Saturday, 18 August 2007

135 million year old footprints

There are many things ancient about this land.
The oldest exposed rocks on earth are just south of us. The oldest life forms, stromatolites survive in a few isolated pockets on earth, near here. And much later residents of this land, dinosaurs, trampled this terrain about 135 million years ago, and only recently, an estimated 40 thousand years ago did humans bother to settle here, bringing a hunter-gatherer culture that remained relatively unchanged until the very recent arrival of centrelink and grog.

The Broome area has one of the worlds highest concentration of dinosaur footprints per species. Most of which are well hidden to the average tourist, the occasional one which was pointed out to eager amateur palaeontologists by aboriginal guides and promptly drilled from the earth and disappeared into the fossil black market. Leaving the local aboriginals with a profound distrust of keen foreigners eager to find other footprints. Yes, I too am surprised to here that there is an underground world where organised crime and palaeontology mix.

There are other prints that are guarded by the ocean, hidden under salt water for millions of years, exposed on extreme low tide to breathe when the moon is just right and the water retreats a depth of about ten metres and croc shoes on German feet trample exactly where Cretaceous Carnivores did eons ago.

One of our little towns draw cards are the Dinosaur Footprints near the peninsula past boulders and slippery rocks, visible on the occasional negative low tide for several minutes before been swallowed by the blue Indian Ocean, until next time.

So, like good foreigners we rose at dawn to trek over the slippery rocks, fall onto barnacles, photograph the footprints and watch the salt water wash the rocks clean of fresh blood from stubbed toes and grazed hands.