Flinders Ranges are the largest mountain range in South Australia,
which starts about 200 km (125 mi) north of Adelaide. The
discontinuous ranges stretch for over 430 km (265 mi) from
Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna.
Its most characteristic landmark is
Wilpena Pound, a large,
sickle-shaped, natural amphitheatre that covers 80 km2
(31 sq mi), and contains the range's highest peak, St
Mary Peak (1,171 m (3,842 ft),) which adjoins the
Flinders Ranges National Park. The northern ranges are protected
Arkaroola Protection Area
Arkaroola Protection Area and the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges
National Park. The southern ranges are notable for the Pichi Richi
scenic railway and
Mount Remarkable National Park. The Adnyamathanha
people are the indigenous inhabitants of the range.
Several small areas in the Ranges have protected area status. These
Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park
Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park near
Mount Remarkable National Park
Mount Remarkable National Park in the south near Melrose, the
Arkaroola Protection Area
Arkaroola Protection Area in the north, The Dutchmans Stern
Conservation Park west of Quorn, and the Mount Brown Conservation Park
south of Quorn. The
Heysen Trail and
Mawson Trail run for several
hundred kilometres along the ranges, providing scenic long distance
routes for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders.
Flora and fauna
5 See also
7 External links
Flinders Ranges from space
Flinders Ranges are composed largely of folded and faulted
sediments of the
Adelaide Geosyncline. This very thick sequence was
deposited in a large basin during the
Neoproterozoic on the passive
margin of the ancient continent of Rodinia. During the
540 million years ago) the area underwent the Delamerian orogeny, when
the geosynclinal sequence was folded and faulted into a large mountain
range. The area has undergone subsequent erosion resulting in the
relatively low ranges today.
Most of the high ground and ridgetops are sequences of quartzites that
outcrop along strike. The high walls of
Wilpena Pound are formed by
the outcropping beds of the eponymous Pound
Quartzite in a synclinal
structure. Synclines form other high parts of the Flinders, including
the plateau of the
Gammon Ranges and the Heysen Range.
are also very common.
The Ranges are renowned for the Ediacara Hills, South-west of Leigh
Creek, where in 1946 some of the oldest fossil evidence of animal life
was discovered. Similar fossils have subsequently been found in the
ranges, although their locations are kept secret to protect the sites.
In 2004 a new geological period, the
Ediacaran Period, was created to
mark the appearance of Ediacara biota.
The region has a semi-arid climate with hot dry summers and cool
winters. Summer temperatures usually exceed 38 °C
(100 °F), while winters have highs around 13–16 °C
(55–61 °F), depending on the elevation. Although rainfall is
erratic, most of the precipitation falls in winter. There are also
some monsoonal showers and storms that move in from the north during
the summer. The area gets around 250 mm (9.8 in) of rain
annually, with the highest at
Wilpena Pound, at 350 mm
Frost is common on winter mornings and temperatures have
dropped as low as −8 °C (18 °F).
Snow has even been
recorded in the
Wilpena Pound and at Blinman. The last significant
snowfall was in 1995.
Flora and fauna
Arid land in the Flinders Ranges
The flora of the Ranges are largely species adapted to a semi-arid
environment, such as sugar gum, cypress-pine, mallee and black oak.
Moister areas near
Wilpena Pound support grevilleas, Guinea flowers,
Liliaceae and ferns. Reeds and sedges grow near permanent water
sources such as springs and waterholes.
Since the eradication of dingos and the establishment of permanent
waterholes for stock, the number of red kangaroos, western grey
kangaroos and wallaroos in the
Flinders Ranges has increased. The
yellow-footed rock-wallaby, which neared extinction after the arrival
of Europeans due to hunting and predation by foxes, has now
stabilised. Other endemic marsupials include dunnarts and planigales.
Insectivorous bats make up significant proportion of the mammals.
There are a large number of bird species including parrots, galahs,
emus, the wedge-tailed eagle and small numbers of water birds.
Reptiles include goannas, snakes, dragon lizards, skinks and geckos.
The streambank froglet is an endemic amphibian.
The Ranges are part of the
Tirari-Sturt stony desert
Tirari-Sturt stony desert ecoregion.
Flinders Ranges at the southern end of
The first humans to inhabit the
Flinders Ranges were the Adnyamathanha
people (meaning "hill people" or "rock people") whose descendants
still reside in the area, and the Ndajurri people who no longer
exist. Cave paintings, rock engravings and other artefacts indicate
that the Adnyamathana and Ndajurri lived in the
Flinders Ranges for
tens of thousands of years. Occupation of the
Warratyi rock shelter
dates back approximately 49,000 years.
