Mount Gambier Attractions
Some of the popular and unique attractions include in the Mount Gambier region include The Blue Lake, The Craters Lakes, Umpherston Sinkhole, Centenary Tower etc. Contact the local visitor centre for available tours and other information.
The Lady Nelson Discovery Centre
Jubilee Hwy East, MOUNT GAMBIER SA 5290
• The Discovery Centre is great for the family, presenting the history and geology of the area through some interactive displays. Take a walk through time and see how it was before European settlement. Your self-guided tour begins with the ancient sea, then venturing out on to the Wetlands Decking to see giant creatures. Enter the Discovery Room and see how it was 200,000 years ago. In the spectra vision theatre, see the ghostly figure of Christina Smith as she steps down from the photograph to recount her experiences, the stories from her life and the early aborigines. You will then walk through onto the glass floor of the Cave Walk, and into the Geology Room with where you will see and hear the Neon Volcano explode. There is the Brig of the Lady Nelson, where you will see and hear Lt. Grant retell his story of discovery and there is also the theatrette where you can sit and watch the current film.
Off Bay Rd, MOUNT GAMBIER
• The historic Centenary Tower is the highest point in the district. At 190 m above sea level, the walk is a steep 20 minute bitumen walking track and has rest points along the route. It is part of the circuit around the crater of the Valley/Browne’s Lakes. Illuminated at night, there are magnificent views to be had of the Crater Lakes, city and surrounding district. The Tower includes a display of early photographs of the Crater Lakes area.
The foundation stone was laid on 3rd December, 1900, and opened in 1904, commemorating the first sighting of Mount Gambier by Lt. Grant on the Lady Nelson in 1800. On the 3rd December 2000, two plaques were unveiled in the Tower car park commemorating the Bicentenary and the refurbishment of the Tower.
You know when the Tower is open, when the flag is flying. Entry fee apply and there are some refreshment and souvenirs available for sale.
Umpherston Sinkhole – The Sunken Garden
Jubilee Hwy East, MOUNT GAMBIER SA 5290
• The Umpherston Sinkhole is named after James Umpherston who had purchased his farming property in Mount Gambier, back in 1864. The sinkhole was created when the top of the chamber collapse to the cave floor. In 1884, Umpherston established a “sunken garden” in the sinkhole, which he named “The Caves”.
His garden was a hit with visitors, with people frequently visiting from Mount Gambier and the surrounding districts. There was a small lake within the sinkhole and Umpherston even organised boating activities. When he died in 1900, the garden fell into disrepair over the following years. The South Australian Woods and Forests Department was to purchase the property in 1949 and established sawmills nearby. Over the next 30 odd years, the former garden soon became nothing more than a rubbish dump. Increased agricultural activity in the region resulted in the water table dropping and the lake in the sinkhole also dried out.
In the latter half of the 1970s, the staff of the South Australian Woods and Forests Department set about restoring the garden, returning the garden to its former grandeur, making it once again a popular tourist destination. The renamed South Australian Forestry Corporation handed the garden over to the City of Mount Gambier in 1994, and the garden was added to the South Australian Heritage Register in October, 1995.1, 2
Today, this unique attraction continues to draw locals and curious travellers. A ramp provides the initial access, followed by steps. As you descend, you get glimpses and overviews of the entire garden, with the terraced levels, planted with hydrangeas, tree, ferns, and hanging ivy. A fun place for families with children, it is at dusk when a new magic is created. Those in the know, arrive with torches and bags of fruit or bread, and as if from nowhere, possums emerge for the free feed.
The sunken garden has undercover shelter, BBQ and group seating.
Cenotes and other Encounters
This sculpture was created by Ivo Tadic of Mount Gambier and completed in April 1997. The form of the sculpture was inspired by the geological processes which create the region’s sinkholes and caves. These have been formed by rainwater dissolving limestone over millions of years.
The top section of the sculpture represents sinkholes that are open to the sky. The middle section represents hidden fissures created by solution of limestone and the lower section represents limestone prior to any solution activity. Like all artistic work, the final definition has been deliberately left to be interpreted by each person.
The sculpture is composed of sawn blocks of Gambier Limestone from nearby quarries. This limestone was formed 15-40 million years ago and is composed of fragments of marine animals. The limestone blocks are strengthened by twin steel columns embedded in a concrete footing. These columns are tied to the stone courses in each direction.