Wave Rock

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Wave Rock
Western Australia
Wave rock (2005).jpg
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Wave Rock
Coordinates 32°26′38″S118°53′53″E / 32.44389°S 118.89806°E / -32.44389; 118.89806 Coordinates: 32°26′38″S118°53′53″E / 32.44389°S 118.89806°E / -32.44389; 118.89806
  • 3 km (2 mi) E of Hyden
  • 296 km (184 mi) ESE of Perth

Wave Rock is a natural rock formation that is shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave. The "wave" is about 15 m (49 ft) high and around 110 m (360 ft) long. It forms the north side of a solitary hill, which is known as "Hyden Rock". This hill, which is a granite inselberg, lies about 3 km (2 mi) east of the small town of Hyden and 296 km (184 mi) east-southeast of Perth, Western Australia. [1] Wave Rock and Hyden Rock are part of a 160 ha (395-acre) nature reserve, Hyden Wildlife Park. More than 100,000 tourists visit every year. [2]

Wind wave Surface waves generated by wind on open water

In fluid dynamics, wind waves, or wind-generated waves, are water surface waves that occur on the free surface of the oceans and other bodies. They result from the wind blowing over an area of fluid surface. Waves in the oceans can travel thousands of miles before reaching land. Wind waves on Earth range in size from small ripples, to waves over 100 ft (30 m) high.

Granite A common type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock with granular structure

Granite is a common type of felsic intrusive igneous rock that is granular and phaneritic in texture. Granites can be predominantly white, pink, or gray in color, depending on their mineralogy. The word "granite" comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a holocrystalline rock. Strictly speaking, granite is an igneous rock with between 20% and 60% quartz by volume, and at least 35% of the total feldspar consisting of alkali feldspar, although commonly the term "granite" is used to refer to a wider range of coarse-grained igneous rocks containing quartz and feldspar.

Inselberg Isolated rock hill or small mountain that rises abruptly from a relatively flat surrounding plain

An inselberg or monadnock is an isolated rock hill, knob, ridge, or small mountain that rises abruptly from a gently sloping or virtually level surrounding plain. In southern and south-central Africa, a similar formation of granite is known as a koppie, an Afrikaans word from the Dutch word kopje. If the inselberg is dome-shaped and formed from granite or gneiss, it can also be called a bornhardt, though not all bornhardts are inselbergs.



A wall lies above Wave Rock about halfway up Hyden Rock and follows the contours of the wall. It collects and funnels rainwater to a storage dam. [1] The wall and dam were constructed in December 1928 by the Public Works Department for the original settlers of East Karlgarin District. Both were renovated in 1951 to increase water capacity for the Hyden township. Such walls are common on many similar rocks in the Wheatbelt.

The Public Works Department (PWD) was the State Government Agency of Western Australia, which was charged with providing and maintaining public infrastructure such as dams, water supplies, schools, hospitals, harbours and other public buildings. The Department is no longer operational, having its responsibilities reassigned to other State Government Departments and corporate entities since 1985.

Wheatbelt (Western Australia) region in Western Australia

The Wheatbelt is one of nine regions of Western Australia defined as administrative areas for the state's regional development, and a vernacular term for the area converted to agriculture during colonisation. It partially surrounds the Perth metropolitan area, extending north from Perth to the Mid West region, and east to the Goldfields-Esperance region. It is bordered to the south by the South West and Great Southern regions, and to the west by the Indian Ocean, the Perth metropolitan area, and the Peel region. Altogether, it has an area of 154,862 square kilometres (59,793 sq mi).


Wave Rock has cultural significance to Ballardong people. [3] Local tribes believed that the rock was a creation of the Rainbow Serpent, and was created in her wake by dragging her swollen body over the land after she had consumed all of the water in the land. They respected this area as an icon of cultural learning; a moral from this Dream time tale was to be remembered for life. [4] The rock is part of a dreaming trail that extends from the south coast near Augusta to the Great Victoria Desert country to the north east. Other features along the trail include Mulka's Cave, Puntapin Rock, Jilakin Rock, Jitarning Rock and Dumbleyung Lake. [5]

Ballardong Western Australian indigenous language dialect

Ballardong are an indigenous Noongar people of the south western area of Western Australia.

Rainbow Serpent mythical creature

The Rainbow Serpent or Rainbow Snake is a common deity often seen as a creator god and a common motif in the art and religion of Aboriginal Australia. It is named for the identification between the shape of a rainbow and that of a snake. Some scholars believe that the link between snake and rainbow suggests the cycle of the seasons e.g. blue(winter), red(summer), yellow(spring) and orange(autumn) and the importance of water in human life. When the rainbow is seen in the sky, it is said to be the Rainbow Serpent moving from one waterhole to another, and the divine concept explained why some waterholes never dried up when drought struck.

