The You Yangs
The You Yangs are the most notable natural feature on Geelong’s northern skyline and can be seen from most parts of our region. Located 23 kilometres from central Geelong the granite ridges are a beautiful backdrop for the townships of Lara and Little River.
The highest of the peaks, Flinders’ Peak, stands 364 metres above the surrounding flat plains and derives its name from explorer Matthew Flinders who climbed the peak in 1802 while exploring the region. He named the peak Station Peak but in 1912 it was changed to Flinders’ Peak in his honour and a plaque was placed on a rock that he stood on way back in May of 1802.
The You Yangs name comes from a local word from the Wathaurong People, meaning big mountain in the middle of a plain.
Much of the You Yangs is protected as the You Yangs Regional Park and managed by Parks Victoria. The park is open during daylight hours and is very popular with bushwalkers, cyclists and families out for a picnic. The Great Circle drive around Flinders’ Peak has some wonderful picnic spots and lookouts with spectacular views right across the region. One popular walk is the hour long walk to Flinders’ Peak from the Turntable carpark. This walk has some steep gradients and is 3.2 km long but the scene from the top of the peak makes it all worthwhile.
One of the more fascinating things to see at the You Yangs is the amazing artwork created by Andrew Rogers in tribute to the indigenous Wathaurong people who have lived in and around our region for thousands of years. This geoglyph artwork is constructed from 1500 tons of rock and depicts the Bunjil; a mythical creature from Wathaurong legend. The artwork spans some 100 metres and was constructed in 2006 as a lasting legacy of the Commonwealth Games. Another similar work of art also designed by Rogers can be found in Eastern Park just above Limeburner’s Point in Geelong.
Although the You Yangs look like a series of conical volcanos, it is actually made of granite that formed millions of years ago, some estimate they date back some 365 million years.
Being much drier than the Otways the vegetation and wildlife is very different, the timber is much lower and there is more grasslands. The You Yangs is an important home to a diverse range of wildlife including koala, sugar gliders, eastern grey kangaroos, kookaburras and lorikeets. Over 200 species of bird have been found at the You Yangs and there are dozens of species of reptile, mammal and many rare species of plant life.
On the northern side of the You Yangs there are several gravel mines, the top secret Ford Proving Ground and the Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre. This sanctuary is at the forefront of helping save some of Australia’s most threatened species including the red bellied pademelon, eastern quoll and eastern barred bandicoot. The sanctuary has been a film set for many films including the blockbuster Ned Kelly that starred Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom and Naomi Watts. The road to the north of the You Yangs was also used in the original Mad Max film starring Mel Gibson. Many of the scenes of him driving his black XB Falcon took place here.
Visitors to our region should always be aware of our natural elements and remember that our waters can be dangerous and our bushland can be prone to fire at any time of the year. Conditions can change suddenly and with little warning. Please pay attention to forecasts and any signage to ensure your safety while enjoying our great outdoors.