Budj Bim
Mount Eccles
Highest point
Elevation178 m (584 ft)
Coordinates38°3′46″S 141°55′32″E / 38.06278°S 141.92556°E / -38.06278; 141.92556Coordinates: 38°3′46″S 141°55′32″E / 38.06278°S 141.92556°E / -38.06278; 141.92556
LocationVictoria, Australia
Easiest routeLava Canal track
Official nameBudj Bim National Heritage Landscape
Designated20 July 2004
Official nameBudj Bim Cultural Landscape
Criteriaiii, v
Designated6 July 2019 (43rd session)
Reference no.1577
State Party Australia

Budj Bim, also known as Mount Eccles, is a dormant volcano near Macarthur in southwestern Victoria, Australia. It lies within the geologically-defined area known as the Newer Volcanics Province, which is the youngest volcanic area in Australia and stretches from western Victoria to south-eastern South Australia.

It is situated within the Budj Bim National Park. Budj Bim is the Gunditjmara name, meaning "High Head". The roughly conical peak rises 178 metres (584 ft). The peak is a scoria hill that was thrown up beside a group of three overlapping volcanic craters that now contain Lake Surprise. A line of smaller craters and scoria cones runs to the southeast. Lava flows extend to form a shield volcano and are fed by several lava channels, or "lava canals" as they are known locally. This lava flow, known as the Tyrendarra lava flow, changed the drainage pattern of the region, and created large wetlands.

Large areas to the west and south-west of the mountain have been heritage-listed. The Budj Bim heritage areas include the Tyrendarra Indigenous Protected Area (declared December 2003), the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape (added to the National Heritage List in July 2004), and the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape (designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2019).


The volcano lies within the Newer Volcanics Province, an area defined by its geological features. This covers an area of 15,000 square kilometres (5,800 sq mi), with over 400 small shield volcanoes and volcanic vents, and contains the youngest volcanoes in Australia.[1]

Initial estimates of the age of the eruption of Budj Bim were all "minimum ages", based on swamps that formed some time after the eruption and ranged from 6,000 to 27,000 years BP.[2] Later evidence suggested that the eruption was at least 30,000 BP (using dated sediments in the floor of the Lake Surprise crater[2]) and could have been as long as 40,000 years ago for the Tyrendarra lava flow.[2] Research published in February 2020 using argon–argon dating, a method of radiometric dating, has dated the eruption at around 36,900 years ago. Specifically, Budj Bim was dated at within 3,100 years either side of 36,900 years BP, and Tower Hill was dated at within 3,800 years either side of 36,800 years BP. Significantly, owing to the presence of human artefacts found under volcanic ash at Tower Hill, this is a "minimum age constraint for human presence in Victoria", and also could be interpreted as evidence for the Gunditjmara oral histories which tell of volcanic eruptions being some of the oldest oral traditions in existence.[3][4]

The eruptions produced the Tyrendarra lava flow, which flowed in a generally southerly direction into the ocean at Tyrendarra, 50 kilometres (31 mi) away.[5][6] The flow disrupted the earlier drainage system; to the east the Fitzroy River now flows cleanly between the rocks of the lava flow and the Mount Clay escarpment; to the west its tributary Darlot Creek flows through a more complex landscape of swamps, wetlands and adjacent low-lying land prone to flooding.[citation needed]

The peak rises 178 metres (584 ft).[7]

Historic and cultural significance

Crater of Budj Bim (then, Mount Eccles)
Crater of Budj Bim (then, Mount Eccles)
Lake Surprise, Budj Bim National Park
Lake Surprise, Budj Bim National Park

Main article: Budj Bim heritage areas

The volcano itself and the surrounding lava flows are of great historic and cultural significance. The creation story of the local Gunditjmara people is based on the eruption of the volcano more than 30,000 years ago. It was via this event that an ancestral creator-being known as Budj Bim was revealed.[8]

The Tyrendarra lava flow changed the drainage pattern of the region, and created large wetlands.[8] From some thousands of years before European settlement (one of five eel trap systems at Lake Condah has been carbon dated to 6,600 years old[8]), the Gunditjmara people developed a system of aquaculture which channelled the water of the Darlot Creek into adjacent lowlying areas trapping short-finned eels and other fish in a series of weirs, dams and channels.[9] The discovery of these large-scale farming techniques and manipulation of the landscape, highlighted in Bruce Pascoe's best-selling book Dark Emu in 2014, shows that the Indigenous inhabitants were not only hunter gatherers, but cultivators and farmers.[10]

Many Gundjitmara people were moved into Lake Condah Mission, which later became a government-run Aboriginal reserve, which separated "half-caste" children from their parents, who became part of the Stolen Generations.

Protected areas

There are several overlapping protected or heritage-listed areas, two of which encompass Budj Bim itself and the others the lava flows:

Naming Mount Eccles

The mountain was named Mount Eeles in 1836 by Major Thomas Mitchell after William Eeles of the 95th Regiment of Foot who fought with Mitchell in the Peninsular War. A draftsman's error meant that the name was rendered Eccles from 1845.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "Global Volcanism Program". Smithsonian Institution | Global Volcanism Program. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Grimes, Ken (2013). "The Ages of Our Volcanoes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  3. ^ Matchan, Erin L.; Phillips, David; Jourdan, Fred; Oostingh, Korien (2020). "Early human occupation of southeastern Australia: New insights from 40Ar/39Ar dating of young volcanoes". Geology. 48 (4): 390–394. doi:10.1130/G47166.1. ISSN 0091-7613.
  4. ^ Johnson, Sian (26 February 2020). "Study dates Victorian volcano that buried a human-made axe". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Place ID 105678". Australian Heritage Database. Department of the Environment. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
  6. ^ Parks Victoria (November 2012), Budj Bim – Mt Eccles National Park Visitor Guide (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 28 March 2016, retrieved 3 March 2013
  7. ^ Eussen, Dick (March 2011), "Northern Extravaganza", On the Road, p. 64
  8. ^ a b c d "National Heritage Places - Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape". Australian Government. Dept of the Environment and Energy. 20 July 2004. Retrieved 30 January 2020. See also attached documents: National Heritage List Location and Boundary Map, and Government Gazette, 20 July 2004.
  9. ^ Machemer, Theresa (22 January 2020). "Australian Bushfires Reveal Hidden Sections of Ancient Aquaculture System". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  10. ^ McNiven, Ian J. (7 February 2017). "The detective work behind the Budj Bim eel traps World Heritage bid". The Conversation. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Tyrendarra Indigenous protected area". Australian Government. Dept of the Environment. 5 July 2013. Archived from the original on 20 May 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  12. ^ Indigenous Land Corporation, Land Purchased VIC, archived from the original on 25 October 2009, retrieved 28 May 2010
  13. ^ "Kurtonitj IPA and Budj Bim Rangers". National Indigenous Australians Agency Vic projects. 11 December 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  14. ^ "Lake Condah IPA and Budj Bim Rangers". National Indigenous Australians AgencyVic Projects. 11 December 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  15. ^ "World heritage Places - Budj Bim Cultural Landscape". Australian Government. Dept of the Environment and Energy. 6 July 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  16. ^ Neal, Matt. "Ancient Indigenous aquaculture site Budj Bim added to UNESCO World Heritage list". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  17. ^ Learmonth, Noel F. (1970). Four Towns and a Survey. Hawthorn Press: Melbourne

Further reading