Dreamtime sacred era in Australian Aboriginal mythology

Dreamtime is a term devised by early anthropologists to refer to a religio-cultural worldview attributed to Australian Aboriginal beliefs. It was originally used by Francis Gillen, quickly adopted by his colleague Baldwin Spencer and thereafter popularised by A. P. Elkin, who, however, later revised his views. The Dreaming is used to represent Aboriginal concepts of "time out of time" or "everywhen", during which the land was inhabited by ancestral figures, often of heroic proportions or with supernatural abilities. These figures were often distinct from "gods" as they did not control the material world and were not worshipped, but only revered. The concept of the dreamtime has subsequently become widely adopted beyond its original Australian context and is now part of global popular culture.


Hyden Rock, of which Wave Rock is part, consists of 2.63 billion year-old biotite K-feldspar porphyritic monzogranite that is part of the Yilgarn Craton. [6] Hyden Rock is a granite inselberg, which consists of three domes. The central and western domes are separated by a deep valley, which is now occupied by a reservoir. The central and eastern domes are linked by a low platform. A multistage process of landform development created these domes. The initial step in the development of Hyden Rock was the subsurface alteration by weathering of granite bedrock beneath a lateritised land surface during the Cretaceous Period between 100–130 million years ago. Depending on the degree to which it was fractured by jointing, the granite bedrock underlying this surface was altered to varying depths beneath the land surface. This process formed underground "domes" of solid granite bedrock surrounded by deeply weathered, relatively loose, and disaggregated granite. Following separation of Australia and Antarctica and accompanying tilting of what became southwestern Australia, periodic erosion of the deeply weathered granite, which underlaid the surrounding land surface, exposed these buried solid bedrock domes over time as Hyden Rock. [7] [8]

Biotite micas between, or close to, the annite-phlogopite and siderophyllite-eastonite joins; dark micas without lithium

Biotite is a common group of phyllosilicate minerals within the mica group, with the approximate chemical formula K(Mg,Fe)
. It is primarily a solid-solution series between the iron-endmember annite, and the magnesium-endmember phlogopite; more aluminous end-members include siderophyllite and eastonite. Biotite was regarded as a mineral species by the International Mineralogical Association until 1998, when its status was changed to a mineral group. The term biotite is still used to describe unanalysed dark micas in the field. Biotite was named by J.F.L. Hausmann in 1847 in honor of the French physicist Jean-Baptiste Biot, who performed early research into the many optical properties of mica.

Porphyritic Adjective in geology for igneous rocks

Porphyritic is an adjective used in geology, specifically for igneous rocks, for a rock that has a distinct difference in the size of the crystals, with at least one group of crystals obviously larger than another group. Porphyritic rocks may be aphanites or extrusive rock, with large crystals or phenocrysts floating in a fine-grained groundmass of non-visible crystals, as in a porphyritic basalt, or phanerites or intrusive rock, with individual crystals of the groundmass easily distinguished with the eye, but one group of crystals clearly much bigger than the rest, as in a porphyritic granite. Most types of igneous rocks may display some degree of porphyritic texture. One main type of rock that has a porphyritic texture are porphyry, though not all porphyritic rocks are porphyries.


Monzogranites are biotite granite rocks that are considered to be the final fractionation product of magma. Monzogranites are characteristically felsic (SiO2 > 73%, and FeO + MgO + TiO2 < 2.4), weakly peraluminous (Al2O3/ (CaO + Na2O + K2O) = 0.98–1.11), and contain ilmenite, sphene, apatite and zircon as accessory minerals. Although the compositional range of the monzogranites is small, it defines a differentiation trend that is essentially controlled by biotite and plagioclase fractionation. (Fagiono, 2002). Monzogranites can be divided into two groups (magnesio-potassic monzogranite and ferro-potassic monzogranite) and are further categorized into rock types based on their macroscopic characteristics, melt characteristics, specific features, available isotopic data, and the locality in which they are found.

