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The Flinders Ranges is South Australia’s largest mountain range. Its iconic natural amphitheatre, Ikara (Wilpena Pound), stands out in the vast landscape as the centre piece to the National Park.
Adnyamathanha people have lived in the Flinders Ranges for tens of thousands of years and the region remains of enormous significance today in contemporary Adnyamathanha society. The Adnyamathanha people translate the word Wilpena as Ikara meaning 'meeting place'.
The Park encompasses some of the most spectacular scenery in South Australia, made famous by the paintings of Sir Hans Heysen and is world-renowned for its geological history with impressive fossil remains. With rugged mountain scenery, peaceful gorges and a huge array of wildlife and flora, the Flinders Ranges epitomises the Australian outback.
There is so much to see and do in the Flinders Ranges National Park, here is a checklist of the key sites to explore during your stay.
Wangarra Lookout Walk -This popular 7.5km (return) bushwalk takes you along Wilpena Creek into the Pound, via Sliding Rock and Hills Homestead. The short walk up Wangarra Hill from Hills Homestead takes you to the lower (5 minutes) and upper (20 minutes) lookouts, offering panoramic views of Wilpena Pound. Allow approximately two hours return. To save your legs, you can take the shuttle bus (see Appendix 8 for timetable) part way into the Pound and be picked up two hours later.
Hills Homestead - Located just beyond the entrance to the Pound, on your way to Wangarra Lookout, is the Hills Homestead. Renovated from ruin in 1995 by local craftsman Heath Fels, the crumbling walls, rotting beams and collapsed verandah were restored, bringing the homestead back to its original glory. You will find interpretive signs on the history of the Hill family and the aboriginal dreamtime story nearby.
Old Wilpena Station is one of the most scenically spectacular pastoral settlements in South Australia. A working station for 135 years, Old Wilpena Station slipped into retirement in 1985 and is now a tranquil archive of pastoral history.
The station is also an important Aboriginal heritage site and the setting of Ikara - The Meeting Place, an interpretive display giving fascinating insight into the Adnyamathanha way of life: past, present and future. Wilpena Pound and the Wilpena Station lands hold enduring cultural significance for the Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders Ranges.
The self guided walk “Living with the Land” interpretive trail explores the themes of self sufficiency, improvisation and survival on the remote and isolated pastoral settlements of the Flinders Ranges. Entry passes are available at the Visitor Centre. The entry fee includes the Old Wilpena Station Souvenir Guide and information on Ikara - The Meeting Place.
Located at Old Wilpena Station, Ikara - The Meeting Place is an award-winning public art space that shares an important story of the Adnyamathanha people. The Adnyamathanha community has widely endorsed sharing information with visitors about their land to encourage a deeper appreciation of Aboriginal culture.
This contemporary artwork represents the first attempt within the Flinders Ranges (and South Australia) to acknowledge and interpret the impact of pastoralism on an Indigenous community. Ikara provides an inspirational space where Adnyamathanha people can share their culture with park visitors and discuss the role played by their community as the pastoral industry developed.
Located approximately 20km north toward Blinman, on the Hawker-Blinman Road you will find Stokes Hill Lookout, offering spectacular panoramas of Wilpena Pound, Mt Patawarta, and the Druid, Chace, Elder, Heysen and Bunker Ranges. Interpretive signs at the site include a 3D model of Wilpena Pound and explanatory panels for Adnyamathanha dreamtime legends, traditional plant uses and pictorial symbols. This lookout is particularly scenic at sunset and the perfect place to enjoy a cheese platter and bottle of wine with your loved one.
Brachina Gorge is one of the Park’s most popular and spectacular tourist attractions. The gorge is an important refuge for the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby as well as many species of birds and reptiles. The Brachina Gorge Geological Trail is a 20km self-guided trail that passes through 130 million years of earth history. Detailed interpretive signage is provided along the route providing an insight into past climates, the formation of the ranges and the evolution of early forms of life. The trail is best travelled east to west, commencing at the Brachina Gorge/Blinman Road intersection.
This 28km drive passes between the Southern wall of the Pound and the magnificent Elder Range. Part of the Heysen trail, the route runs through Arkaba sheep station, linking main roads from Hawker to Blinman and Parachilna. Midway along the route, take the turnoff for Black Gap Lookout to enjoy magnificent views of the outer Pound wall.
Weathered rock carvings can be seen on the walls of this small canyon, 19km north of Wilpena, off the Blinman Road. Find interpretive signs at the site, explaining the symbols you will find. Little is known about the people who made these carvings, which can be found in numerous places throughout the Flinders Ranges, as the memory of these people has long been lost to the local Adnyamathanha community.
This magnificent River Red Gum was first made famous by Harold Cazneaux, a photographer who won first prize at an International Photographic Exhibition in 1937 with his photograph of the tree, which he entitled “The Spirit of Endurance”. The tree is an important local landmark in the Flinders Ranges, photographed and painted by many visitors.
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