Flinders Ranges National Park

Barbecue Bike riding Campfire Caravan Disabled Drinking water Horse riding Kiosk/Restaurant Park entry fee Shower Toilets Wildflowers Wildlife Aboriginal site Accommodation Camping area Four-wheel drive touring Information Picnic area Place of interest Ranger Walking
Flinders Ranges National Park, Bill Bachman / Australian Geographic


Flinders Ranges National Park covers a vast ancient landscape of rippled outback terrain and exposed ridges, culminating in the striking natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound in the south. The startling colours and dramatic scenery – particularly vivid when the sun is low – have enchanted generations of visitors and artists and are celebrated in many famous photographs, paintings and films.

Perhaps because of the sheer contrast between the Flinders Ranges and the surrounding open plains country, or because of the amazing geology of Wilpena Pound at its heart, this park is one of the best known and most loved in Australia.

First declared in 1945, and expanded with the addition of neighbouring pastoral leases, the park offers visitors European and Aboriginal heritage sites to explore as well as a network of bushwalks and trails. There are many beautiful places to camp, such as alongside gently flowing creeks lined with massive river red gums. Spring brings a riot of colourful wildflowers but winter has a special magic with clear crisp days and frosty nights.

Fact file


From Adelaide via Hawker; from Lyndhurst via Parachilna; from Balcanoona via Wirrealpa

Best season

Autumn to spring


450 km north of Adelaide; 55 km north of Hawker to Wilpena; 44 km south-east of Parachilna (via Blinman); 35 km south-east of Parachilna (via Brachina Gorge)

Park information

  • Parks SA (08) 8204 1910
  • Wilpena Pound Visitor Information Centre (08) 8648 0048


Park Entry Pass required per vehicle; camping permit required per vehicle per day


91 330 ha

Visitor information

Wilpena Pound 1800 805 802

Featured Activities in the National Park

  • Walk into the ‘lost world’ of Wilpena Pound and take a scenic flight over its ramparts

    Watch the sun set on the western slopes of the Heysen Range

    Visit Adnyamathanha art sites at Sacred Canyon or Arkaroo Rock

    Drive the scenic route from Parachilna to Wilpena via Brachina Gorge and Bunyeroo Valley

    Take a walk through Bunyeroo Gorge and watch for yellow-footed rock-wallabies

See Also

A look at the past

The first European to venture into this country was explorer Edward Eyre in 1839. In 1850 two brothers, doctors W.J. and J.H. Browne, travelled close to Wilpena Creek in their search for a pastoral lease but they were turned back by unusually heavy rain. Their stockman, William Chace, was sent to explore further and he was the first European to enter the pound. When he reported his remarkable find, the Brownes immediately applied for leases covering Wilpena’s natural amphitheatre, as well as the Aroona and Arkaba runs. To the Brownes, Wilpena Pound was a handy corral to graze their stock.

By the 1860s much of the ranges was under pastoral lease. A scramble for minerals in the late 1800s has left scars and mining ruins and relics throughout the ancient hills and valleys.

The Hill family took over the Wilpena station lease in 1899 for wheat growing. However, in 1914 a massive flood washed away the road next to the usually peaceful Wilpena Creek, leaving the already marginal wheat farm inside inaccessible to vehicles. With the prospect of either rebuilding the road or hauling material along a narrow foot track, the wheat farm was abandoned.

The pound became a forest reserve in the 1920s and in 1945 was proclaimed a National Pleasure Resort – to promote tourism and scenic features. The first organised sightseeing venture opened at Wilpena Chalet in 1947 and the pound was used in several feature films during the 1950s.

Aboriginal culture

Eyre’s progress would have been closely observed by the Adnyamathanha, who had occupied the rocky range country for many thousands of years. The Kuyani, Wailpi, Yadliaura, Pilatapa and Pangkala people are the traditional owners of the Flinders Ranges and share a common cultural heritage based on Yura Muda traditional knowledge, which links life with the land and how it should be looked after. The Adnyamathanha retain strong and active ties with their land, and the park continues to be used for cultural purposes.

A self-guided Aboriginal Dreaming Trail winds from Hawker to the valleys north of Wilpena then on to the rugged Vulkathunha–Gammon region further north – rock-art sites and interpretive signs along the trail explain the Yura Muda culture. The name ‘Wilpena’ is sometimes said to be an Adnyamathanha word for ‘cupped hand’, but the Aboriginal people of the area today refer to the pound as ikara, or meeting place.

Natural features

The park lies at the centre of an ancient chain of mountains that starts near Port Pirie and stretches 600 kilometres north before petering out in the desert beyond Arkaroola. The highest points in Flinders Ranges National Park are the soaring bluffs around Wilpena Pound but they are only the stumps of ancient peaks, which erosion has shaped over millions of years into a landscape of incredible beauty and geological complexity.

As the Flinders rippled with mountain-building activity, its rocks were twisted and crushed, forming layers of hard quartzite and veins of mineral ore. Pound quartzite formed the skeleton of the ranges, and along its western edge it alternates with softer siltstones and shales in the gorges cut by Brachina and Bunyeroo creeks.

The Heysen and ABC ranges run north–south and are cut by picturesque tree-lined gorges. In spring the hillsides are covered with wildflowers. The natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound is in the south with St Mary Peak, on its northern edge, the highest peak in the Flinders. Just to the west of this high point is Edeowie Gorge, with steep cliffs that were carved out of the rock millions of years ago. There are a series of major falls in the gorge, including the 40-metre Glenora Falls, which bar the way to all but the most experienced walkers. Bunyeroo Gorge is more accessible – many campsites at Bunyeroo Creek are close to the road that winds through the park. Brachina Gorge in the north-west of the park is also easily accessible, and has interpretive signs explaining the geological history of the land features and the significant fossil sites. The Bunkers range in the north-east corner of the park is the location of Wilkawillina Gorge, which also has fossil sites.

Native plants

The park’s varied landforms support 650 different plant species including many arid-zone plants that have adapted to drought and intensely high temperatures. The drought-tolerant red mallee, emubush and pearl bluebush are common, whereas guinea-flowers, grevilleas, bush peas and native cranberry grow best inside Wilpena Pound, where there is slightly more rain. Hardy cypress pines are dotted over much of the park’s lowlands while on the rocky upper slopes there are mats of tough porcupine grass. Mallee and black oak (Casuarina sp.) are found in the dry and exposed north of the park.

For thousands of years the native plants of the Flinders Ranges have been carefully managed by the Adnyamathanha, supplying them with food, medicines, glues, tools, weapons, games and musical instruments. A smorgasbord of food plants still thrives in the park. There are bush bananas, quandongs, native oranges and pears, and red bullock bush berries that taste like coconut.

Colourful, but unwelcome, expanses of salvation jane (also known as Paterson’s curse) and introduced wild hop are remnants of pastoral activity but there are still 85 species of plant that have important conservation values, and the park’s award-winning Bounce Back ecological restoration project is repairing past mistakes.


Flinders Ranges National Park is home to four colonies of yellow-footed rock-wallabies, seen at dusk or dawn around Wilpena, Brachina, Bunyeroo and Wilkawillina gorges. On the open plains country, mobs of euros and the taller red kangaroos graze in the cool of the late afternoon or early morning. Reptiles are probably the most common creatures seen and there are over 50 species here, including the large central bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps), which varies in colour depending on the soil in its habitat – ranging from dull brown to brilliant red. South Australia's only endemic frog, the streambank froglet (Crinia riparia), although an unlikely creature to make the desert its home, finds refuge along the flowing creeks. It is found only in the Flinders and Gammon ranges.

Birdlife is a great attracton for visitors so pack binoculars. The 126 species recorded include the bold and curious emus, and garrulous flocks of corellas and galahs that make a point of announcing to every campsite that the sun has come up. Other species are less obvious, such as the diminutive Baillon's crake, which makes its home among the streams, and the tiny painted finch, with its distinctive scarlet front and white spotted underparts, which inhabits the spinifex in the rocky hills near permanent watercourses.


This park offers visitors some of the most spectacular outback sightseeing in Australia. Camping, bushwalking, four-wheel driving, wildlife-watching, rock-climbing and cycling are all available. There are guided 4WD tours into the pound and scenic flights to give you an aerial perspective without climbing the peaks. Find out more at the Wilpena visitor centre.


The park is a cyclist’s paradise. Besides a variety of spectacularly scenic roads (see Scenic Touring below), part of the 900-kilometre Mawson Trail (Adelaide to Blinman) runs right through the centre. You can pick up the trail at Wilpena in the south, at Yanyanna and Trezona in the centre or at Dedman’s Hut in the north. Wilpena visitor centre can advise on trail conditions, distances, facilities along the way and drinking water.

Rock-climbing and abseiling

The quartzite rock faces of the Flinders Ranges attract climbers from around the country. There is an extensive climbing site at Moonarie near Arkaroo Rock in the south of the park, offering a variety of climbs including some of the most difficult in the state.

