For something a bit different, take your kids to Swansea Headland and search for fossils at low tide. Here, you’ll find remnants of a petrified forest in this interesting geological spot. It’s believed that there was a volcano eruption 250 million years ago off the Swansea coast.
You can take a self-guided walk to explore the area yourself and discover remnants of this long-ago natural phenomenon. It’s a fun activity for kids who are interested in nature and geology.
As mentioned, you’ll need to visit at low tide when the rock shelf is exposed. Here’s a link to the tide tables to check when to go. Combine a trip to explore the sea caves at Caves Beach and Swansea Headland when the tide is low, as it’s only a 5 minute drive between the two spots.
Look for circular patterns. These are fossil tree stumps and there are a few of these that you can spot. Look for some that have an outline of a log.
As the fallen trees fossils all lean west, it’s believed that the volcanic eruption was centred 20 kilometres to the east. The impact caused volcanic ash to rain down covering trees with volcanic ash in a westerly position.
The trees have been identified as ancient Glossopteris trees. Search the rocks to see if you can spot leaf fossils in the rock platform. These fossilised trees are considered to be the source of coal deposits.
In Swansea Headland, there are three named coal deposits. In the headland itself, there are two coal seams. The lower seam is Reid’s Mistake Formation while the higher one is named Upper Pilot Seam. The Lower Pilot Seam resides in the rock platform.
(Reid’s Mistake is the name given to Swansea Headland after a collier captain in 1800 mistook the entrance to Lake Macquarie for that of the Hunter River at Newcastle).
The observation of these coal seams is what lead to the exploration and mining of Newcastle’s region coal.
Even if you’re not a geology fan, it’s a fun walk out on the rocks searching for fossils, not to mention the great views from Swansea Headland across Swansea Channel. This is where Lake Macquarie meets the Pacific Ocean.
There’s interesting things to find on the rock shelf such as many rocks of all sizes and sea snails and other creatures in the rock pools.
Bring your swimmers and splash around in the shallow waves after fossil hunting.
Back at Reids Reserve, you’ll find a small playground, barbecues, picnic shelters and a toilet block. It’s a pretty spot to hang out before or after you search for fossils.
Good to Know
Bring: Hat, sunscreen, swimmers, towel, water shoes and drink bottles.
Amenities: There are amenities at Reids Reserve carpark.
Getting there: Park in the Reids Reserve carpark at the end of Lambton Parade. Follow the path which leads to the rock platform.
Safety note: Only go out on the rock platform when the tide is low. DO NOT GO ON TO ROCK PLATFORM IF THERE ARE ROUGH SEA CONDITIONS AS IT CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS.
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