A collection of photos of 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. The Ranges take up some 30,000 square kilometres in the central-eastern part of the state, that is about the size of nations such as Albania, Solomon Islands, Armenia, Lesotho and Belgium.

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.

Sadly, at the time of two of our more recent visits, March 2020 and May 2021, the vegetation of the Flinders Ranges was suffering severally from drought and climate change. As you can see from the photos on this and other pages, the Flinders Ranges would be a different place without its very distinctive and beautiful vegetation. The future of the area looks very bleak unless the world takes strong action to reduce greenhouse emissions.

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.


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





A few introductory images and comments

The Cazneaux Tree

The Spirit of Endurance
Tree and mountains
The Cazneaux Tree, famous for a photo by Harrold Cazneaux, taken 1953/06/19, Art Gallery of NSW.

This photo was taken from a slightly different direction to that of Cazneaux's photo but both show a part of Wilpena Pound in the background. Remarkably, the tree seems to have changed little in the 61 years between the two images, other than growing more small branches near the base. Gum trees usually only produce shoots from the trunk at times of severe stress. This photo was taken 2014/05/27.


Elder and Wilpena

This view, with variations according to the light, greets the traveller to the middle Flinders Ranges just north of Hawker.

The Elder Range is the big one on the left, the Wilpena Pound range further away toward the right. Mount Aleck is the tallest peak in the Elder Range, 1,128 m; Saint Marys Peak is the highest in the Pound Range and also the highest peak in the southern 90% of South Australia, 1,189 m (although different references give slightly different heights). These two ranges are the tallest in the Flinders, but there are a great many other ranges, all with their own attractions and features. This photo was taken 2007/07/22.



Hucks Lookout
Note the healthy growth of leaves on the yakkas, unlike in the photo below taken six years later.


 
Yakkas at Hucks Lookout, March 2020
Browsed
Starving euros and kangaroos have heavily browsed these yakkas

Browsed yakkas

Yakka leaves are corse and unpalatable to herbivores; they are not browsed except in desperation. I don't recall ever seeing yakkas as heavily browsed as these were.

The botanical name for yakka (also spelled yacca or yacka) is Xanthorrhoea, these are probably Xanthorrhoea semiplanar.

By the time of this visit much of southern Australia had been in drought for a couple of years. Judging by the lack of annual vegetation and the poor condition of much of the perennial vegetation, the Flinders Ranges were suffering more than areas further to the south.

(Any well informed person with an open mind would have to accept that the drought, if not actually caused by climate change, has been made far more likely by climate change.)





My family's link to the Flinders Ranges

 
First time
I first visited the Flinders Ranges several times as a child with my parents. I visited again before I met my wife, Denece, and again with her several times before we had children.

After having children we took them to the Flinders Ranges a number of times, more often than not with friends and their children.

The photo on the right was taken the first time that our kids climbed Saint Mary Peak, the highest in the Ranges, about 1987. I've lost track of how many times I've climbed the peak, and I think Denece and I had climbed it together several times before this photo. Denece is not in the photo because she was behind the camera.

Like most kids Julia and Ken complained about being bored when we took them on long walks so to get them to agree to climb St Mary's with us we bribed them with the promise of a bar of chocolate each (and $2?) if they did the climb without complaint. Not only did the do it, but they enjoyed it!

Some years after this photo we all camped together for one night on top of the Peak.

The view from the top has to be one of the most magnificent anywhere in the world.



 
Family portrait
Family
Sunset on the Ulowdna Range, Rawnsley Park, 2007/07/23
The photo on the right is of our daughter Julia (far left), son Ken (second from the right) and their spouses. Our dog is the little brown one on the left, the others belong to our daughter.

The photo was taken at sunset on one of the walking trails on the Ulowdna Range at Rawnsley Park, where dogs are allowed (dogs are not allowed in the Flinders Ranges National Park).

Since the photo was taken our daughter had two girls, and our son has had one daughter, all of whom have visited the Ranges.



A very brief geological history

The following is mostly extracted from A biography of the Australian continent written by M. H. Monroe.
"The rocks composing the Flinders Ranges are believed to have been deposited in shallow seas between about 850 and 500 million years ago."
The depression in which the sediments settled is called the Adelaide Geosyncline.
"The rocks of the Adelaide Geosyncline that were deposited as sediment along a passive margin of the supercontinent Rodinia form much of the Flinders Ranges. About 540 Ma [million years ago], in the Cambrian, the Delamerian Orogeny thrust up the rocks of the Adelaide Geosyncline, faulting and folding it to form a large range, the eroded remnants of which are now the Flinders Ranges. The rocks of the Ranges are mostly quartzites, limestones, shales and sandstones.

