Mt Gambier – A city of contrasts

Blue Lake Mt Gambier
Blue Lake Mt Gambier

For more than 20 years I have wanted to visit Mt Gambier, now I have finally achieved that ambition. What a fantastic place to visit, just wish it was more RV friendly.

Bringing up a family means lots of challenges, and one of those is to be able to get away for a holiday or two. On several occasions we have had a holiday planned but circumstances have prevented the holiday from happening. One such holiday (yes, to Mt Gambier!), when my boys were younger was cancelled due to a sporting injury to one of them!

The Blue Lake

Mt Gambier is quite well known for its Blue Lake, and lesser known for its sink holes, so the first place we headed for was the Blue Lake.

How Blue Lake Was Created
How Blue Lake Was Created

I was quite impressed with the size of the lake, and how it was formed.

There is one at the main parking area, which is where it appears that most people go to. There is also several other viewing areas on the drive around the lake.

Additionally, you could get your walking shoes on and walk around the lake, it is only 3.6 kilometres.

As we only had the one day there the walk was not an option, but if I am honest, I would never be able to walk around because I am too unfit.

A must to add, is that there is a tour of the pumping station during which there is the option to go through an 80 metre tunnel to a viewing platform.


The sink holes

Tree at entrance
Tree at entrance to the Cave Garden

We actually intended to have breakfast in a local coffee shop after the Blue Lake but we stumbled the sink-hole in the middle of the city! The Cave Gardens sink-hole, it is amazing!

It seems that out of nowhere, in the middle of a park, appears this magnificent sink-hole.

The entrance we arrived at was the main entry point, very attractive and inviting.

Steps lead us deep into the cave, but not to the bottom, it appears that no-one can get down there now – that is a pity!

The council appears to maintain the area quite well, as it was clean and inviting the only blemish was from idiots who drop their rubbish into the bottom of the cave. There was not a lot of rubbish down there.

When we were there no water was flowing in from the street, so our experience was not complete, meaning that we will need to visit another time. We also did not get the chance to visit any of the other sink holes, adding more reason for a return visit.

Story boards

The Cave Garden Sinkhole
The Cave Garden Sinkhole

There is a number of story boards at each entrance, providing a great insight into the history of this sink hole, including the numerous deaths caused by misadventure or perhaps just plain bad luck. It seems that animals would frequently disappear into the cave, littering the bottom with carcasses.

Also, stories abound about the entrepreneurs who drilled holes into the cave, to fetch the pure pristine waters so that they could bottle it and sell to those walking past. In those days people were allowed to go into the bottom of the cave, where they could get the water themselves.

Local cafe culture

Rear Garden Metro Bakery Cafe
Rear Garden of The Metro Bakery Cafe

We found a very interesting local cafe, Metro Bakery in the area of the sink hole, where we managed to have brunch.

We had walked past a number of nice cafes however this one took our interest, see the picture to the right. Additionally, it was the busiest cafe we saw in this little area, located directly opposite the Art Gallery.

I will let the pictures paint the picture and comment that atmosphere was as good as the food was excellent.

Our visit to Mt Gambier

Unfortunately we only had one day in this superb little town. I would think that three days would be sufficient in the town, but if you wish to explore the region then at least a week would be required.

Entrance To Art Gallery
Entrance To Art Gallery

Based on our experience at the Cave Garden sink-hole, a minimum of 4 to 5 hours would be needed at each sink-hole in or near the city.

By visiting the Mount Gambier website you can discover the attractions of the city and area, a truly magnificent area.

Comments can be made below, I would like to hear what you think of the area in and around Mt Gambier and also comments on what I have written are welcome.





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14 thoughts on “Mt Gambier – A city of contrasts

  1. Kenny Reply

    Wow what a beautiful place to visit and what a great job you did in describing it to your site visitors. I would love to go there someday after reading your review. You also give life to your post by putting in some nice visuals. What was the highlight of your trip there? Thanks Kenny 

    • Steve Post authorReply

      Whilst the Blue Lake itself is magnificent and the surrounding areas well looked after, it does not take my award for being the highlight of my trip to Mt Gambier.

      Even though I have not seen everything that is on offer I doubt that anything could be better than The Cave Gardens sink hole in the middle of the City.

      It is amazing to think that a sink hole is so close to the centre of the City, with buildings right up to (at a guess) 10 metres from the edge of the sink hole.

      Additionally, the council ensures that it is maintained quite well, and they run a light show every night, something which we could not stay to see.

  2. Letsret Reply

    Mount Gambier looks like a very beautiful place, I have yet to get to Australia, but it’s on my list.  I am going to add this spot to my list of things to see for sure.  I like to do a lot of hiking and of course seeing the sink hole is a must.  A 3.6 kilometre hike around the lake would be nice.  Should we bring towels?  Is there a place to go swimming?

