Whispering wall: Barossa reservoir

This vast, gray arc of concrete has turned into an unlikely tourist attraction, with visitors chatting with each other from opposite ends of the dam.

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It’s unbelievably fun to whisper across this parabolic dam and hear others across the way.

revett2016, TripAdvisor

This is the largest whispering wall I know of, as it’s 140 meters long. What happens is that the sound hugs the inside of the concrete wall and is transported with surprising loudness to the other side of the dam. Do you know of a bigger whispering wall? Please comment below.

It’s worth not fast forwarding this, because you get a sense of how far the sound travels.
How sound hugs the wall in a whispering gallery amd keeps close to the curved wall.

Location

Info from the Barossa visitor centre.

Photo credit

Scott Davis, CC BY-SA 3.0

Superb Lyrebird

Mimics the sounds of the rainforest, from Kookaburra to chain saw.

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(9 Votes, average 3.56)
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The male superb lyrebird attracts females by probably the most extravagant animal call in the world. The male mimics all the sounds from the forest, includeing the calls of other birds. Ones brought up around manmade sounds impersonate the roar of a chainsaw, the screech of a car alarm and the click of camera shutters. Lyrebirds display this vocal virtuosity not just during the breeding season, implying the calls are not just about finding a mate but also used to defend territory. During the breeding season they use a display mound to sing from for hours, with the calls travelling up to a kilometre through the forest. The BBC video of the Lyrebird is very funny and was voted by viewers as their favourite Attenborough moment.

Location

The map shows the location of Healesville Sanctuary but the Lyrebird can be seen elsewhere in south-eastern Australia.

Squeakings Sands

A beautiful beach, the wind in the hair, the waves lapping on the shore, the soothing sound of squeaking underfoot!

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The beach at Porthor is known as the Whistling Sands, which in many ways is an odd name because squeaking sands would be more appropriate. As you walk along the beach the sand squeaks underfoot. I experienced a similar phenomena on Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays, Australia beach and it’s distinctly odd.

One suggestion is that the sound is caused by friction as the grains rub against each other, but this isn’t proven. What is known is that you need the right sort of sand grains: ones that are near spherical with no sharp edges. This is probably why the effect is only heard on some beaches. The squeaking is most audible when the sand has been recently washed, and so it’s rarely heard far from the shoreline. On the beech, the sand needs to be dry (although submerged sand can also sometimes squeak) [2] so check the weather before travelling!

Logistics and some suggested locations

Whistling Sands – Porth Oer, Wales

Owned by the National Trust

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays, Australia

Can be reached via ferries and other boats.

Other reported sites

Australia

  1. Pilots beach in Laurieton, NSW
  2. Thistle Cove, Cape Le Grand National Park
  3. Neck Beach, Bruny Island, Tasmania
  4. Moreton Island, Australia
  5. Surfer’s Paradise, Australia
  6. Bondi beach, Australia
  7. Squeaky Beach, 5607, Australia
  8. Wilson’s Prom., Victoria, Australia

USA

  1. Cocoa beach, Florida
  2. Treasure island, Florida
  3. Henderson Beach Destin, Florida
  4. Tybee Island, GA, USA

Cources

  1. Sound Benboncan (c) some rights reserved
  2. Sholtz, P., Bretz, M., and Nori, F. (1997). “Sound-producing sand avalanches,” Contemporary Physics 38, 329-342.
  3. Eifion (c) some rights reserved
  4. map thumbnail.Storm (c) some rights reserved