The NSW Beach that’s rumoured to sing
Tim the Yowie Man
Tim the Yowie Man
Naturalist, author, broadcaster and tour guide Tim the Yowie Man has dedicated the past 25 years to documenting Australia’s unusual natural phenomena. He’s the author of several books, including Haunted and Mysterious Australia (New Holland, 2018). Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @TimYowie
THIS BEACH can sing…sort of.
While the surrounding beaches are predominantly the creamy yellow sand variety, at low tide this 30m-wide cove is often
covered in oval-shaped, multi-coloured pebbles. When waves wash across these, the sound they make as they tumble over one another is striking, and is amplified by the amphitheatre-like structure of this southern NSW coastline.
Locals can be secretive about this resonating rock phenomenon and many keep its exact location a closely guarded secret. It’s accessible via a short beachcombing stroll south from the better-known Pretty Beach and doesn’t have an official name but it’s known as Singing Stones Beach.
In fact, when your inquisitive columnist recently went in search of the area’s famed singing stones, I was purposefully pointed in completely the wrong direction. Really!
So, do the stones sing a particular tune? The answer depends on your musical inclinations and when you visit. But, according to Jenny Bellett, a resident of nearby Kioloa, “the pebbles sing a happy, pleasant song, especially when the sea isn’t rough”.
Another regular visitor to the naturally occurring concert is Marion Banister of Broulee, who first heard the stones singing while on a family holiday in the 1970s. “During big seas, the sound of the stones tumbling over and colliding with each other as the force of the waves washes them to and fro, mingled with the hiss of the ocean, is really quite loud and more like the sound of a washing machine or cement mixer swishing and churning than singing,” Marion reports.
So, what actually causes these stones to ‘sing’? Geologist Phil Smart, a former Discovery Ranger for NSW Parks and Wildlife in Murramarang National Park, believes the stones sing because “they are crystalline, are very fine grained and are composed of very hard minerals.
“Almost all of the rounded pebbles on the beach are either rhyolite or chert – two hard, fine-grained siliceous Palaeozoic rocks,” he says, explaining that “if you pick up some of these pebbles and strike them together, they will clink”.
Their journey to end up at this curious cove is a remarkable one. “About 280 million years ago these rocks were transported from an ancient inland mountain range by glaciers and then on icebergs, falling as ‘drop stones’ on the continental shelf of Gondwana when the icebergs melted,” Phil says. “In geologically recent times, they’ve been plucked from their Permian sedimentary rock strata in sea cliffs and rock platforms and deposited by waves on the beach.”
If you want to experience this yourself, it’s best to visit after big seas, which strip sand cover from
the beach ensuring the pebbles are exposed. You may need to take any directions locals dish out with a grain of salt but it will help to know that Singing Stones Beach is about 800m south of Pretty Beach in Murramarang NP between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast.
Does your local beach ‘sing’ too? If so, contact Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org