Our Special Places: Burringurrah

Posted by Kevin Rennie

Burringurrah in North Western Australia, aka Mount Augustus, is the world’s largest rock or monolith. It is twice the size of its better known cousin Uluru, aka Ayers Rock, in Central Australia. The drive around the rock is nearly 50 kilometres. The walk to the summit is 12 kms return from its base.

The North West of Australia has some of the most unspoiled areas of the country, if not the world, as well as some of the largest mineral and energy deposits. We need to know our special places before we lose them. Burringurrah is one of the little known gems.


49 Responses

  1. Wow! What an amazing country we live in. I have never heard of this rock before. If it was anywhere else in the world it would be famous, but here it is just on of many unknown marvels.

    Kevin – love the posts like this.

  2. More coming, Joni.

  3. Second that for me Joni – I’d never heard of the place either. (Hey Kevin, there might be plenty of iron ore around by the look of the redness everywhere. Or even uranium. Who owns it, by the way? )

  4. Tony, this might help you…light green is my interest.


  5. Thanks Kevin, like the others here I’d never heard of Burringurrah (much prefer the Aboriginal names they do “feel” right!) and it will go on the “retirement agenda”…and at my age I’m way past thinking I know everything, these things (knowledge) just keep coming – we really are just a fly s#it in the scheme of things…

    …Burringurrah is special in its own way as you point out in your post but Uluru has an “aura” that is hard to beat…

    …BTW when I was in Atlanta, Georgia, everyone there reckoned they have the biggest rock in the world…


    funny that…they had never heard of Uluru – they probably couldn’t pronounce Burringurrah – let alone know about it!

  6. scaper, you were supposed to be on a “sabatical” and you just keep popping up everywhere…

    …mate, nice map, but you must keep it close to your chest!

  7. TB, I was but after a bit of reflection from attack…I’ve decided that the bloody reverse gear does not engage…I’ve been researching that data and other stuff for years.

    Google Magnetar…interesting.

  8. scaper, we – need to have a beer (or three!)

  9. You are on…but I’ll have to hussle up Bill Grieves from over Jack’s place to taxi me home.

    I smell curried beef sausages.

  10. Kevin, i have been ‘around’ a few times and criss-crossed on a number of occasions The first time ‘around’ took just 12 weeks. I had a Statesman and I wasn’t paying for fuel or servicing. A fantastic trip. A real driving holiday.

    We intended to make it a mixture of motels and camping. Truth is we used a motel once because nothing beats camping for meeting people.

    You haven’t mentioned Coral Bay in that neck of the woods (broadly speaking) which I have visited on a couple of occasions. Also Sandfire near 80 Mile Beach. I once counted 108 people fishing on the beach at dusk; all in search of threadfin salmon.

    The camping ground there made the best hot bread in the ‘world’. even though it was very expensive.

    I too enjoy the great places of Australia. The Tanami, the Canning, crossing the Calvert in the wet, Daly Waters, Fraser Island, Lawn Hill after a storm that produce 15 inches in two hours – keep them coming.

  11. We discovered Burringurrah on our way back to Melbourne from Broome. Ended up visiting Uluru after taking the Gunbarrel highway. The rock is as grand as ever. It’s far more spectacular because of its bare surface. Mount Augustus has a green tinge from lots of plant growth. The redness only comes out strongly at sunset.

  12. Nature 5

    All great places! Look forward to the Canning.

  13. renniek

    The Canning, given climate change, is now a much more risky proposition. That part of the world is now much more likely to be wet, wet. Record, record rainfalls over the last few years. Most unusual.

    Make sure you go in a convoy.


