Strange Rock Formations

There are many strange rock formations in Australia.

Australia is one of the oldest and geologically most stable continents in the world.

Away from the plate boundaries, volcanoes don't erupt and new mountains are not built.

Uluru (Ayers Rock) with Desert Vegetation
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This geological stability has given erosion a lot of time to uncover some of the most impressive and strange rock formations in the world.
Uluru - The Most Famous Rock Formation in Australia
The most famous of them is Uluru, aka Ayers Rock - the "big red rock in central Australia" only reached by an airplane or by a car. Uluru is the world's largest monolith, and it's made of a kind of sandstone called arkose.

Uluru, Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
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Kata Tjuta - The Second Most Famous Rock Formation in Australia
Kata Tjuta on the other hand is made of conglomerates, with rounded boulders of granite, basalt and gneiss, and some sandstone, rhyolite and metamorphic rocks. Both Ukluru and kata Tjuta (and the nearby Mt Connor) are sedimentary rocks deposited close to the end of Precambrian era. During Cambrian period, more sediments were laid and Uluru and Kata Tjuta were buried. During Devonian and Carboniferous periods the rocks were folded and faulted, and then uplifted. The overlying rocks have since been eroded, exposing Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

Olgas, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia, Pacific
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Other Strange Rock Formations in Northern Territory: Devil's Marbles
Devils Marbles, the round rocks balancing in a heap on top of each other near Tennant Creek in Northern Territory, are easy to access from Stuart Highway and very popular on photos. The local Aboriginal People called them the eggs of Rainbow Serpent, but geologically they are a dome of intrusive red granite that has been exposed by erosion and then weathered into these impressive rounded boulders.

Man Standing in Between Boulders, Devil's Marbles Conservation Reserve, Australia
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Wilpena Pound - Probably the Most Impressive Rock Formation in Australia
Wilpena Pound in Flinders Ranges in South Australia is a very large and impressive rock formation. It is a broad fold in sedimentary rocks, which were laid in the end of Precambrian, just like Uluru and Kata Tjuta. There is an important difference though - as opposed to Uluru and Kata Tjuta, in a thin layer deposited about 550 million years ago, there are fossils of multi-celled animals. They are still soft-bodied - yet about 20 million years away the Cambrian Explosion where the first animals with skeletons evolved. But the huge significance of Wilpena Pound is that they are the first clear evidence of multicellular organisms on the planet - nowhere else is that layer so clearly represented.

Cars Driving Down a Dirt Road Leading to Wilpena Pound
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Remarkable Rocks - Strange Rock Formations in South Australia
Remarkable Rocks in the Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo island in South Australia are some of the strangest rocks in Australia. I haven't found reliable enough references to state what rock they are made of, but sure enough they have been eroded by wind and rainwater into some very unusual shapes. Remarkable Rocks are red, but not because of the iron oxides, which is the case with Uluru and many other Australian rocks; but because of a species of red lichen that grows on these rocks.

Remarkable Rocks, Sunrise, Flinders Chase National Park, South Australia
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Murphy's Haystacks - Other Strange Rock Formations in South Australia
Murphy's Haystacks, the strange rock formations on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, are made of about 1.5 million years old pink granite which is quite extensive in the area. The boulders have been formed by uneven weathering only about 100,000 years ago. About 30,000 years ago they were covered by a sand dune, which has now eroded away. As with Remarkable Rocks, the reddish colour of Murphy's Haystacks is caused by a species of lichen.

Murphy's Haystacks, South Australia, Australia, Pacific
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Nullarbor Coast
Nullarbor Plain is an endless treeless desert in south-western SA and south-eastern WA. There are no remarkably strange rock formations in that desert, but the coast of it is aligned by amazing cliffs made of Tertiary limestone.

Coastline of Bunda Cliffs, Nullarbor Plain, Australia
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Strange Rock Formations in Western Australia - Wave Rock
Wave Rock in south-western WA is an amazing, 15m high and 110m long rock formation that resembles a wave. It is made of granite and its shape has been formed by wind and water erosion since the rock has been exposed about 60 million years ago.

Wave Rock, Hyden, Western Australia, Australia
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The Pinnacles Desert - Surreal Rock Formations
The Pinnacles Desert north of Perth, in Nambung National Park in Western Australia is one strange place to be. It is a desert of yellow sands and surreal limestone pinnacles that have been exposed by erosion. There are different theories about how these pinnacles formed but sure it is a different sight and a great place to take photos.

