Your guide to the seven natural wonders of SA’s national parks

Your guide to the seven natural wonders of SA’s national parks

You don’t need to go far to see mag­nif­i­cent nat­ur­al sites. Here’s where to vis­it, right here in South Australia.

For mil­lions of years the South Aus­tralian land­scape has been shaped by nat­ur­al forces. Vol­canic erup­tions, glac­i­ers, geo­log­i­cal upheavals and ero­sion from the sun, heat, wind and water have cre­at­ed nat­ur­al won­ders, many of which are pro­tect­ed by nation­al parks.

To get you start­ed on your expe­di­tion to explore the nat­ur­al won­ders of South Australia’s nation­al parks, we have put this list togeth­er for you to add to your buck­et list.

1. Wilpe­na Pound, Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park

The nat­ur­al amphithe­atre known as Wilpe­na Pound is locat­ed in the heart of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park, approx­i­mate­ly 450 kilo­me­tres north of Adelaide.

It was formed by a large syn­cline between two moun­tain ranges and is an icon­ic fea­ture of the South Aus­tralian landscape.

The Tra­di­tion­al Own­ers of the Flinders Ranges, the Adnya­math­anha peo­ple know this place as Ikara’, which in their lan­guage means meet­ing place’.

Top tip: You can explore Wilpe­na Pound from the ground by set­ting out on a walk­ing trail or for a tru­ly breath­tak­ing expe­ri­ence, book a scenic flight and see it from the air.

Your guide to the seven natural wonders of SA’s national parks

2. Remark­able Rocks, Flinders Chase Nation­al Park

There’s only one word for the col­lec­tion of gran­ite boul­ders that are perched on a gran­ite dome on the south­ern coast of Kan­ga­roo Island – remarkable.

Shaped over 500 mil­lion years, Remark­able Rocks are a must-see for any vis­i­tor of Flinders Chase Nation­al Park, which is sit­u­at­ed approx­i­mate­ly 265km south-west of Adelaide.

This unique geo­log­i­cal for­ma­tion is acces­si­ble by a board­walk. Try vis­it­ing in the ear­ly morn­ing or late after­noon – you’ll avoid the crowds and be able to catch the sun­rise or sunset.

Top tip: Make sure you check out the stun­ning Admi­rals Arch while you are in the area. It’s just a 10 minute dri­ve from Remark­able Rocks.

Your guide to the seven natural wonders of SA’s national parks

3. Organ Pipes, Gawler Ranges Nation­al Park

The Organ Pipes in the Gawler Ranges Nation­al Park is one of the world’s largest out­crops of vol­canic rhyolite.

This geo­log­i­cal mar­vel is the result of vol­canic erup­tions more than 1500 mil­lion years ago. The cool­ing process of the lava caused fis­sures in the rhy­o­lite and through mil­lions of years of ero­sion, large sym­met­ri­cal columns have formed, resem­bling the pipes of an organ.

Gawler Ranges Nation­al Park is locat­ed on North­ern Eyre Penin­su­la, 600km north-west of Ade­laide. A four-wheel-dri­ve is rec­om­mend­ed to enjoy all of the high­lights of the park, although in dry weath­er much of the park can be accessed by high clear­ance two-wheel-drive.

Top tip: There are equal­ly stun­ning out­crops of vol­canic rhy­o­lite at Yan­d­i­na Falls and Kolay Mir­i­ca Falls which are also locat­ed with­in Gawler Ranges Nation­al Park.

Your guide to the seven natural wonders of SA’s national parks

4. Kati Than­da, Kati Than­da-Lake Eyre Nation­al Park

Kati Than­da is Australia’s largest salt lake, mea­sur­ing 144km long and 77km wide. Its sheer size is enough to blow any­one away! You may feel a sense of iso­la­tion stand­ing on the lake edge and see­ing noth­ing else as far as the eye can see.

