It has been about a year since I have been to Bombo. On my last visit I rolled my ankle on a rock, breaking a bone in my foot. Lately we have had heavy weather, so in a break between downpours, I headed to the old quarry at Bombo hoping that waves might be breaking over the sea walls.

Waves on columns
Waves on columns

Bombo seemingly was named after Thumbon, a local indigenous leader, at the time of the settlement of the Kiama district. When the railway was first built south from Sydney, it stopped just north of Kiama at Bombo, where the basalt quarries provided blue metal for concrete, building railway lines and roads.

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Old basalt quarry

Bombo headland has geological formations of hexagonal basalt columns of international significance, abutting sandstone formations, which have reversed magnetic polarities from a time when the North and South Magnetic Poles were reversed. Rocks of Permian age throughout the world show a reversed polarity and this unique formation is used for “intercontinental paleomagnetic correlation of Late Palaeozoic rock sequences.”

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Quarry pools

Quarrying began at Bombo headland in the 1880s. Basalt was carried to Sydney by dozens of small vessels known as the Stone Fleet until the railway line was built. The Irish miners employed to quarry the basalt, left rock columns and walls adjacent to the ocean protecting the works from the onslaught of the sea.

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Pool and pillars

Today part of the old quarry is used for a sewerage plant, but that is largely concealed from the coastal walk that wends its way around the headland from Kiama via Bombo to the surf break known locally as The Boneyard, and then on to Jones Beach and Minnamurra.

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On most days the headland is deserted, with the exception of seabirds watching for fish from the columns, just above the waves which pound along the walls.

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Here and there a few broken columns reveal their hexagonal structure. Where waves crash through gaps, it seems as though the fortress wall has been breached.

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The break in the wall opens a window to the ocean, clouds and the swirling tides.

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Foaming sea

On occasions the surging sea rushes over these formations, and once I got struck by water falling over the other side. Although the headland resembles a ruined fortress, or rock amphitheater for waves with seabirds as an audience, local children seemingly also call it Toothbrush Island.

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Toothbrush Island

Wave action shots were taken using Kodak TMax 400, except for the last one in series, which was made using Fomopan 100 along with the rest, using Toyo-View 45CF field camera with Nikkor-SW 90mm f/8 lens, and Tiffen Y12 filter. The film sheets were developed in a mix of Xtol (1:2) and Adonal (1:200).

4 thoughts on “Bombo

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