Majestic Monuments of Australia
By “Awake!” correspondent in Australia
A LAND of curiosities and wonders is central Australia. In nothing is it more amazing than in its incredible rock and mountain formations. Here, for instance, is a unique wonder—the largest single stone in the world. It is all alone, rising abruptly on a plain. Called Ayers Rock, it towers more than 1,100 feet above the surrounding plain and is about two miles long. Imagine a vast solid sandstone dome covering an area of 1,200 acres and measuring more than five miles around its base!
An idea of the immense size of this monolith can be gained by putting up against the rock face the famed Sydney Harbor Bridge (from the waterline to the top of the arch), adding to this a ten- to twelve-story building, and the two together would not reach to the top of the cliff face. Or, envision a single stone just 107 feet short of the Empire State Building’s original height or 159 feet higher than the Eiffel Tower.
During the daytime, the rock’s coarse sandstone provides striking, ever-changing colors. And during sunrise and sunset, it glows from a deep purple to a brilliant orange.
Picturesque Canyons, Chasms and Gorges
Some twenty miles west of Ayers Rock are the Olgas. In contrast to Ayers Rock, these are a cluster of enormous monoliths. Separated by deep and narrow canyons, these high, weird rock shapes cover twenty-five square miles. The highest peak, Mount Olga, is higher than Ayers Rock, being nearly 1,800 feet in altitude. White-trunked gum trees, contorted into strange and beautiful shapes, stand out starkly against fiery red rock and cool, purple shadows.
Other majestic monuments of central Australia are the Macdonnell Ranges. After a thousand miles of plains, one encounters this high barrier across the trail. The first impression is of a high and unscalable wall running east and west as far as one can see, yes, for about 250 miles. From end to end they evoke unending wonder. Why? Because, for one thing, these ranges are cut through by deep gaps, through which streams flow occasionally. Some of these gaps are only twenty or thirty feet broad at the widest point. But the walls of rock on either side are 400 to 500 feet high.
The ranges are of impressive red stone with a capping of green spinifex grass. Strangely beautiful, they come in unusual shapes, such as turtle-shaped domes, upended disks and stacked cubes. Flying over these ranges, an enthusiastic admirer described them this way: “There were razor-backs and peaks, rock monoliths, curved domes, slits and crevices and hollowed-out pounds surrounded by red hills on every horizon . . . convex, concave, scalloped, and straight up on edge or tilting over, in an unbelievable maze through which the deeply walled watercourses had somehow carved a way.”—I saw a Strange Land, by Arthur Groom.
Among the picturesque canyons scattered throughout these ranges is King’s Canyon. Its walls tower over 900 feet high. This gaping hole is over one mile long. Also breathtaking is Standley Chasm. The 250-foot-high walls of this remarkable chasm are just eighteen feet apart. So hard is the red rock of this chasm that it can hardly be chipped with a hammer.
When the sun strikes this whole area at different angles, this ready-made stage is set afire! Colors suddenly appear where it seemed dull and lifeless a moment before, transforming it into new scenes as each hour passes. At dawn the creams, pinks and reds are transformed into a hazy blueness, and at sunset the area turns to molten gold.
In Western Australia stands another of the strange, majestic monuments in rock. This is the famed “Wave Rock” near Hyden, about 240 miles east of Perth. Composed of granite, its wavelike face is the result of wind erosion and has been blasted into the shape of a fifty-foot wave about to break.
The immensity and strikingly unusual appearance of all these landmarks have impressed those who have viewed them. Said one visitor: ‘I do not think that anyone could gaze upon the strange summits of the Macdonnells, the Olga tors, and the Ayers monolith, without his soul being deeply stirred, or return without feeling better for the experience.’ In the godly inclined person they produce an overwhelming feeling of wonderment and awe at such spectacular manifestations of the Creator’s handiwork.