    • Steve Post authorReply

      Swimming in the Blue Lake is not allowed for one very good reason, it is the source of the water supply for the township of Mt Gambier.

      There is however, the “Little Blue Lake” which is about 10 minutes out of Mount Gambier at Mount Schank. People have been swimming there for years. It would pay to check as there can be an algae problem from time to time, making it unsafe for swimming.

      Enjoy your hike around the lake.

  3. Denis Reply

    Very interesting and inviting description of Mt Gambier there Steve.  I have never been there myself but the thought of seeing it in person is very appealing!  I understand that the Blue Lake was formed by ash and volcanic eruptions of steamed water making it quite unique.  But what about the sinkholes? Do you know how they were formed?  They look amazing from the photos and I will put this place on my list of places to visit!

    • Steve Post authorReply

      Hi Denis,

      Sink holes are usually caused by the erosion of limestone in and around other rocks made from different compounds, which initially leaves a cave. The sink hole then forms when the “roof” collapses.

      Not all sink holes are caused as a result of a roof collapse, but they all occur as a result of an inferior rock (usually limestone) being eroded leaving a gaping hole, called a sink hole.

      Here is the best web site to find the attractions of the region and the many sink holes. 

      Enjoy your travels


  4. Jenny Hennig Reply

    Hi Steve, I have never been to Mt. Gambier, but it looks like a great place to visit.  The blue lake in the picture really looks stunning, and  serene.  It is too bad that no one can go to the bottom of the cave, that would be really interesting to see, but nonetheless the sinkhole sounds like it would be great to see.  I really like your pictures, I will have to add this attraction to my list of places to visit.  Is there a better time of year to visit, maybe a time when it is less touristy?

    • Steve Post authorReply

      Hi Jenny,

      I am glad you asked about getting to the bottom of the sink hole because it is something which really annoys me. I believe that it is quite possible to safely organise times for visiting the sink hole and viewing what is at the bottom.

      It is not necessary that the tours to the bottom occur every day or week, but once a month or during special festivals etc would be good for tourism, people and the town.

      Obviously, there would be days where it could not be done, especially given how destructive large flows of water can be. However, the sink hole has been there for many years and is unlikely to cave in, heck it is in the middle of the CBD with building all around it.

      The best time to visit so that you may encounter less people would be from May through to end of August, but this is also the winter and can be cold at times. Our visit was during May, the day was gorgeous and the temperature hovered around 20 degrees C.

      Thanks for your comment.


  5. Cathy Reply

    What a beautiful lake that is. Is it some place that you can park and stay overnight? That would have been fantastic. My first visit to Australia was to Queensland and it was absolutely gorgeous with the sand and the beaches. I’ve never ventured to the south before and was told that it wasn’t as populated as the rest. I guess that’s why the nature thrives so well over there. 

    • Steve Post authorReply

      The two biggest cities in Australia are south of Queensland and each is central a host of wonderful attractions, including a different style of beach and fantastic surfing (I have never been surfing, in fact I have a dislike for water!).

      There are so many wonderful attractions throughout Australia, including Queensland which will be covered on this website in due course.

      Mt Gambier has plenty of attractions, several caravan parks and motels but limited free camping. Supporting townships is very important in the country areas of Australia.

  6. glenda Reply

    Hi Steve, 

    Thanks for this wonderful article on Mt. Gambier. I have to admit that there are many things to do and a plenty of scenic spots to visit and have fun with friends and families in Mt. Gambier. What I really enjoyed the most is the scenic views of the surrounding city and landscape when I’m at the top of the Centenary Tower  and the feeling is magnificent.

    • Steve Post authorReply

      We had allowed two days to visit, and see it all, sadly we were mistaken and that is the point of this website, trying to unveil the need to explore thoroughly any place we visit.

      For instance, the Blue Lake changes colour as the seasons change, necessitating another visit for us, so we can see the more majestic blue colour of the lake.

      Best time to see the Blue Lake in all of its colour is between December and March.

  7. Chad Reply

    Hi Steve,

    Where is Mt. Gambier located? I have not heard of this place, sound like an interesting place to stop by on a road trip. We have not had time lately, but love to travel and see the things that are not big tourist traps.

    This seems like the perfect kind of town to stop in on a road trip; it does not take too much time and lets everyone get out of the vehicles and stretch their legs for a couple of days.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences,

    Have a great day!


    • Steve Post authorReply

      Hey Chad,
      Mount Gambier is a great little place to stop off and enjoy the scenery for a day or two, in particular the sink holes.

      It is around a 5 hour drive west of Melbourne, the capital of Victoria in Australia.

      Between Melbourne and Mount Gambier there is a lot of lovely places to visit and stop at, you could take two weeks to get there and still not see everything.

      We stopped at Lake Elingamite, which is another fantastic little place to visit.

      When you are in need of satisfying the travelling bug you could do worse than stopping to see Mount Gambier.

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