Hickman Crater & Punda Petroglyphs & Punda Rockhole

Wednesday, Oct 19, 2022 at 21:09

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

The Hickman Crater is considered a relatively "new" find. It's a meteorite impact crater, 16 kilometres northeast of the Hope Downs 4 Mine, which is just 35km north of Newman in the Ophthalmia Range, Western Australia. The crater was actually discovered by a government geologist using Google Earth. in 2007. That geologist was Arthur Hickman.

According to Australian Geographic, there are now 30 confirmed craters in Australia caused by impacts of comets, asteroids, and meteorites. As one of the oldest and least geologically disturbed continents, Australia has a rich record of meteorite craters. Of 176 confirmed impacts worldwide, our country bears the pockmarks of 30 – and about 20 others await confirmation.

During our travels, we have been to a few of these, including Henbury Craters, Wolfe Creek Crater, Gosse’s Bluff Crater, Wolfe Creek Crater, Dalgaranga Crater, Piccaninny, Veevers Crater, and now Hickman Crater. However many of the sites are almost impossible to access or are deeply eroded and unimpressive to visit.

The most recent crater discovery in Australia was at Ora Banda near Kalgoorlie revealing a 5km diameter crater which ranks as one of the worlds largest craters.

The Hickman Crater is both impressive but unimpressive. Whilst it is one of the smallest craters at just 0.27km diameter, it features a raised, almost complete, circular crater rim.

To get to the site is very straightforward but you will need a high clearance 4WD and you'll need to go to the BHP Railway Access website (or drop into Newman visitors centre) to fill out an access permit to traverse the service line to get to the access track.

When first commencing the trip, you'll be driving on a dirt road immediately adjacent to the BHP Railway line heading north. You'll drive past a few signed sidings and then once you reach the 356 rail peg you'll come to the marked track to Punda Rockholes on your left. This very tightly, spinifex crowded track is 14km long and is very corrugated and slow going.

At 14km you will come to a 4 way intersection. Straight ahead to the aboriginal rock art site (Punda Petroglyphs) a superb site. Back to the 4 way junction and you will need to head south to Hickman Crater but this is a very long trip and officially you need to backtrack to the junction and back out to the railway service line to exit the area.

I say officially, because there are alternative tracks and we drove out via the Repeater 8 track, which did not have any signage to indicate it was not permitted however at the other end signs state the track is closed to unauthorised vehicles and there is lots of drilling going on so you must go in/out via Punda Crossroads. An upgrade to the track from the Punda Crossroads is being planned to bring in drilling equipment. We spoke to the survey team who included 4 aboriginal trackers who were scouting for artefacts along the course of the widened track.

If you also include a visit to the north from the crossroads to the Punda Rockhole as we did, you're in a very very long day (although we wouldn't recommend this - we put in a lot of driving time but never found much of a rockhole). We travelled 10.4km from the crossroads and located the area but did not find any waterhole, no decent camps, and is very slow driving through rocky creekbeds and overhanging trees. Petroglyphs and Crater sites however are worthwhile.

Here's our Track Log of this day trip.


David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
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