Flinders Ranges
Flinders Ranges is the largest mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

 in South Australia, which starts approximately 200 km (124.3 mi) north west of Adelaide. The discontinuous ranges stretch for over 430 km (267.2 mi) from Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna
Lake Callabonna
Lake Callabonna is a dry salt lake with little to no vegetation in northeastern South Australia, approximately southwest of the junction of South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales at Cameron Corner. It is an important site for late Pleistocene fossils...

. Its most characteristic landmark is Wilpena Pound
Wilpena Pound
Wilpena Pound is a natural amphitheatre of mountains located north of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia in the heart of the Flinders Ranges National Park. The Pound is the most northern point with access via a sealed road in this part of the Flinders Ranges...

, a large, sickle
A sickle is a hand-held agricultural tool with a variously curved blade typically used for harvesting grain crops or cutting succulent forage chiefly for feeding livestock . Sickles have also been used as weapons, either in their original form or in various derivations.The diversity of sickles that...

-shaped, natural amphitheatre
An amphitheatre is an open-air venue used for entertainment and performances.There are two similar, but distinct, types of structure for which the word "amphitheatre" is used: Ancient Roman amphitheatres were large central performance spaces surrounded by ascending seating, and were commonly used...

 covering nearly 80 square kilometres (30.9 sq mi), containing the range's highest peak, St Mary Peak
St Mary Peak
St Mary Peak , is situated on the northwestern side of Wilpena Pound, and is the highest peak in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. It lies within the Flinders Ranges National Park. St Mary Peak is the eighth highest peak in South Australia...

 (1170 m (3,838.6 ft)) and adjoining the Flinders Ranges National Park. The northern ranges host the Arkaroola wilderness sanctuary and the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park
Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park
The Gammon Ranges are part of the northern Flinders Ranges, immediately southwest of and adjacent to Arkaroola Sanctuary. They encompass some of the most rugged and spectacular country in South Australia.-Geography:...

. The southern part of the ranges are notable for the Pichi Richi
Pichi Richi Railway
The Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society is a non-profit railway preservation society and operating museum formed in 1973. The society, managed and staffed by volunteers, operates heritage steam and diesel trains on the restored 39 km section of track between Quorn and Port Augusta in...

 scenic railway and Mount Remarkable National Park
Mount Remarkable National Park
Mount Remarkable is a national park in South Australia , 238 km north of Adelaide.Edward John Eyre named Mount Remarkable in June 1840...


Several small areas in the Flinders Ranges are protected as National Parks. These include the Flinders Ranges National Park
Flinders Ranges National Park
The Flinders Ranges National Park is situated approximately 400 km north of Adelaide in the northern central part of South Australia's largest mountain range, the Flinders Ranges. The park covers an area of 912 km², northeast of the small town of Hawker...

 near Wilpena Pound and the Mount Remarkable National Park
Mount Remarkable National Park
Mount Remarkable is a national park in South Australia , 238 km north of Adelaide.Edward John Eyre named Mount Remarkable in June 1840...

 in the southern part of the ranges near Melrose. The Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is a scenic protected area at the northern end of the ranges. In addition, The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park, west of Quorn, and the Mount Brown Conservation Park
Mount Brown Conservation Park
Mount Brown Conservation Park is a national park in the in the Southern Flinders Ranges of South Australia. The park has established walking trails, including a section of the Heysen trail. The park is managed by the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources; entry is free...

, south of Quorn, are protected areas of the ranges. The Heysen Trail
Heysen Trail
The Heysen Trail is a long distance walking trail in South Australia. It runs from Parachilna Gorge, in the Flinders Ranges via the Adelaide Hills to Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula and is approximately 1200 km in length....

  and Mawson Trail
Mawson Trail
The Mawson Trail is a long-distance cycling trail in South Australia starting just east of Adelaide in the Adelaide Hills and extending to the Outback town of Blinman in the Flinders Ranges. The Mawson Trail is the ideal option for mountain bikers wanting to travel through South Australia's...

  run for several hundred kilometres along the ranges providing scenic long distance routes for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders.


The Flinders Ranges are largely composed of folded and faulted sediments of the Adelaide Geosyncline
Adelaide Geosyncline
The Adelaide Geosyncline is a major geological province in central South Australia. It stretches from the northernmost parts of the Flinders Ranges, narrowing at the Fleurieu Peninsula and extending into Kangaroo Island, and composes the two major mountain ranges of the State: the Flinders Ranges...

