Uncover Earth’s Secrets – Drive the Brachina Gorge Geological Trail

Uncover Earth’s Secrets – Drive the Brachina Gorge Geological Trail



Home to some of Australia’s most sig­nif­i­cant geo­log­i­cal and pale­on­to­log­i­cal records, the 20km self-dri­ve trail lets you dis­cov­er mil­lion-year-old rocks, fos­silised ani­mal remains, sed­i­ment deposits and even debris from the impact of a large mete­orite. Take a wan­der through and see if you can spot a fault line through the rocks or the shell-like remains of an ani­mal that exist­ed long ago. 

There is plen­ty of sig­nage along the way to pro­vides an insight into past cli­mates, the for­ma­tion of the ranges and the evo­lu­tion of ear­ly forms of life, and keep an eye out for the elu­sive Yel­low-foot­ed rock-wal­la­bies who call the park home. 

To trail fol­lows the Brachi­na Gorge Road. Access is either from the park’s west­ern entry point off the Out­back High­way (road from Hawk­er to Blin­man), or from the east along the Flinders Ranges Way between Wilpe­na and Blinman.

Why is it so significant?

The trail show­cas­es an impres­sive geo­log­i­cal record from peri­od of geo­log­i­cal time between about 800 mil­lion and 500 mil­lion years ago, essen­tial­ly offer­ing vis­i­tors an insight into 130 mil­lion years of Earth’s his­to­ry. The sed­i­men­ta­ry lay­ers of the gorge are con­sid­ered one of the best exposed sites detail­ing the planet’s evo­lu­tion. In fact, the geo­log­i­cal and pale­on­to­log­i­cal val­ues are so impor­tant that the trail has been includ­ed in the World Her­itage Nom­i­na­tion bid for the Flinders Rangers. 

What is the Gold­en Spike?

A gold­en spike, tech­ni­cal­ly known as a Glob­al Bound­ary Stra­to­type Sec­tion and Point (GSSP), is a ref­er­ence point used to define the low­er bound­ary of a stage on the geo­log­ic time scale. 

The gold­en spike in Brachi­na Gorge is actu­al­ly a plaque rather than a spike, and is a mark­er with­in the rock for­ma­tion indi­cat­ing the start of the Edi­acaran Peri­od (approx­i­mate­ly 635 to 541 mil­lion years ago) – a time when the world tran­si­tioned from a plan­et that large­ly con­sist­ed of micro­scop­ic organ­ism to one which was dom­i­nat­ed with animals. 

You’ll find the gold­en spike just next to the Tre­zona camp­ground along the Brachi­na Gorge Road.

Vis­it­ing Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park

Locat­ed about a 5 hours’ dri­ve north of Ade­laide, Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park is big, with plen­ty to see and do. It’s best to spend a few days at least. 

The park can gen­er­al­ly be explored with a two-wheel dri­ve car, how­ev­er vis­i­tors should be aware that most roads in the park are unsealed and, with some­times rough sur­faces, may be a con­cern for vehi­cles with low clearance.

At times, after rain, roads might only be suit­able for 4WDs or might be tem­porar­i­ly closed. You can eas­i­ly check online to see the local road con­di­tions before you go. 

Spring is a great time to vis­it the Flinders Ranges. Gen­er­al­ly the days are warm and clear – per­fect for bush­walk­ing and explor­ing the park. Plus, wild­flow­ers are like­ly to be in bloom, though the abun­dance and tim­ing of wild­flow­ers depends entire­ly on recent rainfall.

Once you’ve fin­ished the Brachi­na Gorge Geo­log­i­cal Trail, there are plen­ty of trails for bush­walk­ers and cyclists, spec­tac­u­lar dri­ves through rugged gorges, and so much to explore and see for the wildlife enthusiast.

There are 10 camp­grounds dot­ted around the park includ­ing some in the spec­tac­u­lar Brachi­na Gorge. All of the camp­grounds have a toi­let facil­i­ty and are per­fect for those want­i­ng to con­nect with nature.

If you’re look­ing for a lit­tle more lux­u­ry, there are lots of accom­mo­da­tion options at Wilpe­na Pound Resort, includ­ing hotel style rooms, pow­ered camp­sites and glamp­ing tents.

Can I vis­it while the trail is being upgraded?

Plan­ning for the rede­vel­op­ment of the 20km self-guid­ed trail is cur­rent­ly under­way, aim­ing to enhance the vis­i­tor expe­ri­ence and refresh trail infra­struc­ture. You can still vis­it the trail dur­ing this time, but be sure to check for any upcom­ing clo­sures before you go. 


This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living