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We’ve written for three or four hours – after all that is the designated purpose of our week together, me and a very special friend – before we set off to visit a geriatric who raises the bar of longevity and survival extraordinarily high. Camel Rock, so named by the whitefellas, has been around, one way and another, for 450 million years.

Baked, squeezed, buried, exhumed and eroded

It’s had a rough time of it and bears the marks of its history, as do all old things. It was birthed when an avalanche roared down over the continental shelf, carrying with it broken-down rock ranging from boulders to minute grains, which settled into layers on the bottom of the sea. Over the millennia they have been baked, squeezed, buried, exhumed and eroded to become today’s rockscape. Undulations in the fine layers at the top of each bed record the ripples as the flow comes to rest. Often turbidite beds are stacked on top of each other by many undersea avalanches covering vast periods of time. As you can imagine rocks now are often highly deformed by all this pressure.

Corroboree, ceremony, trade

More recently, the area around Camel Rock became a sacred Aboriginal site. People from up and down the coast and from the Monaro gathered on Murunna Headland above the Rock for corroboree, the last time as recently as the 1930s. Tools were traded and food from ocean, estuary, lake and river shared. A freshwater hole at the base of the southern side of Murunna was a sacred place for women. The head of a woman in the rock was seen as warning of a dangerous rip.

“Restless earth”

We were drawn to visit Camel Rock as a companion piece to an exhibition at the Spiral Gallery in Bega. The title of the exhibition is part of a quote from Professor Brian Cox: “Earth is our ancestor. The restless earth is your creator.” Joy Georgeson’s ceramic hollow hand-built sculptures, decorated with engobes, oxides and glazes, were inspired by the geology and biology of Camel Rock, and Ivana Gattegno‘s art, acrylic, and black and white charcoal, by the landscape around Gulaga and Mimosa Rocks. You may recognise a pile of stones and the offshore rock in the second image from a recent post.