Augustus, or Burringurrah as it is known by the local Wadjari Aboriginal
people, is about 850 kilometres from Perth and midway between the Great
Northern and North West Coastal highways. One of the most spectacular
solitary peaks in the world, it rises 717 metres above a stony, red
sandplain of arid shrubland—dominated by wattles, cassias and eremophilas—and
is clearly visible from the air for more than 160 kilometres.
The rock itself,
which culminates in a small peak on a plateau, is about eight kilometres
long and covers an area of 4,795 hectares. At about twice the size of
Uluru [Ayers Rock] it is the biggest 'rock' in the world.
of Mount Augustus are from the upper Proterozoic age; they were deposited
on an ancient sea floor as sand and boulders some 1,000 million years
ago. These deposits consolidated to form sandstone and conglomerate
strata, which eventually, with movement in the Earth's crust, folded
and uplifted. Sandstone and conglomerate cover a wide area, including
Mt Phillip, 35 kilometres to the west-south-west. The granite rock that
lies beneath Mount Augustus is 1,650 million years old. Making it not
only twice the size of Uluru, but considerably older.
lines from the rock seep beneath the surrounding sands to feed groves
of white-barked river gums. Elsewhere mulga, myall, gidgee and other
wattles are dispersed across the red sandplain. Here honeyeaters, babblers
and galahs forage for food. Nearby emus seek fruits, and bustards snatch
insects and small reptiles from the ground. Bungarras (goannas) and
red kangaroos are common on the plain, while euros and birds of prey
are found closer to the rock. At Cattle Pool on the Lyons River, a tributary
of the Gascoyne, permanent pools attract waterbirds such as black cormorants,
swans and ducks. In the trees are corellas and blue-winged kookaburras.
the Aboriginal people who inhabited the area around Mount Augustus were
known as the Wadjari. In times of plenty, the Wadjari people would roam
over a wide area of the Gascoyne. In times of drought, however, the
Wadjari would return to areas where water was available, such as the
natural springs along the base of Mount Augustus. Aboriginal occupation
is evident by the engravings on rock walls at Mundee, Ooramboo and Beedoboondu
visitor sites, and by numerous stone tools discovered in these areas.
There are at
least three Dreaming stories for Mount Augustus. Although each differs
slightly in detail, the basic thread of the story remains the same.
Probably the best-known story is one about a boy called Burringurrah,
who was undergoing his initiation into manhood.
of initiation so distressed Burringurrah that he ran away. In doing
so, he transgressed the Aboriginal tribal law and under the law he had
to be punished. Tribesmen pursued the boy, finally catching up with
him and spearing him in the upper right leg [spearing still remains
the main form of punishment under tribal law]. Burringurrah fell to
the ground; the spear head broke from its shaft and protruded from his
leg. The boy tried to crawl away, but the women beat him with their
mulgurrahs [fighting sticks]. Burringurrah collapsed and died, lying
on his belly with his left leg bent up beside his body.'
As you look
at Mount Augustus you can see the shape of a body, with the stump of
the spear in the leg. The geological fracture lines at the western end
of the mount indicate the wounds inflicted by the mulgurrah. The spear
stump is the small peak called Edney's Lookout, at the eastern end of
SEE AND DO
- Burringurrah Drive.
A 49-km circuit providing views of the changing
faces of the rock and access to all feature sites. Suitable for
conventional two-wheel-drive vehicles, it features rocky creek gorges,
caves, Aboriginal rock engravings (petroglyphs), picnic sites, walktrails
and a variety of wildlife on the rock, plain and water courses.
- Emu Hill Lookout.Turn
off north approximately 5 kilometres west of the park boundary on
the Cobra Station road, and drive 1.5 kilometres along a track suitable
for two-wheel drive vehicles. The lookout is a good location from
which to take photographs of the Mount; at sunset it is usually
- Goolinee (Cattle
Pool).A permanent pool on the Lyons River.
A day-use area only. Particularly picturesque after rains have filled
the pool to capacity. But please be careful, reeds in the pool can
make swimming hazardous.
- Corella Trail
- 2 km return (1 hour).
Trail begins mid-way along the pool. A short, easy stroll. Quiet
observant walkers are rewarded with tranquil scenes of waterbirds.
Corellas and other species forage in the river gums.
This is a small recreation spot at the base
of the rock. A trail runs to a cave from which there are good views
of the Lyons River meandering through the sandplain and the Godfrey
Ranges to the north.
- Cave Hill Trail
- 4 km return (2 hours).
A short, steep trail that runs up from Goordgeela to the cave
entrance. Do not enter the cave as its ceiling is unstable and
rock falls do occur from time to time.
- The Pound. Earlier
this century this natural basin was used for holding cattle prior
to moving them on the hoof to Meekatharra.
Droving to Meekatharra would take 10 to 12 days.
- Saddle Trail
- 2 km return (1 hour).
This short walk to the saddle provides views south into The
Pound and north over the Lyons River valley.
- Beedoboondu (Flintstone).A
short walk along the creek bed of approximately 250 metres will
bring you to Flintstone Rock—a huge flat rock that lies across the
stream bed. Crawl under Flintstone Rock to observe Aboriginal engravings.
After heavy rain, water cascades over the rocks forming several
- Summit Trail
- 12 km return (6 hours).
This walk to the top of the mount is only for fit and experienced
bushwalkers. From the summit there are extensive views over
the surrounding plain and drainage basin to distant ranges.
An early start is recommended, and please advise someone of
your plans. Seek advice from the ranger or the Mount Augustus
Outback Tourist Resort. Wear sturdy footwear and protective
clothing and carry at least two litres of water per person.
- Mundee Mundee
is reached along a short trail. It is a rock wall with engravings
of kangaroo, emu and bustard tracks in three cave-like overhangs.
Aboriginal mythology has it that in the beginning, when the rocks
were still soft, a Dreaming spirit did these engravings with his
- Petroglyph Trail
- an easy 300 metres return walk to the rock wall.
- Ooramboo A
short, easy stroll of approximately 150 metres to view Aboriginal
engravings of animal tracks along an escarpment. A 100 metres farther
along is 'Edney Spring', a permanent soak.
- Edney's Trail -
6 km return (2.5 hours).
A well-defined trail will lead you to Edney's Lookout (the peak
that is clearly seen from the Tourist Resort; it is at the south-east
of the mount). Trail suitable for those seeking elevated views
but who do not wish to tackle the more strenuous Summit Trail.
- Warrarla (Gum Grove)
A pleasant picnic site set among a grove of
large river gums.
- Kotke Gorge
Trail - 2 km return (1 hour).
This trail is a ramble and rock hop along the usually dry creek
bed. There you can discover the variety of rock shapes, textures
and exposed in the creek bed. There is no marked trail up Kotke
Mount Augustus is 490 kilometres from Carnarvon
via Gascoyne Junction and 360 kilometres from Meekatharra. Roads are
gravel, but suitable for conventional vehicles most of the year.However,
roads may be closed or substantially damaged after heavy rain. Seek
advice from the local Shires. Carry ample fuel, water and supplies to
cope with all possible occurrences.
No camping or open fires are permitted within
the National Park or on Mount Augustus Station pastoral lease. Accommodation,
powered caravan sites, camping facilities, meals, fuel and water are
available at Mount Augustus Outback Tourist Resort, phone (08) 9943
0527 and Cobra Station, (08) 9943 0565.