Southern Flinders, one of several pages on the Flinders Ranges

With recollections, observations and thoughts

My wife and I live a little south of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. We have probably visited the Ranges in most of the last 40 years; it is one of the places we love most in the world.

Many of the photos on these pages have a high definition version, click on the image in this page to see it; use your 'return' button to get back to this page.

I have too many photos to put on a single html file, so I've split them up over several files. I hope that this will not cause problems in navigating between the sections.

I've arbitrarily called the part of the Flinders Ranges between Crystal Brook and Warren Gorge near Quorn the Southern Flinders Ranges. This page includes some of my more interesting photos (and hopefully observations) of the Southern Flinders over several visits.

This page was started 2020/03/31, last edited 2022/03/25
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

The Bluff Lookout

Panorama from The Bluff

The Bluff Lookout is northeast of Port Pirie. This view shows part of the southern Flinders Range and upper Spencer Gulf with Port Pirie itself visible on the left in the high definition version of the image.

The road to The Bluff Lookout has been upgraded and opened to the public in the middle of September 2021. The observation platform was built sometime before that. This photo was taken with my iPhone 7 on 2021/10/02.

The Bluff
Looking southwest from above the new viewing platform; Spencer Gulf in the distance and Port Pirie left of centre.

There has been a private access road to the top of The Bluff ever since a TV tower was built more than 40 years ago. At times it has been legal for people to walk on that road, at times not. The Heysen Trail also goes to the top of The Bluff.

Photo DJI Mavic Mini drone, 2021/10/02.

The Bluff
Looking west from above the new viewing platform; Spencer Gulf in the distance and Port Germein and Cockle Spit on the right.

The Bluff, where the TV tower is, has an altitude of 721 metres and is the highest point in the vicinity. The Bluff Lookout is 2.4 kilometres further north and has an altitude of about 667 metres. The newly opened road starts at a gate where the altitude is 488 metres.

Photo DJI Mavic Mini drone, 2021/10/02.

The Bluff
Looking southwest toward Port Pirie. The parking area is on the edge of the image to the left.

We got to the Lookout before 10am on the Saturday of a long weekend. There was only one person and one car there at the time. When we left, about three quarters of an hour later there were seven cars filling about half the marked spaces in the car park. I suspect that parking could have become a problem later in the day and weekend.

Photo DJI Mavic Mini drone, 2021/10/02.

Alligator Gorge

On our way home from one trip (March 2020) we called in to Alligator Gorge to make a break in our journey. (We have visited Alligator Gorge many times.) We were pleased to see the bush looking so much more healthy than it was a couple of hundred kilometres further north.

The yaccas in this area showed little sign of any of the browsing that we saw at Hucks Lookout and Willow Springs.

This photo was taken from the steps that go from the main car park to the bottom of the gorge.

In the gorge

In the beautiful Alligator Gorge...

Was this the first time ever that we have visited Alligator Gorge and not seen any water at all?

A trail goes from the bottom of the steps below the main car park through the base of the gorge. On some other visits we have had to wade through deep water at the narrow section; not this year.

The trees in the bottom of the gorge are much taller and straighter than trees of the same species elsewhere in an effort to reach the light. The high walls of the gorge would protect them from the stronger winds, but some would be flattened or broken off by the occasional flood flow.

Stone walls

Getting down toward The Narrows...

The Narrows of Alligator Gorge.

In wetter periods one must wade through this section, occasionally in quite deep water.

Stone wall
Many of the rock faces through the Flinders Ranges are strongly red due to iron oxides. I've written about this elsewhere, particularly in the contrast between the Flinders Ranges and the Grampians in Victoria. It seems that in wetter and cooler areas the rocks become covered with a biocrust that conceals the native colour of the rock.

If the sun is shining on one side of the gorge radish light is reflected to the other side, accentuating the colour.

End of gorge

This is where the gorge opens out.

It is possible to follow the creek all the way down to Mambray Creek camp ground, a distance of about 15 km. My wife and I, a couple of borrowed kids, and some other friends once did the walk over a two day period about 38 years ago from the other end up to Alligator Gorge. Our own kids were too young to do the walk so we did a temporary kid swap with our neighbours.

Yacca; a striking specimen

This yacca seems to be particularly striking; I've photographed it before.

