South Australia

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South Australia Map

Mt Remarkable | Wilpena Pound | Gammon Ranges | Heysen Trail
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The driest state in Australia is famous for its fine wines from the Baroosa Valley and the Coonawarra. Much of the state is fairly barren and most of the state lies north of Goyder's Line. North of this line, the average rainfall is less than 10 inches (about 250 mm) and cannot reliably support farm crops. This line was established last century after some droughts and was used to limit the spread of farms.

The landscape is primarily of rounded hills and rolling empty plains. There is one long mountain chain extending from near the state capital of Adelaide north into the desert. This is the Flinders Ranges. At times these are just a series of rounded hills, in others they rise higher and the watercourses have left bands of brightly coloured cliffs. With little vegetation, the rocks and cliffs are very visible providing interesting landscapes. For many, the views of the Flinders Ranges are considered to be the classic Australian landscape which have been immortalised in paint by the artist, Hans Heysen.

For bushwalkers, there are some really great walking places scattered along the ranges but there is also a lot of distance between the interesting parts. You must allow plenty of time for travel and long dusty drives particularly if you venture into the northern deserts.

The state capital is Adelaide and rising behind the city are the Adelaide Hills and the Mount Lofty Ranges. The range is not very high reaching 726m (around 2380 feet) at Mt Lofty. The city has expanded into the hills and they are well developed with much of the region being private land. Camping is discouraged in most parts of the hills with most reserves being Conservation Parks - tracks have been designed mainly for one day walks.

South of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island has the very large Flinders Chase National Park on its western end. This contains some wonderful coastline and this provides a wilderness style 5 day walk along it. There are no tracks and water supplies dictate the route and campsites. A good walk for experienced walkers - there are no tracks or track notes. Near the island on the mainland is Cape Jervis and the nearby Deep Creek reserve provides some rough and interesting overnight walks. The Cape is also the southern end of the Heysen Trail.

North of Adelaide, the first large national park is the Mt Remarkable National Park. This is regarded as being in the southern Flinders Ranges. While the park cannot be regarded as wilderness, it is a significant reserve providing many excellent one day walks. Camping is allowed and it is possible to link all the walking tracks together into a good overnight walk.

Heading further north, the Flinders Ranges continue as a series of lower hills and ridges until you reach the Wilpena Pound region. Here, the ranges rise to their highest and are a series of high ridges separated by broad flat valleys. There are quite a few worthwhile walks in this region but the best known is to St Marys Peak and Wilpena Pound.

Heading further north, the Flinders Ranges become drier and more barren. Much of the area is under pastoral leases but a significant wilderness region has been put aside as the Gammon Ranges National Park. The park has no tracks and many colourful gorges for the experienced walker to explore.

South Australia has one long distance trail. The 1022 km Heysen Trail runs from Cape Jervis south of Adelaide and runs north through the Mount Lofty and Flinders Ranges to end at Parachilna Gorge in the northern Flinders Ranges.

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Photographs and text are copyright 1998-2015 John Chapman.
Last updated : December 7th 2015