Mount Gambier

Blue Lake, Ken Stepnell / Explore Australia Publishing

Population 23494

Mount Gambier is set on an extinct volcano – the area boasts a fascinating network of volcanic craters above sea level and limestone caves beneath. Lieutenant James Grant named the volcano in 1800 – he sighted it from HMS Lady Nelson, off the coast. The original settlement was known as Gambier Town. Today Mount Gambier is at the centre of the largest softwood pine plantation in the Commonwealth and is surrounded by farming, viticulture and dairy country.

Visitor Information

The Lady Nelson Visitor and Discovery Centre, 35 Jubilee Hwy East; (08) 8724 9750 or 1800 087 187

Nearby national parks

  • Mount Eccles National Park

    Mount Eccles National Park is Victoria’s first co-managed national park, being managed by the traditional owners,...more

  • Coorong National Park

    Coorong National Park is a long, narrow ribbon of saline wetlands, saltpans, coastal dunes and wild ocean beaches stretching for 150...more

  • Wyperfeld National Park

    In the state’s arid north-west, Wyperfeld is a vast park of open plains and spreading mallee eucalypts. The usually bone-dry bed of...more

Nearby towns

  • Port MacDonnell

    Port MacDonnell is a quiet fishing town that was once a thriving port. The establishment of the breakwater in 1975 has ensured the southern...more

  • Millicent

    Millicent, a prosperous, friendly and vibrant community located in the heart of the Limestone Coast region, is named after Millicent Glen,...more

  • Penola

    Penola is one of the oldest towns in south-east South Australia, and has some excellent wineries nearby. The town is noted for its...more

In Town

Blue Lake The lakes formed in the craters of the extinct volcano have become an important recreational area for locals and visitors alike. The area also includes a wildlife park and an adventure playground; southern outskirts of town; (08) 8723 1199. Read More

Old Courthouse: a National Trust dolomite building with a local history museum; open by appt; Bay Rd; (08) 8725 5284.

The Lady Nelson Visitor and Discovery Centre: full-scale replica of HMS Lady Nelson, interactive displays on the region's history and geography, and free local information packs; 35 Jubilee Hwy East.

Riddoch Art Gallery: changing exhibitions of local and touring art and sculpture; open Tues–Sun; Commercial St East.

Cave Garden: a cave used as a water supply for early settlers, now a rose garden with a suspended viewing platform; Bay Rd.

Umpherston Sinkhole: a sunken garden on the floor of a collapsed cave; floodlit at night; Jubilee Hwy East.

Engelbrecht Cave: guided tour of the limestone cave system under the city; contact visitor centre for details.

Centenary Tower: views of the city, the lakes area and surrounding countryside; top of Mt Gambier, 190 m above sea level.

Heritage walk: self-guided tour of historic buildings, many constructed of white Mt Gambier stone; brochure from visitor centre.


Haig’s Vineyards: wine-tastings and sales; 4 km SE.

Mt Schank: excellent views of the surrounding district from the summit of an extinct volcano. Note that the 2 summit walks are very steep; 17 km S.

Nelson and Lower Glenelg National Park: over the Victorian border; see Portland (Vic.).  

Fishing spots near town

Nelson 31 km

The Glenelg River is situated at Nelson near the border with SA. The long river is one of the state’s premier fisheries for bream to 1.8 kg, estuary perch and mulloway to about 20 kg. Victoria has some excellent... Find out more

Konong Wootong Reservoir 86 km

Coleraine in the Western District is in the heart of prime wool- growing country. The small town is famous for its chocolate factory, but less well known is the trout fishery in the picturesque 60 ha impoundment just out... Find out more

Portland 92 km

‘I reckon Portland is Victoria’s best kept angling secret,’ local angler Bob McPherson told me in 2004. At the time, I believed he was right. Within two years Portland was no longer a secret, becoming... Find out more

Cafes & restaurants around town

Sage & Muntries Restaurant

There’s a bright cafe atmosphere here but the food reflects a restaurant-like desire to present imaginative, regional cuisine. Interesting lamb, rabbit and wagyu beef dishes bob up on the menu regularly, while many... Find out more

