Glass Gorge Scenic Drive

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesThe Old Chimney (Blinman)
FinishParachilna Gorge Road & Glass Gorge Scenic Drive
DifficultyDifficulty 2/5
Suitable for4WD 
Distance61.69 km
Minimum Days2
Average Speed32.9 km/hr
Driving Time1 hr 52 mins
Article By: Member - Stephen Langman
Page Updated: 25 Nov 2009


The Glass Gorge Scenic Drive sweeps in a large ark from Blinman and enters the Parachilna Gorge Road 11 kilometres east of Parachilna. Even though the drive can be taken from either direction, it is best started at the end of the Blinman Main Street, and head out on the well signposted road ‘Scenic Road to Parachilna via Glass Gorge 39 kilometres’, as travelling this way, the more scenic views will be in front of you. After leaving Blinman, the road travels through undulating country before entering Glass Gorge.

Once past the fine scenery of the Gorge, the road emerges into Oratunga Creek Valley and bears south as some magnificent scenery come into view. Before making the final southward drive to the Parachilna Gorge Road, the side detour towards Moolooloo Homestead on PAR No 3 road is well worth the drive to visit one of the Flinders Ranges best mining ruins, the Nuccaleena Copper Mine site.

There is only one location for this trip where camping is permitted, and that is at the designated camping area near the Nuccaleena Mine Ruins. As you approach the "One Way" sign and proceed up the incline, the camping area is on your immediate right at the top of the hill, as indicated by the camping sign. There are no facilities here and if you intend to camp here, you will have to bring your own water and other requirements. This is a free camp site, with no fees payable. The only other locations where bush camping is permitted is once back on the Parachilna Gorge Road, there are dozens on magnificent locations to choose from.

After retracing your tracks back to the main road continue further south and enter the main Blinman – Parachilna Road. From here you can either head towards Parachilna, or take the scenic Parachilna Gorge Road back to Blinman.

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On the 20th February, 1941, the Government Gazette carried detailed definitions of the boundaries of the states Ranges, including the North and South Flinders Ranges, as well as the Andamooka Ranges. The Flinders Ranges generally provided no surprises, except with the inclusion of Willouran Ranges as an arm north-westwards as far as Cadnia Hill, which is well north of Lake Torrens. This inclusion was recommended by the Department of Mines and Energy, as it belongs to the same geological sequence as the main Flinders Ranges.

Boundary points were mostly listed as specific hills, each forming an outer limit of the Ranges. The line running through Parachilna Gorge and Blinman is the dividing point that defines the South and North Flinders Ranges. Even though there are two main defines areas of the Flinders Ranges, the region usually falls into 3 main regions. The southern Flinders is a region defines as below Hawker, the Central Flinders between Hawker and Parachilna – Blinman Road and the northern and drier flinders to the north.

Native Animals

Wildlife in the Flinders Ranges is very varied. The most common native animals spotted are the Red and Western grey Kangaroo, which are active at dawn and dusk, and Emus which are active during the day. Those that are lucky may even catch a glimpse of the rare and threatened Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby that make its home in the rock gorges. There are over 60 species of reptiles in the region, with the most common species spotted including the sleepy lizard, skinks, goannas, and Central bearded dragon.

Introduced Animals

Introduced pest animals that are commonly seen in the Flinders Ranges will include rabbits, foxes, feral cats, and the most commonly seen feral animal, wild goats. Introduced for their meat and milk by early miners and settlers, they would come to be the most destructive feral animal in the Flinders Ranges, which is found in most inaccessible areas destroying mature vegetation and preventing regeneration by eating the seedlings.


There is prolific birdlife in the Flinders from the common and raucous galahs and corellas, Mallee Ringneck or Port Lincoln Parrot. Other species like the Elegant, Scarlet and Red rumped parrots are seen in the woodlands. Birds of prey are also common, including eagles, kites, falcons, kestrels and harriers. This is just a few of many species that can be seen and if you are a keen bird watcher make sure that you take a bird identification guidebook and a set of binoculars.

Nuccaleena Site

Copper was discovered at Nuccaleena by William Finke in the mid 1850’s. After the raising of finances from England, the Nuccaleena Mine became partly operational in early 1860, when 100 tons of copper ore were mined in five weeks by only sixteen men. By March 1861, eighty six men were employed and working at the mine site, including thirty six miners, five masons, four sawyers, two cooks and a medical officer.