. This very thick sequence of sediments were deposited in a large basin during the Neoproterozoic
The Neoproterozoic Era is the unit of geologic time from 1,000 to 542.0 ± 1.0 million years ago. The terminal Era of the formal Proterozoic Eon , it is further subdivided into the Tonian, Cryogenian, and Ediacaran Periods...

 on the passive margin of the ancient continent of Rodinia
In geology, Rodinia is the name of a supercontinent, a continent which contained most or all of Earth's landmass. According to plate tectonic reconstructions, Rodinia existed between 1.1 billion and 750 million years ago, in the Neoproterozoic era...

. During the Cambrian
The Cambrian is the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, lasting from Mya ; it is succeeded by the Ordovician. Its subdivisions, and indeed its base, are somewhat in flux. The period was established by Adam Sedgwick, who named it after Cambria, the Latin name for Wales, where Britain's...

, approximately 540 million years ago, the area underwent the Delamerian orogeny
Orogeny refers to forces and events leading to a severe structural deformation of the Earth's crust due to the engagement of tectonic plates. Response to such engagement results in the formation of long tracts of highly deformed rock called orogens or orogenic belts...

 where the geosynclinal sequence was folded and faulted into a large mountain range. Since this time the area has undergone erosion resulting in the relatively low ranges today.

Most of the high ground and ridgetops in the Flinders are sequences of quartzite
Quartzite is a hard metamorphic rock which was originally sandstone. Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure usually related to tectonic compression within orogenic belts. Pure quartzite is usually white to gray, though quartzites often occur in various shades of pink...

s that outcrop along strike. The high walls of Wilpena Pound
Wilpena Pound
Wilpena Pound is a natural amphitheatre of mountains located north of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia in the heart of the Flinders Ranges National Park. The Pound is the most northern point with access via a sealed road in this part of the Flinders Ranges...

 are formed by the outcropping beds of the eponymous Pound Quartzite in a synclinal structure. The same formation forms many of the other high parts of the Flinders, including the high plateau of the Gammon Ranges and the Heysen Range. Cuesta
In structural geology and geomorphology, a cuesta is a ridge formed by gently tilted sedimentary rock strata in a homoclinal structure. Cuestas have a steep slope, where the rock layers are exposed on their edges, called an escarpment or, if more steep, a cliff...

 forms are also very common in the Flinders.

The Ranges are particularly renowned for the Ediacara Hills
Ediacara Hills
Ediacara Hills are a range of low hills in the northern part of the Flinders Ranges of South Australia, around 650 km north of Adelaide. The area has many old copper and silver mines from mining activity in the late 19th century...

, north-west of Leigh Creek. This was the site of discovery in 1946 of some of the oldest fossil evidence of animal life. Since then similar fossils have been found in many other parts of the ranges, though their locations are a closely kept secret due to the risk of sites being desecrated. In 2004 a new geological period, the Ediacaran
The Ediacaran Period , named after the Ediacara Hills of South Australia, is the last geological period of the Neoproterozoic Era and of the Proterozoic Eon, immediately preceding the Cambrian Period, the first period of the Paleozoic Era and of the Phanerozoic Eon...

 Period was formed to mark the appearance of Ediacara biota.

Flora and fauna

The flora
Flora is the plant life occurring in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring or indigenous—native plant life. The corresponding term for animals is fauna.-Etymology:...

 of the Flinders Ranges is largely made up of species adapted to a semi-arid environment such as sugar gum, cypress-pine
Callitris is a genus of coniferous trees in the Cupressaceae . There are 15 species in the genus, of which 13 are native to Australia and the other two native to New Caledonia. Traditionally the most widely used common name is cypress-pine, a name shared by the closely related genus Actinostrobus...

, mallee
Mallee (habit)
Mallee is the growth habit of certain eucalypt species that grow with multiple stems springing from an underground lignotuber, usually to a height of no more than ten metres...

, and black oak
Casuarina pauper
Casuarina pauper is an Australian tree species known as black oak. It is native to a band across southern Australia....

. Moister areas near Wilpena Pound support grevillea
Grevillea is a diverse genus of about 360 species of evergreen flowering plants in the protea family Proteaceae, native to Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, and Sulawesi. It was named in honour of Charles Francis Greville. The species range from prostrate shrubs less than 0.5 m tall to trees...

s, Guinea flower
Hibbertia, or Guinea flower, is a genus of trees, shrubs, trailing shrubs and climbers of the family Dilleniaceae. The five-petalled flowers of all species are varying shades of yellow, with the exception of H. stellaris, H. miniata and H. selkii, a recently named species from the Stirling...

s, Liliaceae
The Liliaceae, or the lily family, is a family of monocotyledons in the order Liliales. Plants in this family have linear leaves, mostly with parallel veins but with several having net venation , and flower arranged in threes. Several have bulbs, while others have rhizomes...

