Flinders Ranges National Park
806 sq.kmThe most scenic part of the Flinders Ranges is the area northeast of Hawker which has been designated as a National Park, taking in the grandiose Wilpena Pound, with St Mary's Peak (1188m) as its highest point. The sheltered valleys have a rich growth of vegetation, in striking contrast to the arid surrounding area. In spring the ground is carpeted with wild flowers. The varied forms and colors of the hills have inspired many painters, among them Hans Heysen.
Address: Box 78, Port Augusta, SA 5700, Australia
Useful tips: Access by good roads from Port Augusta over the Pichi Richi Pass to Hawker and via Wilpena through the park to Blinman and Parachilna. Best time to visit: spring to autumn.
Flinders Ranges National Park Highlights
Wilpena Pound is one of Australia's great natural wonders. This is an elevated basin, 17km long by 7km across, enclosed by sheer cliffs over 1000m high, which can be entered only through a narrow gorge. The name Wilpena comes from an Aboriginal term meaning the bent fingers of a closed hand. The rock walls of Wilpena Pound, shaped by erosion, were formed in the Palaeozoic period. The whole area occupies an important place in Aboriginal mythology. A trek round the Pound, with the ascent of St Mary's Peak, takes a full day of strenuous walking, with breathtaking views.
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a striking ridge of hills. Beltana, almost a ghost town, is protected as a Historic Reserve. There are remains of copper mining in the area.
The little settlement of Wilpena (pop. 200) is beautifully situated in a natural amphitheater surrounded by hills, with a fascinating play of color, changing over the course of the day. The only entrance is through a narrow gorge. In 1900 a wheat farmer built a homestead within the Pound, but flooding compelled him to abandon it.The impressive mountain landscape draws many climbers and bush walkers. At some points there are rock paintings and drawings and other evidences of Aboriginal culture, some of them very ancient.
The hamlet of Blinman, which has only a few dozen inhabitants. From 1860 to 1890 it was a thriving copper-mining center. It is now a small tourist resort (hotel, caravan/camping park) catering for visitors attracted by the natural beauties of the National Park.Possible excursions from Blinman are to the Aroona Valley, in which there is the historic settlement of Mount Hayward and the Brachina Gorge to the south.
Hawker (pop. 300), a typical outback settlement in the center of the northern Flinders Ranges, was once the prosperous center of a large wheat-growing area, served by a railroad line. Following a series of long droughts wheat growing was abandoned, and Hawker is now a popular base for excursions into the impressive mountain scenery of the Flinders Ranges.North of Hawker, in the Yourambulla Caves and on the Arkaroo Rock, are Aboriginal rock paintings.