Macarthur/ Mt Eccles
Located in the north-western part of the Shire, Macarthur is the gateway to the beautiful Mt Eccles National Park. The town enjoys good access to other major centres and has a number of historic buildings. Mt Eccles National Park is a fantastic place to visit, incorporating a number of interesting geological features including lava canals and craters, bushland and a self-guided crater-rim walk.
What should I do at Macarthur?
- Enjoy a refreshing dip in a volcano’s crater lake
- Camp at Mt Eccles
- Explore a lava cave
- Enjoy a picnic or barbecue
- Bushwalk and spot the wildlife
- Enjoy a meal and refreshments at the local hotel (check for meal and opening times)
More information on Macarthur and Mt Eccles can be found at the town's official website - www.macarthurvictoria.com.au
The land surrounding the township of Macarthur is rich and fertile. Evidence of volcanic activity is obvious as Mt Eccles. About September 1836 explorer Major Mitchell, when returning from the Portland Bay settlement, marked and named Mt Eeles on his map. William Eeles was a friend of Mitchell’s who had fought with him in the Peninsula War. It seems a typographical error in the Surveyor General's Department sometime about 1845 changed the name to Mt Eccles and this has been the name ever since.
In the very early days of our settlement most areas in our state had been taken up under pastoral licenses. This was also the case in the Macarthur district. The township of Macarthur lies at the junction of three pastoral licenses “Eumeralla West”, “Eumeralla East” and “Blackfellows Creek”. When the first Europeans arrived they displaced the native Aboriginal people, who had lived in the area for thousands of years.
John Turner surveyed the township in early 1857 and it was he who changed the name from the Aboriginal name “Eumeralla” to Macarthur after Administrator Macarthur, eldest son of John and Elizabeth Macarthur, acknowledged as the founders of Australia’s merino sheep industry.
However, prior to the surveying of the township a hotel had been established near the river crossing on the main Port Fairy to Hamilton Road and this hotel appears to have been the Macarthur township's first building. A land sale held at the hotel in July 1857 proved successful and many blocks were taken up by settlers who formed the founding community of this small town.
A well known identity in those early years was Thomas Alexander Browne, perhaps better known as Rolf Boldrewood, author of the Australian classic Robbery Under Arms. Browne held the pastoral license for “Squattlesea Mere” - south-west of Macarthur - from around 1844, although he was not particularly successful as a pastoralist. He later wrote of his time in the Macarthur district in his book Old Melbourne Memories.
Originally Macarthur was part of the municipal area covered by the Belfast Roads Board. In 1870 Macarthur became part of the newly formed Shire of Minhamite. In 1994 the Shire of Minhamite joined with other small adjoining shires and the Borough of Port Fairy to form the Moyne Shire Council.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Macarthur is a very attractive small town and has excellent sporting and recreational facilities. These include:
- Swimming Pool
- Bowls Club
- 9 hole sand scrape golf course
- Picnic and playground areas
- Tennis Courts
Services available include:
- General Store with newsagency
- Community Health Centre with extensive range of services
- Post Office
- Primary School
- Petrol Station
- Milk bar with petrol pump
- Lions Club
- History Society
THE MACARTHUR MEMORIAL ROSE GARDEN
In 1981 the Minhamite Shire Council set aside a small area of land at the corner of High Street and Heckfield Street (known as Market Square) for a memorial rose garden. The garden now features about 150 roses, each with a small plaque commemorating a soldier who fought in any theatre of war for Australia.
The rose and plaque are donated to the garden by family and friends of each soldier. Anzac Day services are held at the garden and each Remembrance Day (11th November) a member of the local clergy conducts a Blessing of the Roses ceremony. A small seating area is included and a picnic table and toilets are adjacent.
MT ECCLES NATIONAL PARK
Just a few kilometres west of Macarthur, “beneath the tranquil cover of shady forest, with an array of curious wildlife, lies a simmering volcano that once lit up the countryside with exploding fireballs and rivers of hot flowing lava”. Today you can discover the wonders of this volcanic landmark along some of the self-guided walking tracks in the park.
The first sighting of Mt Eccles by Europeans was probably that of Matthew Flinders in 1802 during his Terra Australia sea voyage. He noted “a round hill” visible from the sea.
It is Victoria's largest intact Manna Gum woodland, dominating 95 per cent of the park. Beneath the tall Manna Gums are Blackwoods, Tree Everlastings and the occasional Cherry Ballart. At ground level Silver Tussock Grass and the hardy Austral Bracken Fern dominate. Manna Gums are a favourite food for Koalas.
How was Mt Eccles formed?
Mt Eccles was formed in a spectacular manner. Frothly lava exploded into the air from the crater and cooled rapidly to form scoria and light weight reddish rock full of gas holes. The prevailing westerly wind blew the scoria from the crater to build the cone at Mt Eccles.
After the cone was formed liquid lava was splashed onto the sides of the mount. Some of it stuck and solidified to form the basalt we see today. Some sections, however, fell away before they solidified, leaving gaping holes near the top of the mount.
The geological features of Mount Eccles National park are of world significance.
There is a fascinating lava cave that formed when a stream of boiling lava quickly cooled forming a crust. Hot lava continued to flow away beneath, eventually ceasing and leaving a hollow tube. Part of the roof of the tube collapsed, giving access to the 60 metre long tunnel. The jumble of boulders remaining at the entrance are the remains of the collapsed roof.
Other features to take note of include the lava canal, and the beauriful Lake Surprise. Lake Surprise is suitable for swimming, although it is deep near the shore. There are no lifeguards on duty and swimming is undertaken at your own risk. The maximum depth is 14 metres.
Be Safe – Be Prepared
- Walking tracks may involve rock steps, uneven and slippery track surfaces.
- Always wear sturdy footwear with a good tread and mind your footing.
- A good quality map should always be carried.
- Drinking water and food should always be carried.
- Supervise children at all times.
- Keep away from cliffs; edges can be slippery and uneven.
- On longer walks carry protective clothing.
- A hat and suncream are essential.
CAMPING AT MT ECCLES
A visitor centre, fireplaces, tables, toilets and picnic shelter are all located in the park. Camping is available in the park although the facilities are fairly basic. One site is available for people with disabilities.
A fee is charged to camp. Bookings can be made with the ranger on (03) 5576 1338 or fax (03) 5576 1339.
For information on all Parks Victoria sites call 13 19 63 or check the website www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
Macarthur/ Mt Eccles Dining and Accommodation
ADDRESS: 37 High Street, Macarthur, 3286
The Farmers’ Inn B&B is an old hotel built in 1902 and recently renovated to a high standard. Every effort has been made to retain the original features and charm of the old pub and also provide modern comforts within an historical setting.
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