This Trek is an adventurous loop from Arkaroola throughout the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges that incorporates access along 4WD trails on the plateau fringe to bush camping and accessible hiking trails. The highlight of the trek is a 5km walk from the campsite at Lochness Well along a creek bed to the spectacular Bunyip Chasm.
The Vulkathunha - Gammon Ranges National Park lies approximately 750 km to the north of Adelaide and 110 km from Leigh Creek. The park has around 128 000 hectares of chasms, deep gorges, towering mountains, tree-lined creeks and freshwater springs.
Bunyip Chasm is said to be the best walk in the entire area, although it is lesser known and publicised and requires 4WD access. For the general tourist, Gammon Ranges can be reached off the Copley Rd, however this trek is specifically prepared to give a good historical route through 4WD trails. The drive to Bunyip Chasm will reward you with spectacular views of the rugged terrain of the Gammon Range. There are many opportunities for self-reliant bush camping (permits apply) or you can rent a hut such as Grindell Hut complete with facilities.
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The Bunyip Chasm area is a spectacular red rock gorge and is reached via a 5km marked walk trail along a creek bed. It contains some relatively rare plants, reptiles, birds, euros, emus & the yellow footed rock wallaby. The creek has pools, River Red gums, fossil ripple marks on old sandstones & many other interesting things to appreciate & photograph.
Local aboriginals generally shunned the interior of the Gammon ranges, for fear of waking the fearful dreamtime serpent Akurra. Few places
inside the Ranges therefore have aboriginal place names. Bunyip gorge (Winmiindanha) is one exception.
History of the Flinders Ranges
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
, and like many other locations throughout Australia
, the Adnyamathanha Aboriginal people defended their lands from the white people that were settling in their tribal lands and clashes were common, with many Aboriginal people being killed in the ensuing battles.
During the 1860’s, drought ravaged many parts of South Australia
, and the Flinders Ranges
did not escape these effects. Many of the Aboriginal people were forced to retreat to ration depots, where poor living conditions and disease wiped many of the Aboriginals out. By the mid 1870’s many of the Aboriginals were working on the local stations, working as shepherds and stockman. In this way they were still able to keep their very strong bonds with the tribal lands that they had been displaced from. In 1929 the United Aborigines Mission established a new mission at Nepabunna, east of Copley, which was a special place of the local Aboriginals. When that last full blood past away in 1973, so ended the handing down of special dreaming stories that could only be handed down to fully initiated members of the tribe. With the coming of white man, the Flinders Ranges
were set to see many changes to the local Adnyamathanha people.
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. Flinders' group conducted limited land exploration and despite naming Mt Arden and noting the ranges as ‘a ridge of high, rocky and baron mountains’, these ranges remained unnamed for a further 37 years. The next European to see and visit the still unnamed mountainous area was Edward John Eyre
in 1839, who undertook a series of expeditions to the Flinders Ranges
over the next two years. While on his first exploration expedition, he discovered on the western side of the ranges, a permanent supply of water that made the ideal place for forming a permanent depot for further expedition, naming the place Depot Creek which was put on the map. A little further north of Depot Creek, Eyre
became the first white person to climb the tall peak named by Matthew Flinders in 1802 - Mount Arden. The travels of Eyre
proved very useful, 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, Matthew Flinders, who never named any of his discoveries after himself. 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
During the early years of the Colony’s life, Bungaree Station, just a few kilometres north of Clare, was the outer limit of civilization in the new state, but slowly pastoralism pushed north for bigger and better properties. From 1850 occupational licences were granted. Early surveyors became explorers
in their own right and by the 1860’s, all the Flinders Ranges
were under pastoral leases.
During the early years of settlement in the Flinders Ranges
the area received very good rainfall, resulting in large area of land cleared and crops plated, as well as overstocking the properties with both sheep and cattle. These years of good rainfall soon reverted back to the usual low rainfall, resulting in crops failing and many thousands of head of stock perishing because of the low rainfall and drought conditions. Measures were put in place by the Government to stop further cropping and overstocking of land that was deemed not suitable for cropping, and an invisible line was created of maps, a line that is still in place today, and is known as Goyder’s Line. Goyder’s Line of rainfall is an imaginary line marking off a very large area of rural South Australia
that receives 254mm of rainfall a year or less. This line was named after the then Surveyor General, George Goyder, who in 1865 travelled nearly 5000 kilometres on horseback to distinguish a division between arable (guaranteed rainfall) and arid land. North of the Goyder’s Line was deemed Pastoral land and should not be cropped and was also the start of Saltbush and Bluebush country.
During the early years of European settlement
in the Flinders, South Australian’s were looking for Copper. By the late 1850’s a large copper ore deposit was discovered in Blinman. The mine site was sold to the Yudnamutana Copper Mining Company in 1862 but was closed in 1874. 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. Another venture that has taken off with great interest is the diversification of station properties, which have opened up their properties to the increasing number of four wheel drive owners that seek the challenges that are on offer, that gives those that take these tracks to see another side of the Flinders Ranges
, that until a number of years ago, was only viewed by station owners and workers.