Depending on which main road you are driving on to do this scenic drive, it is either 23 kilometres north of Hawker on the Main Hawker - Wilpena Road or 45 north of Hawker on the Main Hawker – Parachilna Road. Like any drive through the Flinders, it is better to take your time and enjoy the changing and stunning views as you drive in the shadows of the ranges and then come out into open pastoral country. The only small detour from this main track is the sign posted road to Blacks Gap. From the Black Gap car park, it is a 12 kilometre hike back to Wilpena Pound Resort.
Continuing further west you will pass the restored and historic ‘Old Cueing Yards’. These old yards were built in the 1870’s to hold the bullocks for “cueing” (shoeing). The bullocks were used to bring the large native pines from the Flinders Ranges
, which were used in the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line. Continuing still further west, the larges and widest creek is crossed, the Moralana Creek. In times of very wet weather and flooding, this creek will be impassable, with evidence of debris wedged into the forks of the large River Red Gum that are in the creek. With 2 more grids to cross, it is the junction of the main Hawker – Parachilna road. From here you have the choice of heading north, south or retracing your track and enjoying the scenery from the opposite direction.
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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.
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 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.
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.