15 fascinating facts about the Flinders Ranges

15 fascinating facts about the Flinders Ranges

The Flinders Ranges is a fas­ci­nat­ing region in South Aus­tralia known for its rugged beau­ty, rich Abo­rig­i­nal his­to­ry and unique wildlife. 

As South Aus­tralia con­tin­ues to work on a World Her­itage nom­i­na­tion for parts of the Flinders Ranges, here are 15 fas­ci­nat­ing facts about this remark­able part of the world.

15 fascinating facts about the Flinders Ranges

1. Largest moun­tain ranges

The Flinders Ranges are the largest moun­tain ranges in South Aus­tralia. Start­ing about 200 km north of Ade­laide, the ranges 

stretch for over 430km, from Port Pirie to Lake Callabon­na, and include a nat­ur­al amphithe­atre of moun­tains, known as Wilpe­na Pound. Wilpe­na Pound was formed by a large syn­cline between two moun­tain ranges and is an icon­ic fea­ture of the South Aus­tralian landscape.

2. Age

The Flinders Ranges are one of the old­est moun­tain ranges in the world, formed over 600 mil­lion years ago. The Flinders is the only place on Earth where 350 mil­lion years of near-con­tin­u­ous geo­log­i­cal sequence can be seen, demon­strat­ing the rise of a hab­it­able plan­et and the dawn of ani­mal life. There is nowhere else in the world where this is so clear, so con­nect­ed and so well presented. 

3. Geol­o­gy

The Flinders Ranges are a fold­ed moun­tain range which began form­ing about 800 mil­lion years ago, when an ancient sea deposit­ed sed­i­ments in a basin known as the Ade­laide Geo­syn­cline. Around 300 mil­lion years lat­er, the basin sed­i­ments were fold­ed into moun­tains dur­ing a moun­tain-build­ing period. 

These moun­tains have since erod­ed. How­ev­er, the fold­ed and fault­ed rocks remained and in the last five mil­lion years, have cre­at­ed a rugged land­scape filled with sand­stone, mud­stone, lime­stone, and quartzite.

4. Tra­di­tion­al owners

The Adnya­math­anha peo­ple (mean­ing hills or rock peo­ple”) are the tra­di­tion­al cus­to­di­ans of the Flinders Ranges. Evi­dence of ongo­ing occu­pa­tion by tra­di­tion­al own­ers, includ­ing ash and char­coal mid­dens, can be found across Nilpe­na Edi­acara Nation­al Park. The pound area was known as Ikara or meet­ing place” to the Adnya­math­anha peo­ple, and the park has many cul­tur­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant sites.

15 fascinating facts about the Flinders Ranges

5. The old­est evi­dence of ani­mal life

In 1946, some of the old­est fos­sil evi­dence of ani­mal life was dis­cov­ered, includ­ing the world’s finest exam­ple of the Edi­acaran explo­sion of life, when the ear­li­est forms of com­plex mul­ti­cel­lu­lar ani­mal life evolved. Sim­i­lar fos­sils have sub­se­quent­ly been found in the ranges, includ­ing at Nilpe­na. The State Gov­ern­ment is cur­rent­ly work­ing on an appli­ca­tion for World Her­itage list­ing to help pro­tect these sites. Vis­i­tors to Nilpe­na Edi­acara, South Australia’s newest buck­et-list tourist attrac­tion, can take an exclu­sive guid­ed tour into the fos­sil field – and expe­ri­ence the rare priv­i­lege of walk­ing through a work­ing research site.

6. World heritage

If suc­cess­ful, the Flinders Ranges would become Australia’s 21st prop­er­ty on UNESCO’s list of World Her­itage Sites but only the sec­ond in SA, along with the Nara­coorte Caves. 

7. Astron­o­my

The clear, dark skies of the Flinders Ranges make it an excel­lent des­ti­na­tion for stargaz­ing and astropho­tog­ra­phy. Arka­roola Wilder­ness Sanc­tu­ary, locat­ed in the north­ern Flinders Ranges, has recent­ly been des­ig­nat­ed as an Inter­na­tion­al Dark Sky Sanc­tu­ary, recog­nis­ing this area as one of the best places in the world to see the night sky.

