9 Stunning Natural Wonders & Things To Do in Mount Gambier

A different view of The Blue Lake. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.

Hey there, friend!

In this journal entry, I’ve compiled a roundup of amazing natural attractions you can find in the spectacular location of Mount Gambier. I’ve also included a couple of fantastic local breweries and a tip on where to get deliciously soft, mouthwatering scrolls!

Explore the Mount Gambier in the Limestone Coast with me

We had the pleasure of exploring this area early last year in 2022 (pre-caravan days) for a long weekend. We had such a blast that we wanted to go back and spend some more time there.

There are a few experiences that I’ve included in the list from that long weekend, combined with some of the newer ones from our recent travels. The first time we visited Mount Gambier, we went in summer, while the second time, we visited in winter. So, you’ll find a mixture of summer and winter photos in this entry. I hope you enjoy the read!

Quick roundup of fun things to do in Mount Gambier

What I’ve listed below are just a few of the natural wonders in the region, there are so many more caves and sinkholes you could visit. Of course, I have to include the breweries of Mount Gambier! Because, we’re low-key doing a brewery tour of Australia, haha.

  1. Hike the epic dog-friendly Volcanic Crater Rim Walk at Mount Schank
  2. Walk the beautiful nature trails around Valley Lake
  3. Take a leisurely walk around the stunning Blue Lake
  4. Take a refreshing dip at a unique swimming spot, the Little Blue Lake
  5. Go on a mesmerising Snorkel Tour at the Kilsby Sinkhole. I’ve written a separate journal entry for our day trip, you can read it here.
  6. Relax in the gorgeous Sunken Garden at Umpherston Sinkhole. I’ve written a separate journal entry for our day trip, you can read it here.
  7. Enjoy tasty craft beer & woodfired pizza at Little Rippa Brewery
  8. Grab a delicious local brew at the Woolstore Brewery
  9. Indulge in a mouthwatering cinnamon scroll or two from the ScRoll Queen.
Beautiful sunken garden at Umpherston Sinkhole. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Beautiful extremely long English Ivy draping down the walls
Inside Little Rippa Brewery. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Microbrewery setup

Where is Mount Gambier & how to get there from Adelaide

The small satellite city of Mount Gambier is located in the Limestone Coast region, at the southern end of the state, near the Victorian border.

The best way to get to Mount Gambier from Adelaide is by car, and it’s about a 4.5 to 5-hour drive heading southeast. I believe you can also fly there directly with Qantas and Rex, reducing the travel time down to just over an hour!

View at Kislby Sinkhole from inside on the floating pontoon. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
View from the floating pontoon inside the Kilsby Sinkhole

About Mount Gambier in South Australia

What makes this part of the state unique and unmissable are the phenomenal natural attractions to experience.

Most of these were formed through volcanic activity years ago. And now makes for a fascinating landscape – where you can hike around dormant craters, snorkel in water-filled sinkholes or journey into underground caves.

The town centre is actually fairly busy since Mount Gambier is one of the bigger rural service and retail hubs of the area. It’s a small city with a country vibe, if that makes sense? And, if you like heritage buildings, you’ll spot some beauties around the CBD.

Little Blue Lake. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
A sunny autumn/winter’s day visiting The Little Blue Lake

The best time to visit Mount Gambier

One of the main attractions of Mount Gambier is undoubtedly The Blue Lake. This natural wonder is seasonal; when the temperature is warm, the colour of the water changes from a darker blue to a show-stopping turquoise.

So, if you’d like to see the Blue Lake at its most visually stunning, you’ll want to visit during the summer months. The best time to head to Mount Gambier is from December to the end of February, give or take a month.

This region generally doesn’t get extremely hot, and maximum temperatures in summer tend to only reach just over the mid-twenties. Plus, less chances of rain!

However, if you want to go for long bushwalks and see the countryside lush and green, the autumn and spring months might be the way to go. You can take advantage of cooler daytime temperatures; however, you might encounter some wetter weather.

Valley Lake Parklands. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Parklands surrounding Valley Lake

Walking Trails in Mount Gambier

One: Volcanic Crater Rim Walk at Mount Schank

Mount Gambier Dog-friendly walking trail

This is probably one of the most unique walks we’ve ever done with Charlie, and would highly recommend it if you’re into hiking, with or without a precious pooch tagging along!