The Great Northern Mining Company built a small town around the mine site, where the miners and mechanics of the company resided. The township also boasted the Bushman’s Hotel, built by Charles Faulkner, as well as a Mechanics/Mines Institute.

By 1863 JB Austin reported that apart from the above buildings, there were also the Captains apartments, office, stone stables, a goods store, smith’s shop, a workshop, general store, doctor’s house and about 20 good huts for the miners.

By 1866, the Nuccaleena Mine had produced only £13,000 worth of copper ore, after the enterprise had expended £57,000 on the enterprise. Soon after, the mine was abandoned as an enormous financial failure.


The Flinders Ranges are one of the oldest Mountain Ranges in the world, with fossil evidence dating back over 640 million years and today’s weathered remains of a once great mountain that was once up to 6 kilometres high. For over 15,000 years, these ranges where the home for the local Adnyamathanha Aboriginal people. There are many fine locations in the Flinders Ranges where their paintings and rock art sites can be viewed and it is well worth the time to visit one of these sites. At the time of European settlement, it was estimated that there were about 500 aboriginal people living in the Flinders Ranges.

The first European to view ‘a chain of rugged mountains’ was Matthew Flinders in March 1802, on board the “Investigator”, while charting the coastline of Spencer Gulf, during his circumnavigation voyage of Terra Australia, to see if the Eastern and Western coastlines of Australia were in fact 2 separate islands, as thought by many at the time, or one large continent.

The next European to see and visit the still unnamed mountainous area was Edward John Eyre in 1839, who undertook a series of exploration expeditions to the Flinders Ranges over the next two years. The travels of Eyre proved very successful, and he named a number of features during his visits. In a letter dated 10th July 1839 by the then Governor of South Australia, Governor Gawler to Colonel Torrens, which was published on page 3 of the Government Gazette, dated 11 July 1839, Governor Gawler described the work of explorer, Edward Eyre and advised that he had named the mountain range ‘Flinders Ranges’, after their discoverer.

In 1851 Benjamin Babbage was appointed by Earl Grey, at the South Australian government’s request, to make a Geological and Mineralogical Survey of the Colony. Babbage was appointed Commissioner of Gold licences and in 1853 government assayer. In 1856 Babbage was sent north to search for gold as far as the Flinders Ranges. He found none, but discovered MacDonnell River, Blanchewater and Mount Hopeful and was able to dispel the current idea of the impassability of Eyre’s horseshoe shaped Lake Torrens by ascertaining the existence of a north-east gap to the Cooper and Gulf country. Babbage had actually crossed the gap, but it was Peter Egerton Warburton, using Babbage’s detailed information to traverse this gap completely.

With the opening up and settlement in the Flinders Ranges, South Australian’s were looking for Copper throughout the region. By the late 1850’s a large copper ore deposit was discovered in Blinman. The Blinman mine then was worked on and off over the next 20 years, but was never a profitable venture to continue. Many other sites in the Flinders opened, all with the thoughts of finding that mother load. Sites like Nuccaleena, Sliding Rock, Prince Alfred, and Yudnamutana were just some of the sites that showed promise, but petered out after a few short years after mining commenced.


The small township of Blinman where this trek begins offers limited services. The general store offers basic supplies and the nearest fuel supplies, approximately 18 kilometres west, are at Angorichina Village, approximately half way between Blinman and Parachilna. Please ensure that you have adequate fuel, water and food supplies.

The tracks throughout the Flinders are well known to damage tyres, so take your time and drive to the track conditions. Good tyres are a therefore a must, and also consider carrying adequate recovery gear and tyre repair kits, etc. Carry a quality first aid kit and take a range of reliable communications equipment such as UHF Radios, Satellite phone, PLB, and navigation equipment such as a GPS Unit (or a laptop running OziExplorer with some updated digital maps). You could also consider taking some recent hard copy maps as well.


Any time of the year in the Flinders can be rewarding, but the cooler winter months of Southern Australia make the best time for any foot activities in the Flinders. Please take the time of year and weather conditions into account, and carry adequate clothing, hats, sunscreen, quality hiking boots, etc. If the winter and spring rains have been good, the wildflowers are also a very rewarding.