  14. I have been eyeing much of Western Australia over the past few years. It is a place most can only read about in the history books these days but the secret is getting out. Posts like this, word of mouth etcetera are bringing the WA to the attention of many. Your politicians seem intent on developing Australia’s entire coastline. Most mining companies and developers only see the dime to be made, not much interested in preserving one of the last frontiers left on the planet, and sadly this includes some Aboriginal communities as well. Amazingly, when I talk to many arrived immigrants on my shores, illegal and legal alike from the Asian-Pacific rim all had Australia in the number two spot. Most only decided on the US as it was much easier to “blend” in here and Australia actually still enforces its immigration laws. The more Australia grows the more these wonderful places will disappear I think along with your unique fauna. When I imagine Australia becoming just another overpopulated continent offering the same old stereotypical venues it is truly sad. Again, instead of your politicians looking to find their own model of development that looks to preserve Australia’s beauty, they seem obsessed with rushing in and repeating the same old Western practices. The wondrous allure Australia has always held in my heart, a place where one can still wash up on a portion of coastline and see it much as it was before the 1st fleet came ashore. It is no mystery either that the main reason Australia can still boast such wonders is simply due to one fact, the lack of human beings. I do hope measures will be taken so future generations may experience such an amazing place but with current pushes to increase your population in order to expand the tax base under the guise of “skills shortages”, “refugee programs” etc, it is only a matter of time.

  15. Tony of South Yarra |

    “Hey Kevin, there might be plenty of iron ore around by the look of the redness everywhere.”

    Redness! Go a little further north to a place called Sandfire. So named because it looks like the sand is on fire. In the afternoon sun it truly is spectacular.

  16. Sparta

    Well said !!!!

  17. Wow, never heard of this before Kevin, fascinating.

    I had always understood that Uluru was the worlds largest rock, learn something new every day.

    Apparently, Uluru is the worlds largest monolith (single block of stone), while Burringurrah is the worlds largest monocline (an exposed slab of rock belonging to the layer beneath, not one single piece). So sayeth google.

    Still, it looks impressive, thanks Kevin.

  18. Kevin

    Thank you for showing me something I did not know existed.

    I still call australia hoooooome

  19. Am thinking of a place. It’s within a day’s drive of Yepoon and only accessable via 4WD, and in tandem. Drive over sandhill after sandhill. The weather is hot and humid in the extreme. You pitch a tent and/or organise sleeping for the kids.

    The reason that this place is so special is a tiny creek. It’s only about a meter wide but it’s over a meter deep and fresh water while being less than 200m from the sand/beach and for the climate it’s chilly. Which makes it quite odd.

    When the tide changes it’s filled with pumice.

  20. Portsea is very nice at this time of year.

  21. Portsea? Portsea! Are you effing kidding me!

    The last trip me an the arf spent in Melbourne he suggested we “take a drive in the country” to get out of the city.

    Two hours later, after a banal and completely uninspiring drive we arrived in Portsea. Only to find that the only thing there is a fricken pub with pretty ordinary sea views.

    Two pints of guiness later we got back in the car and it took three hours to get back in to town because of peak hour traffic.

    Portsea. Don’t talk to me about bloody Portsea. If that’s all you Melbournians have to brag about about you can shove it up your rectum.

    Meanwhile of course, in glorious Tasmania, we have The Bay of Fires, just listed as THE NUMBER ONE worldwide destination by Lonely Planet 2009.

    Suck on that!



  22. Agreed Tom. Portsea is very nice..my aunt and uncle had a holiday shack in Rye. My Dad and my uncle had a little runabout called The Ripple that they used to take out from Carrum. Before it was polluted (which I believe it is these days).

    I was lucky enough to see Bells Beach 45 years ago. My Dad and my uncle were surf fishermen and they were going to Bells to fish from the late 40’s. I can still remember the roar of the surf and most especially the bonfire on the beach.

  23. Reb: just let me know when you’re coming up this way and I promise seafood. And bring your swimmers, no skinny dipping co’s we’re shy.

    Nothing flash, but I do promise a good feed and a splash in the backyard pool.

  24. You see reb, that’s the problem with you uncouth people from the far flung provinces, you just look for the pub.

    Really, you need to get in on the invitation list for all the afternoon teas, and dinner parties. It is terribly civilised, and I do find nature to be rather too dusty, and hot.

    And yes Min, Bells Beach is quite attractive. But it is hardly the peninsular, is it?

