Wolfe Creek Crater

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Wolfe Creek Meteor Crater.
Crater from the air

Wolfe Creek Crater is a well-preserved meteorite impact crater (astrobleme) in Western Australia.[1][2]


It is accessed via the Tanami Road 150 km (93 mi) south of the town of Halls Creek. The crater is central to the Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater National Park.[3]

The crater averages about 875 metres in diameter, 60 metres from rim to present crater floor and it is estimated that the meteorite that formed it had a mass of about 50,000 tonnes,[3] while the age is estimated to be less than 300,000 years (Pleistocene).[2] Small numbers of iron meteorites have been found in the vicinity of the crater, as well as larger so-called 'shale-balls', rounded objects made of iron oxide, some weighing as much as 250 kg.[4]

It was brought to the attention of scientists after being spotted during an aerial survey in 1947, investigated on the ground two months later, and reported in publication in 1949.[5] The European name for the crater comes from a nearby creek, which was in turn named after Robert Wolfe (early reports misspell the name as Wolf Creek), a prospector and storekeeper during the gold rush that established the town of Halls Creek.[6]

Aboriginal significance[edit]

The local Djaru (Jaru) Aboriginal people refer to the crater as Kandimalal.[3] There are multiple Dreaming stories about the formation of the crater. One such story describes the crater's round shape being formed by the passage of a rainbow snake out of the earth, while another snake formed the nearby Sturt Creek.[7] Another story, as told by an Elder, is that one day the crescent moon and the evening star passed very close to each other.[8] The evening star became so hot that it fell to the ground, causing an enormous explosion and flash, followed by a dust cloud. This frightened the people and a long time passed before they ventured near the crater to see what had happened. When they finally went there, they realised that this was the site where the evening star had fallen to the Earth. The Djaru people named the place "Kandimalal" and it is prominent in art from the region.[9][10]

Cultural references[edit]

The crater was featured in the 2005 horror film Wolf Creek, and the sequel in 2013, Wolf Creek 2. It also features in the Stan Australia streaming service original television series with the same name.

It was the setting for Arthur Upfield's 1962 novel The Will of the Tribe.

The Wolfe Creek crater has considerable claim to be the second most 'obvious' (i.e. relatively undeformed by erosion) meteorite crater known on Earth, after the famous Barringer Crater in Arizona.

The crater is mentioned in the children's science fiction book Alienology that says (in its universe) that a space craft crashed there.


  1. ^ McNamara, K. Wolf Creek Crater illustrations by Ben Jackson. Perth, W.A : Western Australian Museum, 1982. ISBN 0-7244-9239-9
  2. ^ a b "Wolfe Creek". Earth Impact Database. University of New Brunswick. Retrieved 2006-08-06. 
  3. ^ a b c "Wolfe Creek Crater National Park". NatureBase National Parks. Department of Environment and Conservation, Government of Western Australia. 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-08. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Bevan, Alex; Ken McNamara (1993). Australia's Meteorite Craters. Perth: Western Australian Museum. p. 8. ISBN 0-7309-5926-0. 
  5. ^ Reeves F. & Chalmers R.O. (1949) 'The Wolf Creek crater', The Australian Journal of Science 11, 154-156.
  6. ^ "Wolf Creek Crater, Koongee Park - Alice Springs Rd, Halls Creek, WA (Place ID 10162)". Australian Heritage Database. Department of the Environment. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  7. ^ Mountford, C.P. (1976) 'Nomads of the Australian Desert', Rigby, Ltd., Adelaide.
  8. ^ Goldsmith, J. (2000), 'Cosmic impacts in the Kimberly', Landscope Magazine, Vol. 15(3), pp. 28-34
  9. ^ Sanday, P.R. (2007) 'Aboriginal Paintings of the Wolfe Creek Crater: Track of the Rainbow Serpent', University of Pennsylvania Press.
  10. ^ Hamacher, D.W. & Norris, R.P. (2009) 'Australian Aboriginal Geomythology: Eyewitness Accounts of Cosmic Impacts?' Archaeoastronomy, Vol. 22, pp. 62-95.

Coordinates: 19°10′18″S 127°47′44″E / 19.17167°S 127.79556°E / -19.17167; 127.79556