Once upon a time in the distant past, Earth was relentlessly bombarded by meteorites. Today meteorites and especially large ones. The traces of the impact of the massive meteorite that killed the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago is still visible in Yucatan in Mexico (notably with the cenotes there). But the crater as such is no longer visible. One place where one can still see a large impact crater is in Australia.
The Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater is remote but a breathtaking sight if one does get there. It is the second-largest meteorite crater on earth. The crater is arguably one of the remotest but also one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Size Of The Wolfe Creek Meteor Crater
Today Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater is in a national park of the same name. The crater is huge averaging around 875 meters or 2,871 feet in diameter and 60 meters or 200 feet from the rim to what is now the crater floor - the ridge of the crater stands around 35 meters above the surrounding flat sand plain. It is believed that the meteorite had a mass of around 17,000 tons.
- Diameter: 875 Meters or 2,871 Feet
- Current Depth: 60 Meters or 200 Feet
This pales compared to the Chicxulub Crater (the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs). The crater of this massive impact was around 93 miles or 150 kilometers in diameter as well as some 20 kilometers or 12 miles deep.
Its believed that the impact happened recently (in geological terms) only around 120,000 years ago (in the Pleistocene). Other sources claim it was formed up to 300,000 years ago.
- Date: Around 120,000-300,000 Years ago
- Made Known to Scientists: In An Aerial Survey in 1947
Traces of the meteorite can be found. There are small numbers of iron meteorites in the vicinity of the crater, as well as larger so-called 'shale-balls'.
Aboriginal Beliefs Of The Crater
The Aborigines of the area, believe that the crater was formed by a giant mythological snake that raised its head from the ground at the time of creation. To some groups of Australian Aborigines, many of the earth's natural features (like creeks and rivers) are tracks left behind by giant ancestral snakes that once slithered their way across the deserts.
- Mythology: Believed To Have Been Formed By A Snake Coming Out of The Ground
There are also other traditional Aboriginal beliefs associated with the crater.
Getting to Wolfe Creek Crater
Wolfe Creek Crater is located in a very remote part of Australia. It is located off into the desert in Western Australia thousands of kilometers from any major city. The closest settlement is Halls Creek around 180 kilometers away. To get there one must take unsealed access roads, so be prepared for a dusty and bumpy ride.
- Access: A Very Long Drive From Anywhere And A Long Drive Down A Dusty Road
The access road to Wolfe Creek Crater National park runs through the Carranya Station - one will need to stop open and close gates along the way. A 4WD is recommended due to the corrugations on the road.
The best time to visit the crater is from May to October (remember the seasons are opposite in the Southern Hemisphere than the Northern Hemisphere). During these times, the weather is more pleasant and the temperatures are moderate. Remember that the park is only accessible to conventional road vehicles in the dry season.
- When to Visit: May to October
- Dry Season: Normal Road Cars Can Only Drive On the Dirt Access Roads In The Dry Season
- Tip: Consider Taking A Scenic Flight Over the Rim
Camping And Activities There
On getting to the site, there is a basic campsite that visitors can use. However, visitors need to be totally self-sufficient for all supplies (it's a long way back to the nearest shop!). There is also no water at the site.
- Camping: There Is a Very Basic Campground At The Site
- Cost: Free
- Includes: Cleared Sites And toilets
The activities there are sightseeing, walking, photography, and nature observation. There is a 400 meter (yard) return walk to the top of the crater rim that involves a steep rocky climb. It is not permitted to climb down into the craters as it is considered dangerous because of loose rocks and steep terrain.