Haystacks and Sea Lions

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August 10th 2019
Published: August 10th 2019
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A Scottish agriculturalist once advocated the use of harrowing to produce copious good quality fodder and when he saw in the distance some large haystacks he deduced that this particular farmer - a Mr Murphy – had indeed been harrowing as the stacks were so large. Closer inspection of the haystacks revealed they were in fact granite stones. Henceforth they were known, tongue in cheek, as Murphy’s Haystacks.

The prominent outcrop of pink Hiltaba Granite, purported to be over 100,000 years old, are on private property 40km from Streaky Bay just off the Flinders Highway, so there is a token donation of $2 per person at the farm gate which allows you to wander around the ancient wind worn formations.

Technically they are inselbergs, which translates as “island mountain” and are formed by the uneven weathering of the crystalline rock. Murphy’s Haystacks have been sculpted into pillars, boulders, tafone (concave) and boss & shield (as if they are melting at the edges). We refer to Uluru as a monolith but there is conjecture amongst geologists as to whether it too is an inselberg – we’ll leave that discussion to the educated professionals; all we know is that they were stunning. With their patchy lichen coat you can appreciate why, from a distance, they could be mistaken for large weathered haystacks.

The bitumen of Benbarber Road ran out just past the entrance to Murphy’s Haystacks so we followed the gravel to the head of Baird Bay, its iridescent aqua waters fairly twinkling in the sunshine. We continued on down Calta Peninsula to the Point Labatt Conservation Area where there is a large breeding colony of Australian Sea Lions, apparently the only permanent colony on the Australian mainland. There is a purpose built viewing platform that perches on the cliff face 50metres above the mammals – we could see them quite clearly as they basked in the sunshine while the ocean waves rolled in and over the low lying rocks; some were resting, others playing in the sand and one young pup was suckling. The coastline, once again, was ruggedly beautiful and pristine.

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