Just 11km over the Victoria-South Australian state border lies the city of Mount Gambier.
South Australia’s second largest city is famous for its spectacular deep Blue Lake set in the crater of an extinct volcano.
On sunny days, the sapphire blue water glistens and the view is breathtaking from the various lookouts dotted around the periphery of the crater lip.
The region has a spectacular landscape with numerous extinct volcanoes and sinkholes formed in the subterranean limestone rock layer.
Many natural attractions invite visitors to explore lookouts and walking trails.
While a city by name, Mount Gambier has a country town feel, with friendly locals and wide streets dotted with imposing historic facades.
A new age of foodies is creeping in as young business owners inject a big city vibe into the historic town.
A visit to Mount Gambier beautifully blends nature, arts and culture, and is a fantastic destination for an interstate holiday.
Things to do in Mount Gambier
Located on the main highway entrance from the state of Victoria, this peaceful, lush green park is home to an unusual garden. The garden is situated in a sinkhole formed by a collapsed cave caused by an air pocket in the porous limestone rock.
A prominent citizen of Mount Gambier, James Umpherston, converted the sinkhole into a manicured garden in 1884 and is the namesake of the garden. After his death, the garden fell into disrepair and was reinstated by the Forestry Department in the 1970s.
This beautiful hidden garden features temperate and traditional English plants including hydrangeas, elephant ear, English ivy and oyster plant. It’s the perfect spot for a walk and picnic in the fresh, open air.
Umpherston Sinkhole: Jubilee Highway East, Mount Gambier.
The jewel in the crown of Mount Gambier is the dazzling Blue Lake where fresh water fills a dormant volcano crater.
Visitors can enjoy the Blue Lake from numerous lookouts dotted around the crater’s rim.
Drive around the lake following John Watson Drive or take the 3.6 kilometre walking trail that takes about one hour.
Blue Lake: John Watson Drive, Mount Gambier.
Little Blue Lake
The Little Blue Lake is 15 minutes (16.9km) out of Mount Gambier via the Riddoch Highway.
This waterhole was formed in a volcanic sinkhole and is popular for swimming and fresh water cave diving.
Little Blue Lake: Mount Salt Rd, Mount Schank.
The Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre
Visit the cultural centre for some insight into the Mount Gambier region.
The centre houses exhibition spaces, a gift shop, visitor information, free bike hire, and a free screening of an interpretive film that describes the Aboriginal creation story of the region and the natural events that formed the landscape.
The centre also offers a selection of useful visitor information including maps and what’s on activities.
The Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre: 1 Bay Rd, Mount Gambier.
Places to eat and drink in Mount Gambier
Just 2.5 kilometres south of the Blue Lake you will find ScRoll Queen, a little shopfront that sells the most delicious dessert scrolls.
From the traditional iced cinnamon scroll to some unique Aussie flavours such as lamington, Mint Slice and Tim Tam, there is a flavour to please all tastebuds.
Occasionally, there are limited edition flavours to recognise holidays and special events, as well as a savoury selection. Take the short drive and stock up for breakfast treats, afternoon tea, or to fill your picnic basket.
ScRoll Queen: 155A Bay Rd, Moorak, South Australia.
A local institution set among five acres of beautiful English gardens, The Barn is well known for special occasions and generous, hearty meals.
The succinct menu predominantly features local beef steak cooked over mallee coals and is complimented by an extensive local wine list.
Accommodation is available on-site so you can make the most of the piano bar and the well-stocked wine cellar which guests are encouraged to browse.
The Barn: 747 Glenelg River Rd, (OB Flat) Mount Gambier.
Conveniently located in the heart of town, Presto Eatery is a light and spacious venue for breakfast, brunch, or just a casual coffee and cake.
Substantial seating is available both inside and out of the heritage facade.
The service is friendly and efficient, and the kitchen is humming until the early afternoon each day.
Explore the menu with its traditional favourites and modern twists, presented beautifully on clay dishes and wooden boards.
Presto Eatery: 37 Commercial St East, Mount Gambier.
Accommodation in Mount Gambier: Where to stay
There are numerous motels and hotels to choose from in Mount Gambier and the excellently located Big 4 Blue Lake Holiday Park is the perfect family-friendly choice for accommodation.
Be sure to check out the Airbnb options as there are some great properties available.
Getting to Mount Gambier
Mount Gambier’s Regional Airport has undergone renovations and is currently serviced by Rex Regional Express. Additional services by Qantas have just been announced and they will be operating five services a week from Melbourne and Adelaide.
You can also drive to Mount Gambier – it’s approximately a 5-hour drive from both Melbourne and Adelaide.