  25. Tom, In my day going to Bells meant a 3/4 hour trek down the side of several cliffs. This was at least a decade before the surfies found it and a ‘loo meant behind a sandhill.

    My family were potato farmers at Beech Forest and nana and grandpa, other side of the family had the pub at Gellibrand River.

  26. Back to being serious for a moment. I really think the coast around Bell remains spectacular, despite the car parks and roads.

    Reb, the Great Ocean Road is a better day out than Portsea.

    I do find WA vastly over rated, too much driving past scrub and red dust. “WOW!! A BIG rock in the middle of nowhere” isn’t something anyone is likely to hear form me.

  27. Like Tom R (#17) said, Uluru is the largest single piece of rock. Actually, most of it is underground, and what we see above ground is estimated to be only about 5% of its total size.

    Damn big rock!

  28. We’ll be visiting Lorne for a few days. The best beaches are ones you can sleep on like we used to in 60s. Oh for the GODs.

  29. That’s what I loved about the advertising campaign for the Northern Territories.

    “You’ll never ever know, if you never ever go!”

    There’s bloody nothing there!!

    But yes….

    “You’ll never ever know, if you never ever go!”

  30. Yes reb. Why bother? Not only is hot, dusty and boring, the place is full of social misfits.

    I always think that the NT is full of those on the run from the tax office, the police, their spouses, they’re dodging family court orders. Most have their front teeth missing and lots of tattoos, and that’s just the women.

  31. The Northern Territory boring? Clearly you haven’t visited the Todd after dark. It’s a party every night. No exceptions.

    But if you don’t like mixing with the locals you can visit the Daly Waters Pub and get pissed with the pensioner nomads.

    The truth is there is plenty to see and do in the NT. Try fishing and crabbing at King Ash Bay. Visit the Cutta Cutta Caves, Mataranka Springs etc.

    A great place to visit but certainly not a place to live.

  32. If one wants a ye olde beer garden, then you can’t go past the Brunswick Heads Hotel (circa 1940’s) just north of Byron Bay. Sit under the poincianna and the kids (or for Reb, one’s partner) can play in the park and the river within viewing distance.


    A good feed too. Not a cheap pub meal but I can highly recommend a Bruns bun..barra with capers in a light mayonnaise, plus the mandatory chips and salad of course.

  33. That does look nice Min.

    This is where me and my partner usually stay when we visit Penang – The E&O Hotel, a beautiful old colonial hotel that has been full refurbished.

    It was built by the Sarkies brothers who also built Raffles in Singapore. Somerset Maugham and Noel Coward used to stay their in its heyday.


    We’ll be heading to Penang at the end of January to celebrate Chinese New Year with my partner’s family, which is what we tend to do these days rather than celebrate Christmas….

  34. Enough NT abuse or I won’t tell about the very special places like Koolpin Gorge.

  35. Absolutely beautiful reb. I think that my chances of going OS are buckley’s and none at present. I do remember the E & O from my days at Jetset Tours. I set up the hotels department for Jetset way back when Jetset consisted of 6 people.

  36. Nature 5 & Kevin

    Northern Territory, Western Australia, it is all the same.

    The more of it they dig up and send overseas the happier I’ll be. Don’t stop until we have dug up and exported the entire state of WA to China. They’re welcome to it; send those that live there too.

    Here is a typical itinerary for sight seeing tour –

    • Drive for a few days without seeing anything except 3 feet high scrub and red dirt.
    • Then find a big rock.
    • Walk around the big rock.
    • Get back in car and drive for a couple of days to the next one.
    • Get full in some pub and watch some misfits have a fight. Stay out of it, but probably not.

    I’m afraid it isn’t my idea of leisure.

  37. Tom: you had better come here to Banora for a barbie. It’s very civilized and all the streets are 50km/h.

  38. Tom @36

    LOL!! You should work for the Department of Tourism!


  39. “Get full in some pub and watch some misfits have a fight. Stay out of it, but probably not.”

    Melbourne, most nights of the week?

    Pesonally, I never think of travel whether it be here in Australia or overseas as ‘leisure’. If you want ‘leisure’ simply stay at home.

