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Hill Inlet

Why is the sand so white?

For millennia these ancient grains have rested here in the Hill Inlett. As tides turned and seasons changed, the elements stripped impurities from the grains until only brilliant white silica remained.

But these grains haven’t always been here, their travel began many moons ago…

Forged in Fire

The sand began life as red-hot magma deep in the earth, when slowly it cooled into hard granite, rich with silica.

Through time, the rain and wind exposed the granite then eroded it, washing the grains into Mackay’s Pioneer River and flushing them into the sea.


Washed by the Waves

The sea’s currents carried the grains about 100km north, leaving them on nearby Haslewood Island, which was once a coastal headland connected both to the mainland and Whitsunday Island.

Over time the sea level fell, stranding the sand inland, where wind-blown grains began to shift and form the dunes of Whitehaven Bay.

If This Sand Could Talk

For at least 80,000 years, the grains have been here. They could tell you of ice ages, speak of dinosaurs and whisper stories of changing seasons.

The grains have witnessed the fall and rise of sea levels, and the drowning of long-forgotten mountain ranges now known as the Whitsunday Islands.

Wind and Waves Shape this Land

The sand grains continue to be blown by the wind and polished by the waves that lap at the dunes’ feet.

The process that created these sands has long since ended, but the grains’ journey continues. The currents tug at the grains, pulling them northwards to the shallow banks and swales here at Hill Inlet.

And once the sand is gone, it will be gone forever.

Text courtesy of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, all photos ©Mantaray Charters

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