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Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park

  • Showers
  • Accomm
  • Picnic Areas
  • Campfires Permitted
  • Caravan Sites
  • Toilets
  • Camping
  • 4WD
  • Walking Trails

About

Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park was proclaimed in 1970. The park forms part of the traditional country of the Adnyamathanha people and is rich with cultural significance. The spectacular terrain in Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park can be explored by the many hiking trails and via the 4WD tracks that lead you deep into the heart of the rugged landscape. The park is a haven for many rare and endangered plants and animals.

The stark wildness and landscape of Lake Frome is a unique feature of the park. This ephemeral salt lake stretches 100km long and 40km wide and plays an important role in the lives of the Adnyamathanha people. The 'Plains Block' leading out to the edge of Lake Frome still remains a traditional hunting ground.

There are several hiking trails to explore the park including the Italowie Gorge Hike which takes you past Mount McKinlay Spring or the Weetootla Gorge Hike which meanders though the stunning Weetootla Gorge.

There are several tracks to explore the park and its surrounding areas by car. Most tracks are accessible by 2WD, although the Wortupa Loop Track and the track to Lake Frome require 4WDs.

Opening hours

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Traditional use zone

The cultural use zone by Lake Frome is closed to the general public from 3pm-5am daily, to allow hunting in this area.

Fire safety and information

Listen to your local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety.

Check the CFS website or call the CFS Bushfire Information Hotline 1800 362 361 for:

Contact details

Natural Resource Centre - Port Augusta (for inquiries and bookings)

Phone: (+61 8) 8648 5300
Email: DEW.SAALOnlineBookings@sa.gov.au 

Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park Headquarters - Balcanoona

Phone: (+61 8) 8648 4829
After Hours Regional Duty Officer: 0408 378 284

Getting there

Vulkathunha–Gammon Ranges National Park is 660km north of Adelaide, 100km east of Leigh Creek. All main access roads to the park are gravel and are suitable for 2WD vehicles, however most of the tracks within the park are 4WD accessible only.

Please check road conditions before leaving home. Closures may occur during and after wet weather.

Outback Road Report

1300 361 033 (24-hour automated service)
Northern and Western South Australian Outback Roads Temporary Closures, Restrictions and Warnings Report

Assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are permitted in most public places and are therefore welcome in South Australia’s parks and reserves. Assistance dogs must be appropriately restrained on a lead and remain under your effective control at all times while in a park or reserve.

As per the dogs in parks and reserves policy, if the dog is not an accredited assistance dog, they must be trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate that disability and meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for a dog in a public place. However, refusal may be given if the person with the disability is unable to produce evidence the dog is an assistance dog with the appropriate training.

Before taking your assistance dog into a park that does not normally allow dogs, it is highly recommended that you contact us so we can provide you with the latest information on any potential hazards within specific parks that may affect your dog. Please contact the park via the contact details provided under the contact tab or call the information line on (+61 8) 8204 1910.

Dogs not allowed

Dogs are not permitted in this park.

Discover which parks you can walk your dog in on our find a park tool or read 12 dog-friendly walks in Adelaide Parks by Good Living for inspiration.

Facilities

There are pit toilets at Grindell's Hut, Italowie Gorge and Weetootla Gorge campgrounds. There are no facilities at other campgrounds. However, public toilet and shower facilities are available at Balcanoona (park headquarters).

Plants and animals

As you explore the creeks, freshwater springs, gorges and mountains of Vulkathunha–Gammon Ranges National Park, you may see a variety of endangered plant and animal species, including yellow footed rock wallabies, or andu, in the Adnyamathanha language.

Flora and fauna species lists

To download flora (plants) and fauna (animals) species lists for this park, use the 'Create Simple Species List' tab under 'Flora Tools' or 'Fauna Tools'  in NatureMaps

Useful information

  • Download the Flinders Ranges Walks app (iOSAndroid) before you leave home for walking notes on 16 walks in the Flinders Ranges. This app is produced by park volunteers.

  • There is no mobile phone coverage in the park.

Outback Road Report

1300 361 033 (24-hour automated service)
Northern and Western South Australian Outback Roads Temporary Closures, Restrictions and Warnings Report

  • Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Dead wood plays a vital role in providing shelter for animals and adding nutrients to the soil.

Traditional owners

Since 2010, Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park has been co-managed by the traditional owners – the Adnyamathanha people – and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR). This partnership arrangement allows for shared responsibility and decision-making in the strategic management of the Park.

The Adnyamathanha community manages the Nantawarrina Indigenous Protected Area, which adjoins the park’s southern boundary. Access is by permit from the community. For further information, phone (+61 8) 8648 3764.

Words from the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park Co-management Board

Our society is complex and mature, with our personal, social and spiritual life integrated with the surrounding environment. 