The original ranges had been reduced almost to the level of the surrounding plains by about 60 Ma. Minor earth movements rejuvenated the area, thrusting the area up into a vast plateau that has since had the softer rocks eroded away to to leave the harder rocks such as quartz as folded ridges of the the present ranges."
In those 60 million years all but the more resistant rocks have been eroded down to the large more-or-less flat areas between the ridges that we see today. The ridges are composed particularly quartzites, sandstones and limestones that resist erosion, while the shales and siltstones have largely been eroded down to near-flat ground.



Bunyeroo

Bunyeroo road

The road to Bunyeroo from Wilpena, looking roughly westward; possibly Mount Heywood in the distance on the left. A drone photo of 2017/06/21.


Bunyeroo and Wilpena Pound
Bunyeroo
Above the Razorback Viewpoint, overlooking Bunyeroo Valley. My wife, our Honda Jazz and I are in the foreground. The image is a 'stitch' of two photos taken by my Mavic Mini drone, 2020/03/28.


 
In Bunyeroo Gorge
Bunyaroo
Above is a drone view of the very popular view-point where the Bunyeroo road starts to drop down into the gorge. The north-eastern wall of Wilpena Pound is in the distance, with Saint Mary Peak, the highest point in southern South Australia, in the centre.

The road goes from this lookout down into Bunyeroo Gorge, through a part of the gorge and then north toward Brachina Gorge.

The photo on the right is our morning tea stop in Bunyeroo Gorge. The weather was warm enough for us to pick a shaded spot where we could park the car and sit on a rock to drink our tea.

I don't remember ever before driving through Bunyeroo Gorge and not seeing water in the creek bed.



Between Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges
Bunyeroo-Brachina
The road between Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges, some of 'The Flatirons' on the left, Wilpena Pound in the distance again.
A 'stitch' of two photos. There is a small artefact of the stitching process in the bottom left corner.
Photos taken by my Mavic Mini drone, 2020/03/28.

In the drone photo above Bunyeroo Creek passes through the gap between the hills on the left and behind the hill in the middle distance on the right toward Lake Torrens to the west.

The road goes from Bunyeroo Gorge toward Brachina Gorge (out of the picture to the left).

We only saw one other car in the whole of the time after leaving Wilpena until we got to Brachina Gorge. Very unusual and due to the pandemic.



Brachina

In Brachina

The road follows Brachina Creek through the gorge, in many places right in the bed of the creek.

There is often water to be seen flowing down the creek through the gorge; on this visit we only saw water in one small area in the gorge. This photo was taken 2020/03/28.



Flood debris in Brachina Gorge
In Brachina

On the left are logs heaped up by one of the flood flows that occasionally passes through the gorge. When the land is so dry it is difficult to imagine so much water, 2020/03/28.


 
Water!
Waterhole
The only water we saw in Brachina Gorge; very unusual, 2020/03/28.


 
Water
The same spring as the photo above, but from a different angle. Note the two very different rock types in the hillside in the background, 2020/03/28.

Brachina Gorge is the home of the Flinders Ranges Geological Trail titled 'Corridors through Time'.

Surprisingly and disappointingly I have not been able to find a reference listing the formations that are signposted conspicuously through the gorge. (If a reader can point me to one I'd be pleased to add a reference to it here.)



Wilpena

Wilpena Pound

The northeast wall of Wilpena Pound in the morning light, 2012/09/06.


Point Bonney

The eastern part of Wilpena Pound, the top of Point Bonney in the clouds, Mount Ohlssen-Bagge on the right, from the ABC Range in the early morning, 2012/09/07.

I believe that the ABC Range got its name because it 'had as many peaks as the letters of the alphabet'. It is one of the longer ranges in the Flinders, but not one of the highest.



Wilpena Pound

Early sunlight on gum trees at wilpena, a case of being in the right place at the right time. The original of this photo was on film, probably about 2005.

There are more photos of Wilpena above and on other pages, including A Short Visit in 2019.




