Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Crossing the Nullabor

Crossing the Nullarbor Plain was an experience. We are the proud owners of a bumper sticker saying "we have crossed the Nullarbor." We slept at three differing locations during the trip between Ceduna in South Australia and Norseman in Western Australia. The Nullarbor is the world's largest single piece of limestone with an area of about 200,000 square kilometres.

The first night we slept at Point Fowler at the base of many wind blown sand dunes. Excellent spot for wrestling brothers. The stars were incredible and the wind was relentless.

Head of the Bight

On the second day we stopped at the Head of the Great Australian Bight to see the majestic limestone cliffs. That night we camped on the edge of the Bunda Cliffs. Once again an amazing site to camp and the wind was relentless.
Sunset at our campsite

 Mum and Dad offered to leave us behind on the road but eventually they let us back in the car. It can be a long day sitting in the car with the family crossing the Nullarbor.

The last night we slept at a roadside stop near Caiguna. Finally the wind was kind and we all got a great night sleep. It also helped that Western Australia is in a different timezone so we felt like we had a huge sleep in and managed to pack up the camper super quick. Dad enjoyed the Newman Rock near Norseman.    

The lone geologist

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Streaky Bay

Streaky Bay, in South Australia, was a must stop area - inspired by the children’s book “Are we there yet?” by Alison Lester. On our way into town we visited Murphy’s Haystacks. We made letters with our shadows at Murphy's Haystacks. The giant boulders glowed in the afternoon sun.
Murphy's Haystack

Buckman Boys at Murphy's Haystack
Dad wrote a detailed description on the earthdownunder facebook page. We translated his description to “big rocks in the middle of nowhere caused by erosion.” The rocks are sculptured pink Hiltaba granites which are about 1500 million years old. The sculptured features are called inselbergs. The one in the photo with all three Buckman Boys is decribed as a Tafone inselberg.
Kai stuck his head into the shark’s jaw at the roadhouse. No way I’d go swimming with that shark. We camped at the caravan park with no grass. The site was all sand and rocks with a lovely playground next to the tidal flats.
Great white shark eating Kai

We headed to Point Labatt where the only mainland colony of sea-lions exists. We saw sea-lions swimming, sunbaking, frolicking and fighting. The males weigh up to 400kg and the females weigh up to 120kg. The scientific name for sea-lions is Neophoca cinera

Point Labatt
We also visited Smooth Pools and the Granites. Many surfers were braving the sharks due to fabulous waves with spectacular scenery.
Smooth Pool

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lincoln National Park

This must be our favourite day yet! Lincoln National Park has beautiful landforms and is also a fantastic playground. We had our first attempt at using the 4WD in sand dunes. Well, well, well - the first attempt resulted in getting bogged. We used a simple rescue technique of reversing back down the hill. We tried again after letting more air out of the tyres. The car rose to the challenge and we made it up to the most pristine beautiful bay.
Nestled near the coastline was the eroded jagged outcrops of calcrete (CaC03) that had cemented the coastal sand dunes together.
Coastal calcrete
The Wanna - Sleaford sand dune track was like driving on snow. We were guided by long red poles to minimise the impact of cars on the dunes. Due to the windy nature of the day we could see the sand blowing around forming little eddies that started at the top of the dunes then raced down the slopes. The whole experience was serene as we saw no other cars on the dunes that day.
Sleaford-Wanna sand dunes

There was an emu buried in the sand attempting to minimise the sand blasting caused by the wind.
Emu buried in the sand

The highlight of the day was the first sighting of a shark. There was a huge school of bait fish. Sol noticed a grey shape approaching and sure enough it was a shark. It dispersed the fish as it swam through the school. Shortly after a pod of dolphins arrived scaring away the shark. The dolphins rounded the fish into the shore. Liam and Sol were transfixed watching.
Dolphins and the fish school
Further along the coastline we all saw another shark. The Sleaford Bay coastline was remote and beautiful with crystal clear water.
Sleaford coastline

Monday, March 11, 2013

Whalers Way

Located near Port Lincoln is an amazing historic reserve called Whalers Way. The name comes from the close association with whaling operations carried out in the Sleaford Bay. A permit is required to enter which can be obtained from the Port Lincoln Tourist Centre.

