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Roaming over rocks and ranges

At 650 million years in the making, Colin Broad discovers the Flinders Ranges is an area perfect for the young and the young at heart.

The Flinders Ranges National Park is a 94,908 hectare park located approximately four hours drive north of Adelaide. It is home to rugged mountain ranges, spectacular gorges that are in excess of 550 million years old, and creeks that are lined with River Red Gums. Wildlife is abundant, and thanks to the eradication and removal of feral animals and livestock, some native animals such as the endangered Yellow-Foot Rock Wallaby are making a gradual comeback.

Whether you are exploring along the park’s fringe or traversing through the interior, there’s a number of places that are a must to visit. Wilpena Pound is the central point of the park, and for those that feel fit and active there are numerous hiking trails that lead up to the edge of the amphitheatre. Some of the walks around the Flinders Ranges are short and suitable for the whole family, while others are more demanding and can take the better part of the day or even overnight if you decide to tackle the Heysen Trail.

Young or old, short or long; there’s a walk suited for anyone wanting to take the challenge, but for those that prefer to see the crater and a little further afield, scenic flights leave from the local airport leading into Wilpena Pound Resort. Flights even leave for Lake Eyre if you are truly adventurous.

A must see destination includes the Great Wall of China. From Rawnsley Park Station just south of the parks border, it’s a short ten-minute drive north to Wilpena Pound and a further ten minutes to the Great Wall. Much like its namesake from overseas, the long cliff face spans the western side of the range and from the car park located at the base of the face, the view and enormity becomes evident.

The Flinders Ranges has a strong history of early settlers and copper mining, and there are a number of ruins to discover and explore. Some are accessible by 4WD, while most are within an easy walking distance from the many trails that traverse the park. There are many scenic drives that crisscross the park such as the Brachina Gorge Geological Trail, a 20km long self guided tour, but remember that a number of trails and roads actually travel up dry creek beds, meaning that caution should be taken in times of heavy rain. For the best experience, try out the Bunyeroo-Brachina-Aroona Scenic Drive.

The wildlife throughout the park is abundant, with everything from wallabies, kangaroos, emus, large eagles and more. Visitors should be very careful when driving through at night as vehicle headlights often cause the odd kangaroo to change sides of the road. If you are cycling down the long distance Mawson Trail, chances are you be greeted by an endless amount of wildlife along the way.

Autumn and Spring are the best times to visit the Flinders and during the school holiday periods families are rewarded with a number of activities on offer. Don’t let the average age of the attendees be a deterrent because these activities, talks and games are suitable for the young and the not so young. They include junior ranger activities, stargazing tours, outback slide and information nights and guided walking tours to name a few. Full details can be found on the ‘Friends of the Flinders Ranges National Park website.

There’s also many activities that you can organise yourself. The kids on our trip made a game out of finding rocks of all different shapes, colours and sizes. Being a geological showcase built over hundreds of millions of years the variety of rocks here is enormous and one of the mums put together a list of rocks for the kids to find during their adventures, targeting colours, sizes or shapes that resemble things that they are familiar with such as a spoon. It was amazing how the kids really got involved with this game.

We spent a great week exploring the Flinders Ranges National Park and on the drive home reflected how much it has to offer families keen to explore the areas early pioneer heritage, while soaking in the rugged beauty of the area along one of the many trails. If you are planning to take the family somewhere memorable this year, this area is truly one of Australia’s favourite iconic destinations and is a must do that should be on everybody’s list.


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