 and fern
A fern is any one of a group of about 12,000 species of plants belonging to the botanical group known as Pteridophyta. Unlike mosses, they have xylem and phloem . They have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants...

s. Reed
Phragmites, the Common reed, is a large perennial grass found in wetlands throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world. Phragmites australis is sometimes regarded as the sole species of the genus Phragmites, though some botanists divide Phragmites australis into three or four species...

s and sedge
Cyperaceae are a family of monocotyledonous graminoid flowering plants known as sedges, which superficially resemble grasses or rushes. The family is large, with some 5,500 species described in about 109 genera. These species are widely distributed, with the centers of diversity for the group...

s grow near permanent water sources such as spring
Spring (hydrosphere)
A spring—also known as a rising or resurgence—is a component of the hydrosphere. Specifically, it is any natural situation where water flows to the surface of the earth from underground...

s and waterhole
Depression (geology)
A depression in geology is a landform sunken or depressed below the surrounding area. Depressions may be formed by various mechanisms.Structural or tectonic related:...


Since the eradication of dingo
The Australian Dingo or Warrigal is a free-roaming wild dog unique to the continent of Australia, mainly found in the outback. Its original ancestors are thought to have arrived with humans from southeast Asia thousands of years ago, when dogs were still relatively undomesticated and closer to...

s and the establishment of permanent waterholes for stock, the numbers of red kangaroo
Red Kangaroo
The Red Kangaroo is the largest of all kangaroos, the largest mammal native to Australia, and the largest surviving marsupial. It is found across mainland Australia, avoiding only the more fertile areas in the south, the east coast, and the northern rainforests.-Description:This species is a very...

s, western grey kangaroo
Western Grey Kangaroo
The Western Grey Kangaroo is a large and very common kangaroo or macropod, found across almost the entire southern part of Australia, from just south of Shark Bay to coastal South Australia, western Victoria, and the entire Murray-Darling Basin in New South Wales and Queensland...

s and euro
A Wallaroo is any of three closely related species of moderately large macropod, intermediate in size between the kangaroos and the wallabies. The name "wallaroo" is a portmanteau of wallaby and kangaroo. The term is not generally used by Australians...

s in the Flinders Ranges have increased. The yellow-footed rock-wallaby
Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby
The Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby is a member of the macropod family ....

, which neared extinction after the arrival of Europeans due to hunting and predation by fox
Red Fox
The red fox is the largest of the true foxes, as well as being the most geographically spread member of the Carnivora, being distributed across the entire northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America, and the steppes of Asia...

es, has now stabilized. Other endemic marsupials include dunnart
Dunnarts are furry narrow-footed marsupials the size of a mouse, members of the genus Sminthopsis. They are mainly insectivorous. A male dunnart's Y chromosome has only 4 genes, making it the smallest known mammalian Y chromosome....

s, planigale
The genus Planigale are small carnivorous marsupials found in Australia and New Guinea. It is the only genus in the Planigalini tribe of the subfamily Sminthopsinae...

s and echidna
Echidnas , also known as spiny anteaters, belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. There are four extant species, which, together with the platypus, are the only surviving members of that order and are the only extant mammals that lay eggs...

s. Insectivorous bat
Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera "hand" and pteron "wing") whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums, and colugos, glide rather than fly,...

s make up significant proportion of mammals in the area. There are a large number of bird species including parrot
Parrots, also known as psittacines , are birds of the roughly 372 species in 86 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three families: the Psittacidae , the Cacatuidae and the Strigopidae...

s, galah
The Galah , Eolophus roseicapilla, also known as the Rose-breasted Cockatoo, Galah Cockatoo, Roseate Cockatoo or Pink and Grey, is one of the most common and widespread cockatoos, and it can be found in open country in almost all parts of mainland Australia.It is endemic on the mainland and was...

s, emu
The Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the largest bird native to Australia and the only extant member of the genus Dromaius. It is the second-largest extant bird in the world by height, after its ratite relative, the ostrich. There are three subspecies of Emus in Australia...

s, the wedge-tailed eagle
Wedge-tailed Eagle
The Wedge-tailed Eagle , sometimes known as the Eaglehawk in its native range, is the largest bird of prey in Australia, but it is also found in southern New Guinea. It has long, fairly broad wings, fully feathered legs, and an unmistakable wedge-shaped tail...

 and small numbers of water birds. Reptiles include goanna
Goanna is the name used to refer to any number of Australian monitor lizards of the genus Varanus, as well as to certain species from Southeast Asia.There are around 30 species of goanna, 25 of which are found in Australia...

s, snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

s, dragon lizards, skink
Skinks are lizards belonging to the family Scincidae. Together with several other lizard families, including Lacertidae , they comprise the superfamily or infraorder Scincomorpha...

s and gecko
Geckos are lizards belonging to the infraorder Gekkota, found in warm climates throughout the world. They range from 1.6 cm to 60 cm....

s. The streambank froglet
Crinia is a genus of frog, native to Australia, and part of the family Myobatrachidae. It consists of small frogs, which are distributed throughout most of Australia, excluding the central arid regions...

 is an endemic amphibian
Amphibians , are a class of vertebrate animals including animals such as toads, frogs, caecilians, and salamanders. They are characterized as non-amniote ectothermic tetrapods...


The Ranges are part of the Tirari-Sturt stony desert
Tirari-Sturt stony desert
The Tirari-Sturt stony desert is a large dry World Wildlife Fund ecoregion of southern Australia.-Location and description:The Tirari-Sturt stony desert ecoregion contains the gibber plains and red sands of the large Sturt Stony Desert, the Tirari Desert to its southwest and the Flinders and...

An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...


Human history

The first humans to inhabit the Flinders Ranges were the Adnyamathanha
The Adnyamathanha or Adynyamathanha are an Indigenous Australian people from the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. Adnyamathanha is also the name of their traditional language....

 people (meaning ‘hill people’ or ‘rock people’) whose descendants still reside in the area. Cave paintings, rock engravings and other artifacts indicate that the Adnyamathana people have lived in the Flinders Ranges for tens of thousands of years.

The first European explorers to the region were an exploration party from Matthew Flinders
Matthew Flinders
Captain Matthew Flinders RN was one of the most successful navigators and cartographers of his age. In a career that spanned just over twenty years, he sailed with Captain William Bligh, circumnavigated Australia and encouraged the use of that name for the continent, which had previously been...

 seagoing visit to upper, Spencer Gulf
Spencer Gulf
The Spencer Gulf is the westernmost of two large inlets on the southern coast of Australia, in the state of South Australia, facing the Great Australian Bight. The Gulf is 322 km long and 129 km wide at its mouth. The western shore of the Gulf is the Eyre Peninsula, while the eastern side is the...

 aboard The Investigator. They climbed Mount Brown in March 1802 . In the winter of 1839 Edward John Eyre
Edward John Eyre
Edward John Eyre was an English land explorer of the Australian continent, colonial administrator, and a controversial Governor of Jamaica....

, together with a group of five men, two drays and ten horses, further explored
Eyre's 1839 expeditions
Edward John Eyre's two expeditions of 1839 to the interior of South Australia were his first expeditions as an explorer, if one discounts the two earlier trips he made down the Murray River to Adelaide, herding cattle and then sheep.-North:...

 the region. They set out from Adelaide on 1 May 1839. The party set up a depot near Mount Arden, and from there explored the surrounding region and upper Spencer Gulf, before heading eastward to the Murray River
Murray River
The Murray River is Australia's longest river. At in length, the Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia's highest mountains and, for most of its length, meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the border between New South Wales and Victoria as it...

 and returning to Adelaide.
There are records of squatters in the Quorn
Quorn, South Australia
Quorn is a township and railhead in the Flinders Ranges in the north of South Australia, 39 km northeast of Port Augusta. At the 2006 census, Quorn had a population of 1068.Quorn is the home of the Flinders Ranges Council local government area...

 district as early as 1845, and the first pastoral leases were granted in 1851. William Pinkerton is credited as being the first European to find a route through the Flinders Ranges via Pichi Richi Pass. In 1853 he drove 7,000 sheep along the eastern plains of the range to where Quorn would be built 25 years later (Pinkerton Creek runs through the Quorn township).

In 1851 Wilpena, Arkaba and Aroona were established as sheep stations, and within a few years other runs were marked out through the hills and along the adjoining eastern and western slopes.

In 1852 Kanyaka Station
Kanyaka Station
Kanyaka Station was a cattle and sheep station in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia approximately 40 km north of Quorn, South Australia.- History :Kanyaka Station was established as a cattle station in February 1852 by Hugh Proby...

 was established by Hugh Proby.