Muda stories and song-lines weave throughout the area and numerous sites of cultural significance are located within the park. Many animals and plants once found in the park (including the bilby, rock-wallaby, stick-nest rat and carpet python), are our Mukunha (a form of totem connected with a piece of land).

We have always maintained strong links with our country, derived from our Mukunha affiliations, with our Yarta or ‘country’ and are pleased to have a central role in park management today through co-management.

The management plan includes a cultural use zone at the Plains Block, which allows Adnyamathanha people to hunt and gather using firearms. The cultural use zone by Lake Frome is closed to the general public from 3pm-5am daily, to allow hunting in this area.

We are keen to help others understand and appreciate the natural and cultural values of this land.

See and do

Rangers recommend

We have picked the brains of our park rangers to find out what they would recommend you see and do whilst visiting this park.

  • Visiting Weetootla Gorge and enjoying its many hiking trails and 800 million year old rocks.
  • Taking the Monarch Mine Hike past an abandoned copper mine.
  • Exploring the Wortupa Loop Track in your 4WD, admiring the views of Mount McKinlay, The Wall, and the chasms of Blue Range.

Bushwalking

The rugged hills of the north Flinders Ranges can often only be accessed along the stony beds of creeks that have cut their way through the ranges. Explore one of the linear hikes or create your own adventure by following sections of the different walking trails. All of the walking trails expose 800 million year old rocks that form a huge basin under the quartzite and sandstone of the Gammon Ranges.

There are three locations in the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park where you can access walks in the Weetootla Hike Network. 

Weetootla Campground Trailhead – 7.1km from Balcanoona. Turn off the Arkaroola Road at 1.9km from the signpost at Balcanoona. The track is 2WD accessible.

McTaggart Track – 18.2km from Balcanoona. Turn off the Arkaroola Road at 8.2km from the signpost at Balcanoona. Continue approximately 10km along the 4WD track to reach the checkpoint.

Grindell's Hut Trailhead – 26.5km from Balcanoona. Turn off the Arkaroola Road at 8.2km from the signpost at Balcanoona. Continue for 17km along the signposted 4WD track.

Easy walks

  • Uncle Gill's Walk (15 mins, 300m)

    Trace the footsteps of the Aboriginal people and pastoralists throughout history around the Balcanoona Shearing shed and stock yards. The footpath is well defined and interpretive plaques display historical information.

Moderate hikes

  • Balcanoona Creek Hike - Weetootla Hike Network (2 hrs 30 mins one way, 6km)

    This hike meanders through the Balcanoona Range to the Weetootla Gorge and its network of hikes. The hike passes by Grindells Hut. This can be walked as one-way linear hike or as a circuit shown on the map.

  • Italowie Gorge Hike (8 hrs one way, 15.8km)

    This hike takes you from Italowie Creek campground to Grindells hut via Mt. Mckinlay Springs and return the same route.

  • McTaggart Track Hike- Weetootla Hike Network (3 hrs one way, 7.6km)

    A longer hike along the McTaggart Track, can be done in conjunction with one of the hikes above. This can be walked as one-way linear hike or as a circuit shown on the map.

  • Monarch Mine Hike - Weetootla Hike Network (2 hrs 30 mins one way, 6.8km)

    This hike takes you past an abandoned copper mine and over shale and magnesite hills. This can be walked as one-way linear hike or as a circuit shown on the map.

  • Oppaminda Nudlamutana Hike (7 hrs one way, 15.2km)

    This hike takes you from the Munyallina Trailhead near Nudlamutuna Hut through to Arkaroola via Mt. Warren Hastings.

Lochness Well (4WD accessible only)

Five kilometres beyond Grindell's Hut is Lochness Well is a day parking area. This is a popular spot for bushwalkers to begin hikes into the wilderness of the gorges and chasms of Mount John Roberts and Blue Range.

Camping

Immerse yourself in arid wilderness and relax amongst the sounds of the outback in one of the bush campgrounds dotted around the park. Several camp sites provide an ideal base from which to explore the park’s hiking trails. Please note that some sites are only accessible by 4WD vehicles.

The campgrounds are basic with pit toilets available at Grindell's Hut and Weetootla campgrounds. Other camping areas have no facilities. 

Toilet and shower facilities are available at Balcanoona.

Fees apply and you must book in advance

Grindell's Hut (4WD accessible only)

Located approximately one hour’s drive west of Balcanoona via Wortupa Loop Track. Access is 10 km up Arkaroola Road then 17 km via the signposted 4WD track. Camp sites are located along the creek below Grindell's Hut. Please camp in designated sites. The Weetootla and Italowie Gorge hikes can be accessed from this camping area.