About Mount Schank

Let me just start with the fact that Mount Schank is a dormant volcano. Wow, right? It’s part of the youngest volcanic area in Australia, only erupting about 5,000 years ago. The width of the crater spans 300 metres and it’s 100 metres tall.

A view of the crater along the walk at Mount Schank. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
View inside the crater at Mount Schank
Where is Mount Schank located

From the town centre of Mount Gambier, Mount Schank is located about 15 minutes south. It’s a beautiful drive through the countryside, with access to the Volcanic Rim Walk carpark being off Mountain Path Road.

Mount Schank is not too far from the Little Blue Lake, so you could do the crater walk, and follow it by a refreshing dip at the Little Blue Lake. Both of which, are free attractions.

Charlie enjoying his walk at Mount Schank. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
My little mountain goat loving this crater walk
About the walking trail 

The walking trail starts from the carpark, goes up the side of the crater and then continues around the rim of the volcano. It’s not an easy hike; it’s graded at 4 and can be very challenging. There are two sections to the trail and if you do the whole thing, it’s about a 3.5-kilometre loop:

  • Car park to crater rim: 1 kilometre
  • Crater rim walk: 2.5 kilometres, but you can’t really do this without doing the car park to crater rim first!

Apparently, there’s a solitary wild goat that calls Mount Schank home. Let me know in the comments if you’ve spotted him before!

Walking along the volcanic rim of Mount Schank. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Rocky ledges along Mount Schank
1-kilometre steep ascent to the rim from the carpark

The extremely steep 1-kilometre hike from the carpark just to get to the crater rim had my hubby saying “why are you trying to kill me????”. This challenging part of the walk is lined with limestone planks and consists of 1038 steps!

Once you get to the top, sweating and panting, you are rewarded with beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding farmlands and a look inside the large volcanic crater. It’s quite a sight.

View of surrounding farmlands at Mount Schank. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Farmland views from the Crater Rim Walk
2.5-kilometre trail around the crater rim

The path around the crater rim has an uneven surface with sketchy parts. Certain sections were narrow, some had loose rocks or came too close to the edge. As much as it’s an exciting trail, please take care when you’re walking it!

Some other things about the walk:
  • It’s not a very shaded trail so you might want to bring some sun protection or protective clothing.
  • It helps to have sturdy footwear because the trail can be rocky and uneven.
  • If you’re heading in the summer months with your precious pooch, you might want to go earlier in the day so they’re not walking in hot conditions. And, bring plenty of water!
  • There are a lot of burrs along the path, if you have a poodle who’s on the fluffier side, they’ll constantly be stopping
  • I thought I had read somewhere you could walk down from the rim into the crater but at the time we went, it was closed off.
View of the trail and surrounding farmlands at Mount Schank. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Seats throughout the trail to appreciate the views and to rest!

Two: Walk the beautiful nature trails around Valley Lake

Mount Gambier dog-friendly Walking Trails

Valley Lake is another large crater lake in the area. While it may not boast the same visual impact as the Blue Lake, it has its own unique scenic beauty and serves as a wonderful spot for a variety of recreational activities.

Surrounded by picturesque parklands, Valley Lake offers large grassy areas, perfect for picnics or BBQs, along with a playground for little tackers, numerous scenic lookouts, and a network of nature trails. During our visit, we also saw plenty of people enjoying jet-skiing and kayaking on the lake.

Additionally, Valley Lake is home to a wildlife conservation park, which sounded intriguing. Unfortunately, the park doesn’t allow dogs, and we had Charlie with us.

Valley Lake in summer weather. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Valley Lake in summer weather (photo taken during a previous trip to Mount Gambier)
Where is Valley Lake located

Valley Lake is situated just across the road from the Blue Lake, along the southern edge of the town. You can access the lake via Davidson Drive, while some of the nature trails can be accessed through Hay Drive.

Charlie in front of Valley Lake in winter weather. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Charlie in front of Valley Lake (winter weather)
Sugar Loaf Mountain Trail

Surrounding Valley Lake is a dog-friendly walking trail known as the Sugar Loaf Mountain Trail or Valley Lake Loop. You can find more information about it on the Walking SA website.

During our visit, we only completed part of it, from Hay Drive to Mark’s Lookout and back. Unfortunately, we had caught a dreaded lurgy during the week and still felt gross. And, it’s hard to tell from the photos, but the weather was freakin’ freezing and blustery!

My photos turned out as dreary as the weather we had. However, the view of Valley Lake was actually quite lovely in person, even with the grey skies.

