By Bev Malzard
Whether your passion for the great outdoors landscape runs from desert, to the bush, mountain peaks, craggy coastal outcrops, rock formations that are just plain silly or vast sweeps of verdant valleys – Australia has enough diversity throughout all of its states and territories to rob the adjective bank.
“The two impulses of travel are to get away from home, the other is to pursue something – a landscape, people, an exotic place. Certainly finding a place that you like or discovering something or somewhere unusual is a very sustaining thing in travel.” – Paul Theroux
Following are some of the great, grand, strange, surreal and just plain out-of-this-world landscapes of our wide brown land.
The-not-from-this planet Pinnacles at Nambung National Park, Western Australia.
The vast crater of Wilpena Pound in South Australia is a natural, boundless amphitheatre. ‘Wilpena’ is reported to mean ‘place of bent fingers’ which could reference the mountains resembling the cupped hand or the freezing cold of the ranges in winter. The traditional owners, the Adnyamathanha, however have no such word in their language. Their name for the Pond is Ikara which means ‘meeting place.
The basalt rock formations at Fingal, Tweed Coast, NSW
The Gasgoyne in north west Western Australia hogs 5.5% of the state’s area. – usually red dirt, the odd rare shrub, and big rocks and then, voila, a little rain and a limitless carpet of everlasting wildflowers make an entrance – what a sight;
The sea cliffs at Cape Pillar in Tassie. Rising out of the water with waves violently crashing against the walls there’s a sense of stoicism about these rock formations.
In north west of NSW is the stark vision of drowned tress on Menindee Lakes and further afield is Mungo National Park. Mungo has an ethereal feel and a spiritual legacy. Elders of Indigenous clans have been meeting here since the Dreamtime. In the park which could probably be a stunt double for Mars at twilight, there stands the Walls of China stretching for 33km, which are sand dunes that have been fashioned over millions of years of sand storms and harsh sun.
Bungle Bungle in the eastern Kimberley in Western Australia. These peculiar beehive shaped tower formations that twirl out of the ground are made up of sandstones and conglomerates (rocks composed mainly of pebbles and boulders and cemented together by finer material). These formations were deposited into the Red Basin 375 to 350 million years ago, when active faults were altering the landscape. Don’t even try and imagine how this all happened, just enjoy. From the ground it’s like driving through the Land of the Giants and from the air, a fairytale land surface. The combined effects of wind from the Tanami Desert and rainfall over millions of years shaped the domes.
And speaking of the Tanami Desert – a brutal landscape, there are tales and reports of drivers crossing the desert at night seeing the elusive Min Min. a mysterious phenomenon that has spooked many people in the Outback. Aboriginal folklore passed down for generations or a scientific fact? The lights have been described by witnesses as floating, fast-moving balls of colour that glow in the night.
The story is the Min Min are the spirits of old people looking after country.
Hutt Lagoon in WA is pretty in pink – algae has turned the water hot pink.
More of a skyscape than a landscape. On a cold, mid winter night, in White Cliffs, north west NSW, find a decent mound of dirt, lie on it and look up to the clearest, brightest, grandest galaxy overhead. To let the sky cover you and fill your vision is all engulfing – go on, you can shake the dust off after.
Australia has more than enough sightings of landscapes to surprise, delight and indeed inspire. Carnarvon Gorge in Qld will make you footsore if you walk the whole distance; the coloured sands of Rainbow Beach, Qld will dazzle; Uluru – say no more; Cradle Mountain and the lakes of Tasmania are worth a trek and pray for a sunny day.
And for Sydneysiders – a visit to the Blue Mountains on a hot day to see the colour blue in its sticky haze and witness the curves of the valleys from various vantage points. You’d swear they were rolling with the breeze – like waves.
A bit too romantic? Who knows but there’s drama and romance in the ancient colossal landscapes of Australia, so keep looking.