Facilities include fire pit, barbecue and pit toilets.

Mainwater Well (4WD accessible only)

The Mainwater Well camping area is approximately two hours drive north-west of Balcanoona via Wortupa Loop Track. A small camping area is located next to the old well alongside the tea-tree lined Mainwater Creek. This camping area provides a great base from which to explore the northern areas of the park and for hikers to explore Mainwater Creek.

Arcoona (4WD or high clearance 2WD recommended)

The campground is located on the western side of the ranges approximately one and a half hours drive from Balcanoona via the Copley-Balcanoona and Umberatana Roads. Camp sites are located near and around the end of the track just above the river red gums and native pines of Arcoona Creek. This camp provides a great stop for people travelling through the park and as a base for hikers wishing to explore Arcoona Bluff and the Gammon Plateau.

Weetootla Gorge, Wiriti Urdla (2WD and small caravan accessible)

Weetootla Gorge camping area is located to the west of Balcanoona at the end of Weetootla Gorge. Camp sites are located along Balcanoona Creek among mallee, native pines and bullock bush. The camping area is approximately 20 minutes from Balcanoona, 2 km towards Arkaroola then 5 km along the signposted track. The campground is located approximately 4 km from the self-registration station. Designated camp sites are set out adjacent to the pit toilets. These can also be found 1 km further on, near the Weetootla Gorge trailhead.

Italowie Gap, Ithala Awi (2WD and small caravan accessible)

The Italowie Gap camping areas are located approximately 20 minutes from Balcanoona on the Copley-Balcanoona road. There are two camping areas. The first area is on the south-western side of the gap via a small access track. This area is set amongst river red gums below a small cliff face and is a shady spot for summer. The second area is located on the north-eastern side of the gap, off the access track behind the self-registration station. These sites are set amongst wattles and river red gums near the start of the Italowie Gorge Hike.

Accommodation

For a unique outback experience, stay overnight in one of the classic Australian huts and shearers' quarters located in the park.

Book online to reserve up to 12 months in advance

Grindell’s Hut (4WD accessible only)

Grindell’s Hut is located in the heart of the Vulkathunha - Gammon Ranges National Park on a hillside with spectacular views over the valleys and foothills of the Illinawortina Pound and the Blue Range. The Hut provides a comfortable base for a variety of walks and 4WD trips. 

Nudlamutana Hut (2WD accessible)

Nudlamutana Hut is located on the boundary between the Vulkathunha - Gammon Ranges National Park and Arkaroola Wildlife Sanctuary. The Hut is nestled in a picturesque valley between rugged hills approximately 2 km off the Balcanoona/Arkaroola Road.

Balcanoona Shearers Quarters (2WD accessible)

The Shearers Quarters are located at the National Park Head Quarters at Balcanoona.  Originally built to house the shearing teams for Balcanoona Station.

4WD

Much of Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park is accessible by 4WD only. The only area of the park accessible to 2WD is the track to Weetootla Gorge.

The Wortupa Loop Track is an 80-kilometre return journey from Balcanoona. It takes approximately five hours to complete and you can explore the park’s rich Aboriginal and European heritage. You could see animals such as euros, red kangaroos, emus, and wedge-tailed eagles along the way.

Views of Mount McKinlay, The Wall, Mount John Roberts, and the chasms of Blue Range are a highlight along the one-way section of track between Gammon Yards and Lochness Well. There is also a 4WD track out to Lake Frome.

4WD tours to significant sites are available from Arkaroola.

Volunteering

Become a Campground Host

Combine your love of camping with doing a good deed by becoming a volunteer campground host in this park.

A campground host is a volunteer who stays at the park either for a specific peak period, like the Easter break or a long weekend, or an extended period of time (up to a few months) to support park rangers. 

If you are passionate about the environment, a keen camper, like to meet people from all around the world, and are a happy to help, then hosting could be right up your alley. 

Friends of the Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges National Park

The Friends of Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges National Park is a community-based group of volunteers who work to protect and develop the natural and cultural heritage in the park.

If you think you might be interested in volunteering opportunities within this park please contact our Volunteer Support Unit.

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is currently not permitted in this park. 

Safety

Bushwalking

The international Trail Users Code of Conduct is to show respect and courtesy towards other trail users at all times.

Ensure that you:

  • when hiking, wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen
  • be aware of weather conditions and avoid walking during the hottest part of the day
  • make sure you have appropriate weather proof clothing
  • carry enough water to be self-sufficient
  • please be respectful of other users at all times
  • stay on the designated trails and connector tracks for your own safety, and prevent the spread of declared weeds to other areas in the park
  • ensure someone knows your approximate location and expected time of return
  • take appropriate maps.
  • Walk, hike or trek - what's the difference?

