Wednesday, May 6, 2015

270 Million Years in the Making - Ulladulla Fossil Walk

In Australia, we are living on the earth's oldest landmass. The eons of erosion experienced by this continent have led to some of the strangest geographical features on the planet (e.g., Uluru, the Bungle Bungles) - and today it was this geography that brought us to Ulladulla. 

Just an hour's drive from Nowra, Ulladulla offers the "Gondwana Coast Fossil Walk." When the rain stopped (we've had the wettest April on record here - almost doubling the previous mark!), we thought we better make the most of the emerging sunshine. 

Most fossils in this area are around 260-270 million years old. Wow! For a couple of hours, we walked admist the geological history and soaked in the experience of examing the ancient past. In some cases, as our tour guide pointed out, we were looking at fossils that have never before been seen by human eyes (after cracking open rocks that erode away from the surrounding cliffs). 

Holding a piece of history


Volunteer tour guide - Ian Lavering - did a remarkable job explaining key features and interesting examples of fossils in the landscape and coastline that we walked. 

Sea urchin

The long linear patterns in the rock appear to be man-made - but they're actually natural formations. 

The "hour glass" fracture patterns are visible here

We saw many "dropstones" amidst the rock caused by glaciation

Many 'soft-bodied' organisms have only left their pathways and feeding evidence as there was no shell or skeleton to fossilize

The red-colouring of iron helps to illuminate the fossil impressions 

Liam was eager to use his digging "tool" and cut samples
Writing down important names in his notebook (to search later). A budding scientist for sure!

In their element!

This is a marker to track the erosion level of an identified site

We were in a small group with another couple from Sydney - but often Liam and Bryce had their own personal tour guide!

We didn't know it at the time - but behind us was a resident pod of dolphins swimming in the harbour - click on the photo for a larger zoom and see if you can spot one? 

The waves were picking up in intensity and it was important for us to continue pushing on (while the tide was low) in order to see all of the features ahead

One of the rare "crystals" left in the rock

The impression left by the removal of a "crystal" 

Compressed shells in layers give indications about the geological history here in the cliffsides

Colourful rock pools

Liam and Bryce were asked to dig for "treasure" here to help expose a very unique fossil

If you didn't know where to look - you could walk past this rock never knowing what lies beneath

Ingellara - brachidium

Swirling patterns where the rock has solidified - frozen in time

Large sandstone boulders left by glacial melting

Amazing patterns in the rock platforms show where it "flowed" in the past

This is where we actually noticed the pod of dolphins behind us in the harbour

So many unique fossils to spot!

A couple of proud boys showing off their fossil and shell artifacts!

Another terrific "local" attraction highlighting the uniqueness of Australia!

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