The View from Wiridgil
Turn left at the eastern edge of town and continue over the railway line till you reach Wiridgil road to the right. This will take you over the Wiridgil Hills volcano pictured above. To the right there are excellent views of Mounts Leura and Sugarloaf. From the top of Wiridgil, Red Rock, your furthermost stop for the day, rises above the East of Lake Corangamite. To the south-east you see Mt. Porndon and to the north Mt. Elephant looms.
Turn right at the T-intersection to rejoin the Princes highway and continue east. About 15 kilometres further on you will find Pombomart.
It is only open from Friday to Sunday except during public and school holidays when it opens daily.
The Mart is jam packed with antiques and collectables from multiple dealers and many a bargain can be found there.
There's also a cafe that offers generous helpings at excellent prices.
Hawkes Nest Road
Drive through a lava flow
A little further East after Pomborneit, take Hawkes Nest Road on the left, for a trip through the heritage listed Mt. Porndon Lava flow, known as the stony rises. This gravel road winds over crests and dips through a wild landscape of piled basalt blocks and boulders and bush, some of which is largely unchanged since the 1860's. As you continue the landscape feels more and more remote but you will eventually re-join the Princes Highway.
Olivine & Peridot
On newly graded parts of the road you will probably find some olivine. Look for the glint of green on roundish rocks that are much heavier than the others. You may even be lucky enough to find rocks with very large green crystals of olivine which, when faceted become the August birthstone, Peridot. If not, you are very likely to have success at Mt. Shadwell quarry. You can borrow a bucket and hammer from the stairwell cupboard at Edwardia.
Watch out for wildlife and cattle on Hawkes Nest Road as both wallabies and cattle can suddenly cross. You may also see birds of prey and Koalas.
Well along the drive you will see some farm buildings where the road turns right. Further down this part of the road you will come across sections of large pale trunked trees and marshland pools. Its well worth stopping at each of these. You will likely hear an unbelievable chorus of frogs. lf its early or late in the day you will probably spot resident koalas and throughout the day various large waterbirds can be seen.
By this time you will also have glimpsed Lake Corangamite , which is Victoria's largest inland waterway. It is a shallow salt lake the size of which changes according to seasonal rainfall.
Before the 1860s the stony rises were described as having luxurious herbage but this was decimated by introduced rabbits in plague proportions. In the 1890's Australia's export of rabbit products was second only to wool. Between 1871 and 1886 a Colac rabbit preserving factory canned over six and a half million rabbits. From 1881 the Camperdown branch employed up to 90 men and boys who treated up to a million rabbits a season and from 1885 the Stoneyford Preserving Company treated at least another 600,000.
Travelling East after Hawkes Nest Road, Pirron Yallock is where Lake Corangamite drains into a creek. At this junction aboriginals set woven nets to catch thousands of tiny white bait fish each year. And remains of stone dwellings still exist on the western shares of Lake Corangamite.
After Pirron Yallock turn left at the sign to Red Rock, Kanawinka Geo-park's most recent volcanic eruption point, just 7-8000 years ago. Turn left at the Alvie Alvie sign and more signs will lead you to the Red Rock lookout car park. To the right you will see an island that is a black swan breeding ground and yearly feasting place for pre-colonial aboriginals.
If you travel west from Red Rock you can explore the Lake Corangamite shore & do some bird-watching at Wool Wool before returning to the highway via Nalangil Rd.
Click here on your iphone or computer to access Birdlife Australia's app for identifying the birds you see,
Mt. Porndon & Dry Stone Fences
Back on the highway on your return journey look for the signs to Mt. Porndon on your left. You can't drive to the top of Mt Porndon but the views back to Red Rock are excellent.
The stone fences between the Mt Porndon turn off and Lake Purrumbete are especially picturesque and intact.
Lake Edge Cafe
Lake Edge Cafe, which 15 just after the Caravan park is open between 10 and 4 and provides excellent light lunches and afternoon tea.
Both the outdoor and indoor tables provide perfect views of Lake Purrumbete, especially on a calm day. Your can spend a good while watching waterbirds induding black swans in amongst the reeds.
Between the Lakes
For a marvellous finale to your Eastern Camperdown Daytrip, continue west till you meet a T-intersection. Turn right and then left down Nharogid Road. A brief stop at Lake Bullen Merri South Beach via a right-hand turn-off is worthwhile, especially towards evening.
Back on Narogid Road, continue west till you reach another T- intersection where you turn right. As you travel north look for a right hand turn (after Fry's Road) where the remains of a railway cutting can be seen. Travel slowly because you don't want to miss it. This turn leads to spectacular sights, culminating with the view from the car park after driving through Lakes and Craters Holiday Park.