The Red Rock Volcanic Complex was the site of many violent volcanic eruptions which resulted in the craters and lakes found in the area. Around 40 ‘eruption centres’ have been identified in a small area adjacent to the township of Alvie.
The volcanoes contrast to the surrounding flat plains formed by the earlier lava flows which gave the western district its rich fertile soils of enormous agricultural value.
The craters are known as maars and were formed by explosive interaction between molten rock, known as magma, and groundwater. Some of the maars which are visible from Red Rock filled with water, forming lakes such as Lake Purdiguluc, Lake Werowrap and Lake Coragulac. The hills or scoria cones, such as the two cones of Red Rock, result from eruptions when gasses in the magma expand, creating violent eruptions of scoria onto the surface.
Red Rock is located at the eastern edge of the Kanawinka Global Geopark, Australia's first Global Geopark, which stretches across western Victoria into southeastern South Australia. Volcanic activity in this area occurred between 4.6 million years ago and as recently as 4,500 years at Mount Gambier in South Australia. The massive volcanic activity which created the formations at Red Rock is believed to taken place between 6,000 and 12,000 years ago.
Spectacular views from the two lookouts on the cones, across the area’s craters, cones, lakes and flat farmlands. To the southeast is Lake Colac with Colac clearly visible at its southern end, and to the northeast is Lake Beeac. To the northwest the volcanic peaks of Mount Porndon, Mount Sugarloaf and Mount Elephant are visible, and these and other landmarks are marked on a dial at the lookout. To the west is the huge salt water expanse of Lake Corangamite, regarded as Australia's largest permanent natural inland lake.
The Western District of Victoria and South East South Australia have become recognised as Australia's First National Geopark and the first Australian UNESCO Global Geopark. An infrastructure exists in the form of a strong committee based in the community with local government support, with a Memorandum of Understanding, Marketing Plan and Funded Budget, an existing management plan, which has been re-thought for Geopark operation, and with existing signage, Visitor Information Centres and two Interpretative Centres.
Interpretive signs exist at all sites of significance, an excellent Trail map is in publication for visitors and Fact Sheets available at visitor Information Centres give visitors both professional and recreational a broad overview of the region, There is further scope for employment of local and other scientists, writers, photographers and artists to produce dedicated Geopark literature.
The Geopark's website attracts visitors to explore further this valuable resource on their doorstep, and in time will encourage visitors from overseas.
One of the most important aspects of the Geopark is the link between the geology and the people, their stories, culture and history that builds a sustainable source of geotourism, brings jobs to rural and indigenous people and in turn help protect sites of importance and promote geoheritage complimenting the work of the Geological Society of Australia and government Bodies.
Kanawinka is the 'Land of Tomorrow' for a new era of sustainable tourism and geoheritage in Australia.
Clearly visible from the Eastern lookout of Red Rock is Coragulac House, the 26-room bluestone mansion built in 1873 by George Pringle Robertson, the third son of the early landowner William Robertson. The two distinctive conical towers were added around the turn of the twentieth century by a later owner. The original estate of seven hectares included formal gardens and lawns, a kitchen garden, fishponds, glass houses and a full-sized polo field.
Coragulac House is open for groups of 20 or more guests for viewings by appointment only. Lunch or afternoon tea can be supplied. Phone Sharyn Gibson on 0434 491 339 to arrange for a viewing.
Picnic area with public toilets, playground, free gas barbecues, undercover seating with tables and benches, on the road to Red Rock from Alvie.