The photo was taken between the point where the steeply walled part of the gorge ended and the trail left the gully to go up to Bluegum Flat Picnic Area.

Mount Remarkable

Remarkable view
Mount Remarkable is one of the more prominent peaks (961m) in the southern section of the Flinders Ranges. Melrose, a pretty little town at the foot of the mountain gets much more rain than the surrounding area because of the influence of the mountain on passing weather systems.

We happened to be passing this place, near Murraytown on the road from Wirrabara to Melrose, when the canola crops were in flower. The ruined cottage provided an interesting focal point for the composition. 2015/08/24

It is worth mentioning the excellent silo art at Wirrabara at this point. There is a photo of it on another of my Flinders pages.

Warren Gorge

Warren Gorge
Warren Gorge is accessed via the Ardenvale Road which runs north further to the west than the main road from Quorn to Hawker. The Arden Vale road joins on to other roads and tracks that may eventually get you to Hawker (or just possibly may get you lost).

The quartzites and sandstones of the Flinders Ranges are always tilted from the near horizontal orientation in which they were laid down more than five hundred million years ago, but Warren Gorge is the only place I know of where they are tilted right up to the vertical.


Drone photo
Different angles on the Warren Gorge rock formations.

This and the above photo were taken using my Phantom 2 Advanced drone on 2016/04/11.

Horrocks Pass and Hancock's Lookout

Horrocks Pass

Horrocks Pass

A drone view above the Horrocks Pass road looking toward the east and the highest point of the Pass; 2018/05/10. (Photo Phantom 2 Advanced drone)

Horrocks Pass

A drone view above the Horrocks Pass road looking toward the west and Spencer Gulf; 2018/05/10. (Photo Phantom 2 Advanced drone)

Shortly after I took these photos I saw a wedge-tailed eagle. Wedgies don't like drones, they have been known to attack them. Perhaps they see them as competitors in their air-space.

Looking from the top of Horrocks Pass toward the north west.

Photo Mavik Mini 2021/12/20

Looking from the top of Horrocks Pass toward Wilmington and the east.

The eastern side of the pass is less steep and the surrounding hills do not rise to highly over the road.

Photo Mavik Mini 2021/12/20

Hancock's Lookout

A side road running about eight kilometres off the Horrocks Pass road leads you to Hancock's Lookout, which overlooks the southern Pirie-Torrens Basin and northern Spencer Gulf.


If there was a lookout overlooking Hancock's Lookout this is the view you'd get. Photo 2016/09/05, Phantom drone.

Baroota Dam

Baroota Dam

Baroota Dam has been in the news in Australia recently because it is being investigated as a part of a potential pumped hydro energy storage system. (Photo 2018/08/21)

The facility would involve a new water storage being built at the top of the hill in the background, about 200m above the lower storage. Water would be pumped from the existing dam into the top storage when there was plentiful and cheap electricity being generated by renewable energy sources, solar and/or wind power. The water would flow back down through turbines into the lower storage when more electricity was needed.

I've written about pumped hydro power in general and the proposed Baroota pumped hydro scheme in South Australia's Energy Future.

Another interesting dam in the southern Flinders Ranges is Beetaloo which, when built from 1886 to 1890, was one of the biggest concrete dams in the world.

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Mambray Creek

Mambray Creek
Walking on the main trail up Mambray Creek.

This is one of the more beautiful walks in the southern Flinders Ranges, and it is an easy one, being along a gently sloping dirt track.

As I recall, on this occasion there was no water to be seen in the creek.

Photo iPhone 7, 2018/09/04.

One of a few kangaroos that we saw in our morning walk.

The only water we saw on this visit was some fairly stagnant small ponds with a little trickling flow at the day visitor parking area.

My family and I have visited Mambray Creek many times over the last more than 40 years. Our recollection is that in the past there used to be much more water than in the last ten or so years. I have noted, in some more detail, reduced flows in the Crystal Brook on another page on this site.

Photo Canon Powershot S3 IS, 2021/12/19

butcher bird
My wife and I sat on a log to rest for a while. This and several other grey butcher birds came to have a look at us.

Photo Canon Powershot S3 IS, 2021/12/19

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Port Augusta

Sundrop Farm

Sundrop Farm

Sundrop Farm is a highly innovative and productive food producer using saline water and sunlight to supply Australia with tomatoes. The southern Flinders Ranges are in the background. I've written more about Sundrop Farm elsewhere on this site.

