Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park
Enhancing the visitor experience at Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park
Visitor facilities in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park are being upgraded to showcase some of its most unique landscapes and cultural attractions.
Located approximately 450 km north of Adelaide, Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is in the central Flinders Ranges and is considered one of the state’s iconic destinations.
Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park (I‑FRNP) is managed by the I‑FRNP Co-management Board (the Board) in partnership under a Co-management Agreement with the Adnyamathanha people. This co-management arrangement commenced in 2012, and the Board sets the strategic direction for the park including support for the State Government’s bid to secure World Heritage recognition of the Flinders Ranges in the future.
This project aims to celebrate the natural and cultural assets of Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park while boosting regional tourism opportunities for the long-term.
Throughout the upgrades, Aboriginal representatives monitor each aspect of the work to ensure the heritage and cultural values are respected and preserved.
The result of the project aims to provide a unique opportunity for local Aboriginal communities to develop businesses that offer tours and cultural experiences and link visitors to accommodation and service providers in adjacent townships.
To fully enable visitors to enjoy the natural beauty, geology and spiritual connection of the land and Adnyamathanha culture, upgrades to visitor facilities are underway and will continue through to late 2022.
Akurra Adnya (Arkaroo Rock) — Stage 1
The Akurra Adnya (Arkaroo Rock) trail provides one of the best examples of Adnyamathanha rock art and is already a popular walking experience in the park. The 2 hour / 3 km round loop trail leads to a rock shelter containing ochre and charcoal images that depict aspects of the Yura Muda for Ikara (Wilpena Pound).
After a short site closure while work was carried out, stage 1 of the upgrades to visitor facilities were completed in early December 2021 and the site has re-opened.
The entry area to the hike has been rejuvenated with newly developed interpretation that shares the cultural significance of the area.
The existing car park which was in disrepair has been resurfaced and modified to maximise shade for vehicles. Bollards have also been installed to guide traffic flow and ensure safety.
New picnic facilities now allow visitors to linger longer after a hike and to refresh amongst some of the most spectacular scenery in the northern Flinders Ranges.
A much welcomed addition to the site is the inclusion of a toilet. The toilet not only provides relief for visitor’s thirsty work hiking the nearby trail, it will aid protection of the environment assisting visitors in a busting situation.
Akurra Adnya (Arkaroo Rock) — Stage 2
Preparations for stage 2 upgrades are well underway which are anticipated to commence in late 2022 (pending approvals).
Stage 2 upgrades will focus on the rock-art site along with a bridge replacement on the hiking trail. The rock-art site itself will receive a new viewing area that will enable visitors to see the ancient ochre and charcoal rock-art images up-close in the best possible conditions. A uniquely designed interpretive screen will protect the paintings that have been carbon-dated to more than 6,000 years of age.
Interpretive signage will be located at the viewing area to better inform visitors of the site’s cultural significance.
In mid-2021, authorisations under the sections 21 and 23 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA) (Act) were sought for the proposed stage 2 works.
In early 2022, Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation consulted with Traditional Owners and Aboriginal People that have an interest in Akurra Adnya (Arkaroo Rock). The application is currently under review. The construction start date is dependent on the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs approving the project under the Act.
The Brachina Gorge Geological Trail
The Brachina Gorge Geological Trail is a self-drive experience that reveals a series of geological formations that were created between 640 to 520 million years ago.
Enhancing the unique geological and paleontological values displayed along the Brachina Gorge Geological Trail will aid the upcoming nomination for World Heritage for the Flinders Ranges. The nomination is slated for submission to UNESCO in 2024 and will recognise the Flinders Ranges as the only place on Earth where 350 million years of near-continuous geological sequence can be seen. The Flinders Ranges demonstrates evidence of the rise of a habitable planet and the dawn of animal life.
Upgrades along the Brachina Gorge Geological Trail have already commenced and aim to improve traffic flow and safety through improved wayfinding prompts, updated interpretation and visitor amenities. Locally sourced construction materials have been sourced that are hard wearing to withstand the elements and complement the natural environment – predominantly mild steel, sustainably sourced cypress pine and local gravels and stone.
The four key visitor nodes that are receiving upgrades include:
Considered to be the main entry into the park and accessed by the Flinders Ranges Way.
Located 4 km from the eastern Brachina Gorge Road gateway, the site is a popular location for visitors to see the stromatolites in the nearby Enorama Creek.
Ediacaran Global Stratotype Section & Point (GSSP)
Also known as the Golden Spike, the GSSP attraction is a brass marker identifying the end of the Elatina glaciation and Cryogenian Period and the start of the Ediacaran Period.
