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Stories from the Hamilton Highway

2.Why are there no hills on the B140?

The Hamilton Highway is flatter than most other highways. Why?

This highway runs on a flat plain between the old sandstone hills of the Otway ranges with (Colac and Camperdown) to the south, and the much older generally mudstone central highlands (with Ballarat and Ararat) to the north.

However this has not always been the case. There used to be hills and river valleys
between these ranges where large animals such as giant kangaroos and large hairy
nosed wombats roamed. This was before aboriginal settlement.

Between 1 and 2 million years ago there were very many eruption points where lava
flowed down all the valleys, forming lava lakes with scattered islands of older
sandstones east of Inverleigh and gravels and granite between Lismore and Derrinallum.

This lava forms the flat originally treeless plains we see today.

Over the 40,000 years that aborigines were here they saw the landscape change from
a rainforest to a dry scrub similar to the mallee, then become wetter to form today's landscape. There were many tens of years of drought and dry dusty lake beds.

Dry Stone Walls
Picture curtesy of
Kanawinka Geotrails

On top of that there was a series of about 150 violent eruptions to form mountains such as Mount Elephant (Derrinallum), Mount Shadwell (Mortlake), Mount Rouse (Penshurst). It was an exciting time!

These recent eruptions give us the rocky areas around these points. They are also marked by early bluestone buildings and the lines of dry stone walls beside the highway.

Author: © Chris Lang 2015


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