Our Flinders Ranges long weekend

Earlier this year, Helen and I assisted in a Sydney church for some weeks, and as part of their thanks, the generous folk of this church gave us a few nights’ accommodation “somewhere, some time”.

Several years ago, on our way home from two weeks in Central Australia, we spent two nights at Wilpena Pound, in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges.  We decided to put this area on our list “to be revisited”.  And so we’ve at last done this, over four days… and we hope not for the last time.  One of our children’s family members go there every year or two, and many Adelaide schools program for every student to experience at least one school camp in the Flinders Ranges.  But to really explore the region you need a 4WD and bush camping and serious hiking gear!

These Ranges are South Australia’s longest mountain chain (at 430 km), starting 200 km north of Adelaide with the ridges rising just east of Port Pirie and the northern Spencer’s Gulf, and stretching another 250 km further north into the dry heart of the continent.  For some basic information on the geology, flora and fauna, and history of these mountains, check out the Wikipedia page.

For us, this region is less than 450 km from home, an easy day’s drive.  It is unique in its own way and no less fascinating than Australia’s Centre with its iconic MacDonnell Ranges, King’s Canyon, Uluru and Olgas.  Both regions include arid wilderness and mountains with the vegetation and fauna of the desert.  The mountain ranges in both regions speak eloquently about the unimaginable beauty, age and history of much of Australia.  The sandstone of the Flinders Ranges includes fossils of the ocean, and it’s only because the region was capped by hard dolerite that these sandstone layers can still be explored – and have not joined the vast flatness of the surrounding wilderness.

Seeing the obvious age of this warped and weathered land doesn’t diminish our Christian faith… Just like when we gaze at the outback night sky we say: How great is our God!

Time to stop writing and reading – let some of our photos do the talking!

The mountains

As we reached our accommodation, the magnificent profile of Wilpena Pound grew in our eyes


Before we reached our accommodation at Rawnsley Park Station, we stopped at a lookout with this panoramic view of the Elder Range.
Another beautiful range as seen from Rawnsley Park – the Chase Range to the east

The Northern Flinders Ranges include several Gorges like this one – watercourses between peaks which are usually almost dry but can become raging and dangerous torrent after a desert storm-cloudburst
The Parachilna Gorge area is the northern end of the Heysen Trail, at 1200 km Australia’s longest walking track.
A panorama of mountains and river eucalypts along the Moralana Scenic Drive. This is the northern end of the Elder Range.
Rawnsley Bluff at the southern end of Wilpena Pound – as seen from our accommodation at Rawnsley Park Station. Sunset is best for a nice photo.
One of the most representative vistas of the Flinders Ranges overlooks Wilpena Range from Yanyanna Hill just east of Bunyeroo Gorge.
Helen takes a break during our climb of Rawnsley Bluff – we’re overlooking the Rawnsley Park property towards the Elder Range
And I needed a rest too…
We also walked to the Ferntree Falls at the base of Rawnley Bluff, but as expected, we found them dry. The 5 year drought has not broken in the Flinders Ranges, but isn’t it amazing that so much of the vegetation has survived and even look flourishing – on minimal rainfall?
I have really enjoyed getting more time for photography since I retired 2 years ago

Flowers and trees

The desert roadside in Spring
This river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) is included in the National Register of significant trees – Australian photographer Harold Cazneaux captured it on film in 1937 as “the Spirit of Endurance”. The Wilpena Pound is the backdrop.
This (estimated) 500 year old Grasstree is also an icon in the region


This emu with its young in the Aroona Valley was the cutest of the many, many emus we saw all over the Flinders region
Our 4WD tour guide told us that during the long hot summer, only overseas tourists come to the Flinders Ranges, and that they only want to see “kangaroos”. Just as well they like the emus are everywhere: this young one in the Brachina Gorge.
As Aussies, our group was particularly interested in seeing the yellow-footed rock-wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus), which was almost extinct some years ago but has been reestablished in just a few areas of the Flinders Rangers, with about 400 in the Brachina Gorge. Our guide helped us find some – can you spot them?
Later I was able to “capture” these two somewhat better!
This skink was happy with me close enough to take a photo – making me happy too.
There are birds everywhere, with various kinds of parrots the most prominent. Galahs are among the most fun – to themselves as well as to observers.
This wallaby in flight with the setting sun was a prize “catch”

Human enterprise in the Flinders Ranges

The now tiny community of Blinman in the northern Flinders Ranges was first settled when a rich copper deposit was discovered there in 1859 and about 10,000 tons were mined over 4 periods until the ore deposit ran out in 1918.
Looking up from underground makes one realise something of the hard and dangerous life the Blinman copper miners lived. Ore deposits were mined upwards and horizontally, wherever the lodes took the men.
We also enjoyed the creative work of some of the local artists

Thank you for a memorable weekend, good people of Dee Why!

Just after completing this post, a good friend of mine posted a link to a Christian artist in nearby Hawker who has created a 360 degree “Wilpena Panorama”. Check out his site – wonderful stuff!


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