is a volcano (albeit an extinct one), I simply have to include a video of one of the world's most famous volcanoes - Krakatoa:

There's just something cool about active volcanoes

Creative Commons License
Tower Hill - An Australian Volcano by David Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me.

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