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Lying 450km south-east of Adelaide, on the slopes of the extinct Mount Gambier volcano, the city of Mount Gambier is a must-see destination during your road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne.

With magnificent sunken gardens, a shockingly blue lake and majestic cave formations, you’ll find plenty to fill a couple of days or more in the second most-populated city in South Australia.

I spent two nights checking out this unique area before hitting the Great Ocean Road. Here are my top five recommended Mount Gambier attractions.

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Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.

1. Umpherstone Sinkhole

Formed when the roof of a limestone cave collapsed downwards, the Umpherstone Sinkhole is now a well-manicured garden that visitors to Mount Gambier can admire for free.

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
Looking down on beautiful Umpherstone Sinkhole, Mount Gambier

I’ve travelled a lot of Australia, but never seen anything quite like this sunken garden before. You can climb the steps all the way down and walk behind the overhanging greenery too.

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.

If you visit at dusk you’ll see the very tame resident possums come out to say hello!

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
A cheeky possum at Umpherstone Sinkhole at dusk

2. Blue Lake Mt Gambier

Filling the extinct Mount Gambier volcano, the cobalt-blue water of the Blue Lake really is a sight to behold, and makes the lake one of the top Mount Gambier attractions.

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
A lookout at Blue Lake, Mt Gambier

While no one knows for sure why the water looks this colour, it’s thought to be affected by the change in temperature, as it turns a darker steel grey between April and November.

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
Beautiful turquoise and cobalt colours at the Blue Lake

You can enjoy the lake by walking the 3.6km trail around its perimeter, stopping at the many lookouts.

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
Mount Gambier scenery by the Blue Lake

You’ll also pass some typical South Australian scenery along the trail, as well as the interesting gardens below!

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
Gardens along the Blue Lake, Mt Gambier

3. Cave Gardens Mt Gambier

Right in the city of Mount Gambier you’ve got the lovely Cave Gardens. Set inside another sinkhole, you can look down on these gardens from above, and there’s also a light show on in the evenings.

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
Mt Gambier Cave Gardens

Up on ground level you can roam through the rose garden, which blooms during springtime.

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
Roses in bloom at the Cave Gardens in the city of Mount Gambier

4. Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park

The Tantanoola Caves, about 12km out of town, are one of the most-visited destinations in South Australia and well worth a visit if you’re staying in Mount Gambier.

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
The beautiful Tantanoola Caves

You’ll get a guided tour around the 30m-wide, 8m-high caves, with time at the end to quietly look around and take photos.

Since the caves in Margaret River that we tried to see were closed due to a power cut, we were really pleased to come across Tantanoola! And they didn’t disappoint.

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
Stalactites at Tantanoola Caves

5. Valley Lake Mount Gambier

Valley Lake in Mount Gambier is another crater lake, but much quieter than the Blue Lake. With picnic areas and walking trails, it’s the perfect spot to relax for a while

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
Water birds at Valley Lake

You’ll also get to meet lots of friendly birds like this black swan that sat by my feet for a while!

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
A friendly Mount Gambier black swan

Mt Gambier Accommodation

To browse through a variety of Mount Gambier accommodation options, follow the link below:

Mt Gambier accommodation on Booking.com

Camping

Since we were camping on our road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne, we stayed at Mount Gambier Central Caravan Park, which really was very central! Quite a rare find in a city. It also has cabins as well as powered and unpowered camping sites.

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
Putting the tent up at Mount Gambier Central Caravan Park
Hostel

If you fancy a more unique place to stay, try the old Mount Gambier prison! Yes, I said prison! The converted historic gaol offers cottage accommodation as well as dorm beds inside the old cells. I stayed here many years ago on a previous trip and loved it.

Book a stay at Old Mount Gambier Gaol


What to See on the Drive from Adelaide to Mt Gambier

If you’re travelling from Adelaide to Mount Gambier like I did,  here are a few places to see along the way.

Coorong National Park

If salt lakes and sand dunes sound like your sort of thing, check out Coorong National Park, home to a 130km-long lagoon running behind the ocean. Read about our night camping there in this blog post:

Camping in Coorong National Park

Camping in Coorong National Park, South Australia, an extensive wetland near Adelaide home to the 130km Coorong lagoon, salt lakes and sand dunes.
Coorong National Park
The Granites

The Granites Beach, at the end of Granites Rd off Old Coorong Rd, is part of Australia’s longest beach and can be driven across by 4WD. We stopped for a quick glimpse of the unusual 2m-high granite boulders that protrude out of the sand.

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
The Granites, Coorong SA
Kingston SE

If you’re ticking off Australia’s big things, you’ll find Larry the Lobster in the beachside town of Kingston SE, just south of the Granites.

Discover five unusual Mount Gambier attractions in this unique city in South Australia set on an extinct volcano. Visit sinkholes, the blue lake and more.
Larry the Lobster in Kingston SE

To read my whole Adelaide to Melbourne road trip plan, which includes attractions, driving times, distances and costs, take a look at the drive itinerary below. Next stop is the Great Ocean Road!

Adelaide to Melbourne Drive Itinerary via the Great Ocean Road