Flinders Ranges National Parks, South Australia
Rugged mountains, tree-lined gorges, an abundance of wildlife, and important Aboriginal works : the national parks of the iconic Flinders Ranges including Wilpena pound are the beginning of Australia's outback that we explore on a small group tour for mature travellers.
4 Mar 21 · 6 mins read
Flinders Ranges National Parks, South Australia
Rugged mountains, tree-lined gorges, an abundance of wildlife: the national parks of the iconic Flinders Ranges are the beginning of Australia’s outback and there is plenty of things to do in Flinders Ranges territory for the senior and mature traveller from a small group tours exploring dramatic gorges, taking in the panoramic views on the ground from the Wangara lookout or Rawnsley bluff or on a scenic flight.
The Flinders ranges national park of South Australia‘s Flinders Ranges are one of the highlights of Odyssey Traveller’s outback tour collection that includes the South Australian outback, Northern territory and the Flinders Ranges . Our tour of the central Flinders ranges area begins and ends in Adelaide, stopping off in historic Port Augusta before heading into the South Australia outback, visiting the quintessential frontier towns of Woomera , Coober Pedy then continuing to explore the arid land alongside the old Ghan railway line travelling along the Oodnadatta track. We head to Lake Eyre, and onto Marree, before finally winding our way back through the collection of national parks including Wilpena pound, that preserve the spectacular Flinders Ranges in the South Australian outback.
Below is a guide to some of the things to do in Flinders ranges. This is a fascinating geological and natural sights found in the Flinders Ranges in the Australian outback.
Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park:
Thanks to impressive geological features, native wildlife and Aboriginal cultural heritage, the 95,000 hectare Ikara Flinders ranges is one of South Australia‘s most popular tourist destinations.
The Flinders Ranges national park are part of an upland system that stretches from the South Australian coast to Lake Eyre, about 600 km. Geologically, the ikara flinders ranges area is one of the most topographically youthful and dynamic parts of the Australian continent. The Flinders are the eroded remnants of a mountain range formed during the Cambrian era, around 540 million years ago (long before the first dinosaurs). The rocks comprising the mountains are even older, believed to be deposited in the Adelaidean Sea from eroding higher ground to the west. The alternating colours of the rocks of the Flinders Ranges seen today reflect the changing deposition of these sediments as the climate changed over millions of years.
The Flinders has a semi-arid climate with cool winters and hot summers. The flora of the ranges are mostly species suited to semi-arid climates, including sugar gum, cypress pine, mallee and black oak, while moister areas support plants such as grevilleas and ferns.
The Majestic Flinders Ranges has an abundant wildlife, home to a notable population of kangaroos and wallabies. Perhaps surprisingly, this population has increased since European settlement, as the eradication of dingos and establishment of permanent waterholes for stock has allowed the land to support a more permanent population. The Flinders is home to red kangaroos (the largest kangaroo species), western grey kangaroos and wallaroos. The yellow footed rock wallaby neared extinction after the arrival of Europeans (due to hunting by foxes), but has since recovered in numbers.
The Flinders is also home to several lesser-known marsupials, including the dunnart, and the planigale. There are a large number of bird species in the region, including emus, parrots, galahs, and wedge-tailed eagles. Reptiles include goannas, snakes, dragon lizards, while the streambank froglet is an amphibian found only in the Flinders Ranges and Gammon Ranges.
Wilpena Pound (Ikara):
Wilpena Pound, known to the Adnyamathanha people as Ikara (or ‘meeting place’), is a natural amphitheatre of mountains at the heart of Ikara Flinders Ranges. Geologists believe that the extraordinary shape of Wilpena was formed by quicker erosion of the soft rock on the valley floor when compared to the harder rocks which form the cliffs of the Pound. The floor is around 200 m higher than the surrounding area, and the highest point of the mountains is St Mary’s Peak, at 1171 metres above sea level.