Sugar Loaf Mountain Trail or Valley Loop Trail at Valley Lake. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Sugar Loaf Mountain Trail or Valley Loop Trail

It’s a fun but moderately challenging walking trail with some steep ascents and descents. The trail consists of a dirt path with an uneven surface, there’s lots of tree roots, steps and rocky sections.

During our hike, we encountered a couple of people riding past us on their mountain bikes, so if you’re into that, it’s worth noting that the track can also used for mountain biking.

For the best starting point, head to Mark’s Lookout Car Park, located at the corner of Davidson Drive and Elliot Drive. This spot offers plenty of parking and you can find a trailhead sign. The whole trail is meant to be 4.2-kilometre loop.

View of Valley Lake from the walking trail. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
A view of Valley Lake from the trail in dreary winter weather

Three: Blue Lake Walking Trail

Mount Gambier Dog-friendly Walking Trail

The Blue Lake (Warwar) is undoubtedly one of the natural wonders Mount Gambier is best recognised for. When conditions are right, the water displays a mesmerising glassy surface and a striking shade of blue.

It is a volcanic crater lake filled with about 36,000 megalitres of water, according to SA Water. You can’t swim at this lake because it is a reservoir for some of the town’s water supply. But, check out The Little Blue Lake if you do want to have a swim somewhere unique!

Where is the Blue Lake located

The Blue Lake is located along John Watson Drive, about a 4-minute drive from the Mount Gambier town centre.

The Blue Lake in summer. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Blue Lake in March

When is the best time to visit the Blue Lake

As mentioned earlier, the best time to visit the Blue Lake is around December to late February, give or take a month. This is when you’ll see it at its most visually stunning. When the weather is cool, the water changes to a dark moody blue colour.  

These photos were taken when we went to Mount Gambier for a long weekend, early last year in early March (2022). We caught it at the right time because the colour was unreal!

The Blue Lake from the Leg of Mutton side. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Lookouts throughout the walking trail

The Blue Lake Walking Trail

The walking trail is about 3.5 kilometres and circles the lake. Most of it is along a flat, easy, paved path. We crossed over and walked a little bit of the dirt trail at the Leg of Mutton side.

There are plenty of lookouts and platforms around the lake, so it’s worth taking a leisurely stroll around it to capture its beauty from the many different vantage points.

A different view of The Blue Lake. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Walking around the Blue Lake, capturing it from different viewpoints

Sinkholes in Mount Gambier

Four: Little Blue Lake

Mount Gambier dog-friendly attraction

The Little Blue Lake is a unique and popular swimming spot for locals and tourists alike, and it’s a free attraction to visit. It’s also a great activity to combine with the Mount Schank Volcanic Crater Rim Walk since they’re close together.

Where is the Little Blue Lake located

This beautiful water-filled volcanic sinkhole is located about a 15-minute drive from the centre of Mount Gambier, nestled on picturesque farmland along Mount Salt Road in Mount Schank.

The Little Blue Lake nestled on farmland. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Little Blue Lake nestled on farmlands
Why its called the Little Blue Lake

Its name came from the fact that it used to sometimes turn a vibrant blue in the summer months, like the Blue Lake. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore and it remains the same colour throughout the year.

People kayaking at the Little Blue Lake. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
People kayaking at the lake
Swim, kayak and cave dive at the Little Blue Lake

You can absolutely swim at the lake, but because of the depth, you have to be a fairly experienced swimmer. Apparently, you can also go cave diving at the lake if you’ve got the proper licence.

Since it was winter, it was far too cold for us to even consider dipping our toes. However, while we were there, we saw a family kayaking around the lake in wetsuits.

The lake has a relatively large car park, and there are stairs leading to the bottom of the cliffs, along with a small pontoon at the water’s edge.

View of stairs and pontoon at the Little Blue Lake. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
View of stairs and pontoon

Five: Kilsby Sinkhole

Not dog-friendly

This spectacular water-filled sinkhole is located near the Little Blue Lake and Mount Schank. I have written a whole journal entry about our recent experience at the Kilsby Sinkhole.

Inside the Kilsby Sinkhole during a dry tour. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
The mesmerising blue colour of the water

Six: Sunken Garden at Umpherston Sinkhole

This gorgeous plant lover’s paradise is located about 5 minutes away from the main town area of Mount Gambier. I have written a whole journal entry about our recent experience at the Umpherston Sinkhole.

