Faces in the Rock
The old men of Larapinta watch over the salty river to nowhere.
This rock at Glen Helen Gorge was laid down 800 million years ago. There are no visible fossils. The only living organisms at the time were microscopic. There was no oxygen. For millions of years all the oxygen produced by the biota was quickly gobbled up by the plentiful free iron in solution to form iron oxide (rust). This precipitated out staining everything red and forming massive ore deposits.
Erosion has carved grotesque features reminiscent of ancient men. They watch over the Finke (Larapinta River) below. "Larapinta" meaning salty river in Western Arrernte. This is where the spirit ancestors of the Arrernte are said to have spring from - the land that always was. Despite not being connected to the sea,the waters of the Finke are too briny to drink. It is the river to nowhere. It starts in the Central Australian West MacDonnell Ranges and looses itself somewhere in the Simpson Desert never reaching the sea.