The first European explorers were an exploration party from Matthew
Flinders' seagoing visit to upper
Spencer Gulf aboard HMS
Investigator. They climbed Mount Brown in March 1802. In the winter of
1839 Edward John Eyre, with five men, two drays and ten horses,
further explored the region, setting out from
Adelaide on 1 May. The
party set up a depot near Mount Arden, and then explored the
surrounding region and upper Spencer Gulf, before heading east to the
Murray River and returning to Adelaide.
Flinders Ranges as seen from the Stuart Highway
There are records of squatters in the Quorn district as early as 1845,
and the first pastoral leases were granted in 1851. William Pinkerton
is credited as being the first European to find a route through the
Flinders Ranges via Pichi Richi Pass. In 1853 he drove 7,000 sheep
along the eastern plains of the range to where Quorn would be built 25
years later (Pinkerton Creek runs through the Quorn township).
In 1851 Wilpena, Arkaba and Aroona were established as sheep stations,
and within a few years other runs were marked out through the hills
and along the adjoining eastern and western slopes.
Kanyaka Station was established by Hugh Proby.
During the late 1870s the push to open agricultural land for wheat
north of the
Goyder's Line had met with unusual success, with good
rainfall and crops in the Flinders Ranges. This, along with the copper
mining lobby (copper was mined in the Hawker-
Flinders Ranges area in
the late 1850s and transported overland by bullock dray), induced the
government to build a narrow gauge railway line north of Port Augusta
through Pichi Richi Pass, Quorn, Hawker and along the west of the
ranges to Marree, to service the agricultural and pastoral industries.
Abandoned Kanyaka homestead between Quorn and Hawker.
However, rainfall returned to a normal pattern for the region, causing
many agricultural farms to collapse. Remnants of abdandoned homes can
still be seen dotted around the arid landscape.
Wilpena station, due
to its unusual geography, along with areas around Quorn and Carrieton,
are now the only places north of
Goyder's Line to sustain any
crops -
Wilpena has now been left to the wild and is
only a tourist location. Today kukri, unpopular with most Australian
farmers as it yields 10-15% less grain than other varieties of wheat,
is being grown for export to India.
Mining exploration continued in the region, but coal mining at Leigh
Creek and barytes at Oraparinna were the only long-term successes.
Pastoral industries flourished, and the rail line became of major
importance in opening up and servicing sheep and cattle stations along
the route to Alice Springs.
Hawker townsite was surveyed at a bend in the railway line where the
train line left the main road to Blinman, and named in 1880 after
South Australian politician and pastoralist, George Charles Hawker.
Quorn was surveyed by Godfrey Walsh and proclaimed a town on 16 May
1878. The township covered an area of 1.72 km2
(0.66 sq mi) and was laid out in squares in a manner similar
to the state's capital city, Adelaide. Governor Jervois reputedly
bestowed the name 'Quorn' because his private secretary at the time
had come from the Parish of Quorndon.
South Australia portal
Mount Chambers Gorge
Protected areas of South Australia
^ a b Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008.
p. 682. ISBN 9781593394929. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
^ a b c d Schultz, Patricia (2011). 1,000 Places to See Before You
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^ a b Russell, Suzy. "LibGuides: Aboriginal people of South Australia:
Adnyamathanha people". guides.slsa.sa.gov.au. Retrieved
^ Australia: The Land Where Time Began - A biography of the Australian
^ World Wildlife Fund (2001). "Tirari-Sturt stony desert". WildWorld
Ecoregion Profile. National Geographic Society. Archived from the
original on 2010-03-08.
^ Hema Maps (1997). Discover Australia's National Parks. Milsons
Point, New South Wales:
Random House Australia. pp. 320—321.
^ "Oldest known evidence of Aboriginal settlement in arid Australia
Flinders Ranges rock shelter". Australian Broadcasting
Corporation. 2016-11-03. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
^ Annalee Newitz (2016-03-11). "First discovery of 50,000-year-old
human settlements in Australian interior". Ars Technica. Retrieved
^ Domin, Eduard R.; Mincham H; Swinbourne R; Cook J (1986). The
Flinders Ranges, A Portrait. St Peters, South Australia: Little Hills
Press. pp. 12–19. ISBN 0-949773-37-9.
^ Prue Adams. "Flour Power". Landline. 2009-04-20.
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