Forrest's Rock Hole - WA

  Water Tank,Tap


DEG: -26.05604 127.519997
DMS: 26º 03' 21.74" S 127º 31' 11.99" E
UTM: 52 J 7117270mN 351945mE
Altitude: 523.02m


Address & Contact

Unnamed Road
Ngaanyatjarra-Giles WA 0872
Phone: N/A
Email: N/A
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Granite outcrops are rare phenomena in the outback and as such, this rarity adds to the rich significance of the sites to the aboriginal people. These outcrops provided water holes, quarries, food sites (Yams and game attracted to the outcrops) and art sites. The outcrops often feature prominently in both ceremonial activities and as sites associated with dream time heroes.

Winburn Rocks is one such place, a large cap of granite-like rock that rises to a high point about thirty metres above the surrounding plains. Littered with sentinel-like boulders, its crevices support huge native fig trees providing both shade and a source of bush tucker as the fruits ripen.

Winburn was first visited by John Forrest and was the site of his camp 73 on the 15th August, 1874.Forrest recorded;

"…a tremendous rock hole full of water...between two large rocks and completely shaded from the sun." – Sir John Forrest - Explorations in Australia 1875
Forrest was fortunate to locate a significant sized rockhole, which was actually a fold in the granite forming the domes. Situated near the base of the formation, long, narrow and shaded by the high walls, the bowl would be capable of holding many thousands of litres of water and is ideally situated to catch run off from the expanse of granite around it. While not named at the time it was visited by Forrest, it is referred to in journals of the Elder Exploring Expedition of 1891, and later explorers, as “Forrest’s Rockhole”.Forrest simply described it as a couple of fine rockholes that contained insufficient water. He did manage to feast on the native figs nearby.
12 August 1874. Left camp with Tommy Windich to find water ahead, instructing my brother to follow on to-morrow. We bore East-South-East for a few miles over grassy flats towards some high hills, but, seeing what we supposed a good spot for water, we turned east towards it, over miserable spinifex sand-hills, and found some splendid granite rocks and holes, but not much water--enough, however, to give the horses a drink. If there was rain, there would be enough water here for a month or more. Near these rocks found a tree resembling the figtree (Ficus Platypoda), with ripe fruit about the size of a bullet, which tasted very much like a fig. I ate some of the fruit, which was very good. Fine hills and ranges to the eastward, and country very promising, and in many places beautifully grassed.

Sir John Forrest – Explorations In Australia (1875)
Exploring the expanse of granite around the rockhole it’s hard not to miss the inscriptions “Sir John Forrest – 1874” and below it, “Giles Tank – 1873” each some 30 cm high and beautifully chiselled into the rocks. The nearby engraved names of F. Hann, Talbot and S. Giles give some clue as to the origins of the carvings.

The Elder Expedition - possibly the most ambitious Australian expedition of all time.
The Elder Scientific Exploration Expedition, led by David Lindsay, left the railway at Warrina, south of Oodnadatta, on 2 May 1891 on a 6,886 kilometre journey that was to last 12 months. The party was one of the strongest and best equipped expeditions ever sent into inland Australia and consisted of 14 men (three of them scientists) and 44 camels. Conditions for travel were favourable at first, with abundant feed and fresh water. However, in mid-July the expedition, following the Musgrave and Mann ranges westwards, crossed into Western Australia and experienced very difficult, drought affected country. Many of the surface waters considered permanent by earlier explorers like Giles, Gosse and Forrest, had dried up.

Lindsay reached Winburn Rocks on the 30th July, 1891 and noted trees near there marked by A. Forrest and W.W. Mills (William Mills carried out explorations in the area in 1883). With the supply of fresh water at Forrest’s Rockhole being one of the few places capable of sustaining the expedition for an extended time, Lindsay moved his whole party there, establishing a ‘depot’.

Over the next month Lindsay instigated a series of unsuccessful probes or ‘flying trips’ into the west and northwest, with little return. Plagued by doubts about the supply of water available to them, and lacking enough water for their camels to drink, and to fill their water casks, Lindsay finally decided to strike southwest to Giles' Queen Victoria Spring. After 25 days and 400 miles the Spring was reached on 23 September 1891, but was found dry, prompting the party to head to the only known water at the Fraser Range, some 125 miles further north west. After one of the longest waterless forced-marches in the history of Australian exploration, safety was reached at the Fraser Range after 34 days, the camels having covered 868 miles on an allowance of only 36 litres of water per animal.

Photographs taken by the Elder Expedition of 1891 provide the earliest pictorial evidence of these areas and despite an interval of 125 years, they remain largely unchanged with the fig tree that Forrest feasted on the fruits of still alive and thriving.
That wily old prospector and “serial engraver” Frank Hann reached the rocks on 12th April 1906. Hann noted the letters "W.F.96" on a burnt mulga and "FJE, SURGN, EEE, XXX111, Aug-4-91" cut into a bloodwood tree. The latter would have been marked by Medical Officer Frederick J. Elliot during the Elder Expedition's stay a decade previously. Hann named these rocks "Sir John Forrest Rocks” and had his men cut into the rock "Sir John Forrest-15/8/74" as well as their own names "F.Hann, Talbot and S. Giles".

He returned there on 15th April after spending three days unsuccessfully searching for Giles Tank south of Mount Squires. Hann was convinced (wrongly) that Forrest's Rock Hole and Giles Tank were one and the same and had his men cut "Giles Tank-1873" into the rock.
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Closest Weather Station

TemperatureFeels LikeRel. HumidityDew PointPressureRainfallWind DirectionWind SpeedGusts

Closest Climatic Station

Warburton Airfield
Distance from Forrest's Rock Hole 93.79km W
Mean Max. °C38.036.533.929.324.320.720.723.127.931.634.336.6
Mean Min. °C22.922.119.915.
Mean Rain mm28.536.731.418.015.417.912.99.85.714.824.731.5

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