When talking about Australian landscape, mountain ranges are not an obvious topic of conversation. Australia is generally quite a flat continent, with the average range of elevation of only 330 meters, which is probably one of the lowest in the world. This is because Australia is the world’s oldest continent and its mountain ranges withstood millions of years of geological upheavals and weather erosion.
Flinders Ranges is the largest mountain range in South Australia and one of the oldest environments on the planet. The oldest evidence for animal life on earth was found fossilised here, suggesting that animals may have been present on earth at least 70 million years earlier than previously thought. A new geological period, the Ediacaran (635-542Mya) was established to mark the appearance of these strange primitive sponge life forms.
In present day, this 635 million years old landscape is made up of rugged cliffs, spectacular gorges and stony creeks. It is home to a wide array of wildlife species, most notably the endangered Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus). Arguably Australia’s most handsome macropod this species is superbly adapted for the rocky environment of the Flinders Rangers. Apart from their amazing agility, they are equipped with rusty-grey coat that makes them almost invisible amongst the rocks. However, as adapted as they are, they still suffer from intense competition with feral goats for food and water.
The establishment of permanent waterholes for domestic stock led to an increase in other large macropods such as Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus), Western Grey Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus) and Euro (Macropus robustus).
A good place to see some of Flinders Ranges’ wildlife is the environs of Wilpena Pound campground. One of the most characteristic landmarks in Flinders Rangers, Wilpena Pound is a large natural amphitheater that covers nearly 80 km². The campground nearby is the perfect base for exploring the area.