View from the top A198, Hyden, Western Australia, Wave Rock, 2007.JPG
View from the top

Wave Rock is a spectacular example of what geomorphologists call a "flared slope". A flared slope is a concave-upward or -inward bedrock surface that is typically found around the base of inselbergs, bornhardts, and granitic boulders and also on their higher slopes. Flared slopes like Wave Rock are particularly well developed in granitic landforms of south-western and southern Australia. The flared slopes are argued to have formed by the concentrated chemical weathering around the base of an inselberg by groundwater. The chemical weathering of the bedrock by groundwater produces a concave-upward or –inward pocket of deeply weathered, relatively loose, and disaggregated bedrock within the formerly solid bedrock base of an inselberg. When the land surface, which is underlain by deeply weathered bedrock, around an inselberg is lowered by erosion, the pocket of deeply weathered disaggregated bedrock is also removed to produce a flared slope such as Wave Rock. It has also been argued that flared slopes can form during the erosion of slopes of any inselbergs. [1] [7] [8]

Flared slope A rock-wall with a smooth transition into a concavity at the foot zone

A flared slope is a landform consisting in a rock-wall with a smooth transition into a concavity at the foot zone. Flared slopes form due to weathering being more effective at the regolith or soil-covered base of rock walls. These landforms are common in granitic rocks but occur in other rock types as well, such as ignimbrite. Flared slopes are can be found in a variety of climates.

Bornhardt A large dome-shaped, steep-sided, bald rock

A bornhardt is a dome-shaped, steep-sided, bald rock outcropping at least 30 metres (100 ft) in height and several hundred metres in width. They are named after Wilhelm Bornhardt (1864–1946), a German geologist and explorer of German East Africa, who first described the feature.

Nearby features

Other notable rock formations in the area include Hippos Yawn and The Humps.

The Humps is a granite rock formation known as a "stepped bornhardt inselberg". It is located within The Humps Nature Reserve approximately 295 kilometres (183 mi) east of Perth and 17 kilometres (11 mi) north east of Hyden in the eastern wheatbelt region of Western Australia.

Wave Rock hosts the nearby Wave Rock Weekender event, a music festival [9] that has been held annually [10] since 2006. [11]

Related Research Articles

Tor (rock formation) Large, free-standing rock outcrop that rises abruptly from the surrounding smooth and gentle slopes of a rounded hill summit or ridge crest

A tor, which is also known by geomorphologists as either a castle koppie or kopje, is a large, free-standing rock outcrop that rises abruptly from the surrounding smooth and gentle slopes of a rounded hill summit or ridge crest. In the South West of England, the term is commonly also used for the hills themselves – particularly the high points of Dartmoor in Devon and Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.

Spheroidal weathering

Spheroidal weathering is a form of chemical weathering that affects jointed bedrock and results in the formation of concentric or spherical layers of highly decayed rock within weathered bedrock that is known as saprolite. When saprolite is exposed by physical erosion, these concentric layers peel (spall) off as concentric shells much like the layers of a peeled onion. Within saprolite, spheroidal weathering often creates rounded boulders, known as corestones or woolsack, of relatively unweathered rock. Spheroidal weathering is also called onion skin weathering,concentric weathering,spherical weathering, or woolsack weathering.

Glacial landform Landform created by the action of glaciers

Glacial landforms are landforms created by the action of glaciers. Most of today's glacial landforms were created by the movement of large ice sheets during the Quaternary glaciations. Some areas, like Fennoscandia and the southern Andes, have extensive occurrences of glacial landforms; other areas, such as the Sahara, display rare and very old fossil glacial landforms.

Plucking (glaciation) glacial quarrying

Plucking, also referred to as quarrying, is a glacial phenomenon that is responsible for the erosion and transportation of individual pieces of bedrock, especially large "joint blocks". This occurs in a type of glacier called a "valley glacier". As a glacier moves down a valley, friction causes the basal ice of the glacier to melt and infiltrate joints (cracks) in the bedrock. The freezing and thawing action of the ice enlarges, widens, or causes further cracks in the bedrock as it changes volume across the ice/water phase transition, gradually loosening the rock between the joints. This produces large pieces of rock called joint blocks. Eventually these joint blocks come loose and become trapped in the glacier.

The Yilgarn Craton is a large craton that constitutes the bulk of the Western Australian land mass. It is bounded by a mixture of sedimentary basins and Proterozoic fold and thrust belts. Zircon grains in the Jack Hills, Narryer Terrane have been dated at ~4.27 Ga, with one detrital zircon dated as old as 4.4 Ga.

Exfoliation joint A type of weathering joint

Exfoliation joints or sheet joints are surface-parallel fracture systems in rock, and often leading to erosion of concentric slabs. (See Joint ).

Granite dome Rounded hills of bare granite formed by exfoliation

Granite domes are domical hills composed of granite with bare rock exposed over most of the surface. Generally, domical features such as these are known as bornhardts. Bornhardts can form in any type of plutonic rock but are typically composed of granite and granitic gneiss. As granitic plutons cool kilometers below the Earth's surface, minerals in the rock crystallize under uniform confining pressure. Erosion brings the rock closer to Earth's surface and the pressure from above the rock decreases; as a result the rock fractures. These fractures are known as exfoliation joints, or sheet fractures, and form in onionlike patterns that are parallel to the land surface. These sheets of rock peel off the exposed surface and in certain conditions develop domical structures. Additional theories on the origin of granite domes involve scarp-retreat and tectonic uplift.

