15 Oct 2011

Organ Pipes National Park

Jemimah was telling me about her artist study picture on Thursday. We're studying Von Guerard, and you can see his beautiful picture here. It's Warrenheip Hills near Ballarat, and it was painted in 1854.

During her narration Jemimah remarked that you could tell that it was a reproduction because of the tiles. I was somewhat bamboozled by her comments. What tiles? A reproduction of what? She went on to explain that you could tell that the scene was staged and was not painted back in the early days of white settlement because there were hexagonal and therefore man-made tiles on the river bank.

They weren't, of course, they were polygonal columnar basalt, the likes of which I had first oohed and ahhed at at The Giant's Causeway in Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland.

It was clear a natural history field trip was in order. (Yay!)

A trip to the UK being somewhat difficult to arrange for only a weekend at such short notice, we settled on the Organ Pipes National Park just outside of Melbourne. Although less well known than the Giant's Causeway, the columnar basalt formations at the park are no less spectacular, as the photos below demonstrate.

Tessellated Pavement
Organ Pipes
Rosette Rock

We packed a picnic lunch. As you do. Sushi, sashimi, pull-apart breads, vanilla slices, doughnuts, champagne... Too much food, but picnics always have too much food. Right?

We enjoyed the beauty of the natural park.

We spotted lizards and beetles and dainty fairy wrens and wagtails and grey fantails. We found an Eastern Blue-tongue Lizard and some curious Swamp Wallabies.

Being proponents of the Young Earth Theory of Creation we are none too happy with the explanations of how these amazing basalt structures are formed. Instead I told Jemimah the story of the Irish giant, Finn McCool, and how he built a causeway to Scotland to fight his arch enemy the Scottish giant, Fingal. Fairy tales are far more satisfying in cases like these! If you don't know this story you'll find one version here.

I'm sure we did enough school to be able to include this as a field trip. We did geology and natural history and botany and zoology and physical education as well. (Did I tell you the walk back to the car was all up hill?) But it wasn't school really. Our trip to the Organ Pipes was an opportunity for us to spend quality time together as a family. And in that the day was as perfect as a day can be.


  1. Wonderful field trip! You have some really neat creatures to encounter in the wild, don't you? My kids would flip!

    Love that last photo of you two girls.

  2. Amazing pictures! A perfect day out in our beautiful bushland!

  3. Amazing coincidence!!!

    Lucy is studying the same painting. We too are studying Von Guerard at the moment. We too felt the need to examine the geology/geography more closely. So last holdidays we wet to the Grampians for a very short holiday - 2 nights. We climbed Mt. William. Mt. William is the subject of one of Von Guerard's paintings.We saw those amazing rock formations too and a host of wildlife,wildflowers and waterfalls etc. It was a wonderful family time which just so happened to add to Lucy's education. BTW the whole family knows about Von Guerard too Heh, heh, heh !!!!!!!!!

  4. what a great day! and all that food, oh my, I bet you cooked most of that if not all, am I right? love the pictures esp the last one and tell Jemimah she has grown so tall since we last saw her!

  5. Your sushi actually looks Japanese.

    In the States, I have a problem buying sushi for ds at the supermarket. It is all strange and non-Japanese, so of course he won't eat it.


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