Sorrento’s Cafe

At this affable all-day eatery, you can dine outdoors or in an all-weather atrium courtyard. The emphasis is on quality local ingredients and easy dining, with gourmet pizza and focaccias plus heartier risotto, stir-fry... Find out more

The Barn Steakhouse

From hay store to ‘Palais’, and now accommodation and fine dining, The Barn has been a landmark for generations. The Steakhouse is housed in renovated stables that create a warm, elegant space. While seafood... Find out more

Campsites around town

Princess Margaret Rose Caves camping area 25 km

Underground pools, cave coral, shawls and delicate, unpredictable helictites are just some of the memorable sights within Princess Margaret Rose Cave, one of the star attractions of the national park. A number of walking... Find out more

Lasletts camping area (canoe-based camping) 27 km

Canoeists beach themselves at Lasletts to stage impromptu picnics, or to rest for the night before setting out for Princess Margaret Rose Cave. It’s one of the handful of campsites in Lower Glenelg National Park... Find out more

Piccaninnie Ponds camping area 28 km

This camping area with 6 sites is 3.5 km south of Nelson Rd, 27.8 km south-east of Mt Gambier; the sites are 600 m past the access road to the ponds. Pick up a permit from the self-registration station. While you... Find out more

Simsons Camp (walk-in camping) 30 km

The 17 km trail that leads from Pattersons Camp to Simsons Camp affords some spectacular views of the limestone cliffs of the Glenelg River Gorge. From this point on, you leave the environs of the Glenelg River behind... Find out more

Hutchessons camping area 30 km

There’s not much to see at Hutchessons beyond the reed-lined riverbank and the surrounding trees – which is just the way that visitors like it. The turn-off for the 250 m track to the campground is on River... Find out more

Kywong Caravan Park 31 km

At Kywong Caravan Park, you can spend your days swimming, fishing and saying hello to the local kangaroos and wallabies. Don’t forget to pay your respects to beautiful Lower Glenelg National Park while you’re... Find out more

Pattersons Camp (walk-in camping) 31 km

From Battersbys, it’s a hike of 13 km to Pattersons Camp and a further 17 km to Simsons Camp. Along the way the trail passes Sapling Creek, where you can detour onto a nice short nature walk. You can also paddle a... Find out more

McLennans Punt camping area 32 km

Nestled on the northern shore of the Glenelg River, McLennans Punt has only a couple of sites on offer and is a peaceful spot to erect a tent. The fishing is often very good due to the large numbers of finned creatures... Find out more

Bowds camping area (canoe-based camping) 33 km

Bowds is one of a number of camping areas in the park that are primarily for canoeists making their way down the Glenelg River, although these sites can be made available to powerboat operators at the ranger’s... Find out more

Wilson Hall camping area 36 km

If you’re towing a boat and coming into the national park from Dartmoor, you may want to take advantage of the boat ramp here – there are a limited number of launching places on this side of the river. The... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

Blue Lake Holiday Park 2 km

Located south of the city centre, this wellshaded quality park adjoins the golf course and is adjacent to Mount Gambier’s premier attraction, the spectacular Blue Lake. This is a fabulous base for exploring the... Find out more

Kalganyi Holiday Park 3 km

This is a very good park set in a quiet, treed area on the northern outskirts of Mount Gambier. It has extensive facilities including ensuite sites. This is a good base from which to explore the Mount Gambier region.... Find out more

Port MacDonnell Foreshore Tourist Park 25 km

A good value, budget-priced park situated on the beachfront, about 1.5 km from the centre of Port MacDonnell, the park has good facilities and is an ideal location from which to explore the historic region. There is a... Find out more

Kywong Caravan Park 31 km

Located on the northern side of town, this large budget-priced park has good facilities. It is about 1.5 km from the centre of the small township. There is good value here. Bookings are required at Christmas, Easter and... Find out more

Millicent Lakeside Caravan Park 47 km

This is a spacious, neat and tidy park with good basic facilities. A convenient, wellstocked shop is adjacent, at the town’s excellent swimming complex (an artificial lake). Bookings are required in peak periods,... Find out more

Beachport’s Southern Ocean Tourist Park 78 km

This large, spacious park in a popular resort town has very good amenities and sites are reasonably priced. It is situated in an area where fishing and recreational water activities are the main attractions. Bookings are... Find out more