Camping

When camping in a National Park, it's important to remember the following:

  • Always let someone responsible know your travel plans, especially when travelling in remote areas. It's a good idea to let them know when you expect to return.
  • Check the weather forecast before you leave, including overnight temperatures on the Bureau of Meteorology. Even during very mild weather, the nights can get very cold. 
  • The quality and quantity of water cannot be guaranteed within parks. Please bring plenty of water and food to be self-sufficient.
  • Always camp in designated sites (where applicable) - do not camp beneath trees with overhanging branches, as they can drop without warning. It's also a good idea to check that there no insect nests nearby.
  • Check to make sure you're not camping in a natural waterway, flash floods can happen anytime.
  • If camp fires are permitted, you must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Extinguish your camp fire with water (not sand or dirt) until the hissing sound stops.
  • Ensure that you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Fire

Can I have a fire or barbecue?

  • Wood fires and solid fuel fires are prohibited between 22 October 2018 to 31 March 2019.
  • You must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited.
  • Gas fires and liquid fuel fires are permitted through the year, other than on days of total fire ban.
  • Ensure you are familiar with the fire restrictions  for this park.

Fire safety and information

Listen to your local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety.

Check the CFS website or call the CFS Bushfire Information Hotline 1800 362 361 for:

4WD

When 4WDriving in the park, it is important to be aware of the following:

  • Standard road rules apply when driving anywhere in the park, including the laws for speed limits, drink driving, vehicle registration and seat belts.
  • Take extreme care when driving in the park – be aware of blind corners, crests and narrow two-way tracks.
  • Observe all track and safety signs, especially 'No public access' signs.
  • Do not take your vehicle off the designated tracks. Wildlife can be threatened and precious habitat and indigenous sites can be damaged by off track driving.
  • Make sure you know what to do in the event of getting bogged and always carry a shovel.
  • When driving on sand, deflate your tyres as appropriate for your vehicle. Don’t forget to reinflate your tyres to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure before leaving the park. Take care when lowering tyre pressure as there is risk you could roll the tyre off its rim. Also, remember that lower tyre pressure can mean a change in how the vehicle handles.

Know before you go

Every national park is different, each has its own unique environment, it is important to be responsible while enjoying all the park has to offer.

Please ensure that you:

  • leave your pets at home
  • do not feed birds or other animals, it promotes aggressive behaviour and an unbalanced ecology
  • do not bring generators (except where permitted), chainsaws or firearms into the park
  • leave the park as you found it - place rubbish in the bins provided or take it with you
  • abide by the road rules (maintain the speed limit)
  • respect geological and heritage sites
  • do not remove native plants
  • are considerate of other park users.

  • Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Dead wood plays a vital role in providing shelter for animals and adding nutrients to the soil.

Maps

Park maps

Maps on your mobile

If you have a smartphone or tablet you can download the free Avenza PDF Map app and have interactive national park maps on hand when you need them.

The app uses your device's built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map. The app can be used without a network connection and without roaming charges. You can also measure area and distance, plot photos and drop placemark pins. 

How to get it working on your device:

1. Download the Avenza PDF maps app from the app store whilst you are still in range (its free!).
2. Open up the app and click the shopping cart icon.
3. Click ‘Find’ and type the name of the national park or reserve you are looking for.
4. Click on the map you are after and install it (all our maps are free).
5. You will now find a list of your installed maps on the home page of the Avenza app.
6. Use our maps through the Avenza PDF map app while in the park and never take a wrong turn again.

Fees

Entry fees

Park entry is free, however fees apply for camping and accommodation within the park.

Camping

Please book and pay online for vehicle entry and camping prior to arrival as self-registration stations are no longer available in this park.

Where can I book and pay in person?

If you are unable to book and pay online you can do so, in person, at these booking agents across the state.

For online bookings enquiries please email:

DEW.SAALOnlineBookings@sa.gov.au 

Accommodation

For a unique outback experience, stay overnight in one of the classic Australian huts and shearers' quarters located in the park.

Grinell's Hut, Nudlamutana Hut and the Balcanoona Shearers Quarters are all available to be booked online before you go.

Where can I book and pay in person?

If you are unable to book and pay online you can do so, in person, at these booking agents across the state.

For online bookings enquiries please email:

DEWNRDesertParks@sa.gov.au

Park pass

2 and 12 month vehicle entry for multiple parks pass

Are you wanting to explore a number of SA’s national parks? Purchasing a 2 or 12 month vehicle entry for multiple parks pass can offer you value for money and convenience.

The 2 and 12 month vehicle entry for multiple parks pass entitle you to vehicle entry for not just this park, but up to an additional 10 parks as well!

Other fees and permits

There are no other fees or permits associated with this park. 

PDF Park Brochure