Murphy’s Haystacks are a group of ancient, wind-worn rock of pink granite located between Streaky Bay and Port Kenny on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Set in the middle of a wheat field and surrounded by mallee scrub, they are one of the most popular and photographed attractions on the Eyre Peninsula.
Murphy’s Haystacks are what geologists call inselberg, which are isolated rocky hills or ridges that rise abruptly from a gently sloping or virtually level surrounding plain. An inselberg forms when a body of hard rock surrounded by a layer of soft rock becomes exposed to erosion. The less resistant outer layer is eroded away to form a plain, leaving the more resistant rock behind as an isolated mountain.
The process that created Murphy's Haystacks began some 1,500 million years ago when boiling magma filled crevices below the earth’s surface and then cooled, laying down a granite base. The present formations you see at Murphy’s haystacks were formed 100,000 years ago and were buried within the earth until about 34,000 years ago when they were uncovered by severe erosion, which exposed them in their present state as pillars or boulders. The “haystacks” continue to be eroded till this date, giving them fantastic shapes.
The haystacks are located on a private property belonging to Dennis Cash, the grandson of Denis Murphy, who purchased the farm in 1889. The inselbergs were popular with family and friends, and could be seen from the distance by the passengers of the local mail run stagecoach. Legend says that once a prominent agricultural expert was passing by the farm when he saw the landmark from the road. Not realizing that they were rocks, the man remarked “the farmer must have harrowed his land to produce such an impressive abundance of hay”. The mail coach driver, being a local man knew they were on the Murphys' property. From then on he amused his passengers by referring to the distant inselbergs as ‘Murphys Haystacks’.
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