The Murchison’s fabric woven in A-B-C

You might expect this story about the launch of the world’s first GeoRegion to be all about rocks. But it isn’t.

What quickly becomes apparent in the Memorial Hall at Mt Magnet is that the Murchison GeoRegion is mostly about people.

On the grand scale, GeoRegions celebrate not just the geological quirks and foundations of landscape, but its wildflowers and animals, and the cultures that have lived on and shaped it, and still live on it.

As Professor Ross Dowling, vice president GeoParks WA, puts it, the ABC — abiotic (non-living; the rocks), biotic (living plants and flora), and culture of humans past and present. “An integrated approach to presenting an area.”

On a practical scale, the Murchison GeoRegion is the result of seven years’ co-operative work between seven local government shires (as rare an event, I might venture, as that which created the Boolgardie orbicular granite which we’ll visit tomorrow).

But the shires of Mt Magnet, Murchison, Meekathara, Cue, Yalgoo, Sandstone, Wiluna have done just that, in co-operation with the Mid West Development Commission and local communities.

Across those shires, there are 21 sites in the Murchison GeoRegion which tell the ancient and modern story of the region, from that orbicular granite, which at 2.6 billion years is the oldest in the world, to Jack Hills, which contain zircons dated at 4.4 billion years, just 100 million years after the planet was born. This is the oldest known material Earth.

The self-drive trail takes tourists to London Bridge at Sandstone, Jokers Tunnel at Yalgoo, Walga Rock near Cue, with WA’s biggest gallery of rock art, and Poona, north of that, which is the home of WA emeralds.

Stephen Hopper, a world renowned botanist and conservation biologist at The University of Western Australia, adds the human, plant and animal story — again, over long timescales. “Some animals have had tens or millions, and in some cases, hundreds of millions of years, of evolution and adaption to aridity.” (Where else would you find the pebble-mimic dragon; a lizard that lives up to its name?)

Read more here.

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