    I suppose that’s why I drive a 4×4 so that I can go off-road and find even more red dirt (among ther things).

  40. Nature 5 – ‘If you want ‘leisure’ simply stay at home.”

    I don’t think so.

    I stopped having my adventures about a decade ago. The idea of sitting in a 4 wheel drive and bumping along a creek bed at 15kmh is worse than listening to Julia Gillard speak about cooperative workplace relations. Both experiences are inhumane, but Julia doesn’t drone on for days at a time.

    Here are some conversation starters for a trip to see some scrub and lots of red dirt –

    • “Isn’t that bit of scrub about 6 inches higher than the rest?”
    • “What would you like to drink tonight? Beer or water?”
    • “Well that’s another interesting restaurant, another that cooks our national coat of arms.”
    • “Look!! Another roadhouse!! That’s the second one we’ve seen today!!”
    • “Do you think we should let that road train that is tailgating us pass? We’re only going 140”

  41. Tom

    Have been roaring with laughter from your cynical observations.

  42. “If you want ‘leisure’ simply stay at home.”

    And make sure you have a really good home theatre system.

    Otherwise a trip to some nice tropical spot in SE Asia, can be both affordable and relaxing like Langkawi..

  43. Tom

    You seem captured by clichés. There is more to the topend than the icons.

  44. “There is more to the topend than the icons.”

    Yeah Kevin, there’s beer & fights.

    There is plenty of red dust. Dust that can penetrate plastic bags, gets into underwear. Grime that that comes through closed windows.

    Then there’s the heat.

    Dust and heat, that’s what you can look forward to between walking around big rocks every few days.

    Personally, I think it is the heat that drives the people crazy. The dust just adds to their grubby, insane appearance.

  45. If you want ‘leisure’ simply stay at home.

    Lol. That reminds me of the Homer quote (Simpson, not the Greek one):

    “What’s the point of going out, we’re just going to end up back here anyway?”

  46. Tom

    The more who stay at home the better for those of us who venture out.

  47. Well Kevin – don’t get me wrong. I love looking at the remote parts of our vast country.

    I particularly like the view of the NT from about 20,000 feet while I’m flying to some place actually worth visiting!

  48. “I particularly like the view of the NT from about 20,000 feet while I’m flying to some place actually worth visiting!”

    Clearly Tom you haven’t done that too often of recent times. You need to add about 15 000 feet. Or maybe you have a preference for a hang glider, an ultra lite, or perhaps a Cessna. Lol.

    Tom for your information, the big jets fly much higher these days – well maybe not all.. QANTAS likes to spring surprises – magical mystery tours.. A bit like musical chairs with much more serious consequences.

    Tom, let’s face it. You are about ‘leisure’ and things not happening. That’s why you live in Melbourne. It’s the perfect spot – that’s why they say it’s ‘the place to be’.

    Tom I imagine you wrote that ‘slogan’. Even the 12 Apostles are falling down.

  49. Nature 5 – If you don’t mind I was focusing on the smart arse comment, not the technical accuracy. Mere detail.

    I’ve usually passed out by the time any aircraft reaches cruising altitude. The Chairman’s Longue always serves a particularly good shiraz. And perhaps I was thinking of the Catalina.

    The key point is that the best view of the Northern Territory is from an aircraft that does not land inside its boundaries.

    And best I don’t get started on the details of what an outstanding airline Qantas is.

    It seems that even Kevin agrees about the Great Ocean Road – “We’ll be visiting Lorne for a few days. The best beaches are ones you can sleep on like we used to in 60s.”

    No doubt he’ll be joining all the schoolies on New Years Eve, and passing out having consumed a cask of a fresh moselle, followed by a dozen Bundy & cokes. These drinks consumed by the NT elite, the toffs of the NT. Live it up Kevin!! Make sure you check the tides before hand.

    Sleeping with a crowd of drunks on the beach, I’d not realised just how similar Lorne is to Darwin! Just not quite as many fights between the drunk misfits.

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