Mount Schank

Mount Schank
View inside the cone from the rim

Coordinates: 37°56′23″S 140°44′15″E / 37.93985°S 140.73761°E / -37.93985; 140.73761 Mount Schank is an inactive maar volcano in the south-east of South Australia, near Mount Gambier. It was named by James Grant in 1800 after Admiral John Schank, designer of Grant's ship, the HMS Lady Nelson.

Mount Schank was created by the East Australia hotspot in the Holocene, 5,000 years ago, at the same time as Mount Gambier. It is a very basic ash cone perhaps a hundred metres high, and the base of the crater does not extend below the water table, so there is no crater lake as with those at Mount Gambier. There are two small subsidiary craters adjacent to the main cone and some lava flows resulting from the eruption. The northern crater is circular and 300 m in diameter, the older southern crater is 200 m in diameter and partially overlapped by the larger crater. Lava nearby shows quench features, typical of rapid cooling brought about by contact with seawater. This suggests that the area was covered by the sea when the eruption occurred; unsurprising, as today the volcano is around 15 km north of the shore. Mount Schank is part of the Newer Volcanics Province, which is the youngest volcanic center in Australia.

The local Aboriginal Bunganditj people witnessed Mount Schank's eruptions over time. Their creation story about the local volcanic landscape was recorded by a local woman, Cristina Smith, in 1880. It tells the tale of Craitbul, a giant, who was looking for a place to live with his wife and two sons. They camped at Mount Muirhead and Mount Schank, but were scared away from both these camps by a moaning bird spirit. They fled to Mount Gambier, leaving their camp ovens (the volcanoes) burning. After some time, water came and filled their ovens, putting them out and driving the spirit away. They continued to live in a cave on the side of Mount Gambier.[1][2]

Large panorama of crater

The site is accessible from the Mount Gambier-Port MacDonnell road about 12 km south of Mount Gambier; there is a small carpark and picnic table, and steps have been placed to facilitate the short but very steep walk to the rim of the crater. It is a fairly simple walk to traverse the rim, though the exposed situation can be treacherous in gusty weather.

See also


  1. ^ Information board at base of Mount Schank, created by Primary Industries and Resources, Government of South Australia.
  2. ^ "Mount Gambier - History". Travel in Mount Gambier. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 

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