Australia & NZ

The 7 Most Impressive Rock Formations in Australia

Created by the world’s most talented artist, Mother Nature, throughout thousands, sometimes millions of years of weathering and erosion, Australia’s rock formations are considered some of the most spectacular in the world. Here are the seven most impressive rock artworks Down Under:

7. Devil’s Marbles
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One of the most popular sites in the Australian outback, Devils Marbles consists of clusters of large granite boulders scattered throughout a large valley. Karlu Karlu, as the Aborigines refer to this sacred place, started forming millions of years ago, when lava started hardening under a thick layer of sandstone. With the passing of time, the sandstone was washed away, which caused the granite to expand and develop cracks. Mechanical weathering played its part and gave the stone blocks their rounded shape.

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The 4 meters high, 13-33 meters wide Devil’s Marbles are still being molded by Mother Nature, who isn’t yet completely satisfied with her work. Extreme heat caused some of the boulders to break in half and scientists predict in fifty million years, Devil’s Marbles will be just tiny pebbles. That’s if people stop chipping pieces out of them as souvenirs.

6. Three Sisters

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Meehni (922m), Wimlah (918m) and Gunnedoo (906m) are the Three Sisters towering over Jamison Valley, in New South Wales, Australia. The most popular rock formation in the Blue Mountains was created by sandstone erosion. Water found its way through little cracks, slowly enlarging them and ultimately creating huge indentations.

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To spice up tourist experience, the locals created a legend around the Three Sisters. Apparently three sisters fell in love with three men from a rival tribe, but were forbidden to marry them. During the battle that ensued, an elder turned them into stone, to protect them, but he was killed and there was no one left to bring them back to their human form.

5. Wave Rock

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Wave Rock, one of the most famous landmarks in Western Australia, is located near Hyden, a small town 350 km east of Perth. Resembling a giant wave just about to break, Wave Rock is 15 meters high and 110 meters long. It formed 60 million years ago, through chemical weathering of the granite, below Earth’s surface.

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The wave shaped rock formation has become one of the symbols of Australia, attracting over 140,000 tourists every year. Its popularity has grown so much that authorities had to modify the Hayden airstrip to accommodate large aircraft carrying tourists from all around the globe.

4. Bungle Bungles

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Purnululu National Park hosts one of the world’s most breathtaking landmarks, Bungle Bungles. The unique, beehive-shaped domes rise from the bottom of Piccaninny Gorge like petrified tigers, striped in orange and black. This unique landform was formed over 350 million years ago from sediments shaped by winds from the Tanami Desert.

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The orange colour bands of Bungle Bungles are the result of iron and manganese coating the rock, while the black stripes were created by dark algae that multiplied in the softer layers of rock.

3. The Pinnacles

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Stretching as far as the eye can see in Nambung National Park, The Pinnacles is one of the must see attractions of the Coral Coast. Scattered around an area of 17, 487 hectares and surrounded by a wide array of wildlife, The Pinnacles attract over 250,000 visitors every year.

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There is some controversy surrounding the formation of The Pinnacles, but the most widely accepted theory is that about 25,000 years ago the sea receded from the area, leaving large deposits of seashells that disintegrated into fine limestone, the raw material for the amazing rock formation we see today.

2. 12 Apostles

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Rising up to 70 meters from the waters of the Southern Ocean, the 12 Apostles are located along the famous Great Ocean Road, in Victoria. The creation of The Apostles began 10-20 million years ago, when the ocean began constantly eroding the coastline. The caves created in the cliffs eventually turned into arches that ultimately collapsed leaving their giant limestone pillars at the mercy of the waves.

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The 12 Apostles were originally called Sow and Piglets, but after the name change during the 1950s, the site became an internationally famous tourist attraction. The waves keep eroding the pillars about 2 cm every year and they ultimately crumble into the ocean, so enjoy them while you still can.

1. Uluru

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Also known as Ayers Rock or Red Rock, Uluru is one of the most recognized Australian icons and a sacred place for the Aboriginal people. The 348 meters high monolith is all that remains of a completely eroded mountain range. Ever since it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List, Uluru’s popularity rose and it now draws in over 400,000 tourists every year.

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The local Anangu Aborigines attribute a great spiritual significance to Uluru and therefore never attempt to climb it. They request the same respect from visitors, but the government even installed a chain handhold to make the steep hike even easier. Even so, climbing Uluru can still be dangerous, due to strong winds near the top. 35 climbing-related deaths were registered at Uluru.

13 Comments for "The 7 Most Impressive Rock Formations in Australia"

serenity says on January 18th, 2010 at 1:02 am:

Thanks your website was very helpful with the report i was doing for my geo. grade!

kk says on March 14th, 2010 at 12:38 am:

cool!i really neede these pics 4 my goegraphy assignment!thanks a heap!

Cheryl says on April 7th, 2010 at 11:15 pm:

Nice pictures. I didn’t realize there were so many different rock formations in Australia.

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