Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dragon Hills

I'm feeling a bit gushy about geology at the moment. I'll hasten to add that this isn't normal for me, but was brought on by reading a post on G+, 10 Reasons Geologists are Weird. What I haven't mentioned is that my first job after leaving school was with the exploration division of a mining company. I have the sneaking suspicion that working with geologists so closely and interpreting their maps and making them presentable for "the powers that be" did something to my head. Not in a bad way I hasten to add, but just ... something ....

A passing comment on G+ after reading about Weird Geologists led to a conversation about rocks and me posting a photo of a strange (to me) beachside rock formation near my hometown. There were grooves in the rock, and I'd decided that meant it HAD to be glacial! That led to the most intriguing post by Dana Hunter at En Tequila Es Verdad (here) and enabled me to see my home area through a different filter. Wow! What an exciting eye opener.

Now for the Dragon Hills (not their proper title)
I'd planned to post the following pictures some time ago and got sidetracked, but maybe now is a good time. These hills are in Mutawintji in outback New South Wales in the south west of the state. It's semi-arid land, red, and totally entrancing. It was near here that I first saw the International Space Station tumbling and catching the light of the sun in the deep night sky. I waved and called out a silent "hello" to the astronaut scientists working up there.
It's quiet out there. At the campground a few people enjoy the silence and watch the crazy Apostle birds, kangaroos, emus and when we were there packs of ferral goats and their kids. There are no towns for hundreds of kilometres, no distractions, nothing much at all ... except the most stunning, magnificent, awe inspiring scenery imaginable.
In parts it looks for all the world like the scales of dragons. As if they've fallen asleep in strange postures, curled and contorted over millennia. Trickles of water dribble down fissures and support some life: a few scraggly trees, lizards, roos, various birds and unfortunately the ferral goats.
The hills stretch on and on. It's protected Aboriginal land further out, and you need to join a registered tour group to enter - pre-booking would have been advisable as they were booked out a week in advance.
Below, the rocks look like they're dribbling down the slope, creating dangerous looking overhangs. Trees have taken root and cling tenaciously in damp cracks and gullies creating anorexic strands of welcome shade. I'm standing in the top right of the photo gazing in awe, wondering why I'd never heard hint of such a spectacular place. Friends' comment "yeah, it's pretty good" simply doesn't do it justice!
The NSW National Parks department describes the area thus: "The land and waterways, and the plants and animals that live in them, feature in all facets of Aboriginal culture - including recreational, ceremonial, spiritual and as a main source of food and medicine. They are associated with dreaming stories and cultural learning that is still passed on today."

What the Parks Department fails to mention is how breathtaking the area is and that it's worth spending more than a couple of nights out there soaking up the atmosphere.

1 comment:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. I love geology .. and as I played squash with the Chamber of Mines squash club in SA - lots of members .. I was constantly bombarded with interesting facets of knowledge. In fact my god-daughter's Dad is a geologist!! So I can still ask questions ..

Would love to see this part of the world .. cheers Hilary