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The Flinders Ranges – The land before time

The Flinders Ranges, Australia’s largest mountain range, is an array of stunning mountains and hills that look like the backbones sticking out of a dinosaur

marc_casolani
Marc Casolani
14 July 2017, 9:15am
The Flinders Ranges is allegedly one of the oldest landscapes on the planet, with fossils from prehistory dotting the seabed between the mountains
The Flinders Ranges is allegedly one of the oldest landscapes on the planet, with fossils from prehistory dotting the seabed between the mountains
Of all travel write ups that I have submitted, this would be the first time that I am writing live from location. Despite the hundred or so flies trying to get into my eyes and ears and nose… and mouth, I am determined to make the most out of this prehistoric landscape. And besides, you get used to the bugs pretty quickly.

The Flinders Ranges, Australia’s largest mountain range, is an array of stunning mountains and hills that look like the backbones sticking out of a dinosaur some 430km long. In fact, this is allegedly one of the oldest landscapes on the planet, with fossils from prehistory dotting the seabed between the mountains. Also covered in unique flora, this is a photographer’s heaven.

The wild mountain goat seen balancing precariously at the top of the mountains have not always been that way
The wild mountain goat seen balancing precariously at the top of the mountains have not always been that way
The Flinders is also home to an abundance of wildlife; emus, euros (the wallaroos not the currency) and kangaroos graze in these lands side by side with endangered yellow tailed wallabies, a small-sized kangaroo-like mammal with a big yellow striped tail.

The wild mountain goat seen balancing precariously at the top of the mountains have not always been that way. In the 1850s a group of Irish settlers attempted to use the foothills and the plains to set up sheep farms, but a series of droughts made the land unfertile and when nothing would grow in these areas the settlers gave up hope and, quite literally, moved on to greener pastures, turning what was left of their livestock loose. Fast forward 150 years and with better weather and sustainable agricultural practices and the land is back to its fertile state with sheep farmers thriving alongside the wild remainder of the goats leftover from before the drought.

The Flinders Ranges covered in unique flora, this is a photographer’s heaven
The Flinders Ranges covered in unique flora, this is a photographer’s heaven
Flinders consists of a number of mountain ranges including Elder Range, Wilpena Range, Heysen Range and Trezona Range. It is really important to plan your trip well and be regimental about your timetable as it is very possible to lose track of time or even come across ranges that are shut at certain times of year as a result of unfavourable weather conditions.

The weather in the Flinders Ranges is highly variable, ranging from hot and dry with the occasional sand storm to very wet and windy
The weather in the Flinders Ranges is highly variable, ranging from hot and dry with the occasional sand storm to very wet and windy
The weather in the Flinders Ranges is highly variable, ranging from hot and dry with the occasional sand storm to wet, very, very wet and windy. The best time of year to organise a trip to the Flinders Ranges is between May and November. At this time of year you are likely to see many days of sunshine but sporadic showers are unavoidable with cooler temperatures leading up to November. Though the dry season is not usually recommended for travel as the land is dry and barren, however it provides to opportunity for some incredible landscapes of red and orange. If you do decide to brave the dry season beware of the flies and mosquitoes that make both hiking and camping a bit of a challenge along with the blistering temperatures.

The Flinders is also home to an abundance of wildlife
The Flinders is also home to an abundance of wildlife
The big five for the ranges would be trekking up to St. Mary’s Peak in the Wilpena and Heysen Ranges, a scenic flight of all the Flinders taking off from Wilpena pound, a 4WD day out around Akaroola, a 3-day trek around Brachina, Bunyeroo and Mayo gorges and last but definitely not least, Mount Chambers were you can find the Aborignal dream site carvings. I’ve been here for six days now and I still have so much to see. I will always recommend having your own means of transport to save on the budget, but you can also fly into the small town of Hawker from Adelaide and then get some costly but worthwhile adventure packages offered by the National Park.

If you do decide to brave the dry season beware of the flies and mosquitoes that make both hiking and camping a bit of a challenge along with the blistering temperatures
If you do decide to brave the dry season beware of the flies and mosquitoes that make both hiking and camping a bit of a challenge along with the blistering temperatures
If you are entering this area with your own means of transport, the towns of Hawker to the South, Leigh Creek in the centre and Blinmann in the North of the ranges are your last main areas to stock up on fuel, water and food or car supplies.

Getting there

Emirates offer regular flights between Malta and Adelaide with a stopover in Dubai. Flights departing from Malta on 20 July and returning on 2 August were priced at €1,597 including tax at the time of going to print. Total flying time is approximately 20 hours. 

Marc Casolani is a freelance photographer and a chronic traveler. Bitten by the travel bug...
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