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Wave Rock - WA

Western Australia's southeast is a sparsely populated, flat region of extreme aridity and limited fresh water. Vast stretches of its red, dusty landscape are inhabited by small mining companies and aboriginals communities.

York was founded in 1831, in the new colony's drive to establish its self-sufficiency via agriculture.
Now registered as a historic town, it retains many mid 19th century buildings.
These include Settler’s House, now a hotel and restaurant and Castle Hotel, built in stages between 1850 and 1932, with it's unusual timber verandas.
Nearby stands York Motor Museum, with one of the largest collections of veteran cars and vehicles in Australia. These include the 1886 Benz (the world's first car) and the very rare 1946 Holden Sedan prototype.

Wave Rock, in Australia's Wheatbelt is one of Australia’s most surprising rock formations.
A great granite wave has been created from a huge outcrop by thousands of years of chemical erosion, and reaction with rainwater which gives it's grey and red stripes.

  • Wave Rock is over 100m long and taller than a 3-storey building (15 meters).
  • It is believed to have begun forming underground as much as 60 million years ago
  • The wave only became a national attraction when a photograph of it won the 1963/64 Kodak International Colour Picture Competition at the New York International Fair.
  • The Hyden dam (up on the rock outcrop) was a major component of the town's water supply up until 2000.

The shape has been carved out of the slopes of Hyden rock by the weathering action of water in the soil that abuts the rock. This soil is dampened by water running off the rock - but near the surface it dries quite quickly. Deeper down the soil remains moist for much longer, allowing the 'rotting' action of this moisture to eat away at the face of the rock. As erosion exposes more and more of the outcrop this 'flared shape' seems to rise up.
The colours on the wave are caused by tine lichens, mosses and algae which produce the orange and black stains that brighten the face of the wave. All these tiny life-form react in different ways to the presence (or absence) of water - and so the streaking pattern is a result of long-term flow patterns down the rock.

This photo gives you an ideal of scale
and maybe just how steep it was to climb
and of course... surf!
Other 'waves' are found around the Hyden Rock and on other outcrops across Western Australia, and all over the world, but this is the most spectacular.

Hyden Rock started its life as a massive granite intrusion deep beneath the earth's crust. About 120 to 130 million years ago the area around here was a wide rolling plain. Rainwater seeped into the soil - and attacked all rock that was fractured or cracked.
When the plain was eventually eroded down about 60 million years ago this rotted rock was washed away. Only the 'fresh' solid granite was left behind, in the shape of hills - and Hyden Rock was one of these.

Hyden's Signature Tree - Hyden has long been known as 'the town among the salmon gums' - like those below.
The salmon gum is one of Western Australia’s best known trees.
While it generally does not grow to more than 25 metre in height, it is nonetheless the tallest growing in the vast eucalypt woodland around. The tree is best known for it's distinctive salmon-coloured bark.

Rain falling on the rock has to go somewhere.
You can see a low stone wall above Wave Rock - this was built in 1928 to channel water into the Hyden Dam up on the outcrop.
Today this water forms a back up to the town water supply. When in good working order, the walls capture approximately 45% of all water falling within the catchment.

The ancient rivers that once ran through this country originally flowed from north to south. Millions of years ago the landscape tilted, causing them to flow from east to west. Out here they have dried back to a chain of ephemeral salt lakes that only 'flow' during a good wet winter. Salt originates from rainfall and accumulates in this area at approximately 20kg per year per hectare. This is a tiny amount, but has been accumulating for thousands of years, and some soils now have between 100 and 6,000 tonnes of salt per hectare stored in them.
Flared slopes like Wave Rock are only one of several minor features well developed on Hyden rock.

A tafone is an Italian word meaning window, and is used to describe the large hollows or caverns that help turn many of these boulders into artworks.
Tafoni usually grow from the indie out, so that eventually the outer rock shell is breached, creating windows.
The inner surfaces are often scalloped, with smaller hollows developing inside the larger opening.
Tafoni form when the rock begins to break down due to granular disintegration or flaking, cause by salt crystallisation. Swirling wind and water add to the process of weathering.
This is another old quarry site - you can see the broken slab of granite under the man made sculptures. These include the drill holes where explosives were placed to fracture the rock into useable pieces. Thin sheets of granite were taken from this site to use as flooring
The prominent lake in the distance is Magic Lake, when full, its waters are crystal clear (though salty) and the bottom is white gypsum.

A short walk from Wave Rock is Hippo's Yawn.
The rock's resemblance to a yawning hippopotamus led to its name. It is about 12.6 meters tall and is located just out of the town of Hyden.

Lizard spotting out on the rock you see plenty or Ornate Dragons, bobbing their heads madly or skitting across the rock as if their feet are on fire.

Scarred trees remind us that Aboriginal people passed through this area before the coming Europeans.

The Humps is another giant outcrop , approximately 16km north of wave rock. It's best-known feature is Mulka's cave, which holds one of the most significant Aboriginal rock art sites in western Australia.
Mulka's cave is in a large block of rock that has slipped from the main granite outcrop of The humps. The lower surface of the block has been hollowed out by chemical weathering and by wind erosion to form the cave.
The name Mulka comes from an Aboriginal legend associated with the cave. Mulka was the illegal son of woman who fell in love with a man with whom marriage was forbidden according to their law.
It is believed that a result of breaking these rules, she bore a son with crossed eyes. Even though he grew to be an outstandingly strong man of colossal height, his crossed eyes prevented him from aiming a spear accurately and becoming a successful hunter.
Out of frustration it is said Mulka turned to catching and eating human children and he became the terror of the district. He lived in Mulka's Cave, where the imprints of his hands can still be seen, much large and higher than that of an ordinary man.
There are over 450 separate hand prints and images on the walls of the two main chambers, Handprints make up 69% of the 452 Aboriginal motifs found in the cave and left hands outnumber the right 3 to 2. Most of the hands are made from stencils, by placing the hand on the rock and blowing over I with a pigment,.
They were principally a form of signature left by those who had rights to the area.

Local elders from the Njakinjaki tribal grouping speak of Mulka's Cave as a powerful place that could only be visited by senior lawmen, or those accompanying them,

The gnamma trail is a flat easy walk of around 1.2km with a strong Noongar (Aboriginal() focus to it’s interpretation. Ten panels use the words and illustrations of local elders and artists to describe the landscape, it's features and the birds, animals and plants that live in it.
A Gnamma (water hole) were used when the Noongar tribes camped here. Sometimes they wer covered with a stone lid to stop children and animals falling in and reduce evaporation.
This large flat rock is a lizard trap, propped up on several smaller stones to create a cool dark hiding place.
Sandalwood trees provide edible 'quandong' fruit. In recent times it's mainly been used for making jam,

Another great day out

Posted by charlystyles 13:56 Archived in Australia Tagged wave_rock hyden Comments (0)