Wilkawillina Gorge

Wilkawillina

The gorge itself is where the foreground creek goes through the range in the distance. You can see our car in the carpark area in the lower left-centre. This is as close as one can drive to the gorge. It's about a kilometre walk to get from the car park to the gorge.

Photo taken with my Phantom drone on 2018/09/05.

For more information on the gorge see Wilkawillina Gorge Hike.





Willow Springs

This visit was in March 2020, just before travel in South Australia was largely shut down because of COVID-19. I've written a little more on the Flinders Ranges and COVID on an other page on this site.

 
On the hill
Our accommodation for this visit to the Flinders Ranges was at Willow Springs resort. We had the Governess' cottage for four nights. Most of the buildings of the resort are visible in the middle distance in this photo.

View from above

Denece and I could see something on this high hill to the north of the Willow Springs resort. It caught the sunlight in the late afternoon. So I climbed the hill to see what was there; it turned out to be some sort of radio or microwave repeater with solar panels and battery to power it.

The hill was high enough to allow me to see into the distance over the tops or through gaps in the hills surrounding the resort.



Yakka Lookout
Hills

Denece and I walked the Yakka Lookout Trail from the resort; about a 4.4 km round trip.

The Yakka Lookout itself is where the track in the photo leads up to a relatively small knoll in the centre of this photo. I took the photo from a large hill with a cairn on top roughly southwest of the Yakka Lookout.



Willow Springs; Reedy Creek Trail

 
Petrogliphs

Aboriginal petroglyphs

There are petroglyphs (shapes and symbols pecked out on rock faces) scattered through the Flinders Ranges. Perhaps the best known in the Ranges are those at Sacred Canyon near Wilpena.

These are close to the creek downstream of the Willow Springs resort. Producing them without steel tools would have required considerable skill and strength.



Willow Springs; condition of the vegetation

On the morning of 2020/03/26 my wife and I took a long walk down the track that follows the creek to Reedy Creek spring from the Willow Springs resort. The area around Willow Springs station is suffering more from the drought than parts of the ranges further west because they missed most of the substantial rains that fell elsewhere in the beginning of February. It must have been heartbreaking to need rain so desperately, to hear that big rains fell nearby, and to miss out yourself.

River red gums adjacent Willow Springs creek
Gum trees
On the creek, downstream of the resort

The above photo shows river redgum trees, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, on the Willow Springs creek line. These were in perhaps worse condition than most, but dead or near-dead gums, up to an estimated hundred years old, were common.

Callitris trees
Callitris trees

Many of the Callitris (native cypress-pine) trees on Willow Springs and elsewhere in the Flinders Ranges were dead or dying, but as shown in the above photo, where the trees closer to the creek (on the right) were in fair health, the situation was highly variable. Typically where the Callitris trees were crowded and not near a drainage line they were in very poor condition, where they were sparsely scattered they were often in fair to good condition.

Surprisingly the Callitris trees we saw on Willow Springs were not browsed off within the reach of sheep and/or euros. They are very palatable to animals, on our place at Armagh the kangaroos eat as much as they can reach and they are far from starving. I would have thought that Callitris would be more palatable than yakka leaves, but the latter have been browsed heavily in parts of the middle Flinders Ranges.



Willow Springs; Reedy Creek spring vicinity

A view from the hillside near Reedy Creek Spring
View
The spring itself is off the picture to the left


 
Climber

This climbing plant was on a rock wall near Reedy Creek spring. It is Cynanchum viminale ssp. australe, common name caustic vine; it is an Australian native.

There were other similar specimens in the same valley; as I recall all on rock walls. It is a very distinctive plant that I don't remember seeing elsewhere in Australia, although it apparently does occur throughout the Flinders Ranges.



 
Close-up
A close-up of Cynanchum viminale. When one of the stems is broken they exude a milky sap, which I'm told can be caustic; hence, no doubt, the common name.



Reedy Creek Spring
Spring
This small spring is the only open water we saw on a 3.7 km walk down the creek from Willow Springs resort.

While walking down the valley we had a hint that we were getting close to water when we started seeing sheep and euro tracks and a few euros. Both sheep and euros were watering at the spring.


Blinman

March 2020

 
Main Street
Blinman is a very small town in the central Flinders Ranges and also happens to be the highest town in the state at 610 metres above sea level. It was established to support an early copper mine following discovery of copper by Robert Blinman, a shepherd, in 1859. A history is given in Blinman, the first ten years.

