Black Mountain National Park (Kalkajaka) is not a typical weekend destination where you can drive to and set your camp. The place is full of sacred Aboriginal stories and past tourist disappearances.
The two mountains are made of black-looking, big rocks that make big crevasses where you would slip easily and never return.
Where is Black Mountain National Park?
Kalkajaka is located 23 km south of Cooktown on Mulligan Highway.
Is it possible to see the black boulders?
Yes. You can admire the rectangular, black rocks from the Black Mountain Lookout located next to the Mulligan Highway.
There is no camping ground and no hiking trails. Read on, to find out why.
With respect to traditional owners never go hiking in Black Mountain as the place is sacred, mysterious and dangerous.
How was Kalkajaka formed?
It took millions of years for the Black Mountains to form into their current appearance.
260 million years ago, molten magma solidified under the ground forming a granite rock.
Over time, the top of the granite fractured and was exposed above the ground.
For many years water penetrated the network of fractures and chemical reactions reduced the hard minerals to soft clay.
Soft clay was removed by erosion from between the rocks leaving the rectangular blocks that we can see today.
The solid granite core lies beneath the rectangular boulders.
What makes Black Mountain black?
The granite rock of Kalkajaka is actually a light grey colour. So, why it is black when we look at it?
The granite is covered with a thin layer of lichens, a symbiotic complex life of two separate organisms, a fungus and an alga. Somehow, the lichens found the granite as a perfect environment to grow.
Nature can really surprise us!
Black Mountain Aboriginal Dreamtime stories
Kalkajaka is a place of mystery and legend to Kuku Nyungkal traditional owners. Watch the below video to understand why this place has such important meaning.
Source: ABC Indigenous
Black Mountain legends
Kalkajaka, which means ‘spear’ was a sacred battlefield between two fighting clans: the black and white cockatoo. The inland (black cockatoo) and coastal (white cockatoo) clans were fighting over the hunting grounds in the area.
Many people died and their bones remained in the mountains making the place as significant as the beaches of Gallipoli for the Kalkajaka people.
Another story says there was another war that happened between spirits of ancient times. There were two giant brothers that were in love with the same woman. They fought hard by throwing big rocks.
Finally, they killed each other, but their pile of stones remains there.
There was always something superordinary at Black Mountain. The sacred stories and documented disappearances of explorers, horses and cattle had proven to be always prepared and culturally aware of the country.
Many belives Kalkajaka is like the Bermuda Triangle of Australia’s Far North. You go inside and you never come back. It is a very mysterious place, but does it have supernatural power.
Black Mountain noises
The mountains have a specific structure with many holes and crevasses. Occasionally, you can hear random explosive noises, cracks and tumbles.
When there is a stronger wind, especially at night, the wind goes through the boulders and sounds like howling souls inside.
Black Mountain dangers
Seeing the mountains from the lookout you may think why not climb to the top of one peak. Whether it is theoretically possible, it is a very hard terrain, with around 200 hops over the boulders you have to make to get there.
It is super easy to slip, and you can tumble down any time and never return to the surface.
Kalkajaka recent tourist encounters
Most people respect this sacred site and the culture of the traditional owners but some don’t. There are a few examples of why you should not walk the mountain.
A tourist from Sydney tormented by spirits
The man from Sydney did not believe in the stories even though he was warned by locals to not go there. After his visit, he had nightmares and was tormented by devils and spirits.
He returned to the area a few months later admitting he did something wrong in Cape York.
Geologist son feeling unwell after climbing the hill
The eldest son of the know geologist climbed the mountain even after he was warned not to. Later at night, he felt really unwell, writhing with appendicitis and vomiting.
He had to be airlifted to a hospital in Cairns where he had surgery.
Coincidence or something else?
Czech tourists hear human steps at night
Two Czech tourists decided to camp overnight right at Black Mountain. They did not believe in those dubious stories about the mountains. But, they changed their mind at night.
During the night they heard something like rock crumbling from the rock above them. They thought it was a wallaby or other animal. However, the ‘steps’ were very consistent and were like something climbed down the mountain and finally disappeared in the bushes.
They left the tent with the torch to see what was going on but found nothing. They left in the morning with a very dodgy feeling that something was wrong up there.
Black Mountain disappearances
There are at least 8 documented disappearances in Black Mountain.
The first one was in July 1872 when a courier was looking for a stray calf. He and his horse never returned.
The last documented accident happened in 1932 when a traveller was hiking in Black Mountain and was later found dead from unknown causes.
Recent research by a Cooktown based historian Bev Shay reveals more credible explanations of the mythical stories surrounding Kalkajaka.
The simple explanation is that a lack of swimming skills, foul play, alcohol, and the vastness of the area, plus lack of communication was the most probable cause of disappearances in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Black Mountain National Park – Summary
There is a lot to digest when you read about Kalkajaka. This place, full of sacred stories has a special meaning for the people who live there.
Recent discoveries show us that most accidents happened due to lack of preparation, foul play, and alcohol. Definitely, it is a dangerous place and nobody should attempt to climb the big, black rocks.
Have you been to the Black Mountain? What is your opinion like? Do you have a story to share?
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Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)
UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency
Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road
High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks
Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking
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