Locat­ed in Kati Than­da-Lake Eyre Nation­al Park, about 700km north of Ade­laide, the lake is the low­est point of the Aus­tralian main­land (15 metres below sea level).

It’s a dry salt lake, but about once every eight years flood waters enter the lake and water­birds descend in the thou­sands. Dor­mant algae blooms come to life, cre­at­ing nat­ur­al palette of pinks, oranges, greens and blues.

Top tip: The lake can be vis­it­ed on the ground but the best way to take in its sheer vast­ness is from the air on a scenic flight.

Your guide to the seven natural wonders of SA’s national parks

5. The Chasm, Pic­canin­nie Ponds Con­ser­va­tion Park

There’s noth­ing like star­ing into the blue abyss of The Chasm in Pic­canin­nie Ponds Con­ser­va­tion Park, about 465km south-east of Adelaide.

You’ll snorkel through Pic­canin­nie Ponds’ under­wa­ter gar­den, teem­ing with aquat­ic life, when the earth sud­den­ly drops away from under­neath you. This is The Chasm’, with its clear white walls, cov­ered in del­i­cate algal growth con­trast­ing with the dark­ness of the aston­ish­ing depth of 120 metres below.

The Chasm’ has been formed over thou­sands of years as a result of fresh water ris­ing to the sur­face under pres­sure and erod­ing weak­ness­es in the lime­stone rock. This process also nat­u­ral­ly fil­ters the water pro­vid­ing amaz­ing clar­i­ty under­wa­ter, pos­si­bly exceed­ing 40 metres. The water tem­per­a­ture is a lit­tle chilly – a con­stant 16-degrees – so all snorkellers must wear full length wet­suits, fins and facemask.

Top tip: Snorkelling and div­ing per­mits are required to enter the ponds. These must be pur­chased online.

Your guide to the seven natural wonders of SA’s national parks

6. Nara­coorte Caves, Nara­coorte Caves Nation­al Park and World Her­itage Site

The World Her­itage list­ed Nara­coorte Caves, locat­ed 350kms south-east of Ade­laide, are one of the world’s most impor­tant sites for megafau­na fos­sils.

The 800,000 year old lime­stone cave sys­tem col­lect­ed many ani­mals, includ­ing megafau­na species, as they fell into pit­fall caves and were unable to escape.

The caves nat­u­ral­ly trapped these ani­mals for at least 500,000 years, pre­serv­ing the most com­plete fos­sil record for this peri­od of time.

All of this forms Nara­coorte Caves Nation­al Park, which also includes Won­am­bi Fos­sil Cen­tre where you can see a snap­shot of what ancient Nara­coorte may have been like.

Top tip: Tours of the caves can be booked online.

Your guide to the seven natural wonders of SA’s national parks

7. The Sug­ar Loaf, Hal­lett Cove Con­ser­va­tion Park

In Adelaide’s south­ern beach­side sub­urb of Hal­lett Cove, you will find a fas­ci­nat­ing geo­log­i­cal mon­u­ment that dates back to a time when SA was cov­ered in ice and glaciers.

The Sug­ar Loaf in Hal­lett Cove Con­ser­va­tion Park stands at the cen­tre of a nat­ur­al amphithe­atre that was cre­at­ed by a glacial lake about 280 mil­lion years ago. It’s made up of three lay­ers: a red sand base, a lay­er of white sand, and topped off with brown clay.

Mil­lions of years of ero­sion cre­at­ed the cone-shaped moun­tain, which earnt its name for its resem­blance of a mound of sugar.

Top tip: A walk around this sig­nif­i­cant geo­log­i­cal area also offers you reward­ing views of St Vin­cent Gulf and coastline.

Your guide to the seven natural wonders of SA’s national parks

Want some more inspi­ra­tion? Check out our sto­ry on nation­al parks to vis­it that have spec­tac­u­lar views, or read about some of the activ­i­ties you can enjoy with your friends when you get there.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living