A Drive Along the Rainbow Coast

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Drever on May 11, 2012

Travelling along the Rainbow Coast to Albany by car the scenery enchanted us so we often stopped for a walk and to see it close up.

The oldest rocks, the gneisses, along the Rainbow coast pre-date almost all life on Earth. They formed between 1300 and 1600 million years ago. The granite formed when the Australia and Antarctica tectonic plates collided 1160 million years ago to form the continent Gondwana. It caused such friction the Earth’s crust, between the two continents, melted and rose slowly, cooling into the masses of granite visible today.

The continents broke apart about 45 million years ago and today the rock formations along the Rainbow Coast still match rocks on the northern coast of Antarctica. At points along the coast the friction between the land masses and the breaking apart has created magnificent phenomena. At the William Bay National Park in the Denmark Region fifteen kilometres to the west of Denmark is the captivating tall rounded granite boulders of Elephant Rocks at William Bay. Black dolerite has intruded into the granite and, being much softer, has eroded away to form an inlet. The much younger limestone capping the hill to the left has dissolving to form 'frozen waterfalls' over the surface of the granite.

As it name suggests, Elephant Rocks with a small stretch of the imagination resemble a herd of elephants bathing in the cold Southern Ocean especially when viewed from up on the headland. These huge oval boulders make a stunning sight as they gaze out on the Great Southern Ocean.

From the Greens Pool car park it is a good ten minute walk over the rises on a well-kept track to these rugged stone animals. We accessed the Cove by a staircase which descends between the rocks and ends in a beach crevasse which gives entrance to the beach. This beach has a sacred feel to it, perhaps because it has been an aboriginal birthing place over the centuries.

A few hundred yards to the west is the beach is Greens Pool sheltered from the heavy surf by lines of the rounded rock boulders typical of this area. Walking into the water, we noticed the long gradual slope, allowing children of all ages to experience the ocean in a safe and comfortable environment. Small crevasses and pools cut into the rock – perfect for children young and old. In the centre of the pool is a square-topped boulder from which some swimming enthusiasts dive. If you are in to snorkelling, the calms waters make it easy to spot multitudes of fish of all sizes – from hand size schools to large stingrays.

Situated on the Torndirrup peninsula which shelters Albany from the Great Southern Ocean are more of the Rainbow Coast's most extraordinary natural sights. The Natural Bridge is a granite formation bridging a chasm caused by the gradual wearing away of the rock underneath by the Great Southern Ocean. The Gap is an impressive rugged granite channel with spectacular sheer drop of almost twenty-five metres carved by the waves crashing against the granite coastline. The Blowholes are crevasses in the granite stretching down to sea level far below. With each wave the 'holes' blow air and spray up the channel making an impressive noise. All in all a surprising coast.
Rainbow Coast
Southern Edge Coastline
Western Australia


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