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View of surrounding plains from the summit of The Rock

Eastern face of The Rock showing bedding planes
The Rock Nature Reserve
Tallus slope below The Rocks cliff face
The Rock Nature Reserve

The Rock Nature Reserve

Located in the Riverina Region of NSW, nearest town Wagga Wagga

Source: NPWS taken from Dare-Edwards, 1988

Link to Detailed Map

Aboriginal people have known this area for over 40 000 years. Understandably, any natural feature, particularly in the flat and open country through which the Murrumbidgee River flows, had special significance as a signpost as well as a spiritual focus for the nomadic tribes who came and went. Known as Kengal to the local Wiradjuri people it is believed to have been used for initiation ceremonies.

The first European on the scene was Charles Sturt in 1819 and the area was settled by 1847. The property, which included the rocky protrusion, had been named Hanging Rock, after a spectacular overhang dominating the rock's eastern face. The overhang disappeared in early 1874, after a large rock fall. The local township clung to the name until 1918 when the name was officially changed to simply The Rock. Quarrying began on The Rock's lower slopes in 1891 and continued until the 1940s.

The Rock Nature Reserve lies on the boundary between two major physiographic regions, the Riverina Plain and the western slopes of the Eastern Highlands. The ridge of resistant rock which forms The Rock is part of the last hill country of the western slopes. The low gradient, poorly drained alluvial plain with its meandering incised creeks and shallow relict lakes lying west of the reserve is part of the Riverine Plain.

The Rock is a 6 kilometre long, north south ridge with a maximum width of 1.5km at its northern end. The summit of the ridge stands 364 metres above the adjacent plain. Structural control by the underlying bedrock results in the characteristic "hogsback" morphology of The Rock. The west facing slope is steeper than the eastern face and the scarps and cliff lines with a well developed talus slope below only occur on the eastern face.

The bedrock in the area is composed of metamorphosed sedimentary rocks associated with intruded masses of igneous rock. The injection of the igneous rock as molten magma also resulted in the deposition of economic ore bodies. Veins of gold, lead and wolfram have been mined in the region.

The Rock is around 430 million years old and is one of the few remaining outcrops of Upper Devonian age sediments in the region. The lithology of The Rock and the other Devonian outcrops is primarily quartzites and slates with frequent quartz veins.

The development of deep V-shaped gullies and lightly vegetated slopes have led to the deposition of alluvial fans on the lower slopes and in the bases of gullies.

The rock summit is 364 metres above the surrounding countryside and provides a fine panoramic view. The return walk can be completed at a comfortable pace in three hours. Make sure you take plenty of water and a hat as it is very exposed. The Picnic area on the lower slopes has toilets, a covered table, a gas barbecue area and a large carpark. Keep an eye out for venomous snakes.

Getting There

To visit The Rock travel south from Wagga Wagga on the Olympic Highway, you will come to the village of The Rock. Take the road to Lockhart and you will see The Rock Nature Reserve on your left. There is plenty of accommodation in the surrounding towns.

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