Insider Guide: Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park

Insider Guide: Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park

Go behind the scenes to dis­cov­er the unique jobs and pas­sion­ate peo­ple that care for South Australia’s environment.

Alan Har­bour – Ranger-in-Charge – North­ern Flinders

How would you describe your job to some­one at a BBQ?

I am the Ranger-in-Charge of sev­er­al reserves in the North­ern Flinders Dis­trict, includ­ing the icon­ic Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park. The job is chal­leng­ing. I’ve been in the role for near­ly a year now and my head is still spin­ning with the amount of info I need to stuff into my head.

How did you get into this line of work?

I start­ed my career in pro­tect­ed area man­age­ment as a sea­son­al fire fight­er, exit­ing from heli­copters into fire-fight­ing sit­u­a­tions. I was based in the Grampians in Vic­to­ria, before scor­ing an ongo­ing posi­tion in Kosciuszko Nation­al Park with New South Wales Nation­al Park and Wildlife Ser­vice. Since then, I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to work in oth­er parks such as Paroo-Dar­ling Nation­al Park in NSW, World Her­itage List­ed Kakadu Nation­al Park and Ulu­ru-Kata Tju­ta Nation­al Park with Parks Aus­tralia, and Watar­rka Nation­al Park with North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Parks and Wildlife.

What do you encounter in a nor­mal’ day on the job?

A nor­mal day on the job entails too much desk time for my lik­ing, but it comes with the ter­ri­to­ry. I am in a priv­i­leged posi­tion to work with Tra­di­tion­al Cus­to­di­ans on a dai­ly basis, as well as oth­er stake­hold­ers and my dis­trict staff. I think all these peo­ple make for an enjoy­able, reward­ing day for me. Then there is the scenery of the parks – Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park, Vulkathun­ha-Gam­mon Ranges Nation­al Park, Edi­acara Con­ser­va­tion Park, and the two salt lakes Frome and Tor­rens – how lucky am I??

The rein­tro­duc­tion of two of the ranges’ orig­i­nal mam­mal species, the Idnya – West­ern quoll, and the Virl­da – brush­tail pos­sum – is a fan­tas­tic project for the depart­ment to be dri­ving as part of our Bounce­back Pro­gram, and I am for­tu­nate enough to be a part of that.

When I get out into the parks, I could be dri­ving through the gorges, mon­i­tor­ing some of our Adnya­math­anha rock art sites, over­look­ing the salt lakes and red dunes from a van­tage point, or mar­vel­ling at the Edi­acaran fos­sils found in the district.

What’s the most amaz­ing thing you’ve seen in your district?

You can­not go past the land­scapes. The geol­o­gy of the ranges, the fos­sils, red sand and con­trast­ing white of the salt lakes. It’s all brilliant.

What are your insid­er tips for vis­it­ing the North­ern Flinders?

Research the area thor­ough­ly before com­ing. There is so much to see and do in the dis­trict. Read 5 trea­sures in Ikara-Flinders Ranges for good info if that’s where you plan to visit.

While hol­i­day­ing in any of the parks, take the time to sit qui­et­ly, look at, lis­ten to, and feel the Coun­try. It talks to you. It tells you sto­ries through the land­scape, whether they be Adnya­math­anha sto­ries, the geo­log­i­cal sto­ry, or how the coun­try is presently.

Make sure you allow your­self plen­ty of time to explore. There is plen­ty to see and do. There’s the Arka­roola pro­tect­ed area adja­cent to Vulkathun­ha-Gam­mon Ranges Nation­al Park, War­raweena Con­ser­va­tion Park, and sta­tion stays. You could eas­i­ly spend a few weeks in the district. 

Don’t for­get to make sure your vehi­cle is well main­tained and well equipped – the roads can be hard on poor­ly main­tained vehicles.

Also, dri­ve care­ful­ly dur­ing the day – kan­ga­roos are every­where – I’d also avoid dri­ving at night.

If you’re stay­ing around Wilpe­na, look and lis­ten out for the Idnya and Virl­da. Peo­ple often see them at night with torch light.

Bring a good cam­era and plen­ty of stor­age cards for the huge num­ber of pho­to oppor­tu­ni­ties on offer in the District.

Through­out the month of June, Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park is being cel­e­brat­ed as the Park of Month – an ini­tia­tive between Nature Play SA and DEW.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living