According to the traditions of the Adnyamathanha people, for whom Ikara was an important ceremonial space, the structure was formed during the Dreamtime when two giant serpents surrounded a hunting party. After a long battle the hunters killed the serpents and they petrified, forming the mountain ranges.
Wilpena is a major centre for visitors to the national park , with accommodation at Rawnsley Park Station and Wilpena Pound Resort as well as a visitor centre. Some of the notable spots in the area include the Wilpena pound campground, the old Wilpena station, as well as the spectacular views visible on the nearby walking trails.
The Flinders Ranges are home to some of the earliest remnants of complex life on earth. The fossils were first found in the Edicaran Hills in the Northern Flinders Ranges in 1946 by the geologist Reginald Sprigg. This marked the first time that a whole community of ancient soft-bodied creatures had been found worldwide.
Gradually, their significance – as one of the earliest forms of complex life – was internationally recognised. The fossils are likely the remnants of soft-bodied creatures, similar to jellyfish, that lived in what was (between 570 and 540 million years ago) shallow, warm seas. Some of these creatures got trapped in the soft silt that formed the Flinders Range.
The findings transformed the study of geology. Scientists had previously believed that only creatures with hard structures – like shells or skeletons – could be preserved in the fossil record. Today, this period is recognised as the Edicaran Period, the first geological period to be declared in 120 years and the first to be named after a location in the Southern Hemisphere.
Today, these ancient fossils can be seen at the South Australian museum in Adelaide, while the site of discovery – home to significant remnants from the Edicaran period – is now protected as a Conservation Park.
Until recently, parts of the fossil collection remained under the protection of farmer Ross Fargher, owner of the Nilpena Cattle Station, who assisted scientists and vigilantly guarded the fossils from looters who had raided nearby deposits. In 2019, the Australian Government bought 60, 000 acres of the Nilpena Cattle Station to better protect fossils, including an internationally significant site believed to contain the first evidence of sexual reproduction.
Brachina Gorge Geological Trail:
Brachina Gorge is where the fascinating geological history of the Flinders Ranges is most apparent. The geological walkspans over 650 years of the earth’s history. On this self-guilded 20-kilometre trail, signage provides an insight into past climates, the formation of the ranges, and the evolution of early life forms.
Brachina Gorge is also home to significant populations of the yellow-footed rock-wallaby, as well as several species of bird.
The Flinders Ranges are home to a number of gorges worth exploring, including: Bunyeroo Gorge, Parachilna Gorge and Alligator Gorge in the southern Flinders Ranges. Odyssey Traveller’s tours also include a visit to the privately-owned Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the northern Flinders Ranges.
Lake Eyre National Park:
Our Flinders Ranges outback trip also heads north to visit Lake Eyre. Known to Aboriginal people as Kati Thanda, Lake Eyre is Australia‘s largest salt lake and the lowest point on the Australian mainland at 15.2 metres below sea level. The lake is normally dry, filling completely on average twice a century – though partial, minor fillings happen much more often. When filled completely (as happened in 1950, 1974, and 1984), the lake takes about two years to dry up again.
Few experiences match the isolation of standing on the dry lake, extending as far as the eye can see. When the rain comes the lake becomes a centre of life, bringing waterbirds in their thousands, including pelicans, silver gulls, red-necked avonets, banded stilts and gull-billed terns.
To appreciate the massive size of the lake, our tour takes a scenic flight over the National Park.
The surrounding park covers 13.5 square kilometres, and offers the quintessential Australian outback desert landscape of red sand dunes and mesas.
Articles about Australia published by Odyssey Traveller:
- The Kimberley: A Definitive Guide
- Uncovering the Ancient History of Aboriginal Australia
- Aboriginal Land Use in the Mallee
- Understanding Aboriginal Aquaculture
- Mallee and Mulga: Two Iconic and Typically Inland Australian Plant Communities (By Dr. Sandy Scott).