The brochure claims that the area has the oldest rocks in South Australia located at Cape Carnot. According to the geoscience web site
this is no longer correct as the Cooyerdoo Granite on the Eyre Peninsula were dated at 3157 ±2 million years from the Mesoarchean era. Care is needed at the site as the sea and tall cliffs have resulted in numerous people drowning.
Cape Carnot
Stunning scenery such as Moonlight Bay, Theakstone’s Crevasse, Redbanks and Cape Carnot are worth a look.
Moonlight Bay
Red Bank

Fossilized cockles and root rhizomes are there to discover along with spectacular wildflowers.

Fossil Roots (Rhizomorphs)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Whyalla, Wild Dog Mountain and Fitzgerald Bay

Whyalla is a red town. No need to paint the town red it already is! Check out OneSteel Whyalla Steekworks, it transforms the Middleback Ranges iron ore into 90 different grades of steel.
Whyalla Steelworks
We drove out to the Wild Dog Hill where a pleasant surprise arose from the flat plains. The 90 metre high hill is formed from the red and purple sandstones and is part of the Pandurra formation, with an age of between 1.6 and 1 billion years. Kai was the king of the mountain. Whyalla Conservation Park is a significant site for lichens, which are found on rocks, trees and covering the ground.
Wild Dog Hill
We camped at Fitzgerald Bay. Dad wanted to visit the sinuous shingle beach deposits that were two metres high.  The shingles were flattened quartzite pebbles derived from the nearby plateau. Strong wave action during a previous sea level may of placed the shingles ridges.

Fitzgerald Bay shingle deposit

After a quick peep at the ridges Isaac decided skimming rocks at the shoreline was much more interesting. 

Rock skimming

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Adelaide, Barossa then Ardrossan

Adelaide was our old home. We spent our time catching up with many friends. Geology visits were left for Dad at Sellicks beach whilst we played tennis and discovered a piano left outside for the Fringe Festival. This was common throughout Adelaide. Both Kai and Liam had a tinkle on the keys.

Liam playing live and impromptu at Prospect

We headed north to the Barossa to enjoy the scenic vineyards and visit our youngest cousin. That night we slept all together in the trailer at Ardrossan. Ardrossan has wonderful red cliffs with gorgeous laterite profiles.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mount Gambier and Naracoorte Caves

We camped at Mount Schank crater. The interpretation signs included a vast amount of material including the geology, Bunganditj explanation of the volcanic landscape, European history and historic art work. Mount Schank formed about 5,000 years ago.

Mount Schank crater
After hiking up the crater in the morning we headed to Mount Gambier to get the brakes fixed on the trailer. We explored town for the day and saw an excellent documentary at the local council about the volcanics. With our brakes repaired (we hoped) we headed for a camping ground right next to the Blue Lake.

The Blue Lake crater is an explosive structure called a 'maar',  consisting of a rim of ejected material (basalt and ash) resting directly on the pre-eruption landsurface. The crater is one of the youngest volcanoes in Australia.

Blue Lake
The next day we headed for World Heritage Naracoorte Caves. We took a tour of the Victoria Fossil Cave to see the renowned fossil deposits. Fossils of the large marsupials such as the Marsupial Elephant (Diprotodon australis) and the Short Faced Leaf-eating Kangaroo (Sthenurus occidentalis) have been found in this cave. We enjoyed a tour of the Wonambi Fossil Centre that recreates the ancient world of Australia's mega-fauna with life sized robotics. There was a cave the kids could crawl through. Mum made a pretend growl at the end which made Liam bump his head on the roof from fear.

Victoria Fossil Cave