15 fascinating facts about the Flinders Ranges

8. Wildlife

The region is home to a diver­si­ty of wildlife, includ­ing kan­ga­roos, emus, wal­la­bies, and numer­ous bird species. Vis­i­tors may spot grey-front­ed hon­eyeaters, the icon­ic wedge-tailed eagle soar­ing above the deep red Simp­son Desert or the del­i­cate Lake Eyre drag­on, which can be found danc­ing across the hot salt lake. And thanks to con­ser­va­tion efforts, the rare yel­low-foot­ed rock-wal­la­­by can be seen in Brachi­na and Wilka­w­il­l­i­na gorges.

9. Cli­mate

The cli­mate in the Flinders Ranges is typ­i­cal­ly arid, with hot sum­mers and cool win­ters. Rain­fall is rel­a­tive­ly low and unpre­dictable. Sum­mer tem­per­a­tures usu­al­ly exceed 38 °C, while win­ters have highs around 13 – 16 °C.

10. Flo­ra

Despite its arid cli­mate, the Flinders Ranges sup­ports a vari­ety of plant life, includ­ing native euca­lyp­tus trees, spinifex grass, and colour­ful wild­flow­ers that bloom in the spring, car­pet­ing the plains and foothills.

11. Nation­al Parks

Much of the Flinders Ranges region is pro­tect­ed with­in nation­al parks, includ­ing the Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park, Nilpe­na Edi­acara Nation­al Park and Mount Remark­able Nation­al Park. 

Ikara flinders nation­al park was estab­lished on Jan­u­ary 1st, 1945, mak­ing it one of the ear­li­est nation­al parks in South Aus­tralia. It was ini­tial­ly named after the explor­er Matthew Fil­nders, who scaled Mount Broen in March 1802. In 2016, the park was renamed to include the Adnya­math­anha word Ikara (mean­ing meet­ing place), in ref­er­ence to the tra­di­tion­al name for Wilpe­na Pound. 

Nilpena Ediacara National Park
Nilpe­na Edi­acara Nation­al Park

12. Hik­ing Trails

The region offers numer­ous hik­ing trails, rang­ing from easy walks to chal­leng­ing mul­ti-day treks. Pop­u­lar trails include the Hey­sen Trail and the St Mary Peak Sum­mit Walk. The Flinders Ranges is also home to many ancient rock art sites. Many walks can take vis­i­tors to see exam­ples of Abo­rig­i­nal art dat­ing back thou­sands of years. Adnya­math­anha guid­ed cul­tur­al tours can be booked at Wilpe­na Pound Resort.

13. His­to­ry

William Pinker­ton is cred­it­ed as being the first Euro­pean to find a route through the Flinders Ranges via Pichi Richi Pass. In 1853, he drove 7,000 sheep along the east­ern plains of the range, to where Quorn would be built 25 years later.

15 fascinating facts about the Flinders Ranges

14. Pas­toral past

There are records of Euro­pean set­tlers liv­ing in the near­by Quorn Dis­trict since at least 1845, with the first graz­ing licens­es issued in 1851. Old Wilpe­na Sta­tion was a work­ing sta­tion for 135 years, right up until 1985, and it is one of South Australia’s best pre­served pas­toral sites. The blacksmith’s cot­tage, sta­bles, garage, home­stead and ceme­tery in Quorn offer a fas­ci­nat­ing insight into the lives of the region’s first Euro­pean settlers.

15. Films

28 films have been made using the Flinders dra­mat­ic land­scape as a back­drop. From salt lakes to moon­scapes, rugged desert ranges to her­itage build­ings, the Flinders Ranges offer a huge vari­ety of land­scapes and it’s not sur­pris­ing that many pro­duc­tions have cho­sen to film in the region. In fact, Australia’s first tech­ni­colour film Kan­ga­roo was made in the Flinders Ranges.

Learn more about South Australia’s World Her­itage bid here. https://​www​.envi​ron​ment​.sa​.gov​.au/​g​o​o​d​l​i​v​i​n​g​/​p​o​s​t​s​/​2​0​2​1​/​0​7​/​w​o​r​l​d​-​h​e​r​i​t​a​g​e​-​b​i​d​-​f​l​i​n​d​e​r​s​-​r​anges

To plan your trip to the Flinders Ranges, check out our ranger tips for an unmiss­able adven­ture https://​www​.envi​ron​ment​.sa​.gov​.au/​g​o​o​d​l​i​v​i​n​g​/​p​o​s​t​s​/​2​0​1​9​/​0​7​/​r​a​n​g​e​r​-​t​i​p​s​-​i​k​a​r​a​-​f​l​i​n​d​e​r​s​-​r​anges

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living