Hyden’s Wave Rock in rural Western Australia appears to be changing its colour: ABC

ABC Great Southern / By Briana Fiore

Posted Oct 22, 2023


Western Australia’s iconic Wave Rock appears to be changing its colour.

Formed 2.7 billion years ago, the rock sits within the rural town of Hyden, 300 kilometres east of Perth, and attracts visitors from across the globe.

Noongar man and tour operator Michael Ward grew up in the Wheatbelt farming town and said water helped form the rock and was now contributing to its colour change.

Michael Ward says the wall is used for water harvesting but it changes the rock’s colour. ABC News: Briana Fiore

“The wave is 15 metres tall and 110 metres long and there is a wall up on top and the wall was built after World War II,” Mr Ward said.

“The wall’s purpose is to collect the runoff from the top of the rock.”

The rock was a lighter yellow or cream colour, but over time the wall, which directs rainfall into a dam, has helped create a red, orange and black streaking across the rock face.

man in front of giant wave rock

Michael Ward says Katter Kich (Wave Rock) is joined to Uluru through song. ABC News: Briana Fiore

Area underwater

But there was a time when the area was believed to be completely under water.

Through erosion, weathering and water movement, the rock face was formed.

“The water became stagnant in here [the base of the rock]; this whole area in here became waterlogged and so the water became very corrosive and the water pressure is pushing back against the granite, the water from above is coming down and the water here is pushing it back into the inside,” Mr Ward said.

man in front of giant wave rock

The rock’s Dreaming story tells of a giant snake leaving its imprint. ABC News: Briana Fiore

Mr Ward said Wave Rock was known as Katter Kich to Aboriginal Australians and that it was special.

The Aboriginal Dreaming story behind the rock incorporated a giant waugal (snake) that left its imprint in and shaped the rock, he added.

And there was also a song that joined Katter Kich to Uluru that Mr Ward believed showed its significance.

“It’s very unique and it’s sacred; a lot of things are, and there are some more sacred areas around here.

“And there’s never been any artwork on the face … people have been coming here for a very long time so it is very unique … you can walk up the top and check out the views that are around.”

hyden, wave rock, lookout

The view from Wave Rock. ABC News: Briana Fiore

Sharing with visitors

The area is home to Aboriginal art, with hand paintings covering the walls of nearby caves.

Mr Ward encouraged people to stay on the marked paths and be respectful when visiting.

He also runs art classes that help people connect with themselves and the land.

rock art and man painting

The area is home to Aboriginal art. ABC News: Briana Fiore

“Part of our art from the heart is that it’s an opportunity to follow a process or technique to slow down and create art, all done here in the studio space.

“It’s all about connecting and sharing.”

Mr Ward said the art process and learning about both history and nature was vital and something he and the town hoped to continue sharing with visitors.