The Gap in Albany is one of of the Rainbow Coast’s most extraordinary natural features, along with the Natural Bridge . The Gap is a rugged granite channel which was carved out of the cliffs by the constant crashing of waves from the Great Southern Ocean. There is a viewing platform where you can stand at the edge of the 24 metre drop to sea level.
During heavy swells don’t be surprised if you get covered in water spray when the large waves coming crashing in.
Caution must be observed at all times as the area is notorious for unexpected “freak” waves.
Background to The Gap
For over one billion years Australia and Antarctica were actually joined together, forming part of a super continent called Gondwana.
The ancient continent was formed mainly of gneiss, a rock created deep in the Earth’s crust. At some stage pressure and friction at the base of these two fused continents caused rocks to melt and slowly rise up through the gneiss. As the molten rock rose it also slowly cooled and turned into granite, which helped to cement the continents together.
Over the course of millions of years, sections of the Gondwana continent began breaking apart. The final separation between Antarctica and Australia happened around about 45 million years ago. The massive rock formations that you will see at The Gap and the Natural Bridge are what was left behind following the split.
Interestingly, the rock formations on Australia’s Southern Coast can still be matched to identical rocks off the Northern coast of Antarctica near Windmill Islands.
How was The Gap Formed?
Remember how I was saying that pressure and friction at the base of the continents caused the rocks to melt , and as they rose and slowly cooled they turned into granite? Well that granite lay about 20km below the surface. Above it was softer rock that over time eroded away , thanks to wind and water, allowing the granite to slowly rise above the surface. As the granite rose it also expanded and cracked.
The wind, waves, water and air pressure slowly wore away at the cracks sculpting them into block shaped sections. The relentless pounding of the waves eventually tore away any loose blocks of granite creating amazing structures like The Gap and the Natural Bridge.
How to Get There
The Gap and the Natural Bridge are located off Frenchman Bay Road, in Torndirrup National Park, Albany. The entrance is clearly marked but if you drive too fast you will miss it. The area is a 15 minute drive from Albany, across Princess Royal Harbour.