Sawn Rocks: Mt Katapur National Park

Linda Stewart

Each year we spend a week with the Camper Trailer Club, Australia at a different spot in New South Wales.  When the week is over we go our separate ways and we took the opportunity to explore more of Australia.

An excerpt from our on-line camping journal.

It was going to be a hot day with the temperature settled at 32 C early in the day so we stayed around camp in the shade catching up with our books and watching other campers pack up and leave wondering where the next destination might be.  We decided to stay another two nights in Narrabri as we had yet to see one of the main attractions of the area, the Sawn Rocks in Mt Kaputar National Park.

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Nandewar Ranges forged from surrounding alluvial plains over millions of years

From Narrabri, – where we are camping for the next few days – 33 kilometres off the Newell Highway we turned into the parking area from where we walked into the rocks.  The well irrigated land on either side of the road are the lush paddocks of a large grain research station that is part of Sydney University’s Plant Breeding Institute which I hope is not being funded to be engaged in genetically modifying grain.

 We left the car park and headed up the track on foot and stopped at information stations to learn, among other things that the area was once a rainforest; difficult to imagine in today’s heat.  The plaque described the area as ‘a receding rainforest’ and it is easy to see why.  Surely nothing but hardy native trees and shrubs could survive the arid conditions of these ranges.  The vegetation is a mix of native and introduced trees and shrubs that included large eucalypts, figs and ferns as well as trees that resembled  Blue Spruce pines.
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 A kink in the walkway and there we were standing beneath the immense rock organ pipes that are the Sawn Rocks.  The rocks rise sharply from the bed of the now dry Bobbiwaa Creek where we could examine the rocks that had been dislodged by trees on the rock face.  At first glance they look like man-made concrete moulded pillars but no they are completely nature’s handiwork.

From the information plaques I learned that these five-sided rocks were formed as basaltic lava flow cooled slowly and evenly allowing crystals in the molten rock to align perfectly.  Vertical shrinkage cracks occurred at right angles to the cooling surface forming the five-sided columns (in the photo below there are also six-sided rocks).

 The rocks in the photo above have been dislodged from the cliff face when trees find cracks in the rocks where soil, leaves and water collect.  Over time their roots help to trap more debris and moisture forming soil.  Weathering of the cliffs cause the rock falls as small pieces of rock or huge pillars crash to the creek below which is where these rocks were.

We arrived back at camp hot, sticky and more than a little grumpy.  The heat had sapped our energy and we headed to the local swimming baths to cool off and regain our sense of humour.  Alas it was not to be.  The outdoor pools do not open to the public until this weekend and the indoor pools were 29C and as noisy as can be expected during school holidays.  Back to camp for cold showers and a cup of tea … there are few things not improved by a good brew of tea.

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Thankfully the day finally cooled and we’re loving the breeze from across the creek.  The weather man has promised cooler temperatures for tomorrow.  I’m hoping he’s on the ball with his prediction.

Participating in the A – Z Blog Event.

S

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