Organ Pipes National Park
A set of basalt columns as straight and regular as organ pipes is the central feature of this 121 ha park in a deep gorge in the bare Keilor plains. There are other rock phenomena and the park is worth visiting for its native vegetation and variety of birds.
Things to Do
The park is an excellent place for picnics, walks, bird observing and photography.
Stand on the viewing platform - the basalt Keilor Plains all around you are part of one of the world's largest lava flows.
Walk down the path to view the 'organ pipes' - a set of basalt columns formed by lava.
Look for yellowish sandstones and mudstones across the creek 200 metres downstream from the 'organ pipes'.
Fossils in these rocks suggest they are sedimentary rocks laid down under the sea about 400 million years ago. Walk upstream about 400 metres past the 'organ pipes' and see Rosette Rock - a radial array of basalt columns like the spokes of a wheel.
Look at the Tessellated Pavement, the tops of basalt columns.
Enjoy a picnic while looking out for waterbirds, blue wrens, cockatoos, rosellas, magpies and wedge-tailed eagles.
Walking tracks, picnic tables, toilets and water are provided.
The 'organ pipes' were formed about a million years ago when a massive lava flow, about 70 metres thick, spread over the plains from nearby volcanic hills. A surface crust formed and the lava beneath cooled very slowly and contracted. Vertical surface cracks developed, and as the lava continued to harden, the cracks lengthened until the basaltic mass was divided into columns. Over the next million years, Jacksons Creek cut a deep valley through the thick basalt layer to expose the formation known as 'the organ pipes'.
The Keilor plains were among the first parts of Victoria to be occupied by settlers when they came north from Tasmania in the 1830s. Aborigines had camped and hunted on the open, grassy plains for thousands of years with little adverse effect on the environment. At this time the plains supported kangaroos, dingoes, tiger cats, bandicoots, gliders and platypuses, but with settlement and the introduction of domestic plants and animals, the number of native animals diminished.
After more than a century of settlement, pressure mounted among naturalists to protect the remaining native flora and fauna and unusual basalt formations along Jacksons Creek. However, it was not until 1972 that 65 ha (later increased to 85 ha) were set aside for a national park.
The number and variety of native birds recorded has increased greatly since the park was established. Some mammals, such as possums, wallabies and echidnas, can be seen too. Reptiles are abundant. Sugar Gliders were released early in 1989 and other species will be reintroduced as native vegetation develops and the habitat becomes suitable.
Since 1972, volunteers have spent many thousands of hours removing weeds (mainly thistles and boxthorn), planting and tending trees, searching surrounding areas for seed, and propagating plants to restore the indigenous vegetation. Approximatley 145 species of native plants (and 106 species of weeds) have been recorded in the park.
Looking After the Park
All plants and animals are protected. Rocks are not to be disturbed or removed from the park.
No dogs or other pets.
No wood fires, however, portable gas barbecues are permitted.
No camping is allowed.
Please keep to the walking tracks to minimise erosion and trampling of vegetation.
School groups are welcome, but arrangements must be made in advance. Contact the park office on (03) 9390 1082.
How to Get There
Organ Pipes National Park is close to the Calder Highway, 20 km north-west of Melbourne.
The park is open from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM daily, extending to 6:00 PM on weekends and public holidays during daylight saving.
Visitor Centre and Car Park
There is a picnic area near the main car park and Visitor Centre at Organ Pipes National Park. The Visitor Centre is generally open only on weekends. A designated accessible toilet is situated near the car park. The main paths around this site have smooth hard surfaces, but are moderately steep in places.
Organ Pipes Lookout
The valley and Organ Pipes rock formation can be viewed from the upper and lower viewing platforms, reached by a short walk from the car park and main picnic area. The unsealed path to the upper viewing platform is generally accessible and not very steep. The lower platform is reached by stairs. There is a picnic area near this viewing area.
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>> Woodlands Historic Park
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