History of Mount Elephant


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Loading scoria, 1910     (Museum Victoria)


(Updated 21/4/2014)

The Beginnings:
(This series of pages gives a short history of the settlement, use (and abuse) of Mount Elephant.)

Purchase of the Mount:

The year 2000 not only saw the beginning of a new millennium, but for the 50 residents of Derrinallum and Lismore, who climbed Mount Elephant to see the sun rise on the first morning of the year, it was the beginning of a dream to one day purchase the Mount for the community, and to revegetate and develop it as a tourist destination and place of recreation.  Little did we know that this dream would become a reality in December of that year.

Known as the Swagman's Lighthouse, a landmark for all to navigate their way throughout the western district, Mount Elephant had been privately owned by the Eldridge family since European settlement.  Heavily grazed, ravaged by bush fires in 1944 and 1977, invaded by Patersons Curse, thistles and rabbits, but Mount Elephant has always been loved by all.

The Eldridge Family offered the Mount for sale by auction in December 2000.  The communities of Derrinallum and Lismore rallied and with the Derrinallum Lismore Community Association inc (DLCA) as the steering committee, a partnership was formed with Trust for Nature to purchase the mount.  The Eldridge family fully supported the community initiative and the Mount was purchased before auction in December 2000.

Trust for Nature initially financed the purchase with the agreement that the DLCA would raise half of the purchase price, so on February 2001 a fundraising appeal was launched.  Letters were written asking for donations, door knocks were held in Derrinallum and Lismore and extensive media promotion was undertaken.  That $100,000.00 was raised in just 5 months demonstrates the broad community support and esteem with which the Mount is held.

In February 2003 the communities of Derrinallum and Lismore, in partnership with Trust for Nature, formed "Mount Elephant Community Management Inc." to manage, protect and appropriately develop the Mount.  Two very significant steps forward were taken by the Committee,these are the building of the access road from the Hamilton Highway into the ballast pit area (future carpark) and the development of our management plan that gives us a plan for the next 5 years and beyond.  The Corangamite Shire has funded construction of the road, and the adjoining landholder Mr Jamie Maconachie generously leased the land for the access track from the highway..  Alcoa World Alumina and the Department of Sustainability and Environment provided funding for the management plan. The Committee continues to hold regular open days and the Mount is also open on request from interested individuals and groups.

Vision: 

"The bold landscape presence of Mount Elephant will be protected and local native plants restored.  Vibrant community involvement and management will be a source of inspiration for communities far and wide.  Visitors will be attracted to the Mount to explore it as a natural wonder, enjoy the magnificent views and discover its features and history.  Regional tourism will recognize the national significance of the Mount, and it will be a focus for learning about geology and other environmental and cultural studies."

Present situation:

Some slopes retain much of the original grasses. These are identified in a survey conducted in 2013. Tree violet shrubs are surviving on the southern slope of the crater, and some charred logs of possibly drooping sheoak remain on the slopes of the north-east peak. Small areas of native tussock (Poa sp.) and Danthonia sp. can be found on the north slope beside the access track to the crater and in a few other areas.

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