Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist. Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Monday, 2 September 2013

Rock building blocks - water catchments, sheep yards and bridges, Australia

Going back to ancient times rocks have been the building blocks used by civilisations around the world. Since then man has continued to make use of rocks to build castles, fortifications, fences, wells, dams, buildings, churches, bridges, roads. Wherever you go you will see evidence of building with rocks. 

Australia is no exception. We saw this old coach house on the Perth to Albany road in Arthur River in Western Australia. I love the way the different size rocks have been fitted together. No doubt the thickness of the walls helped keep the inside of the building cool.

Sometimes when you travel about you see a slightly unusual use of rocks as building blocks.


The ingenuity of the early Aussie settler and farmer is clearly demonstrated at the Pergandes Sheep Yards only ten kilometres south east of Bencubbin in Western Australia’s north eastern Wheatbelt.
On a trip last year through this area our curiosity got the better of us when I read about Pergandes on the guide map, so we took the short side trip to take a look.
The Pergandes family settled in the Mt Marshall district in 1910. The family homestead and sheep yards were constructed in the early 1920s entirely from granite slabs taken from a granite rock outcrop on the property.  You can see the slab walls of the sheep yards below with the granite rock from which they were taken in the background.

We read that the granite slabs were cut from the rock by firing and rapid cooling the rock surface with water. The slabs were then transported by horse and cart down to where they built the sheep yards.  The hip to chest high granite slabs were then stood on one edge with the bottom part dug into the ground to hold them upright. No cement was used in the construction.
It must have been many hours of hard physical labour to build the sheep yards by this method and they have certainly stood the test of time.  The sheep yards gave us an interesting insight into how early settlers made use of whatever materials were readily available. I wondered for how many years they were used before conventional sheep yards were built.
Pergandes is located on private property on Bell Road. Please make sure you stay on the farm track and shut the gate.

Not far from Pergandes is Marshall Rock, where you can camp, picnic, bush walk and take in the magnificent panoramic views across the surrounding wheatbelt land.  Best time to visit is June to October.

Where is it?
Travel east of Bencubbin on the Koorda Bullfinch Rd, then turn south on Marshall Rock South Rd, and then east on Bell Road.

My article about Pergandes Sheepyards was published in the Curious Australia section of On The Road magazine, June 2013

Rock walls used to trap and divert water are quite a common sight on granite outcrops around the Western Australian wheatbelt. Some of these rock walls may be quite low as this one at McDermid Rock along the Hyden to Norseman Road shows -

Or they can be major constructions, which I talked about in my earlier posts - which you can click here to read -
Camping with heritage - Karalee and Boondi Rocks
Cave Hill, Burra Rock and the Woodlines

Tank and campsite at Beringbooding Rock.
One such major construction is the rock catchment and ten and a quarter million litre water tank at Beringbooding Rock - the largest rock water catchment tank in Australia.  
The Beringbooding catchment and tank were built by sustenance labour over two years 1937-38, providing employment for about one hundred men at a cost of 10,000 pounds. The men were brought by rail from Perth to Bonnie Rock each Friday and given one weeks work for each dependant child – for example four children equalled four weeks work. 
One wonders the impressions of these city men when they were deposited here in the far north-eastern corner of the wheatbelt beyond which lies uninhabited scrubland.
Rock walls hewn from the rock itself encircle the rock and channel the water via a concrete aqueduct into the tank. Big fires were lit on the granite and allowed to burn all night making the rock red hot. Water was then poured over the rock and the granite exploded in big layers. These slabs were sledged away and stood on their sides and cemented together to form the rock walls to channel the water into the tank.  

In the image here you can see a rock wall around a depression on the rock called a gnamma hole. The water you see is collected rainfall. The wall prevents run off from the rock into the depression, redirecting it instead into the tank which you can see in the distance.

The water in the tank is still used today for crop spraying and drinking water for stock, but is not suitable for human consumption.
An information map at the base of the tank outlines the 2.3 kilometre walking trail over the rock to various natural features and spectacular 360 degree views over grain-growing farmland to the south and west, and virgin bushland to the north and east - allow a minimum of one and a half hours. The rock cairn at the rock’s highest point was built in 1889 by surveyor HS King.

Beringbooding Rock is a great place to camp overnight and the walk is well worth the effort.
Where is it:  
Located near the intersection of Beringbooding and Cunderin Roads, about 70 kilometres north east of Mukinbudin and 13 kilometres east of the Bonnie Rock wheat bin in the Western Australian north-eastern wheatbelt. 
My article about camping at Beringbooding Rock was published in On The Road Guide to Free Campsites 2013-2014.


Another unusual construction is Spiky Bridge, located just over seven kilometres south of Swansea on Tasmania’s east coast. The bridge is a curious relic of Tasmania’s convict era and one of many convict built bridges in Tasmania.

