ANARE Club Logo For Members of AUSTRALIAN Antarctic Programs, previously called Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) ANARE Club Banner
Antarctic Division
State Branches & Regions
National Rock Garden

National Rock Garden

National Rock Garden

Donation of two large Mawson rocks to the National Rock Garden, Canberra.

Date posted April 2019.

Dear ANARE Club members, 

The National Rock Garden Trust is establishing an important new national education and cultural asset on a 5 hectare site in the National Capital (see attached doc). It will highlight, link and explain the rocks and geological processes that built our continent and the landscapes that have provided an environment for life and human habitat; the evolving complexity and diversity of its life forms; the resources that are the foundations of our industry, wealth and national identity; and the cultural significance of our nation's treasures for more than 60,000 years. A central feature of the NRG will be an outdoor gallery display of 100 very large rocks, arranged in a series of clusters to illustrate the evolution of our continent. One cluster will illustrate our continent's geological context and key stages of its development, with examples from those parts of the planet Earth that were once attached to the Australian continent such as New Zealand, New Guinea, and Antarctica.  

In selecting a rock to represent Antarctica, the obvious choice was Mawson Charnockite from Mawson Station. Strong support from the Australian Antarctic Division, and their former Director, Nick Gales and by the advocacy of the late Prof. Patrick Quilty has enabled acquisition of 2 large boulders and their transport to Hobart. Sir Douglas Mawson was not only a renowned Australian Antarctic explorer and hero, he was also a very significant Australian geoscientist. When installed at the NRG in Canberra, this large exhibit will provide a highly visible and permanent link between Australia's Antarctic program and an ever expanding audience of school groups and national and international tourists. 

We would appreciate your help to fund the transport of the Mawson rocks from Hobart to Canberra, and their installation in the National Rock Garden. We hope to organise an unveiling of the rocks in September as part of the 65th anniversary celebration of the establishment of Mawson Station. AAD and the ANARE Club's contribution will be recognised on the metal plaque attached to the display, also in documentation presented on the NRG website and in our publicity of the placement of the specimen.

John Bain
The National Rock Garden Trust Inc.
22 March 2019


Phone: 0403 446 466

Top of Page

National Rock Garden

Celebrating the Geological Heritage of Australia


This will be a visually impressive and globally unique tourist attraction, displaying hundreds of very large (10-20 + tonnes) examples of Australia's most significant rocks in a garden setting, which highlights the geological nature of most of Australia's iconic tourist attractions & links them directly with the nation’s capital.
It will be a superb national education asset, for school groups and the general public, which provides an accessible link with 4,600 million years of the Australian continent's history and the science that explains it.
It will be a national cultural asset that recognizes, respects & links key geological elements of Australia's indigenous and immigrant heritage.
It will provide a prominent and permanent national recognition of the mining industry and its importance to Australia's history, development, economy and culture.
It will be a significant addition to the visual treats of the national capital and an appropriate link between the evolution of the natural environment and human achievements.
The garden design highlights, links and explains the rocks and geological processes that built a continent; the landscapes that provide an environment for life and human habitat; the evolving complexity and diversity of life forms; the resources that are the foundations of our industry, wealth and national identity; and the cultural significance of our nation's treasures for more than 60,000 yrs.
It will link and enhance the current science, natural history and cultural National Institutions and education facilities in Canberra.

A 5 hectare site near the western end of Lake Burley Griffin in Australia's National Capital
A site Master plan and an Education Pavilion plan
Gallery and content plans
A Business and Operations plan
Staged development plans
A website, a social media program and enthusiastic nationwide support

Your advocacy, advice, and support

Top of Page

Mawson Charnockite

Charnockites are granite-like rocks typically composed of quartz, K-feldspar, plagioclase and orthopyroxene. They are found in high temperature-high pressure metamorphic areas of the Earth’s crust, but ideas on their origin have been controversial. Once thought to be igneous rocks crystallised from magmas, because of their granular texture, they are now generally considered metamorphic rocks formed by deep crustal, high temperature and high pressure metamorphism, or possibly igneous rocks subsequently subjected to such metamorphism.

Charnockites are distributed throughout the Precambrian shield areas of the southern continents (formerly making up Gondwana). In Australia they are found near Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste near Albany, Esperance Bay, Eyre Peninsula, and the Musgrave Ranges.
The na
me charnockite was proposed by eminent geologist T.H. Holland in 1893 after examining the dark greenish rock used for the tombstone of Job Charnock (an employee of the English East India Company) in Calcutta. The rock was mined in Chennai and is common in south eastern India.

The Mawson Charnockite is extensive (more than 3000km2) in MacRobertson Land, Antarctica, including around Mawson Station, one of Australia’s Antarctic research bases in Antarctica. Both the station and the rock are named after Sir Douglas Mawson, Australia’s most famous Antarctic explorers and a prominent geologist. The rock is a brown, porphyritic gneissic charnockite with a slight to moderate foliation and numerous xenoliths and has been dated at around 954 Ma (Australian Stratigraphic Units Data Base, 2019).

Mawson Rocks in Transit
Photo: Katrina Beams, Second Mate, Aurora Australis

Top of Page