Norite is a dark coloured intrusive igneous rock, sometimes called black granite, which is something of a misnomer, because it is more like a gabbro than a granite.
Norite is most often used as a decorative stone, particularly as polished slabs for buildings and for memorials in cemeteries. A notable Sydney example is the iconic Qantas House building, opened in 1957. The NRG understands that Adelong Norite was also quarried for use in both old and new parliament houses in Canberra. Most recently, it has been used by well-known Austrian sculptor Andreas Buisman to create beautiful works of art. For example, a large specimen (about 9 tonnes), sculpted by Andreas, sits on the grave of the famous eye surgeon, Fred Hollows, in Bourke in northwestern NSW.
Further images of Andreas’ work can be viewed at http://www.andreas- buisman.com/andreas_buisman/pages/index.php.
Adelong is located 411 km south-west of Sydney via the Hume and Snowy Mountains Highways. It is 340 m above sea level. The gold mining history is displayed in the Adelong Alive Museum, which has an extensive collection of historic photographs and a lovingly created model of the Adelong Falls gold crushing mill, the Reefer Battery; see https://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/adelong-nsw. It is an ideal starting point for anyone wanting to understand the boom industry which drove the town’s economy from the 1860s until the outbreak of World War I when a combination of declining gold yields and a desire by the miners to head off to Europe to fight saw the end of gold mining in the district. Located in Tumut Street, it is open by appointment, phone (02) 6946 2417.
Norite is an uncommon rock in Australia, but the small town of Adelong, near Tumut, in the Snowy Mountains, has norite rocks outcropping right in town and, not surprisingly, on regional geological maps, it is named Adelong Norite.
Like granite, norite forms from slowly cooled magma deep below the earth’s surface and the resulting rock is very similar in grain-size to granite. The principal difference is in the types of minerals that norite and gabbro contain: dominantly plagioclase feldspar and dark-coloured minerals such as pyroxene, amphibole and olivine, but no quartz, whereas granite contains quartz. Above is a useful diagram that summarises the mineral content of the common igneous rocks.
DID YOU KNOW?That the term ‘norite’ is derived from ‘Norge’ the name of Norway. Norite is plentiful in the Egersund intrusion area of southwestern Norway, and it is thought that the rock literally means Norway rock, and was presumably named this between 1875–1880. ‘Norit’, the Norwegian version of the rock became Norite when anglicised.
Prior to European settlement the Adelong Valley was inhabited by members of the Wiradjuri Aboriginal language group.
The Wiradjuri Nation is geographically the largest Indigenous Nation within NSW. The boundary of the Wiradjuri Nation extends from Coonabarabran in the north, straddling the Great Dividing Range down to the Murray River and out to western NSW. Wiradjuri traditional country includes the towns of Dubbo, Condobolin, Orange, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga, Albury, Narrandera, and Griffith (https://www.mldrin.org.au/membership/nations/wiradjuri-nation/).
The Wiradjuri people are represented by the Wiradjuri Council of Elders and each community has established their own form of governance to represent local interests. Journalist Stan Grant and NSW MP Linda Burney are notable among many prominent Wiradjuri people.
Europeans had settled the area by the 1840s. The Adelong Creek Station was established in 1843.
Gold was discovered in 1853 and a gold rush followed. In two years, the town’s population had reached an estimated 5,000 people.
About the NRG specimen
The rock was found by Andreas Buisman in an abandoned quarry just below the old town water tank on the southern end of town. Owner of the property, multitalented fellow artist, Sheri McEvoy generously donated the rock. Andreas enhanced and transformed the stone to its current form.
The rock was placed on a truck and placed next to the NRG’s Federation Rocks in Canberra on 19 November 2018.
The inauguration ceremony for the Adelong Norite was held at the NRG on Sunday 25 November 2018 in perfect sunny weather, with 70–80 people attending. There was a late storm, but that arrived after the ceremony had finished. After an acknowledgement of country and some background comments on Adelong Norite, Brad Pillans introduced Andreas Buisman, who spoke passionately about the NRG concept and the need for funding the masterplan. ‘It’s not a lot of money, maybe 5 million dollars or so for the first stage’, said Andreas. The display was then opened by Suzanne Orr MLA, from the ACT Government, after which she was presented with a copy of the weighty book, Shaping a Nation: A Geology of Australia, published by Geoscience Australia & ANU Press.
DID YOU KNOW?Norite was among the various igneous rocks identified in Apollo samples from the Moon.
Landing in July 1971, Apollo 15 was the fourth mission to land men on the Moon, and the first flight of the Lunar Roving Vehicle which astronauts used to explore the geology of the Hadley Rille/Apennine region. Approximately 76 kg of lunar material including soil, rock, core-tube, and deep-core samples were returned to Earth. The ebsite. https://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/missions/apollo/apollo_15/samples/ includes the statement that ‘a norite sample, composed primarily of plagioclase and pyroxene, is about 4.5 billion years old, virtually as old as the Moon itself’.
In December 1972, Apollo 17 was the last Apollo mission to land men on the Moon. It carried the only trained geologist to walk on the lunar surface, lunar module pilot Harrison Schmitt. Compared to previous Apollo missions, Apollo 17 astronauts traversed the greatest distance using the Lunar Roving Vehicle and returned the greatest amount of rock and soil samples. The Apollo 17 database describes a Shocked Norite as follows: ‘Except for the glass and the shock features, this rock is a coarse-grained (5–10 mm), pristine, igneous lunar norite (about half plagioclase and half orthopyroxene)’ – See: https://curator.jsc.nasa.gov/lunar/catalogs/apollo17/v4/78235.pdf
The large rock specimen was donated to the NRG by Sheri McEvoy who is a local landowner and Andreas Buisman generously donated his time to partly sculpt the NRG specimen and has offered to do further work on the piece in due course. Bendigo Bank Adelong and the Snowy Valleys Council kindly provided funding to transport the rock from Adelong to the NRG. Stephanie Smyth (BBA) and Mayor James Hayes (SVC) are thanked for arranging this funding.
Want to know more?
Stratigraphic Index Reference for Adelong Norite: https://asud.ga.gov.au/search-stratigraphic-units/results/134
Classification of Igneous Rocks: https://australian.museum/learn/minerals/shaping-earth/classification-of-igneous-rocks/
About the geological programs on the Apollo Lunar Missions: https://airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/topics/apollo/apollo-program/