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Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Fingal Head, NSW

A year ago we visited Giant’s Causeway, a fantastic natural formation of basalt pillars in Northern Ireland. The rock’s regular shape is very intriguing, unique in all the world–except it isn’t unique. There is another formation of columnar basalt just like Giant’s Causeway at Fingal Head, near Tweed Heads, NSW. Once we heard about the rocks at Fingal Head, we had to visit.

The formations are identical in geological terms, formed by cooling volcanic rock. At Fingal Head the columns are larger and coarser, which makes them too heavy to be quarried and used for building. Columns at Giant’s Causeway were cut into blocks and used to build nearby Dunluce Castle.

 

This patch of distinctive basalt pillars is not as large as the version in Northern Ireland, but it had far fewer visitors on the day we were there.

When we visited Giant’s Causeway people were spread over the site like ants at a picnic.

There is a low spot separating Fingal Head from the shore. It was just past low tide, and as I considered crossing onto the heap of rock, a wave crashed into the low spot from both directions at the same time!

We spent quite a while looking at the sun on the rock formation, and doing some whale watching. There was a lot of spouting but not much jumping on this gorgeous sunny day.

We strolled the beach north of Fingal Head, where small boulders cover much of the beach and show that pieces of the rock columns break off and get rolled in the surf before piling up on land. In among the rocks we began to find beach glass, more than anywhere else we’ve been on the east coast of Australia. We picked our way along the water for quite a while, then had a picnic lunch overlooking the shore, where a dozen different kinds of birds swooped down to see whether we’d like to feed them some crumbs. We didn’t feed them, but got a good last look at interesting Australian birds, just about our last before we leave for New Zealand and home in a couple of days.

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