- The Australian Outback: A Definitive Guide
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.
External articles to assist you on your visit to the Flinders Ranges South Australia:
- Flinders Ranges and Outback (South Australia tourism)
- Essential Guide to the Flinders Ranges
- Flinders Ranges things to do: 20 reasons to visit South Australia’s largest mountain range
- Guide to the Flinders Ranges
Refreshed December 2020.
18 daysMay, Aug, Oct, Feb, Mar +2
Small group tour of Australia's Flinders ranges
Visiting South Australia
From A$12,570 AUDView Tour
15 daysMay, Aug, Jun, Sep
Small group tour of Australia's Kimberley
Visiting Western Australia
From A$14,250 AUDView Tour
15 daysAug, Sep, Oct
Wildflowers tour of Western Australia
Visiting Western Australia
From A$9,890 AUDView Tour
65 daysMar, Jun, Aug
Long tour of Australia for a small group
Visiting New South Wales, Northern Territory
Small group tour for senior couples and solo travellers touring Australia. Travelling through the outback and visiting many of the famous sights as well as off the beaten track locations. Learn about the history of the people who explored the deserts, from indigenous communities to Europeans, as well as Burke and Wills, visit White Cliffs, Marree and far north Kakadu and the Kimberley.
From A$38,910 AUDView Tour
Aboriginal culture of the Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Ancient Aboriginal trade routes of Australia
Ancient Aboriginal trade routes of Australia Trade was a central part of life for Aboriginal people prior to the British settlement of Australia. Trading routes criss-crossed the nation, dispersing goods, information, technologies and culture thousands…
Expeditions of John McDouall Stuart in the Flinders.
Highlights of Australia: The yellow-footed rock-wallaby
Another of Australia's unique animals. On many of the small group package tours for mature and senior travelers in the Southern states this Wallaby is encountered. The Flinders range, Broken Hill, Eyre & York peninsula as well as the World heritages sites tours include this reclusive wallaby as part of the itinerary.
Landscape of Southern Australia from Mallee and Mulga.
Port Augusta, South Australia
Questions about Australia for senior travellers
Questions About Australia for senior travellers Odyssey Traveller specialises in crafting unforgettable experiences for senior and mature-aged travellers interested in learning as a couple or as a solo traveller when they travel. Providing adventure and…
The Australian Outback: A Definitive Guide
Explore learn and consider what is the outback in this article. For mature and senior travelers considering joining a small group package tours into the outback to see, learn and explore about this unique place, not only the landscape but the Aboriginal approach to living. On each of the tours for couples and the single traveler you learn something different but fascinating, from Outback Queensland, the Flinders, Broken Hill and the Kimberley and the wildflowers all contribute to this question, what is the outback?
Wilpena Pound, South Australia
Learn more from this article about a geologic icon of South Australia. The scale of this feature is beyond comprehension. Odyssey offers small group package tours to Flinders range every year that include visits and time here. Tours are for mature and senior travellers, couples and singles interested in learning and getting off the beaten track.
Woomera, South Australia
Read and learn about the contemporary history of this military site and town in South Australia. We visit briefly on the Flinders range tour of South Australia that began in Adelaide. Odyssey has a collection of small group package tours for mature and senior travellers, couples or singles that explore the landscape, wildlife and history of Australia to enjoy.
Appreciating Australian River Systems
Coober Pedy, South Australia
The town of Coober Pedy was established in 1915, when a 14-year old boy found a precious opal in a remote part of the South Australian outback. On this small group tour of the Flinders ranges we explore and learn about this and other towns in the Flinders and its importance to the Aboriginal community.
Gawler Ranges and Lake Gairdner, South Australia
South Australia proves itself to be interesting from a landscape, wildlife and human history perspective on this collection of Australian tours. These 3 facets form part of a small group package tour for mature and senior travellers to consider with a group leader, whether as a couple or single traveller exploring the Eyre and York Peninsula.