During the late 1870s the push to open agriculture land for wheat growing north of the Goyder's Line
Goyder's Line
Goyder's Line is a boundary line across South Australia corresponding to a rainfall boundary believed to indicate the edge of the area suitable for agriculture. North of Goyder's Line, the rainfall is not reliable enough, and the land is only suitable for grazing and not cropping. The line traces a...

 had met with unusual success, with good rainfall and crops in the Flinders Ranges. This, along with the copper mining lobby (copper was mined in the Hawker-Flinders Ranges area in the late 1850s and transported overland by bullock dray), induced the government to build a narrow gauge railway line north of Port Augusta through Pichi Richi Pass, Quorn, Hawker
Hawker, South Australia
Hawker is a town in the Flinders Ranges area of South Australia, 365 km north of Adelaide. It is in the Flinders Ranges Council, the state Electoral district of Stuart and the federal Division of Grey. At the 2006 census, Hawker had a population of 229....

 and along the west of the ranges, eventually to Marree
Marree, South Australia
Marree is a small town located in the north of South Australia. It lies North of Adelaide at the junction of the Oodnadatta Track and the Birdsville Track, above sea level. The area is the home of the Dieri people. At the 2006 census, Marree had a population of 70.The town was home to Australia's...

. (It was intended to service the agricultural and pastoral industries in the region).
The rainfall returned to a normal pattern for the region, causing many of the agricultural farms to collapse. Remnants of abdandoned homes can still be seen dotted around the arid landscape. Wilpena station, due to its unusual geography, is now the only location north of Goyder's Line
Goyder's Line
Goyder's Line is a boundary line across South Australia corresponding to a rainfall boundary believed to indicate the edge of the area suitable for agriculture. North of Goyder's Line, the rainfall is not reliable enough, and the land is only suitable for grazing and not cropping. The line traces a...

 to be able to sustain any crops - although it has now been left to the wild and is only a tourist location. Today kukri, unpopular with most Australian farmers as it yields 10-15% less grain than other varieties of wheat, is being grown for export to India.

Mining exploration continued in the region, but coal-mining at Leigh Creek
Leigh Creek, South Australia
Leigh Creek is a coal-mining town in the north of South Australia. At the 2006 census, Leigh Creek had a population of 549....

 and barytes at Oraparinna were the only long-term successes. Pastoral industries flourished, and the rail line became of major importance in opening up and servicing sheep and cattle stations along the route to Alice Springs
Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Alice Springs is the second largest town in the Northern Territory of Australia. Popularly known as "the Alice" or simply "Alice", Alice Springs is situated in the geographic centre of Australia near the southern border of the Northern Territory...


Hawker townsite was surveyed at a bend in the railway line where the train line left the main road to Blinman
Blinman, South Australia
Blinman is a town deep in the Flinders Ranges, in the mid north of South Australia. It is very small but has the claim of being the highest surveyed town in South Australia. It serves as a base for large acre pastoralists and tourism...

, and named in 1880 after South Australian politician and pastoralist, George Charles Hawker
George Charles Hawker
George Charles Hawker was an Australian settler and South Australian politician.-Early life:Hawker was born in London, the second son of Admiral Edward Hawker and his first wife Joanna Naomi, née Poore. He was educated partly on the continent, and entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1836 George...


Quorn was surveyed by Godfrey Walsh and proclaimed a town on 16 May 1878. The township covered an area of 1.72 km² (0.66409571277916 sq mi) and was laid out in squares in a manner similar to the state's capital city, Adelaide. Governor Jervois
William Jervois
Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois, GCMG, CB was a British military engineer who saw service, as Second Captain, in South Africa...

 reputedly bestowed the name 'Quorn' because his private secretary at the time had come from the Parish of Quorndon
Quorn, Leicestershire
Quorn is a village in Leicestershire, England, situated next to the university town of Loughborough. Quorn's name was shortened from Quorndon in 1889, to avoid postal difficulties owing to its similarity to the name of another village, Quarndon, a few miles away. Its original name is said to derive...


See also

  • Arkaroola
  • Edeowie glass
    Edeowie glass
    Edeowie glass is a slag-like, opaque natural glass found as vesicular or in sheet-like masses in a semi-continuous swath, about 55 km long and 10 km wide along the western side of the Flinders Ranges near Parachilna, South Australia...

  • Ediacara (disambiguation)
  • Gammon Ranges
  • Marathon Resources
  • Mawson Plateau
    Mawson Plateau
    thumb|right|230px|Typical Mawson Plateau terrain; rolling hills, with sparse vegetation interspersed with numerous eroded granite boulders.The Mawson Plateau is part of the northern Flinders Ranges, located on the Mount Freeling pastoral lease in South Australia, 140 km east of Lyndhurst and...

  • Mount Chambers
  • Protected areas of South Australia
    Protected areas of South Australia
    South Australia contains 324 separate Protected Areas with a total land area of 216,310 km² . Eighteen of these areas are National parks, totalling 43,374 km² .-Conservation Parks:...

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