basalt, Bingie Dreaming Track, Congo Beach north, cuttings, Meringo beach, silcrete, William Smith
William Smith, the English father of geology, mapped the underworld of the English landscape. His first interest in geology and the story it tells came as he descended slowly through the eons down a coal mine. His later mapping was made simple by the carving up of the landscape to build railways and canals; cuttings became a rich source of information. Following his example, our Sunday excursion began in a cutting documented in the notes for our November excursion with four geologists. There we found formations similar to the ones in the creek bed and cliffs at the southern end of Congo beach, confirming our diagnosis of basalt.
After scrutinising the cutting, we headed out to Meringo. Tides were all wrong this weekend, at least from my point of view, so I was keen to walk the length of high tide Meringo beach on a shady section of the Bingie dreaming track, behind overgrown and stabilised dunes. Huge bangalays overarched the sandy path, and we emerged at Meringo lagoon. It's one of a number of ICOLLs (intermittently opened and closed lakes and lagoons) on this part of the coast. It's currently closed by a sand bar, scattered with shallow pools left behind by the sea, and thick with shell-grit. We crossed it to reach the headland, where we again found formations like the ones in the creek on Congo beach.
We retraced yesterday's steps to the place of silcrete to photograph, and came across a flourish of purple which wasn't there yesterday. While Joe pursued silcrete, I crawled around trying to triumph over bright light, inadequate shadow, and the mysterious resistance of blue and purple to the camera. I collected a shell back tick for my trouble and plucked it off before it really got going in my shoulder. However, the photos were worth it: they've taken up residence in a separate post.
A black slither into the undergrowth beside the track was the first sighting of a snake, something we'd been expecting for the last two days.
We decided to picnic at Congo north and look at what we were convinced were sandstone cliffs. However, they startled us into incomprehension by having the same stone-wall appearance as the basalt at the south end of the beach.
We decided we'd been mystified enough for one day, and headed home, stopping three times: twice to indulge a newly-acquired interest in road cuttings and what they reveal, and once to photograph a road sign that unfurrowed our geologically tortured brows and made us smile.