Inside the Kilsby Sinkhole during a dry tour. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
People having a picnic at the sinkhole sunken garden

Breweries in Mount Gambier

Seven: Little Rippa Brewery

mount gambier Dog-friendly outdoor beer garden

This little rippa of a brewery and restaurant is located in a rural area just outside of Mount Gambier, about an 8-minute drive from the town centre.

Their venue has a modern, industrial, barn vibe and a welcoming atmosphere. A great place to enjoy a beer and pizza, for sure!

Inside Little Rippa Brewery. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Inside Little Rippa Brewery
Beer & Food

From memory, Little Rippa Brewery had about 8 or so of their craft beers on tap, offering a good range of styles. Their beers have a good depth of flavour, according to the hubby anyways.

Tasting paddle at Little Rippa Brewery. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Their tasting paddle

Their food menu offers smaller share plates like chicken wings, as well as bigger, more main-like dishes such as fish and chips. Additionally, they have a selection of woodfired pizzas, which are delicious with just the right amount of toppings and a nice thin crust.

Delicious woodfired pizzas and finger foods at Little Rippa Brewery. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Delicious woodfired pizzas and finger foods

They’ve recently landscaped their back area to create a pretty beer garden that has seating and sheltered spaces – perfect for summer weather and enjoying live music at the venue.

At the time of our visit, their outdoor area wasn’t available. We ended up leaving Charlie in the car while we went inside. He just curls up and goes to sleep, sometimes I think he prefers it because he doesn’t like being in the cold!

Little Rippa Brewery is open Thursday – Sunday. Check their website out here.

Little Rippa Brewery building. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Little Rippa Brewery building set on farmland

Eight: Woolstore Brewery

Mount Gambier Dog-friendly Brewery with outdoor seating

This is a lovely brewery that’s very dog-friendly and kid-friendly. Being directly opposite the Railway Lands, there’s playgrounds, gardens, and sculptures for kiddos to enjoy. All while you sip a beer and relax!

Where is Woolstore Brewery located

It’s located in the heart of Mount Gambier, on Margaret St, opposite the Railway Lands.

Charlie chilling at Woolstore Brewery. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Charlie at Woolstore Brewery

We had beautiful weather when we went, and it was such a nice place to chill out for the afternoon. There’s plenty of outdoor seating available on the verandah and out on the grass.

Their taproom is a historic building and used to be an old wool storage depot. I loved seeing the old beams, rustic tin roof and other original parts of the building.

Beer & Food

Woolstore Brewery offers a small selection of quality craft beers, typically about 5-6 on tap including their foundational ales and stout, along with a couple of seasonal beers. As for food, they only serve bar snacks such as grazing platters, jerky, toasties, and packet chips

Woolstore Brewery open Thursday – Sunday. Check their website out here.

Hubby at Woolstore Brewery. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Hubby at Woolstore Brewery

Bakery Goods in Mount Gambier

Nine: ScRoll Queen

Mount gambier dog-friendly bakery with outdoor seating

When we went down to Mount Gambier the first time, we went to Bay Blue Espresso Bar for breakfast, a little cafe on the way to Valley Lake and the Blue Lake.

It’s where I had my first taste of a ScRoll Queen cinnamon scroll and I was hooked. I vowed that the next time we were there, I would visit the actual shop! Haha, I just imagined myself holding a fist up dramatically.

Where is ScRoll Queen located

ScRoll Queen is located along Bay Road, just outside of Mount Gambier in a southern suburb called Moorak. It’s about a 5-minute drive from the town centre.

Their shop front is small and there’s no seating inside. There’s just a few picnic benches out the front with no umbrellas or shelter over them.

ScRoll Queen scrolls are delicious. They offer a mix of both savoury and sweet flavours. We tried a bit of both. I love their classic cinnamon scroll but the baklava is also up there. The savoury ones we tried were good too.

They are open every day except for Monday. Check their website out here.

Savoury scrolls from ScRoll Queen. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.
Savoury scrolls from ScRoll Queen

And that’s a wrap!

I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring the beautiful regional city of Mount Gambier through this journal entry. It’s certainly a location that offers many unique experiences with its geologically fascinating landscape. I hope it inspires you to make a visit!

Have you been to any of these places before? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments or pop in any questions you might have; I’d love to hear from you. 

Safe travels and happy exploring! Thanks for joining me, hope to see you again!

Sheryl

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Pinterest cover of The Blue Lake. Located in Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, South Australia.

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