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Wave Rock - Australia

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Wave Rock

The Wave Rock is a natural rock formation located in western Australia. It derives its name from the fact that it is shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave. The total outcrop covers several hectares; the "wave" part of the rock is about 15 meters high and approximately 110 meters long. One aspect of Wave Rock rarely shown on photographs is the retaining wall about halfway up the rock. This follows the contours and allows rainwater to be collected in a dam. It was constructed in 1951 by the Public Works Department, and such walls are common on many similar rocks in the wheatbelt.

Wave Rock is a natural rock formation located east of the small town of Hyden in Western Australia that is shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave.
Wave Rock has cultural significance to Aborigines. More than 140,000 tourists visit wave rock every year.A retaining wall about halfway up the rock that follows the contours of the wall and allows rainwater to be collected in a storage dam was constructed in 1951 by the Public Works Department. Such walls are common on many similar rocks in the Wheatbelt.


Wave Rock, more than 2.7 billion years old, is composed of granite and has been shaped by chemical weathering. The total outcrop covers several hectares and is part of the Hyden Rock erosional remnant. The "wave" part of the rock is about 14 m (47 ft) high and around 110 m (350 ft) long. The 'wave' formation was formed 60 million years ago by subsurface chemical weathering followed by removal of the soft weathered granite by fluvial erosion, thus the weathering occurred below ground level before it was exposed. The end result is an undercut base, leaving a round overhang.

wave rock

Formation of the Rock
Wave Rock, a granite cliff, is 15 metres high and 110 metres long. Its rounded shape has been caused by weathering and water erosion which has undercut the base and left a rounded overhang. This happened about 60,000,000 years ago when it was exposed. Water from the springs running down the rock during wetter months dissolve minerals adding to the colouring of the wave. In 1960, some crystals from Hyden Rock were dated as being 2700 million years old, amongst the oldest in Australia.

  History of the area
While the Aborigines were the first to inhabit the area, it is believed that they gave the district a wide berth during the past century and a half for fear of the spirit of Mulka. Many stones used by the aborigines have been found on their campsites throughout the area. Painted handmarks can still be seen on rocks at the Humps and Wave Rock. Both of these rocks have water catchments to serve the local community and tourist trade.

The Sandalwood cutters were believed to be the first white men in the area from the 1860s to feed the incense trade in China. Grazing leases were taken out in the Narembeen area into the 1890s. The earliest recorded farming was in 1922 and descendants of these pioneer settlers still live in Hyden. Wheat production started in 1927 and it was carted to Kondinin until the railway link from Lake Grace reached Hyden in 1932.

Legend of Mulka's Cave
The name Mulka comes from an Aboriginal legend associated with the cave. Mulka was the illegal son of a woman who fell in love with a man with whom marriage was forbidden according to their law.

It was believed that as a result of breaking these rules she bore a son with crossed eyes.

Even though he grew to be an outstandingly strong man of colossal height, his crossed eyes prevented him from aiming a spear accurately and becoming a successful hunter.

Out of frustration it is said Mulka turned to catching and eating human children, and he became the terror of the district. He lived in Mulka's cave, where the imprints of his hands can still be seen, much larger and higher than that of an ordinary man.

Apparently, his mother became increasingly concerned about him. When she scolded him for his anti-social behaviour he turned on his own mother and killed her. This disgraced him even further and he fled his cave, heading south.

The Aboriginal people of the area, outraged by Mulka's behaviour, then tracked down this man who had flouted all the rules. They caught him near Dumbleyung, 156km south west of Hyden, where they speared him to death. Because he did not deserve a proper ritual burial, they left his body to the ants: a grim warning to those who break the law.