Photo taken with my Phantom 2 Advanced drone on 2016/09/05.

Arid Lands Botanic Gardens

Botanic Garden

The Port Augusta Arid Lands Botanic Gardens are not to be missed while you are in the vicinity. I've written more on the Arid Lands Botanic Garden on another page on this site.

Photo taken with my Phantom 2 Advanced drone on 2016/03/14.

Sundial Sundial close

The sundial at the Arid Lands Botanic gardens three days before the summer solstice. Notice that the spot of sunlight that has passed through the small hole in the sundial is very close to the curved solstice line beneath the gnomon and that the sun is very nearly overhead.

This is the best sundial that I can remember seeing anywhere.

Photo 2021/12/19

Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park (PAREP)

When completed the 50 wind turbines, each of 4.1MW, will have a total capacity of 210MW. In addition there is to be 107MW of solar photovoltaic power.

Under construction 2021/05/05

Port Augusta turbines
Photo taken using my Mavik Mini drone. Sundrop Farm can be seen on the far right.
(Click on the image to see in high resolution.)

At the time of this visit, 2021/05/05, Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park was being constructed about 15km south of the city. There were 8 complete turbines, 8 partly constructed towers, and the turbine seen here being completed.

A solar farm was also to be built.

In the image on the right the crane is lifting the second blade that will be attached to the turbine in the foreground.

Photo Canon Ixus 190

PAREP, construction nearing completion, 2021/12/19

A part of Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park
Port Augusta turbines
Photo taken using my Mavik Mini drone. At this time all 50 wind turbines (4.2MW each, a total installed capacity of 210MW) were apparently completed but not yet operating; the other 46 were to the left of this field of view. It looked like the solar farm (110MW) was also fully built. But one area was cleared with very little on it; perhaps ready for the battery?

Sundrop Farm can be seen on the far right. (Click on the image to see in high resolution.)


Looking further to the left than the above view, and showing more of the PAREP wind turbines.

PAREP is one of only two significant South Australian wind farms that have been constructed of flat (or gently sloping) ground, the other is Wattle Point WF on southern Yorke Peninsula.

Photo Mavic Mini drone, 2021/12/20


A photo of a part of the PAREP wind farm taken from near the junction of Spear Creek road and Boully Road, that leads into the Spear Creek camping area.

I found it interesting that the PAREP wind turbines were in rows, but the rows weren't straight, they were only nearly straight; as can be seen here. Most South Australian wind farms are on the tops of ridges, but one that does have turbines in straight lines, and very straight lines, is Wattle Point WF.

Spencer Gulf and the hills on the eastern side of Eyre Peninsula can be seen in the distance.

Photo Mavic Mini drone, 2021/12/20

Bungala solar farm, completed
Photo taken by my Mavic Mini drone, 2020/03/26. Click on image to view full size, 'back' to return

Bungala solar farm is about 15km east of Port Augusta. In 2020 it was either the biggest or one of the biggest solar farms in Australia. There is a map showing the location of Bungala Solar Farm and a short note on how to get to it on another page on this site and on Power Technology's web page.

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Spear Creek area

Spear Creek
Spear Creek
The Spear Creek shearing shed is on the right, many of the wind turbines of the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park in the middle distance. Photo 2021/12/20, iPhone.

Spencer Gulf is in distance with the hills on the eastern Eyre Peninsula beyond. Above that is a layer of smoggy air. Spear Creek is about 250 metres above sea level and that seems to have been about the same height as the top of the smog layer.

The solar power-tower of Sundrop Farm can just be seen on the far right in the high definition image.

Spear creek gorge

From the Spear Creek trail, up the gorge from the homestead and the junction with Deep Creek.

There are trails up both Spear Creek and Deep Creek.

Photo 2021/12/20, iPhone.

Spear Creek gorge

Further up the gorge from the last image.

Photo 2021/12/20, iPhone camera.

Spear Creek

I went for a walk down the Spear Creek road before sunrise on the morning of 2021/12/21. This image was recorded on my iPhone where Spear Creek crosses the road. Looking south along the Flinders Range.

The red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) were obviously struggling to recover from defoliation due to drought. We were told that they had suffered badly, many having died, during the drought of 2004-12.

With climate change such problems are only going to get worse.