Listed on the register of Heritage Places, Spiky Bridge was built by convicts in 1843 along the old convict-built coach road connecting Swansea to Little Swanport and the east coast road to Hobart.

The parapet was constructed using hundreds of jagged local fieldstones vertically stood on end – hence the name Spiky Bridge.

The reason why the bridge was decorated in this fashion is the subject of speculation. One theory says it was to stop cattle falling into the gully, whilst another suggests that the convicts building the bridge used it as a form of revenge.  Either way, the Spiky Bridge is now a curious stopping point for tourists.
Popular history says the bridge was built after Irishman Edward Shaw of Redbanks gave his friend Major de Gillern, Superintendent of Rocky Hills Probation Station, a ride home one night after a game of piquet.  Shaw had repeatedly requested that improvements be made to the road between Swansea and Little Swanport, particularly the steep gully south of Swansea. His requests had evidently fallen on deaf ears and to prove his point Shaw drove his gig and his passenger, the Major, through the gully at full gallop. It must have been an thoroughly unpleasant trip because the bridge was erected shortly afterwards.
Initially the bridge was called Lafarelle’s Bridge after surveyor and civil engineer Thomas Lafarelle who was Assistant Superintendent at Rocky Hills Station. Lafarelle probably supervised the building of the bridge.
Swansea is Tasmania 's oldest seaside town.  It was first settled by the Welsh in the 1820s who named it Waterloo Point.  It was renamed Swansea in 1842. 
Where is it?
Turnoff is on the western side of the Tasman Highway, 7.5 kilometres south of Swansea on Tasmania’s east coast.

You can read more about Tasmania by clicking here to go to my blog post - Great short walks in Tasmania

My article about Spiky Bridge was printed in the Curious Australia section of On The Road magazine, January 2013
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed this little look into rock building blocks. Do you have some unusual rock constructions in your area?

I am linking up to Mosaic Monday, Travel Photos Monday, Our World Tuesday, Tuesday Around the World, Travel Photo Thursday, What's It Wednesday, and Oh the Places I've Been. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Our World Tuesday
Tuesday Around the World  
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
 Oh The Places I've Been


  1. Very interesting... especially the Spiky Bridge...

  2. Love the way you've incorporated your published articles into this. You've given me an idea! Happy week ahead~

  3. Very interesting rocks and it makes sense to use them to contain water...we have lots of catchment systems here in Hawaii, albeit made of galvanized steel..those are more beautiful!

  4. Both the Spikey Bridge and water tank are different! Interesting post and photos, Jill!

  5. Very cool topic and selection of photos. Spiky Bridge particularly catches my attention. I'm recently back from Italy where there are many interesting rock structures, too. Another place that impressed me with their stone walls and fences was Ireland. But don't think I've seen anything quite as unusual as these in Australia.

  6. This is so neat Jill!!! I think that it was either last year, or the year before that I shared on here,fencing in Kansas, very much like this. I had never seen anything like it before and took a few images. When we got back home, one of the first things that I did, was to look up how and why it had been done...Great strucure and I think that it is quite attractive to see. Have a beautiful week~

  7. A fascinating post - love the shots too.

  8. Really, Brilliant shots of the glorious place!
    Awesome post, Indeed..love it, Jill...

  9. Wow, what the stunning place looking in the photos! really, never heard about this place.
    thanks for sharing ..

  10. I can not even imagine how long it took to build that. Incredible. I don't think we have things like that here in the United States.

  11. Hi Jill, we usually connect up each week in the blog hop but I didn't see this week. So, I wanted to click over and see what was the latest from you! First that looks like such a harsh environment. And like Noel said it makes perfect sense to use rock. But WOW, the hours, days, months, (years?) it would take to accomplish all of that! Very impressive. Fantastic post!! :)

  12. So much interesting history and detail about things that are not immediately obvious. You travel with a writer's eye rather than a tourists hunger Jill. I love how you take us to out of the way places. Thanks for sharing :)

  13. Hi Jill, you rock with all these rocks! Congratulations on all your published articles. All these rock structures are amazing. It's incredible what people can do with rocks.

  14. Thanks all dear readers for stopping by and for your comments. I am away from easy internet connection at the moment, so I apologise in advance for not taking a look at your blogs this week.

  15. You're right, Jill, about how people back then used the materials around them. Anything that's constructed without concrete is fascinating and to see that these still stand today is a testament to the ingenuity and skill of these craftspeople. Thanks for sharing!

  16. I enjoyed that story about Shaw and the Spikey Bridge. If I'd been in charge, I certainly would have authorized its construction! I get tired carrying smaller rocks for my garden, so I cannot even comprehend how they had the strength to put together all those sheep yards. Sounds exhausting! I guess it's just part of that hardy, Australian spirit.


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