While it may not have the same near mythical allure of Uluru or even Wave Rock, the hard rock formation known as Murphy’s Haystacks on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula is starting to earn rave reviews on the grey nomad grapevine.
This group of ancient, windworn and slightly wonky pink granite pillars and boulders are estimated to be more than 1,500 million years old. They stand on a hill on a private property 39 kilometres south of Streaky Bay, and just two kilometres off the main Flinders Highway on the road into Calca and Point Labatt.
Murphy’s Haystacks are a type of inselberg, which means ‘island rock’. They got their unusual name when a Scottish agricultural expert saw the formations in the distance and incorrectly informed his travel companions they were haystacks.
The owner of the property at the time was Denis Murphy, and the name ‘Murphy’s Haystacks’ was born.
Murphy’s Haystacks have been owned by the same family since the early 20th century. Despite some initial reluctance, the current owner Denis Cash – who is actually the Grandson of the original Mr Murphy – was instrumental in opening up the inselbergs as a tourist destination.
His worries about the risk of fires, rubbish, graffiti and other issues have largely proved unfounded and Mr Cash now describes allowing the public to access the rocks as ‘one of the greatest things’ his family had done.
And the family has certainly gone the extra mile.
Entry to view the rocks is via a $2 honesty box donation, and there are spaces for travellers to pull up for a night with a camping fee of $10 per rig. There are gravel paths, a well-kept toilet and, best of all, fascinating views.
The granite of Murphy’s Haystacks was apparently once hidden several kilometres deep in the Earth’s crust, but the overlying rocks slowly wore away over the ages. Gradual weathering has since shaped the granite into the distinctive pillars which have made them such a ‘secret’ grey nomad destination today.
However, nothing lasts forever and scientists warn that the weathering process continues, and that the Haystacks will probably be gone … in another billion years or so.