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.

There are too many photos and visits to cover on one page so there are links to other pages of photos in the Related pages section below.

Sadly, at the time of our last visit, March 2020, 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.



This page was started 2020/03/31, last edited 2021/01/25
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©






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 Mary's Peak is the highest in the Pound Range and also the highest peak in the southern 90% of South Australia, 1,189 m. 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.



The view toward Wilpena Pound from Hucks Lookout, May 2014
Hucks Lookout
Note the healthy growth of leaves on the yaccas, unlike in the photo below taken six years later.


 
Yaccas at Hucks Lookout, March 2020
Browsed
Starving euros and kangaroos have heavily browsed these yaccas

Browsed yaccas

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

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.)



Our 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's 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.

I've lost track of the number of times I've climbed that 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, both of whom have visited the Ranges, and our son has had one daughter who has not yet visited.



Saint Mary's Peak

St Mary view

The view from the top of Saint Mary's Peak is one of the best that I have ever seen; no doubt even more appreciated because it is a tough and long climb.

I haven't climbed the Peak since good quality digital cameras became available at reasonable prices, this image is a digitised copy of a 35mm slide. It is looking toward the south over Wilpena Pound. The view to the north is even better.



 
From near the top

From near the top of Saint Mary's Peak

I can't take credit for this photo. While I actually took the photo it was Denece who saw the scene and realised that it could make an outstanding photo.

Unfortunately this was taken from an older trail; the new trail doesn't go anywhere near this point so if you use the new trail you won't see this beautiful foreground for the distant view. The century or more old yacca combined with the rock wall in the right frames the "Dragon's Tail" in the distance very nicely.

The photo is a digitised copy of a 35mm slide.






As mentioned elsewhere on these pages my wife and I had planned a three-week holiday in northern NSW for early April 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic decided a few weeks before we were intending to go against going so far from home. The trip to NSW became unfeasible in any case when about ten days before writing this page the government of our state, South Australia, announced that people were not going to be permitted to cross the state borders without urgent cause.

So we decided on a few days in 'our' much loved Flinders Ranges.



Bunyeroo

Bunyeroo road

The road to Bunyeroo; 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. 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's 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 on 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.



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.


 
Water!
Waterhole
The only water we saw in Brachina Gorge; very unusual.


 
Water
The same spring as the photo above from a different angle. Note the two very different rock types in the hillside in the background.

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

Sunrise on gum trees at wilpena

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

 
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.



Yacca Lookout
Hills

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

The Yacca 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 Yacca 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 yacca 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

 
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.






Moralana Creek area

Windmill

I have no doubt that this windmill is used by many photographers as a bit of foreground interest to add to the beautiful view of Wilpena Pound from the western end of the Moralana Creek road.


Fence

Also seen near the western end of the Moralana Creek road, 2007/07/24.

Callitris wood is often used for fence posts in the Flinders Ranges; it is unpalatable to termites and long lasting.






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.



Kangaroos

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

Archeology

Paintings

These Aboriginal paintings at at Yourambulla cave south of Hawker. 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.





Other pages on the Flinders Ranges

On this site

Companion pages to this one, compiled in 2020

Southern Flinders Ranges

Flinders Ranges, Rawnsley area

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


External sites

Walking and cycling trails on Rawnsley Park