Mount Fox, Girringun National Park Townsville | Tropical North Queensland

Nature, culture and history

Natural environment

Landscape and geology

A violent, volcanic explosion created Mount Fox about 100,000 years ago. A lava flow 10m thick spewed from the southern end of the crater and chunks of molten magma were thrown out of the volcano's vent.

Evidence of this fierce eruption can be seen in the form of striated rocks, known as bombs. As the eruption threw magma out of the volcano, the fragments cooled and kept their shape to form bombs. These bombs were moulded into a variety of different shapes and sizes, some more than one metre wide and shaped like a bell. If you look closely, you may see longitudinal grooves in their surface, with one side of the bell shape appearing smoother than the other. This smooth side was the front of the bomb, exposed to the force of the air as it soared through the sky after eruption. These are known as fusiform bombs.

Mount Fox's cone has many coarse and irregular fragments, bombs, and a thin veil of lava. All of these volcanic materials have small holes that are evidence of the gas bubbles responsible for the eruption. Rocks that contain a high number of gas bubble remnants are called scoriaceous rocks.

Plant communities

The well-formed crater of Mount Fox is about 10m deep and covered with sparse grasses and stunted trees. Plant communities are restricted by the windy conditions and a landscape riddled with boulders. Despite this, small patches of vine-thicket rainforest persist, lining small gullies around the outside of the crater. Open eucalypt woodland dominates the area surrounding the crater; pink and long-fruited bloodwoods are common.

Animals and their habitats

Mount Fox's tussock grass slopes shelter a number of small animals. On a cool day, skinks and other reptiles can be seen basking on the volcanic bombs. During the hot summer months the grasses provide protection from the sun. Ground-dwelling birds such as the little button-quail nest in the grasses.

After sunset, rufous bettongs emerge to feed on herbs and grasses. Wedge-tailed eagles, with their large wingspans, can be seen soaring above the Mount Fox crater.

Look for endangered Sharman's rock-wallabies in the vine-thicket gullies, seeking refuge from the heat.

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