Important Numbers

Police: (08) 8648 4028
Ambulance : 000
Fire/CFS – Wilpena: (08) 8648 0049
Fire/CFS – Hawker: (08) 8648 4065
Wilpena Visitor Centre: (08) 8648 0048
DEH Wilpena Office: (08) 8648 0049


When driving the Glass Gorge Scenic Drive and the PAR No 3 Track into Nuccaleena, no permits are required. Even though the road into Nuccaleena is a Public Access Route, it is still through private property. You must not leave this main track, and all gates must be left as you found them.

Fuel Supplies & Usage

Fuel Symbol
4cyl 9 litres4cyl 10 litres4cyl 12 litres
6cyl 9 litres6cyl 11 litres6cyl 11 litres
8cyl 9 litres8cyl 10 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

Any time of the year in the Flinders can be rewarding, but the cooler months of Southern Australia between April and October make the best time for driving and camping in the Flinders Ranges.

Closest Climatic Station

Leigh Creek Airport
Distance from Trek Mid Point 59.37km N
Mean Max. °C35.534.531.126.220.917.016.619.123.226.730.533.0
Mean Min. °C20.720.417.312.
Mean Rain mm20.228.720.313.
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Services & Supplies


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What to See

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Where to Stay

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LocationsDistanceDirection Time
The Old Chimney (Blinman) to Blinman0.07 kmNW326° N/A
Blinman to Glass Gorge Scenic Drive Sign0.14 kmNW322°
Glass Gorge Scenic Drive Sign to Grid0.91 kmW283° 1 min
Grid to Grid3 kmNW309° 3 min
Grid to Glass Gorge Scenic Drive & Oratunga Access0.98 kmW285° 1 min
Glass Gorge Scenic Drive & Oratunga Access to Glass Gorge0.8 kmNW300°
Glass Gorge to Grid5.84 kmNW324° 6 min
Grid to Glass Gorge Scenic Drive & Nuccaleena Access3.43 kmW260° 3 min
Glass Gorge Scenic Drive & Nuccaleena Access to Grid0.06 kmNN/A
Grid to PAR Sign2.7 kmN355° 3 min
PAR Sign to Gate1.65 kmW268° 3 min
Gate to Telecommunications Tower1.51 kmW271° 3 min
Telecommunications Tower to Gate4.31 kmNW332° 9 min
Gate to Nuccaleena Creek4.75 kmN11 min
Nuccaleena Creek to Tam O’Shanter Hotel Ruins0.29 kmW289°
Tam O’Shanter Hotel Ruins to Gully (Nuccaleena Creek)0.52 kmW270° 1 min
Gully (Nuccaleena Creek) to One Way Sign0.74 kmW270° 2 min
One Way Sign to Nuccaleena Mine Ruins0.16 kmSW235°
Nuccaleena Mine Ruins to Gully (Nuccaleena Creek)0.94 kmE83° 4 min
Gully (Nuccaleena Creek) to Tam O’Shanter Hotel Ruins0.52 kmE90° 1 min
Tam O’Shanter Hotel Ruins to Nuccaleena Creek0.29 kmE109°
Nuccaleena Creek to Gate4.75 kmS189° 11 min
Gate to Telecommunications Tower4.31 kmSE152° 9 min
Telecommunications Tower to Gate1.51 kmE91° 3 min
Gate to PAR Sign1.65 kmE88° 3 min
PAR Sign to Grid2.7 kmS175° 3 min
Grid to Glass Gorge Scenic Drive & Nuccaleena Access0.06 kmS180° N/A
Glass Gorge Scenic Drive & Nuccaleena Access to Old Stock Yards0.91 kmSW230° 1 min
Old Stock Yards to Grid5.81 kmS200° 5 min
Grid to Valley Paddock Track0.7 kmW273° 1 min
Valley Paddock Track to Grid3.22 kmS193° 4 min
Grid to Glass Gorge Sign2.19 kmSW226° 3 min
Glass Gorge Sign to Parachilna Gorge Road & Glass Gorge Scenic Drive0.28 kmSW227°
The Old Chimney (Blinman) to Parachilna Gorge Road & Glass Gorge Scenic Drive61.69 km  1 hr 52 min
Distance is GPS recorded driving distance (not straight line), Direction is straight line from start to end, Time is calculated from actual GPS driving data.


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