Mount Schank

Mount Schank is a 100 m (330 ft) high volcanic cone in the southeast corner of South Australia, near Mount Gambier. It was sighted by James Grant on 3 December 1800 and named after Admiral John Schank, designer of Grant's ship, HMS Lady Nelson.[3][4]

Mount Schank
View inside the cone from the rim
Highest point
Elevation100 m (330 ft)[1]
Coordinates37.93985°S 140.73761°E / -37.93985; 140.73761
Last eruption4500-5000 years ago[2]

Mount Schank is part of the Newer Volcanics Province,[5] which is the youngest volcanic field in Australia. Mount Schank erupted about 5,000 years ago, around the same time as Mount Gambier.[6][7] It is a very basic ash cone 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, 300 m (980 ft) in diameter and 100 m (330 ft) deep, the older southern crater is 200 m (660 ft) in diameter and partially overlapped by the larger crater.[7]

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, Christina 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.[8][9]

The site is accessible from the Riddoch Highway about 20 km (12 mi) 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.

Large panorama of crater


The usual spelling of the location was "Schanck" until around 1916, when the current spelling was adopted. This may have been prompted by the then vogue for Anglicising German place-names, but the ancient Schank family, of whom the Admiral was a member, had that spelling for much of its history.[10]


Climate data for Mount Schank
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average rainfall mm 29.2 21.3 37.4 55.1 70.6 98.2 109.5 106.2 76.3 58.0 42.7 39.1 739.6
Average rainfall inches 1.15 0.84 1.47 2.17 2.78 3.87 4.31 4.18 3.00 2.28 1.68 1.54 29.12
Source: [11]

See also


  1. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. "Mount Schank state heritage area - Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR)". Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  2. Pedler, John (20 June 2012). "Mount Schank - Mount Gambier's little brother RAA". RAA.
  3. Grant, James (1803). The narrative of a voyage of discovery, performed in His Majesty's vessel the Lady Nelson, of sixty tons burthen: with sliding keels, in the years 1800, 1801, and 1802, to New South Wales. Printed by C. Roworth for T. Egerton. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-7243-0036-5. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  4. Lee, Ida (1915). The Logbooks of the Lady Nelson, with the journal of her first commander Lieutenant James Grant. London: Grafton. OL 6580132M.
  5. Price, RC., et al (2003) Cainozoic igneous activity. pp. 361-375 in Birch, WD., (editor) Geology of Victoria, Geological Society of Australia, Special Publication 23.
  6. Grimes, Ken (2013). "The Ages of Our Volcanoes" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  7. Sheard, M.J. (1995) Quaternary volcanic activity and volcanic hazards. pp.265-268 in Drexel, JF., and Preiss, WV., The Geology of South Australia, Geological Survey of South Australia, Bulletin 54.
  8. Information board at base of Mount Schank, created by Primary Industries and Resources, Government of South Australia.
  9. "Mount Gambier – History". Travel in Mount Gambier. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  10. "Spelling Of The Name Mount Schank". The Border Watch. Mount Gambier, SA: National Library of Australia. 25 February 1947. p. 3. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  11. "Monthly rainfall - Mount Schank (Jethia)". Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
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