Flinders Ranges National Park
Flinders Ranges National Park is about 400 kilometres (248.5 mls) north of Adelaide in the northern central part of South Australia’s largest mountain range, the Flinders Ranges. It covers an area of 912 square kilometres (352 sq mls).
The park is made up of rugged mountain ranges, spectacular gorges, sheltered creeks lined with river red gums and abundant wildlife.
The Flinders Ranges are composed of sediments deposited during the Neoproterozoic era, 1,000 to 541 million years ago. At the end of that era, during a period of massive tectonic activity, the sediments were folded and faulted to create a large mountain range, which since that time has undergone continual erosion resulting in today’s relatively low ranges.
The central feature of the park is Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre which is a remnant valley floor in this ancient range of mountains. The highest walls are quartzite which is resistant to weathering. The highest peak is St Mary Peak at 1,170 metres (3,838.5 ft). The valley floor is about 8 kilometres (5 mls) long and 4 kilometres (2.5 mls) wide. The word ‘pound’ means ‘an enclosure for animals’ and this is how the early pastoralists used it. The local Adnyamathanha people call it Ikara, meaning ‘meeting place’
Reminders of Adnyamathanha occupation of the land over tens of thousands of years can be seen in rock art, stone arrangements, graves and ochre quarries. Arkaroo Rock features ochre and charcoal images depicting the creation of Wilpena Pound. Sacred Canyon is a small chasm about 19 kilometres from Wilpena where rock engravings representing animal tracks, people, waterholes and other symbols can be found on its sandstone walls.
Vegetation consists mainly of plants that can tolerate the dry conditions such as cypress-pine, mallee and black oak. Moister areas near Wilpena Pound support grevilleas, Guinea flowers, lilies and ferns. The Cazneaux Tree is iconic in the area. This grand old river red gum was first made famous by Harold Cazneaux, a photographer whose photograph of the tree in 1937, ‘Spirit of Endurance’ won international acclaim.
Kangaroos and wallabies are among the more common animal species found in the area. Brachina Gorge, particularly, is an important refuge for the yellow-footed rock-wallaby. Less common are the smaller marsupials such as dunnarts and planigales. Echidnas and a variety of lizards and snakes also live here. Birds include emus, wedge-tailed eagles and various parrots.