The Pinnacles in Australia
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Bungle Bungles - The Strange Rock Formations in Kimberleys
Bungle Bungles in the eastern Kimberleys is another great mountain range with its spectacular sandstone domes which have alternating orange and grey stripes. It is quite a remote place.

Natural Rock Formations of Bungle Bungles and Dirt Road Leading to It, Purnululu NP, Australia
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Victoria's Most Famous Rock Formations - The Twelve Apostles
The famous Twelve Apostles on the coast of western Victoria are about 50m high limestone stacks that have been, and still are, eroded by waves. Consequently, many have collapsed since they were named 12 apostles - at the time of writing only eight were left. They are a popular attraction on the famous Great Ocean Road, and well worth a visit.

The Twelve Apostles Stone Formations
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Tasmania's Most famous Rock Formation - Cradle Mountain
Tasmania is different from mainland Australia when it comes to geology, due to the presence of dolerite. Tasmania has the world's largest areas of this mafic intrusive igneous rock, which forms some great rock formations. Cradle Mountain is the most famous of them.

Dove Lake on 'Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park', Tasmania, Australia
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Tasmania's Most Impressive Rock Formation - Tasman Peninsula
Less famous but even more impressive than the Cradle Mountain, Tasman Peninsula has got some amazing dolerite formations. Dark, mafic rocks are normally not common in the Earth's crust, where light-coloured, felsic rocks such as granitoids are much more common. Mafic rocks such as basalts and dolerite are more common in the Earth's mantle but end up on the Earth's surface through volcanic activity.

Tasman Island from Cape Pillar in Tasman National Park, Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia
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Blue Mountains' Famous Rock Formation - The Three Sisters
Three sisters in Blue Mountains is probably the easiest reached of all the strange rock formations - only one hour's drive from central Sydney. They are very famous, but moderately impressive, compared to other, more remote strange rock formations. They are erosional remnants of the Blue Mountains sandstone escarpments which were deposited in early Triassic.

Australia New South Wales, the Famous Three Sisters Rock Formation in Blue Mountains Near Katoomba
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Other Strange Rock Formations in NSW - Mungo National Park
Mungo National Park in the inland NSW is known for its arcaeological significance, but it has also got the 33km-long eroded sand dune - the Walls of China. The area used to be an ancient lake bed, a part of a chain of lakes between Willandra Creek and Lachlan River. Since the lakes dried up about 14,000 years ago, wind has been eroding the fragile sand dunes and left behind some amazing outcrops.

Rock Formations in Mungo National Park
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Queensland's "Devil's Marbles" - Girraween national Park
Queensland hasn't got as many great strange rock formations as most other states, however in Girraween National Park in south-eastern Queensland, is an analogue of Northern Territory's Devil's Marbles, also made of granite, even though duller in colour. They lack the red oxides that Devil's Marbles have, and are consequently grey.

Glasshouse Mountains (Mt. Beerwah, Mt. Coonowrin) at Sunset Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
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Eastern Australia's Volcanic Belt: Glass House Mountains
But what the central and western states don't have is the eastern Austraslia's volcanic belt, which is responsible for the Great Dividing Range along the eastern coast that brings the rains, and the younger, more fertile black soils, than in the rest of Australia. The areas around this belt bear consequently thick eucalypt forests, and show some dramatic volcanic peaks seen nowhere else in the country.

Carnarvon Creek, Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park, Queensland, Australia, Pacific
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Queensland's Great Gorges: Carnarvon and Lawn Hill
Queensland has also got some great gorges where there is enough water to support the ancient remnant pockets of rainforest that once covered the whole continent. Both have formed by rivers carving into ancient sandstone. Carnarvon Gorge is surrounded by white sandstone cliffs, while Lawn Hill Gorge is red.

Limestone Bluff at Archways, Near Mungana Chillagoe, Queensland, Australia
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Remnants of Ancient Coral Reef - Chillagoe
Chillagoe, a small country town in northern Queensland, is surrounded by limestone bluffs, deposited by coral reef 400 million years ago when the area was the bottom of a tropical sea. There are limestone bluffs everywhere, one of the most famous ones is the Balancing Rock.



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