A day’s drive north of Sydney lie the stunning Washpool and Gibraltar Range National Parks, high on the Great Dividing Range.The parks are divided by the Gwydir Highway, with Washpool Park covering nearly 600km² to the north, and the Gibraltar Range Park half that size to the south. Elevated on the north-eastern edge of the Great Dividing Range, the parks’ landscapes are evidence of ancient volcanic activity, dating from the formation of the mountains.The range was created by a combination of volcanic eruptions and uplift by movement in the Earth’s plates, creating a plateau that became the Great Dividing Range.A prominent physical feature of the Range is the Demon Fault, a 200km long fracture in the Earth’s surface running north to south through the length of both Washpool and Gibraltar Range Parks.Movement in the surface of the Earth more than 200 million years ago created the deep crevice between two plates.
Such movement along the Demon Fault has long since stopped, but during this period the fault extended to be 20 kilometres long. The Demon Fault marks the boundary between two distinct types of geology in the parks.To the east of the fault, the rock is ancient igneous rock, made of solidified lava expelled by volcanic eruptions that helped form the Great Dividing Range.West of the fault, the ground is made up of even older sedimentary rock, created by minerals and organisms compacted when the region was covered by a shallow sea more than 200 million years ago.
Washpool and Gibraltar Range Parks are made up of a series of high ridges and cliffs, creating an imposing landscape.Gibraltar Range National Park in particular provides impressive rock formations, with boulder-strewn hilltops and gracefully balanced tors.Two major rivers, the Mann River and the Rocky River, cut steep valleys and gorges through the plateau, resulting in the rugged horizon you can see from the air.