Australian Shield A large part of the continent of Australia

The Australian Shield, also called the Western Australian Shield or Western Plateau, occupies more than half of the continent of Australia. The word shield is used because it refers to ancient, molten rock which has cooled and solidified. The Australian Shield has a characteristic depth of 4.5 km and an estimated age of 2.8 to 3.5 billion years. In places younger sedimentary rock covers the shield's Precambrian surface.

Saprolite Chemically weathered rock

Saprolite is a chemically weathered rock. Saprolites form in the lower zones of soil profiles and represent deep weathering of the bedrock surface. In most outcrops its color comes from ferric compounds. Deeply weathered profiles are widespread on the continental landmasses between latitudes 35°N and 35°S.

Gornaya Shoria megaliths

The Gornaya Shoria megaliths are rock formations that are part of Gornaya Shoria in southern Siberia, Russia, lying to the east of the Altay Mountains. Popular, often fringe, articles have claimed these rock formations to be gigantic prehistoric man-made blocks, or megaliths. It is reported that the largest pieces or blocks of stone have estimated weights between three and four thousand tons, which would make them larger than the megaliths at Baalbek, in Lebanon.

An etchplain is a plain where the bedrock has been subject to considerable "etching" or subsurface weathering. Etchplanation is the process forming etchplains. Contrary to what the name might suggest, etchplains are seldom completely flat and usually display some relief, as weathering of the bedrock does not advance uniformly. This means that weathering is unrelated to the flatness which might be derivative of various other processes of planation including peneplanation and pediplanation. Erosion of etchplains can result in the exposure of inselbergs such as bornhardt and tors. Generally the topography exposed at a stripped etchplain, that is an etch surface, after erosion of regolith is one with many irregularities as result of structurally defined areas of rock strength.

Nubbin (landform) A small and gentle hill consisting a bedrock core dotted with rounded residual blocks.

In geomorphology a nubbin is a small and gentle hill consisting a bedrock core dotted with rounded residual blocks. The blocks derive from disintegrated and weathered bedrock layers. In particular it is assumed that the boulders of the nubbins are the remnants of the outer one or two exfoliation shells that weathered underground, albeit some weathering can continue to occur once the boulders are exposed on surface.

Elachbutting Rock is a granite rock formation located approximately 20 km (12 mi) east of Bonnie Rock and approximately 60 km (37 mi) north east of Mukinbudin in the eastern Wheatbelt region of Western Australia. The rock is situated within Elachbutting Rock Nature Reserve and is part of the Great Western Woodlands.

Jilakin Rock is a granite rock formation located approximately 15 km (9.3 mi) east of east of Kulin and approximately 25 km (16 mi) south of Kondinin in the central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia. It overlooks Jilakin Lake and is a prominent feature in the area, rising out of the surrounding flat plains.


  1. 1 2 3 Twidale, C. R. (1968) Origin of Wave Rock, Hyden. Transactions of the Royal Academy of South Australia. vol. 92, pp. 115–124.
  2. "Hyden". Central Wheatbelt Visitor Centre. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  3. "Noongar Native Title Settlement Information" (PDF). Southwest Land and Sea Council. 7 October 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  4. The Australian Society for Microbiology (September 2001). "Microbiology Australia". Microbiology Australia. 22 (4): 13–16. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  5. "Belief systems" (PDF). Blazing Swans. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  6. Qiu, Y., and N. J. McNaughton (1999) Source of Pb in orogenic lode-gold mineralisation: Pb isotope constraints from deep crustal rocks from the southwestern Archaean Yilgarn Craton, Australia. Mineralium Deposita. 34:366–381.
  7. 1 2 Twidale, C. R., J. A. Bourne, and J. R. Vidal Romani (2002) Multistage Landform Development in Various Settings and at Various Scales. Cadernos do Laboratório Xeolóxico de Laxe. 27:55–76.
  8. 1 2 Twidale, C. R., and J. R. V. Romani (2005) Landforms and Geology of Granite Terrains. Taylor & Francis, New York, 359 pp.
  9. "Wave Rock Weekender 2018" . Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  10. "Wheatbelt town rides the rock wave". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 4 November 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  11. "The Wave Rock 2 day experience : Visitor's guide" (PDF). 18 January 2015. p. 25. Retrieved 6 May 2018.