When the rock is blasted it forms nice columns, like these. The Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland have similar basalt columns, but in a seaside setting.
They are surprisingly heavy for their size, and are really hard rocks. These are crushed and used to make super concrete. This is the concrete for really big structures, like the World Square building and Anzac Bridge in Sydney.
We were allowed to take some home, and our columns sit happily in our garden at home.
Looking at the walls of the quarry up close, you notice that the grooves lean this way and that, like someone has sketched it.
The grooves are formed when magma, coming out of the volcano, cools. Hubby the geologist says that the way the grooves lean point to the coolest point. Since the grooves on each layer point in different directions, it tells you that the volcano was active many, many times.
Close up, it looks very beautiful, like artwork.
The kids were pretty enthralled too.
Looking at the landscape around Sydney now, it’s hard to believe that at one stage the area harboured some active volcanoes. The evidence may be hard to find now, but they are there.
Back to the geology excursion, the second half was a visit to Kulnura Quarry, in the tablelands of the Central Coast. The quarry produces basalt to be used in concrete and road base, and basalt (recalling all those high school science lessons) comes from volcanoes.
We could drive into the quarry. Here we are at the top of the hill.
We drive 160 metres down to the floor of the quarry.
And look back up to where we started.
That’s 50 years worth of digging – and they still haven’t hit the bottom. The manager said that there’s another 50 years’ worth of basalt underneath.
Another temple, and more water. This time the temple is on the water. Pura Ulun is on Lake Bratan – a crater lake that’s hundreds of meters deep, and 1,500m above sea-level. It is also surrounded by mountains, but they’re shrouded in cloud for most of the year. Aside from the temple, this area is famous for its cold climate produce, especially its strawberries!
We drive further into the foothills, and was greeted by the sight of Gunung Agung, Bali’s highest peak.
This is a rare sight in the middle of the monsoon season, as most of the time the peak is shrouded in cloud.
Surrounding the village are the rice fields. The Balinese has self-sufficient when it comes to producing rice. A traditional Balinese family is allocated a plot in which to grow rice. The surplus either goes to the village or to the government.
Bali is also a volcanically active place. The northern part of the country is full of peaks above 1,000m, the highest being the 3,142m high Gunung Agung. We’ll visit a volcano later.
I’m returning once again to Bali to view another temple. This one is quite different from the last. It’s not beside a lake but under a volcano…
Pura Besakih (Besakih Temple) sits under Gunung Agung (Mt Agung) – Bali’s highest peak (3,142m – almost 1km taller than Mt Kozzie) and also an active volcano! The volcano last erupted in 1963, and still belches smoke.
So why have they built this mega temple underneath a volcano? Because…
The Balinese believe that Mount Agung is a replica of Mount Meru, the central axis of the universe. One legend holds that the mountain is a fragment of Meru brought to Bali by the first Hindus
– From Wiki
The temple is built on the side of the hill in terraces. This photo was taken at the bottom. Being Bali’s most important temple, it holds up to seventy festivals a year. The locals were in the midst of preparing for a new moon festival when I visited.
Haven’t been this close to an active volcano before… But at Kintamani you can dine within view of one.
You can see from the photo above that the lava field is massive, because Gunung Batur (Mount Batur) is a pretty active volcano. But despite this, it’s a massive tourist attraction and lots of companies do sunrise hikes to the summit.