Na­ture tri­umphs at Wilpena Pound

Tweed Daily News - - LIFE - ROD­ER­ICK EIME

OKAY, it was 1953 and the ‘old bus’ was likely a con­verted war sur­plus work­horse, but that was mother’s ex­pe­ri­ence on her hon­ey­moon on a Bond’s Tours ex­cur­sion to the Flin­ders Ranges 65 years ago.

The orig­i­nal ‘chalet’ wasn’t much chop ei­ther ap­par­ently.

So when I told her we would be ‘camp­ing’ in Wilpena Pound in winter, she re­coiled in hor­ror, but soft­ened con­sid­er­ably when (af­ter an ef­fort­less, all-tar­mac drive) she saw the fancy new “glamp­ing” op­tion avail­able at the Ikara Sa­fari Camp, a se­cluded en­clave at the fur­thest point of the ex­pan­sive camp­ground typ­i­cally filled with ex­pen­sive car­a­vans and mo­bile homes.

De­spite rel­a­tively in­aus­pi­cious begin­nings, Wilpena Pound in South Aus­tralia’s Flin­ders Ranges is now jus­ti­fi­ably ranked as one of Aus­tralia’s most scenic lo­ca­tions and an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors.

Guests can even fly in from Ade­laide and get a scenic flight in­cluded.

Since my last visit in 2010, the resort has changed hands and is now ma­jor­ity owned by the tra­di­tional owners, the Ad­nya­math­anha peo­ple, who pro­vide much of the staff and guides op­er­at­ing tours and sight­see­ing ac­tiv­i­ties with both in­dige­nous and Euro­pean his­tory a fea­ture.

Iron­i­cally, the much of the at­trac­tion of Wilpena Pound came about thanks to early Euro­pean pas­toral­ism when the re­gion was ex­ploited for sheep and cat­tle.

The scenic beauty at­tracted pho­tog­ra­phers and artists from far and wide.

Works by painters Hans Hey­sen, Ronald Coudrey, Gary Gas­ton, Terry Lewistka and Mar­garet Lang are now fa­mous at least in part be­cause of their set­ting in the glo­ri­ous Flin­ders Ranges.

It’s been rel­a­tively re­cently that the in­dige­nous sig­nif­i­cance has formed part of the at­trac­tion. Mum would never have had an in­dige­nous guide in 1953, they were busy work­ing as stock­men or do­mes­tic hands.

That’s all changed and now Ringo, Jimmy and Uncle An­drew spear­head the ranger team while the women keep the camp.

“Wilpena Pound is a very sa­cred and sig­nif­i­cant part of the world... and there are an enor­mous amount of art gal­leries and so forth around the place, a lot of liv­ing ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance,” said Vince Coulthard, the chair of the Ad­nya­math­anha Land As­so­ci­a­tion.

Af­ter a ‘wel­come to coun­try’ fire­side chat with Ringo, the Rain­bow Ser­pent blessed us with su­perb weather.

We jumped aboard the resort’s shut­tle bus out to the orig­i­nal Hill fam­ily homestead, then walked with Uncle An­drew to the old Wilpena sta­tion for a look at the orig­i­nal build­ings and a 101 in the Ad­nya­math­anha peo­ple’s oral his­tory.

A fit­ting mon­u­ment has been built around which to share these sto­ries, called Ikara (or ‘meet­ing place’) not all of them a happy re­mem­brance, but told with­out judg­ment or mal­ice nonethe­less.

The evening event is Jimmy’s sun­set drive to Stokes Hill look­out where a 3D model of the pound gives you some idea of the grandeur of the ge­ol­ogy, which is not a dor­mant vol­cano or me­teor crater as some once thought, but sed­i­men­tary rock in the form of a large syn­cline (folded rock lay­ers).

Jimmy tells us this as well as the names and uses of many lo­cal bush herbs his peo­ple have used for thou­sands of years like arta (yacca), Nguri (wat­tle trees), na­tive or­ange (iga) and na­tive pear (ma­iaka).

As the sun goes down, wash­ing the rolling hills and steep es­carp­ments with soft pas­tel hues of lilac and gold, it’s time to re­mem­ber that our fleet­ing visit is just a tick of the ge­o­log­i­cal clock. The Rain­bow Ser­pent of Jimmy’s Dream­time has long moved on, leav­ing him and the Ad­nya­math­anha peo­ple to watch over its cre­ation. Un­til next time.


The Ikara Sa­fari Camp com­prises 15 en­suite sa­fari tents set among im­pe­ri­ous river red gums and na­tive pines with the tents made from in­su­lated can­vas with re­verse air con­di­tion­ing. In­side you will find qual­ity king beds and linens, side tables and lamps, lug­gage stor­age, a mini fridge, in-room safe an tea and cof­fee mak­ing fa­cil­i­ties. For de­tails visit www.wilpe­na­

Wilp­wilpe­naena Pound, onwthe most iconic South Aus­tralian land­marks is rich with cul­tural and ge­o­graphic his­tory.


Camp in style and lux­ury at Wilpena Pound.

The dra­matic land­scape of the Flin­ders Ranges and Wilpena Pound are a pho­tog­ra­pher's dream.

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