Remember writing doesn't love you. It doesn't care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on. A. L. Kennedy

Monday, 11 March 2013

Fact is Stranger Than Fiction - Lost Treasure - Wild Australia, Lost Cities. March Mayhem at RFW.

Hello all

Today I'm starting what I hope will be a regular post on Fact is Stranger Than Fiction. I love coming across these out-of-this-world stories which seem more science fiction than fact. I'd like to share them with you. Who knows? Some of these motifs/legends/stories may end up in your next WIP.

Over 1.5 million people each year visit the Hoodoos in Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park in the States, which were formed a relatively recent 70 million years ago, but the much older, majestic sandstone columns of the Lost Cities in the Northern Territory, Australia, are a global treasure waiting to be explored.

The iron-coated sandstone pillars of the Lost Cities tower above the Limmen National Park. These ancient columns glow a mottled golden bronze as they rise from the Northern Territory gulf savannah.
Lost Cities, Lost Treasure, Pillars of the Earth -- all great motifs/legends peppering many of our favourite stories, films and comics. Where do these ideas come from? Are there such things as Lost Treasure, Lost Cities...?

Click here for a link to the Ten Top Treasures of the World.

Click here for a link to the Seven Lost Cities of the World - amazing images.

I was very interested to come across this account of Lost Treasure in Australia's youngest national park (created in July 2012) in the weekend papers. 
There are three accessible Lost Cities in Australia near Cape Crawford: two in the Limmen National Park and another on the McArthur River Station.Twice as old as Uluru (Ayres Rock), the Lost Cities are what is left of an ocean floor laid down 1.4 billion years ago, making the sandstone towers some of the oldest rocks in the world. The spires consist of 95 per cent silica and are held together by an outer crust made mainly of iron. This accounts for their red colour.

At the time of their creation, they were nothing more complex than bacteria-like life, thus, they yield no fossil record. Buried for millions of years, the sandstone was raised out of the sea by the movement of the Earth's crust. Eventually it cracked and a network of joints emerged around which the unique towers would eventually form.Through exposure to water, wind and plant roots, the cracks became chasms and pillars of sandstone began to take shape.

The drive to Limmen from Darwin, Australia's northernmost capital city,  is a spectacular outback journey across the Top End to the Gulf of Carpentaria. 
Along the Savannah Highway from Roper Bar to Cape Crawford, the unsealed road dips and sways with unexpected water crossings, past gnarly gum trees stunted by the salty soil. Incredibly, there are springs all through the Gulf country and crocodiles to be seen on your journey.

There is evidence that the lost city at Cape Crawford was a sacred place to local Aboriginal people. Two trees have anaesthetic properties - Green plum and Snottygobble (don't you love that name?) These indicate the area was once used for circumcision ceremonies.  
I love tourists!

Another bonus on the journey to the Lost Cities is Butterfly Springs, which is really just a small waterfall in the national park where swarms of black and white butterflies cling to the rocks that tower over the oasis. This is one of the few safe places to take a dip - the waterholes are mostly off limits due to crocodiles. "Don't look for a sign that says no swimming because we might not have got there," warns a local ranger.

Today the city walls are crumbling, but the area teems with life. Creatures nest below lacerating clumps of spinifex and take refuge from the blazing sun in deep crevices between the sandstone towers.

These lost cities are evidence of a much older seawater inundation and of the passage of time itself.

The Heartbreak Hotel welcomes you to Cape Crawford

  • I hope you enjoyed your trip to the Lost Cities. Do you have any similiar stories to share?
  • Do you have a favourite legend which is based on fact to share with us?

Information provided by: Graham Lloyd, Environment Editor, The Weekend Australian Mar 9-10, 2013


If you're up for a bit of March Mayhem, how about writing a murder story/poem up to 1,000 words? RomanticFridayWriters are inviting you to write for them. You can submit your name in my top right hand sidebar or visit RFW. Submissions close March 24.

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  1. I love crocodiles, they're so grumpy looking!

  2. Canada has hoodoos in Alberta, but no natural crocodiles that I know of.

    In the US, I grew up in the South, so I've seen alligators and crocs. I like to keep my distance from them. When hubs visited for the first time and was getting a fishing license, he heard a lady report an alligator in her back yard. What an intro to the South. . . and when we visited in 2006, three people had been pulled from docks by alligators. We ate 'gator bites' (a delicacy) to get even.

    1. Crocs can be scary creatures. They eat a lot of tourists in Oz when people unknowingly camp too close to watercourses and some young aborigines who get too close. They move mighty fast. Residents usually know where the vicious ones hide out, but they are hard to see. But nowadays, people often report crocs where they shouldn't be - in man-made canals and the occasional swimming pool.
      I've never knowingly eaten crocodile, but these days with the horsemeat scandal, how would I know?

  3. Yes I did enjoy my tour, thank you :) Snottygobble as an anaestetic? That's as weird as the bag of potato chips I saw at the store tonight. Would you eat Chicken and Waffle flavor chips?

    These are beautiful pictures and the history was interesting. Funny how we (meaning writers) think we have to go further than our own back yards to find exotic settings.


    1. Right on there partner. In a course I once did I was told that our backyard is exotic to everyone who doesn't live there. Quite right. We don't see it that way because we are so used to it.

      Chicken and Waffle chips? You're kidding me! Bet there's no chicken in them, lol!


  4. Fantastic names - you couldn't make them up. Great tour, thank you.

  5. Beautiful place! Didn't know it even existed. Proof this world is still really big.

  6. Hi Denise ... I loved reading this ... especially having never been to Oz. Snottygobbles ... but the incredible other name for them Geebungs --- is such a good alternative!

    Crocs ... no thanks I'll stay well clear and they move incredibly quickly.

    Great geological history you've given us too ... more please! Cheers Hilary

  7. The Lost Cities looks amazing! I'd love to see all those butterflies. Okay, this gets me one step closer to deciding to brave the long flight down under.

  8. The place is gorgeous! I could spend weeks taking photos.

    1. Me too. But you'd need to be in a plane for the best views, I think.

  9. Fascinating stuff, Denise. I looked at the lost cities. When you think about the age in which some of those structures were built, it's amazing that they've lasted until now.

  10. Hi Denise!

    I enjoyed my journey towards the lost city. Thanks for posting.

    Great photos.

  11. Such a wonderful read, thank you. Love learning such interesting facts. It's the reason blogging should never die!

    Such wonderful stories swirling around so many mysterious places.


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