Located 12 km east of the Outback Way, it is expected that traffic to this site will increase when roads become bituminised further north of the location.
The visitor experience along the Brachina Gorge Geological Trail will be amplified, with enhanced connection to the landscape in an unobtrusive and respectful manner. The upgrades will also ensure visitors are better informed to appreciate the geology, Adnyamathanha culture and features of the landscape.
A project highlight includes new visitor facilities at the Ediacaran Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP), otherwise known as the Golden Spike site.
Upgraded visitor facilities at the Golden Spike
Work is nearing completion at the site of the Ediacaran Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) also known as the Golden Spike and is the only one located in the southern hemisphere.
Until now, its location on the edge of the Enorama Creek has been somewhat unknown but sought-after by geologists and visitors who are eager to see the layered chapters of time.
At the entry to the attraction, the former shale quarry was rehabilitated in 2021 and recently converted into a parking area for 6 angled vehicle spaces and 40 metres of long-vehicle parallel parking. A clear and defined turn-around space has been created with cypress bollards allowing for pedestrian safety adjacent to the trail leading to a new viewing platform.
From the parking area, a compacted shale trail provides universal access to a new viewing platform overlooking the Golden Spike and surrounding creek bed.
A low dry stone wall supports the paved viewing platform and includes seating and steps to the Trezona Loop Walk Track and closer access to see the Golden Spike marker up-close. An interpretation post has also been incorporated in the design that will provide visitors with information of the area’s significance in the near future.
Upgrades at Youngoona Hut site
The next stage of upgrades along the Brachina Gorge Geological Trail are now underway at the site of Youngoona Hut.
New trail access and a vehicle turn-around space is currently being developed at this popular location where visitors seek-out the stromatolites in the nearby Enorama Creek. As part of the upgrade, improved wayfinding markers and interpretation will be incorporated in the near future.
Upgrades to the Eastern Brachina Gorge Road Gateway
A more impactful eastern gateway entry/exit will be created for the Brachina Gorge Geological Trail.
Located 35 km north of Wilpena Pound, the eastern entry to Brachina Gorge Geological Trail is considered to be the main entry into the park, and is accessed by the Flinders Ranges Way.
In the future, interpretation posts will welcome all visitors to the geological trail and invite them to stop upon entry.
A noticeable upgrade will be the extended, 95 metre shale graveled parking area (accommodating long vehicles) and providing greater safety for visitors who stop to learn about the area.
Adjacent on the western side, there will also be a new, 45 metre long vehicle turn around space created off the Brachina Gorge Road. Both vehicle areas will be distinctively sectioned from pedestrian zones through installation of cypress bollards and signage.
The existing shelter will be adapted to provide a visitor experience that feels more ‘open-to-the-landscape’ and universally accessible. The existing sides of the shelter will be opened with a new adjacent area dedicated to interpretation of the trail.
New seating will allow visitors to linger longer and to appreciate the surrounding environment as they journey plan. The existing memorial stone will be relocated to complement the overall site.
Refuse areas will remain but screened sympathetically within the landscape.
Upgrades to the Western Brachina Gorge Road Gateway
A more impactful western gateway entry/exit will be created for the Brachina Gorge Geological Trail.
Located 12 km east of the Outback Way, the existing rock entry signage will remain but be enhanced with new interpretation posts and road-island signage to welcome all visitors to the geological trail.
The more impactful entry will encourage visitors to stop at the landscape viewing area. It is expected that traffic to this site will increase when roads become bituminised further north of the location.
Parking areas will be formalised using cypress bollards clearly indicating turn-around areas (accommodating long vehicles) with wheel stops installed for individual car parks.
The northern and eastern sides of the existing shelter will be opened to provide greater views of the landscape. An adjacent area will be levelled for a universally accessible area. New seating will also be introduced enabling a place to contemplate and journey plan.
The Cazneaux Tree
Torrential storms ravaged the Flinders Ranges over the 2021 Australia Day long weekend with flooding damaging the bridge to the Cazneaux Tree viewing area.
Since then, work has been underway to rebuild the bridge and enable visitor access back to this popular site which is popular for capturing a tree that has endured years of harsh weather conditions against the sunlit Flinders Ranges.
Also coming soon is interpretation along the short walking trail in and around the tree’s viewing area which will explain the untold stories of the site. Metal sign podiums have already been installed and the interpretation designs are almost complete for production and then installation. Both are earmarked for completion by mid 2022 which will see a new visitor attraction located not far from Wilpena Pound in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.