Wave Rock – near Hyden, Westerm Australia, a four-hour drive from Perth – is an unusual rock formation that is 15m high and stretches 110m.
Wave Rock is a natural rock formation that is shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave. The "wave" is about 14 m (46 ft) high and around 110 m (360 ft) long. It forms the north side of a solitary hill, which is known as "Hyden Rock".
This hill, which is a granite inselberg, lies about 3 km (2 miles) east of the small town of Hyden and 296 km (184 miles) east-southeast of Perth, Western Australia. Wave Rock and Hyden Rock are part of a 160 ha (395-acre) nature reserve, Hyden Wildlife Park.
The curved shape of Wave Rock is emphasized by the vertical streaks of algae that run along its surface. The algae turns the stone a black colour that turns to brown during the dry season. At different times of the day Wave Rock changes colour; many a photographer has enjoyed its ability to play with light and perspective.
The rock looks like a tall wave just about to break. Its formation has fascinated geologists and the public for years and is one of many interestingly shaped rocky outcrops in the area. Wave Rock is a granite inselberg that has been weathered over the eons by wind and rainwater.
These forces of erosion have slowly swept the rock into the deep grey, red, ochre and sandy-striped wave you see today. The colours of the rock are amazing and are caused by minerals being washed down the rock.
The incredibly beautiful rock is one of the oldest on Earth. Taking care that erosion of the soil lasted millions of years, today the rock is colored with the fine stripes of different shades, from light yellow to fire red.
A few years ago, the rock was guarded with the dam to preserve its peculiar shape and to protect it from rain that eroded the formation surface.
More than 140,000 tourists visit Wave Rock every year.
Aboriginal people were the first humans who lived in the area. Many stones used by these Indigenous Australians have been found on their campsites throughout the area. Painted hand marks can still be seen on rocks at the Humps, Mulka Caves and Wave Rock.
The dominant art is hand stencils, of which there are over 140 examples representing both adults and children. Stencils are made by placing the hand on the rock then blowing over it with pigment. When the hand is removed, a negative impression remains. The reason for making hand stencils are many, but principally they are a form of signature left by those who had rights to the area.
There are also some line paintings which are often outlined with the finger or with a fibrous twig dipped in crushed ochre mixed with water.
The Rock has cultural significance to Ballardong people. Local tribes believed that the rock was a creation of the Rainbow Serpent, and was created in her wake by dragging her swollen body over the land after she had consumed all of the water in the land.
They respected this area as an icon of cultural learning; a moral from this Dream time tale was to be remembered for life.
Other notable rock formations in the area include Hippos Yawn and The Humps
Nearby Rock Formations
In the Wave Rock Area there is another unusual rocky outcrop known as Hippos Yawn, the Bats Cave, and The Humps. These are the largest and most well known and are but a few of hundreds that are scattered around the area's central wheat belt area.
Bats Cave Mulka
Mulka's Cave is located within the vicinity of Wave Rock in Hyden Western Australia.
The name Mulka comes from an Aboriginal legend associated with the cave. Mulka was the illegal son of woman who fell in love with a man with whom marriage was forbidden according to their law.
It is believed that 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 large and higher than that of an ordinary man.
Mulka's Cave is located 18 kilometres north of Wave Rock off Lovering Road.
Less than twenty kilometres from Wave Rock, another granite formation — the Humps — rises from the flat plain. As we drove past the rain-soaked fields, past green wheat and fluorescent yellow canola, we could see the rocks rising out of the flat.
One section of the Humps contains a cave with significant Aboriginal rock-art. Although the paintings are fading, the cave is extremely accessible to visitors and signs explain the historical significance of the decorations.
Wave Rock Dam
The Wave Rock Dam has a capacity of 30,000 cubic metres - 30 megalitres.
Initially built in 1928, its capacity was increased in 1951 to service the Hyden Township.
Low walls have been built on Wave Rock to channel the rainwater into the dam.
Its effectiveness is shown by its fullness - bearing in mind that the catchment area is less than 30 hectares, and the annual rainfall is only 337mm.