Wave Rock is a granite overhanging rock in the small wheatbelt town of Hyden, Western Australia. The rock can be found about 4km east of town, in a 160 hectare nature reserve. Just follow the signs.
So what is all the fuss about? This long granite overhanging natural wall, which is shaped like a wave, came into the spotlight in 1967 when a photograph of it appeared in an edition of the National Geographic Magazine.
Before the local farming community knew it, there was a flood, of not only local but international visitors to Hyden, in search of this unusual formation.
The locals, who were mainly farmers, were not really prepared for all the fuss and had to quickly organise enough toilets and accommodation to facilitate the sightseers who by now were crawling all over the rock.
In 1951, long before anyone knew how popular the rock would become, the Western Australian Water Authority built a concrete retaining wall along the top of the wave to catch the rainwater. Anyone that has ever visited the rock and taken a photograph will know about this concrete eyesore as it takes a little bit of manoeuvring to avoid it in your shot.
The Hyden Tourist Development Company
Thanks to the newly found attraction, it wasn’t long before a committee was formed to organise a caravan park and all the things that go with tourism. The Hyden Tourist Development Company was established in the early 1970’s. They were instrumental in setting up facilities such as public toilets, a caravan park, a wildlife park, drive-in cinema, motel, restaurants, souvenir shops and the Hyden Roadhouse.
The Rock Itself
The wave section of the rock, which is just a small section on the northern face of Hyden Rock, is 110 m long and 15m high.
The rock is believed to have formed over 2700 million years ago, giving ample time for the softer rock beneath the upper edge to erode and form the impressive wave.
It is also believed that much of the erosion was chemical and occurred below ground before the rock was exposed.
The face of the rock features vertical bands of ochre, brown, yellow and grey which change constantly during the course of the day as the light changes. The bands are caused by the run-off of water containing carbonates & iron hydroxide and by algal growth.
Today the granite wave attracts over 100,000 tourists annually.
Other Rock Attractions
In and around Hyden Rock are several other rock attractions such as Hippo’s Yawn and King Rocks. These rocks are nowhere near as impressive as the Wave but feature prominently in Aboriginal culture and folklore especially the legend of Mulka the Terrible.
Mulka Cave (also known as Bates Cave) is quite an interesting place to visit. Found just 21km from Hyden, this quietly eerie, shark head shaped cave is believed to be once home of Mulka the terrible (Mulka-inall-ak). In Aboriginal legend Mulka was born cross-eyed and as a result he was ostracised from his tribe and took to hunting the local children. Inside the cave you can see the faintly coloured hand prints believed to be those of Mulka.