Uluru, formerly Ayer’s Rock, is one of Australia’s most mysterious and beautiful natural features. It’s eight miles in circumference and honeycombed with caves displaying Aboriginal wall art, which rises more than 1,000 feet above the flat red center of the continent. It used to be at the bottom of an inland ocean, and it changes color throughout the day. Sandstone contains many minerals like feldspar, which reflect shades from deep red to violet depending on the angle of the sun.
While Uluru is probably the most famous Australian geological wonder, it’s not the only one. In Western Australia, the Bungle Bungles are huge pillars of sandstone that look like ancient ziggurats. Nature made these orange and black striped monoliths in Purnululu National Park, not man. Lichens grow on orange sandstone, which causes the black stripes. It was a secret to the rest of the world until the 1980s, when an aerial photograph revealed the stunning rock formation.
Another example of Australia’s geological diversity is the Devil’s Marbles. There are a lot of huge ovoid boulders stacked on top of one another, some seeming to defy gravity, balancing on end like eggs. Marbles are made of coarse granite and have weathered over time. One of the few geological wonders you can see from space is the Great Barrier Reef. The coral reef stretches from New Guinea to the Queensland coast, covering 161 square miles. Coral islands dot the reef, the largest structure ever built by life. Coral reefs are formed when these tiny polyps leave their skeletal remains behind.
The Nullabor Plain between Adelaide in South Australia and Perth in Western Australia lives up to its name. The Great Southern Ocean plunges with frightening suddenness into the vast 155,000 mile desert. Nullabor Plain has no towns or permanent habitations, and definitely no trees. Wave Rock looks like a breaking wave on land in Western Australia. The smooth curve of the rock was thought to be caused by water erosion. The wave shape was formed by granite flowing in molten form around 500 million years ago.