Batroun's Ancient Sea Wall

Batroun is a coastal city in northern Lebanon lying 50 km north of Beirut and 30 km south of Tripoli. It is one of the oldest cities in the world with a history of human occupation going back to at least 5,000 years.

Batroun was once one of the most important Phoenician cities in the region. The name Batroun derives from the Greek, Botrys (also spelled Bothrys), which was later Latinized to Botrus. Historians believe that the Greek name of the town originates from the Phoenician word bater, which means “to cut” and it refers to the maritime wall that the Phoenicians built in the sea to protect them from tidal waves, that still stand today. Other historians believe that the name of the town is derivative of the Phoenician words beit truna, which translates to “house of the chief”.

The sea wall was originally a natural structure composed of petrified sand dunes. This was reinforced by the Phoenicians with rocks and the process went on until it took its present shape in the first century B.C. The wall is 225 meters long and 1 to 1.5 meters thick. Parts of it has crumbled but the remaining still stand strong and proud in Batroun’s bay, and is a must see for an authentic piece of Lebanon’s ancient history.


Old Man of Storr, Scotland

The Old Man of Storr is a large pinnacle of rock located on the north of the Isle of Skye, in Scotland, in an area known as ‘Trotternish’. The 50m-high rocky outcrop of crumbling basalt is prominent above the road 6 miles north of Portree and can be seen for miles around. It is also the highest point of the Trotternish Ridge. The entire Trotternish ridge area was formed by a massive ancient landside, and the Storr, which is composed mainly of ancient lava flows, is the most easily recognizable landmark on the island and one of the most photographed. Indeed, the opening scenes in the Ridley Scott's 2012 movie Prometheus were shot at the Old Man of Storr.

Legend has it that the Old Man of Storr gets its name because the rock outline and the protruding pinnacle resemble that of the face of an old man. “Storr” itself is Norse in origin and is thought to mean “Great Man”. This seemingly unclimbable pinnacle was first scaled in 1955 by English mountaineer Don Whillans, a feat that has been repeated only a handful of times since.


The Whispering Wall

The Barossa Reservoir was built between 1899 and 1902 to supply water to town of Gawler and other northern country areas in South Australia. At the time of its completion, the reservoir was hailed as an engineering marvel. The thin arch of the dam’s retaining wall, curved against the pressure of the water, was an innovation considered radical, and attracted attention from all over the world, even making its way into the pages of the journal Scientific American. At a height of 36 meters, it was also the highest dam in Australia.

But what draws visitors to Barossa Reservoir is the unique acoustic effect of its curved wall. Due it’s parabolic shape, words whispered at one side can be clearly heard at the other, more than 140 meters away, earning the dam the title "Whispering Wall".

The story goes that this feature was first discovered during the construction when a group of workers were overheard complaining about their boss who was on the other side of the dam and it cost them their jobs. This may well be folk lore but it adds some color to the dams history.

The Barossa Reservoir was formed by damming the Yettie Creek gorge in the northern Mount Lofty Ranges, a feat that took over 400 men. Its water comes through a two-kilometer tunnel, carved by horse power, from the South Para River and Reservoir, and is supplemented by the Warren Reservoir and the River Murray. In addition to Gawler and country, a filtration plant constructed in 1982 allows the Reservoir to supply the Munno Para and Elizabeth areas.

Aside from its acoustic attraction, the Whispering Wall offers great views of both the Barossa Reservoir and the surrounding, well-preserved natural bounty. The area abounds in thick scrub, tall red gums, and pines, and a flourishing bird and animal life. It is a popular destination for picnics and bird-watching.

Barossa Reservoir construction pictures.