Spear Creek hills

The hills above Spear Creek a little later the same morning, while the Sun was still low in the sky, taken from a few hundred metres above the Spear Creek camping area. iPhone camera.

Spear Creek hills

Again, looking toward the ranges to the east from a few hundred metres above Spear Creek campground, early morning. Photo 2021/12/21, iPhone.

Spear Creek hills

The same area. We were told that the track in the photo was put in as a firebreak and was one of many works that was required by the company that supplied insurance to the owners of Spear Creek.

iPhone camera.

Looking west

A telephoto shot looking west over the Spear Creek shearing shed over the northern Spencer Gulf. A number of the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park wind turbines are conspicuous. The range of hills on eastern Eyre Peninsula is visible in the distance. Canon Powershot S3 IS photo, 2021/12/21.

Spear Creek and turbines

Again, Spear Creek shearing shed and some of the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park wind turbines.

Some of the holiday homes on the far side of Spencer Gulf are just visible in the high definition image.

Photo Canon Ixus 190

Pichi-Richi Pass

Pichi-Richi is one of several passes through the main Flinders Range between Crystal Brook and Quorn. It is on the main road between Port Augusta on the western side of the range and Quorn on the east.

The Devil's Peak in right of centre.

Photo taken by my Mavic Mini drone, 2021/05/05.

Bagalowie Cave

Cave decoration
This photo is something of a curiosity. I visited the cave from which these formations ('decorations') came in about 1965. I seem to recall that the name of the cave was Bagalowie, however it could have been Buckalowie, and its 'proper' name could be Mairs Cave. In any case it was in the Bagalowie/Buckalowie area of the Southern Flinders Ranges, to the north of the Bendleby Ranges.

I visited it with a group of the Adelaide Bushwalkers. We were instructed by the leader to not in any way damage the cave or the cave formations - rightly so. I picked up these two pieces that were broken and lying on the floor of the cave. They are unusual types of cave formations.

I went back a decade or more later and found that the cave had been badly damaged, apparently by someone who was mining the bat guano; a great pity and a loss that can never be recovered.

Bendleby Ranges

Photo 2018/05/11

Bendleby Ranges is an outback resort and operating sheep station north of Orroroo and southeast of Hawker. It caters to campers, walkers, 4 wheel drive enthusiasts, and anyone who loves the bush. (You don't have to have a 4WD, we got around on a number of their tracks in our Honda Jazz.) Dogs are allowed, under control. There is at least one cabin.

While the ranges in the Bendleby area are not so spectacular as those of the central Flinders, they are attractive.

Hidden Valley

My wife Denece and dog Socrates on the Hidden Valley Bushwalking Trail, Bendleby Ranges.

This trail follows a creek bed for a few kilometres and connects with another trail that gets you back to your starting point; perhaps six kilometres total.

Ripple rock
A slab of sandstone with 'fossil' ripples from a 500 million year-old beach on the Hidden Valley Bushwalking Trail.

'Ripple rocks' like this are common in the Flinders Ranges, but such large slabs are unusual.

The sands that ultimately became sandstone after being buried at great depth and brought back to the surface by earth movements were laid down on an ancient beach.

Intermountain plain

Flat land

Between Bendleby and Hawker. Within the greater Flinders Ranges area there is a lot of flat land and many individual ranges.

As mentioned in the heading note the greater Flinders Ranges area is about the size of nations such as Albania, Solomon Islands, Armenia, Lesotho and Belgium. There is no shortage of flat land between the individual ranges. The one that most visitors would see is the Willochra Plain between Quorn and Hawker.

While a few of the main roads in the Flinders Ranges are sealed you have to be willing to get onto the unsealed roads if you are going to see anything like the whole area. There is no need of a 4WD (SUV) on the great majority of the unsealed roads but at times some of the unsealed roads can be badly corrugated and unpleasant to drive on.

A rocky outcrop near Johnberg (and Bendleby)

Other pages on the Flinders Ranges

On this site

Companion pages to this one, compiled in 2020

Flinders Ranges main page

Flinders Ranges, Rawnsley area

Saint Mary Peak

A short visit to the Flinders Ranges, June 2019

Older Flinders Ranges pages...

Chambers Gorge Chasm; a remarkable geological feature that seems very little known

Flinders Ranges, 2006

External sites

Walking and cycling trails on Rawnsley Park