A road trip to the deserted beaches, wild hinterland and picturesque villages of the South Coast of NSW reveals one of the most geologically diverse regions in the country.

Story + Photos Don Fuchs

"This outcrop is what volcanologists come from all over the world to see.” Geologist Anne Felton is talking about the remains of a pyroclastic flow, a destructive avalanche of hot gases and ash. About 370 million years ago it raced down the slopes of a long-gone volcano, incinerating everything in its path. 

What makes this unassuming outcrop so special, however, are the strange circular features it contains, ranging in size from a grapefruit to a soccer ball. 

“This rock cooled to the point where it was losing the last of its gas,” Anne says. “The gas was trapped in the toothpaste-like ash flow as bubbles.” These gas bubbles then filled with minerals and formed the solid balls in the rock that can be seen today.”

Anne lives at Eden on the far South Coast of NSW, a region also called the Sapphire Coast, and these unique gas bubbles can be found on Cobbly Beach near Eden Wharf. This site is just one reason why Anne calls Eden “an absolute Mecca for geologists”. It’s not just Eden, though. The whole South Coast is extraordinarily rich in spectacular geological sites.

This story excerpt is from Issue #142

Outback Magazine: April/May 2022