While this drive can be taken from either direction, it is better followed in the direction described here, as the grand views of the Bunyeroo Valley and Wilpena Pound will be in front of you while descending down into the Bunyeroo Creek.
Travelling on the main Wilpena – Blinman Road, you will leave the bitumen about 5 kilometres north of the Wilpena access road and take the easy to find scenic drive road on your left hand side of the main road. Initially the drive is through grassy plains, covered with Native Pines and surrounded by bare hills. Within a few kilometres, the purple peaks of the distant ABC Range are the dominant feature. There are three excellent parking bays with stunning views of the Ranges, before the steep descent down into Bunyeroo Gorge. Once down into Bunyeroo Creek, you actually drive up the creek bed, which has been carved out of the ABC Range over 590 million years.
Emerging from Bunyeroo Creek, the road enters the Wilcolo Creek Valley and there is now a dramatic change in scenery, with immensely steep hills, sheer gullies and pyramid peaks, with the Heysen Range on your left and the ABC Range on your right, with dense stands of native pines and giant River Red Gums, with many small creeks to cross. Then within 4 kilometres of Bunyeroo Creek, you are back into open and flat country, changing from open country to native pines, due to the soil nutrients. After passing through one last creek, you are at the T junction, which is the Brachina Gorge Road, and from here the choice of direction is yours
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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 AnimalsWildlife 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 AnimalsIntroduced 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.
BirdlifeThere 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.
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.
Copper was not the only mineral of importance that was discovered in the Flinders Ranges
. There were a number of gold fields discovered, as well as silver and lead. Mining is still undertaken in the Flinders Ranges
today, with coal, barites, talc and uranium being mined at various locations.