The Flinders Ranges are South Australia's largest mountain range, and are situated approximately 400 km north of Adelaide. The discontinuous ranges stretch for over 430 km from Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna. Its most characteristic landmark is Wilpena Pound, a large, sickle-shaped, natural amphitheatre covering nearly 80 km², containing the range's highest peak, St Mary Peak (1170m).
The Flinders Ranges National Park is located in the northern central part of the Flinders Ranges. The park covers an area of 912 km², northeast of the small town of Hawker. The park includes the Wilpena Pound and St Mary Peak.
The Heysen Trail and Mawson Trail pass through the park.
There are many lookouts, scenic vistas, small canyons and unusual rock formations located in the park. These include Wilpena Pound, Wilkawillina Gorge, Hucks Lookout, Brachina Gorge, Bunyeru Gorge and Arkaroo Rock . An amazing rock formation called the Great Wall of China is located just outside the park. The park centre at Wilpena Pound is accessible by sealed road from Hawker. Other areas in the park can be reached by un-sealed roads, which are mostly accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles except in exceptionally bad weather. Camping is permitted at many locations in the park.
The Flinders Ranges are largely composed of folded and faulted sediments of the Adelaide Geosyncline. This very thick sequence of sediments were deposited in a large basin during the Neoproterozoic on the passive margin of the ancient continent of Rodinia. During the Cambrian, approximately 540 million years ago, the area underwent the Delamerian orogeny where the geosynclinal sequence was folded and faulted into a large mountain range. Since this time the area has undergone erosion resulting in the relatively low ranges today.
Most of the high ground and ridgetops in the Flinders are sequences of quartzites that outcrop along strike. The high walls of Wilpena Pound are formed by the outcropping beds of the eponymous Pound Quartzite in a synclinal structure. The same formation forms many of the other high parts of the Flinders, including the high plateau of the Gammon Ranges and the Heysen Range. Cuesta forms are also very common in the Flinders.
Flora and fauna
The flora of the Flinders Ranges is composed largely of species adapted to a semi-arid environment such as cypress-pine, mallee, and black oak. Moister areas near Wilpena Pound support grevilleas, Guinea flowers, lilies and ferns. Reeds and sedges grow near permanent water sources such as springs and waterholes.
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