September 20 - 26, 2020: Issue 467


Elvina Bay Walking Track: Spring 2020
Photos By Joe Mills

Continuing the Spring 2020 celebrations of local places you can go explore is this Issue's pictorial by regular contributor and past Artist of the Month, Joe Mills, who took these brilliant images on Tuesday, September 15th this week.

In August 2019 Penny Gleen of the Church Point Ferry Service shared some wonderful images of the flowers spotted in this place on the verge of Spring. In September a full flourish of every colour 

Starting at the Elvina Track car park, you follow a fairly level fire management trail, before descending steeply through she oaks and large eucalyptus to the coast and houses. At Elvina Bay Park there's picnic areas and a fabulous rope swing. There are optional side trips to aboriginal rock engravings and the historic grave site of Frederick, one of the Oliver family members.

The rock carvings are quite famous and represent one of the biggest examples of petroglyphs in Australia. The CSIRO states this is an enormous site with many different types of engraving. As you come in from the main Elvina Track, the path forks into two, both of which lead to the engraving site. 

The CSIRO webpage on Indigenous Astrology provides:

If you take the left-hand fork you will encounter a pair of wallabies engraved in a rock across the path, which, it is said, is a warning that you are approaching a male initiation site. If you take the right fork, then when you reach the main site, you will see a giant whale to your right, and an emu and the Baime/Daramulan creator spirit, together with his emu-wife, to your left. Walking down the sheet of rock, look for shields, wallabies, fish, eels, and other shapes that are not easily classified.

On your left, you will also see a line of rock a few centimetres wide, which is presumably natural, crossed by several lines, which appear to be man made. It has been suggested that this is a lunar calendar.

Notice too how the surface of the rock is pitted with thousands of tiny holes, or cup-marks. Are these man-made or natural? The answer is unclear. Consider the following factors:

  • Such holes can be made by natural geological process (e.g. by a small pebble being moved by wind and rain). But go to the West of the site and you will see these cup-marks on steeply sloping surfaces, where no pebble could sit, and no pool of water could accumulate.
  • In places (see photo below) there are arrangements of these holes in straight lines which are obviously man made.
  • On the other hand, there are holes in places which merge imperceptibly into the obvious erosion patterns, and so are presumably natural.
  • How could so many holes be man made? Consider this: Suppose, as part of the initiation ritual, each boy made one hole. If this site was in use for 5000 years, and each year a few dozen boys were initiated, then there would be about 200000 holes.

The answer may be a combination of natural and man-made. In some places they are obviously man-made, and in some places obviously naturally eroded, so perhaps humans enlarged and deepened existing hollows, and erosion took over where humans left off. It has been suggested by Hugh Cairns and others that some of these patterns of holes represent constellations in the sky. The jury is still out on this hypothesis.

The Elvina Bay 'Loop' is a 3km, grade 4 Circuit hike and takes around two and a half hours to do - longer if you're going to study the rock art, visit the waterfall, or take a picnic.

Elvina Bay itself was named by Herbert Fitzpatrick to honour the lady who introduced him to his wife when they were both at Manly, a long time ago now. Insights on this can be accessed in one of the Pittwater Online Summer Houses series and in the Pittwater Regattas series:

Our thanks to Joe for championing this 2020 Spring series for those who cannot get to these trails themselves - thank you Joe - just beautiful.

This week's stroll: