When talking about the Australian landscape, mountain ranges are not an obvious topic of conversation. Australia is generally quite a flat continent, with an 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.
The Ancient Mountain Range
Flinders Ranges is the largest mountain range in South Australia and one of the most ancient environments on the planet. The oldest evidence for animal life on earth was found fossilized 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.
Wildlife of Flinders Ranges National Park
In the 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 native Australian wildlife species, most notably the endangered Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby.
Probably the cutest of Flinders Ranges animals, this species is superbly adapted to the rocky environment of the rangers. Apart from their amazing agility, the Yellow-footed rock-wallabies are equipped with a rusty-grey coat that makes them almost invisible among the rocks.
However, as adapted as they are, they still suffer from intense competition with feral goats for food and water.
Kangaroo & Wallaroo (aka Euro)
Thanks to the establishment of permanent waterholes for domestic stock, other native Australian animals such as Red Kangaroo, Western Grey Kangaroo, and Euro are quite abundant in the Flinders.
A good place to see some of the wildlife of Flinders Ranges is the environs of Wilpena Pound campground. The Pound is of the most dramatic Fliders Ranges attractions. It is a large natural amphitheatre that covers nearly 80 km². The campground nearby is the perfect base for exploring the area.
You don’t even have to leave the campground to see some of the local inhabitants. Western Grey Kangaroos – perhaps the most abundant of Flinders Ranges animals, are quite happy to relax at the campground during the heat of the day
The campground is also a good spot to see some of Flinders Ranges’ diverse birdlife. You can spot flocks of the brilliantly colored Mallee Ringneck parrots and quirky Apostlebird from your tent. So you can see, why camping at Wilpena Pound is a good way to see some of the Flinders Ranges wildlife.
Driving around the park, keep an eye out for the birds of prey. Wedge-tail eagles and Brown falcons are a common sight in the ranges.
One bird that will be hard to miss is the Emu. Standing over 2 meters tall, these birds tower over the landscape like giraffes on the African savanna.
Be careful not to run into a male Emu on foot, especially if he is tending young chicks. Male Emus get quite aggressive when they feel that their brood is threatened.
Other common birds in the park are Pink and Grey galahs, Rainbow bee-eaters, the Elegant parrots and the Red-capped robins.
Wilpena pound walks
Wangara Lookout Hike
One of the best Wilpena Pound walks is the Wangara Lookout Hike. The walk is 7km return and takes about 3.5hrs to complete.
The trail starts at Wilpena Visitor Center and follows Wilpena Creek through the Pound Gap. This is a great spot for birdwatching.
When you arrive at the info shelter, continue along the tail to the Hills Homestead. The open area around the homestead is a good place for spotting Kangaroos.
From here the walk climbs to the two lookouts on the pound edge. The climb is quite hard, but the views of the ancient pound from the lookouts are absolutely worth the hard work. The rocks of Wilpena Pound are great for spotting sun-baking reptiles.
Guided walks from Wilpena Pound Reserve
Wilpena Pound Reserve also offers some leisurely guided walks. The 2-hr walk into Wilpena Pound takes you to the Hills Homestead with an option to climb to Wangara Lookout.
Or, if you are keen to learn about the history of life in the Outback, you can opt for a cultural 2-hr walk to the Old Wilpena Station.
Visiting Flinders Ranges National Park
The Flinders Ranges are about 500 kilometres north of Adelaide. It is about a five-hour road trip.
Wilpena Pound Resort has a number of accommodation options ranging from camping to air-conditioned safari tents to resort-style accommodation.