Scenic touring

Every approach to the park features remarkable views. From the south the road to Wilpena passes right underneath the imposing eastern ramparts of the pound. Approaching from the north, the Bunyeroo–Brachina–Aroona Scenic Drive is an amazing route to take when the sun is low, passing the remains of pastoral properties – Oraparinna in the beautiful Aroona valley, and the earlier 1850s Aroona run at Yanyanna. Lying between the Heysen and ABC ranges, the Aroona valley was a powerful inspiration for landscape painter Hans Heysen.

The 20-kilometre self-guided scenic drive along the Brachina Gorge Geological Trail takes drivers back 130 million years to a time when the ranges were forming. Moralana Scenic Drive passes to the south of the park, with views of the whole Wilpena Pound Range. It is a great way to return to Wilpena after a tour through Brachina or Bunyeroo gorges as the setting sun casts the ranges into sharp relief and brings out their most startling colours.


Acraman camping area

Nestled in the ranges, this area for self-sufficient campers is a handy base for exploring the Heysen Trail, Bunyeroo Gorge and the scenic majesty of Bunyeroo Valley and Wilpena Pound. From the visitor centre it’s... Find out more

Aroona Ruins camping area

Close to the historic Aroona Ruins, this site has fine outlooks to the Heysen and ABC ranges. It’s also at the start of the Heysen Trail’s final dash up the beautiful Aroona Valley to Parachilna Gorge.... Find out more

Brachina East camping area

The gateway to all the Brachina action, this campground for self-sufficient campers is accessible from the east by 2WD and is pleasantly situated on the banks of Brachina Creek. Signposted along Brachina Gorge Rd, 48 km... Find out more

Brachina Gorge camping area (bush camping)

Through the twists and turns of the gorge there are several designated nooks for bush camping. Many have fine views of features like Heysen Hill and The Guardian, though in peak sightseeing times there can be a lot of... Find out more

Bridle Gap camping area (walk-in camping)

On the Heysen Trail, at the very southern end of the Flinders Ranges park, this basic site has spectacular views over Elder Range. There are no facilities and no fires are allowed: bring water and a gas/fuel stove. A... Find out more

Cambrian camping area

Self-sufficient campers will find 13 sites at this 4WD-access campground off Bunyeroo Valley Rd, 37 km north-west of the park HQ. This is a pleasant campground and is near the western end of Bunyeroo Gorge. The drive... Find out more

Cooinda camping area (walk-in camping)

This sheltered but no-frills walk-in site tucked within Wilpena Pound is 12 km from the visitor centre; a permit is required. This camping area serves as a base for bushwalks to St Mary Peak and Edeowie Gorge. The views... Find out more

Dingley Dell camping area

There is basic camping here in the open hill country near Oraparinna, just off Blinman Rd, 31 km north-east of the visitor centre. A permit is required.... Find out more

Koolamon camping area

For classic creek-side camping among the old river red gums in the beautiful Aroona Valley, follow Aroona Rd 46 km north of the visitor centre. There are sites here for both 2WD and 4WD vehicles with camper trailers. The... Find out more

Middlesight Water Hut camping area

On the Heysen Trail, this is an open hut in the north end of the Flinders Ranges National Park on Yanyanna Track. There are basic sleeping platforms, water and a fireplace.... Find out more

Teamsters camping area

Teamsters is at the western entrance to Brachina Gorge, a short walk from some of the steepest and most colourful gorge faces. It is 42 km from Wilpena, not far from the Hawker–Leigh Creek Rd, and suits off-road... Find out more

Trezona camping area

This camping area on Brachina Gorge Rd, 44 km north of Wilpena, takes its name from the ancient shales and limestones of the craggy Trezona Range. There is a self-guided nature walk here as part of the Brachina Gorge... Find out more

Wilpena Pound Campground

This is the main hub for visitors and bushwalkers exploring Wilpena Pound. The extensive facilities, easy access to the nearby resort and the magnificent river red gums along Wilpena Creek make this a very popular haunt... Find out more

Yanyanna Hut camping area

On the Heysen Trail, the basic Yanyanna Hut and its surrounding stockyards were the central point of the Aroona pastoral run in the 1850s. It is on the Yanyanna Track, between Middlesight Water Hut camping area and... Find out more

Youngoona camping area

Self-sufficient camping is available on the eastern slopes of the Trezona Range, from where walking trails loop back through historic grazing country to Aroona Valley. The site is just off the Brachina Gorge Rd, 48 km... Find out more

See Also

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