The photo is of the town's main street; the lack of parked cars is striking (our car is the one on the right).



 
Pub sign

Sign on the Blinman 'Pub in the Scrub'

At the time of our visit in March 2020 (during the COVID-19 pandemic) nothing in the town was open for business. There is normally a hotel, cafe/general store and a business that does guided underground tours of the mine.

The town cemetery is worth a visit for anyone with an interest in history. It was reported that the Blinman mine supported a population of 1,500 in 1869. Several hundred were buried in the cemetery. The colony of South Australia was established in 1836, so Blinman would have been very remote in the late 1850s and 1860s.

It is a 100 km round trip on a main road from the Willow Springs turnoff to Blinman; we didn't pass a single car in that 100 km. We did see a few cars moving about in Blinman.



Blinman, May 2021

Blinman

Blinman North. The Blinman North Hotel is in the foreground. We were told that tourism picked up greatly for Easter 2021 and has continued very strongly since; note the number of cars parked in the Main Street.
 
Blinman
The town of North Blinman seen from above the mine area. Blinman South can just be seen in the far right distance in the high definition version of the image.

Photo 2021/05/08

Blinman, on a misty moring

Blinman on a misty morning

There was a ground-hugging mist on the morning of 2021/05/09 and it lasted for a short time after sunrise. It was a great opportunity to get some beautiful drone images.


 
Toward the northeast with mist
Looking toward the rising sun, with the very distinctive silhouette of Mount Patawurta on the left.

 
Blinman mine area with mist
The old Blinman copper mine area, toward the north of the town.


Blinman mine

 
Mine area
The mine area; the house is the old mine captain's cottage (I believe).

Photo 2021/05/08



Mine

The Blinman mine is one of the few that I know of that have a huge opening at the surface like this. Note the 'bridges' (I don't recall the technical term) that are supporting the hanging wall. (They will be easier to see in the high resolution image - click on this image to see the high resolution version.)

The area to the right is where visitors meet the mine tour guide. (I can highly recommend an underground tour.)

Photo 2021/05/08



 
Dendrites
Photo Apple iPhone 2021/05/08
These dendrites were in the Blinman Mine.

I had seen and photographed dendrites elsewhere many times, but most or all had been exposed to the weather or at least to weathering. The sharpness of these immediately struck me.

Dendrites are mineral deposits that formed in narrow cracks (joints) in rocks. In this case the rock face is one side of the original joint. It appears that the minerals have entered the joint through several of the cracks that are visible on the rock face.



Trezona Range

 
Trezona Range
Looking north where the main road from Wilpena to Blinman passes by the Trezona Range.

The precambrian limestone of the Trezona Range contain numerous stromatolite fossils. Stromatolites are built by a colonial algae; living examples can still be found in a few places in Australia and elsewhere. They are easy prey to a number of modern browsers so can only develop in places where there is very limited other life, such as in hyper-saline lakes. (I've written more on stromatolites and the related thrombolites on another page on this site.

These drone photos were taken 2021/05/10.



 
Trezona Range
Looking south from the same place, by the Trezona Range.

The variable health of the Callitris trees is conspicuous, especially in the high definition image.

This image shows again how much of the area of the greater Flinders Ranges is flat areas bounded by hills.





Hawker area

If any town could be called the 'hub' of the Flinders Ranges it would have to be Hawker. It is big enough to have the major services (fuel, cafe, general store, hospital, camping ground, hotel) and closer to the most popular parts of the ranges than is Quorn. And it is almost impossible to get to the mid-Flinders from the south without passing through Hawker.

Jarvis Hill Lookout
Jarvis Hill

Jarvis Hill is a few kilometres to the south of Hawker. A dirt road passes over a gap between it and other hills and a walking path goes from the saddle up to a lookout. This photo was taken from, or close to, the lookout on 2008/09/19.

On the left in the distance is the crescent-shaped Elder Range; from here we are looking along the length of it. Further away, on the right, is the Wilpena Pound Range. The big hill in the middle distance may be Wonoka Hill.

The green areas closer than Wonoka Hill could be wheat crops. Hawker gets more rain than most nearby areas of similar latitude because of its relatively high altitude: 315 metres.