Henty Bay Beachfront Van and Cabin Park 90 km

This large, spacious park is located on the beachfront 6 km north-east of the centre of town. The park has a well-stocked shop with takeaway food and a good selection of fishing tackle and bait. Bookings are required at... Find out more

Portland Tourist Park 91 km

Set in a residential area of town about 1.6 km from the town centre, this owner operated park has good facilities and a corner store is conveniently located opposite the park. Bookings are required at Christmas, Easter... Find out more

Narrawong Holiday Park 94 km

This pretty park is in a fabulous, quiet beachside and riverfront position off the Princes Highway. Offering a range of accommodation, it is close to Portland and has good fishing and swimming, and a range of facilities... Find out more

Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Clarendon Chalets

Set among 6 hectares of bush and farmland, this quartet of fully self-contained units offer a serene sanctuary. Though a mere 8 kilometres south of town, it’s like a little corner of arcadia. The three principal... Find out more

Colhurst House

This graceful two-storey mansion dates from 1878 and now houses five spacious luxury suites, each with its own style and features. Options range from the sleek, ultra-modern Colhurst Suite with its exclusive and... Find out more

Eliza Cottage

Though humble in scale – it’s only four rooms – this faithfully restored Victorian-era cottage is presented with polish and style. There’s every comfort and feature for a couple to feel pampered,... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Mount Gambier Park Area 1 km

North-east side of town

Parking area at the Lady Nelson Visitor Information Centre.

Pinnaster rest area 17 km

18km SE of Mt Gambier (L) or 70km NW of Heywood (R)

Just off the highway among the trees.

Princess Margaret Rose Caves camping area 25 km

T/O 1km E of SA border (R) or 76km NW of Heywood (L)

Near the caves 10km (unsealed) south of the highway via Princess Margaret Rd in Lower Glenelg National Park.

Forestry Info rest area 36 km

16km S of Penola (L) or 35km N of Mt Gambier (R)

Just off the highway on the edge of a forest.

Penola South rest area 40 km

12km S of Penola (R) or 39km N of Mt Gambier (L)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees. 

Glenelg River park area 45 km

33km SE of SA border (L) or 40km NW of Heywood (R)

Just off the highway among a few trees.

Fort O'Hare camping area 46 km

At Dartmoor

Under shady trees on the east side of town.

Greenrise Lake park area 49 km

3km S of Penola (R) or 48km N of Mt Gambier (L)

Just off the highway on the shores of the (usually dry) lake.

Casterton park area 62 km

At Casterton

Under shady trees on the eastern bank of the Glenelg River.

Coonawarra rest area 63 km

38km S of Naracoorte (R) or 13km N of Penola (L)

Just off the highway among a few trees.

Clay Wells rest area 68 km

77km S of Kingston (R) or 28km N of Millicent (L)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.

Father Woods rest area 71 km

31km S of Naracoorte (L) or 20km N of Penola (R)

Just off the road near several unique wood carvings.

Annya Forest camping area 74 km

T/O 81km E of Mt Gambier (L) or 7km W of Heywood (R)

In the forest 7.5km (partly unsealed) north of the highway.

Bool Lagoon camping area 81 km

T/O 18km S of Naracoorte (R) or 33km N of Penola (L)

At the lagoon 7km west of the highway.

Struan rest area 81 km

18km S of Naracoorte (L) or 33km N of Penola (R)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.

Branxholme park area 90 km

At Branxholme

Adjacent to the recreation area in the middle of town. 

The Sawpit camping area 91 km

T/O at Narrawong

In the forest 3km (partly unsealed) north of the highway.

Wannon Falls camping area 95 km

T/O 17km E of Coleraine (L) or 18km NW of Hamilton (R)

Large grassed area 9km north of the highway at the falls lookout.

Fitzroy River rest area 97 km

23km E of Portland (R) or 48km W of Port Fairy (L)

Well off the highway under trees on the riverbank.

What's on around town

Mount Gambier Market: behind Harvey Norman; Sat.

World Series Sprintcars: Jan.

Generations in Jazz: May.

Mount Gambier Gold Cup Carnival: May.

Mount Gambier Show: Oct.

Christmas Parade: Nov.

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