North of Hawker

I'm not sure exactly where this photo was taken but suspect it is looking northward toward the Wilpena Pound Range from somewhere to the north of Hawker. 2015/08/24


 
Mt Fuji
This hill, near the main road from Hawker to Rawnsley Park and Wilpena, is commonly called Mount Fuji, for obvious reasons.

2015/08/24






Miscellaneous subjects in the Flinders Ranges

Trees

 
Callitris

Callitris, common name native cypress pine

Callitris trees (common name cyprus-pine), are one of the defining features of the southern and central Flinders Ranges. Even more than with the magnificent Eucalyptus camaldulensis trees (common name river red-gum) the place would not be the same without them.

They can cling to rock walls, as this one is, they can be sparsely scattered over flat or sloping land, they can grow near water courses, or they be crowded together anywhere.

Where they are crowded together they are especially susceptible to drought.

This photo was taken 2007/07/23. As of March 2020 the Callitris trees were suffering greatly from the drought that any reasonable person would have to at least partly ascribe to the effects of climate change.

Callitris (and Allocasuarina) trees, in my experience, are very palatable to sheep and kangaroos. In an area where there are hungry sheep or kangaroos the Callitris foliage will normally be eaten off in the sections that the animals can reach. I was puzzled that this browsing had not taken place in the vicinity of Willow Springs at the time of our visit.



Eucalypt trees

Eucalyptus camaldulensis, common name river red gum

Tree trunk Tree trunk

Giant gum tree at Orroroo. The sign says "Giant Red Gum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Circumference - 10.89 metres at 0.61m above ground. Age estimated in excess of 500 years.

The many dead branches indicate that the tree had been badly stressed in the previous few years.




Animals

Emus

Emu

Kangaroos and euros are typically common in the Flinders. Emus can be common or not; they seem to move about over long distances depending on the availability of food.

Unfortunately feral goats are also fairly common, and very destructive to the native vegetation.



Flock of emus
The glow of the anti-solar point surrounds the shadow of the drone at the lower left of the image

A flock of emus near Peterborough. This photo was taken on 2018/05/12 when, I believe, drought further north had made many emus move into the cereal growing districts.

Note the shadow of the drone and the brighter light around the anti-solar-point.



 
Flock of emus
Denece and I only saw this one flock of emus on our visit to the Flinders in May 2021. And we saw few kangaroos and only one flock of feral goats (more on them elsewhere on this page).

The drought of the last few years has had a big impact.

Kangaroos

 
Kangaroos
A kangaroo with a joey in pouch, 2012/09/06.



Goats - dying of thirst?

 
Goats around drying soak
My wife and I came across this flock of goats at a small soak in a creek bed on the track to Arkaroo Rock on 2021/05/07.

It seemed to us that they were desperate for water but that the tiny trickle that was coming into the soak was quite insufficient for the number of goats in the flock.

We had previously visited Black's Gap where, for the first time that I can recall, the spring was dry. It is possible that these goats didn't know of any other source of water within their range.

 
Goats squabbling at a drying soak
The big billies were fighting over the small trickle, the nannies and kids were not able to get close.

Feral goats normally run away when people get anywhere within a hundred metres or so. These were so desperate to get a few drops of water that they let us get within a few metres of them.

We informed the Parks authority suggesting that the goats should be killed humanely rather than being allowed to die of thirst slowly. We didn't get a reply.




Archeology

Paintings

These Aboriginal paintings are at Arkaroo Rock at the southeastern end of Wilpena Pound. There are also petroglyphs at a number of places, including at Willow Springs, Sacred Canyon, and on Moolooloo Station.


The loneliness of the bush

 
Homestead
A lonely homestead. There are quite a few of these scattered around the Flinders Ranges, many having few, if any, nearby trees; like this one. I love trees and cannot imagine living without them being close by.





Related pages

On this site

A list of photo galleries of places outside of Australia

A list of photo galleries of places in Australia

Other pages on the Flinders Ranges

Companion pages to this one, compiled in 2020 and 2021

Southern Flinders Ranges

Flinders Ranges, Rawnsley area

Saint Mary Peak

Other Flinders Ranges pages...

Beetaloo Dam; one of the biggest concrete dams in the world at the time it was built

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

Flinders Ranges, 2006

A short visit to the Flinders Ranges, June 2019

A visit to the Flinders at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic


Related pages on external sites

Australia: The Land Where Time Began; The Flinders Ranges. "A biography of the Australian continent"

Walking and cycling trails on Rawnsley Park