The Akurra and Ikara – Wilpena Pound

At the heart of the 800 million-year-old quartzite and limestone Flinders Ranges lies the richly coloured and textured Wilpena Pound. Shaped by the weathering and uplifting of land over time, the natural amphitheater is 17km long and 7km wide. The appeal is not only with the unique beauty of the ancient geology but the indigenous ties, European farming history, accessibility and abundant wildlife.

Wilpena Pound from Hucks Lookout

The Dreamtime stories of the local Adnyamathana people say that Ikara (Wilpena) is a creation of huge serpents (The Akurra) that formed a whirlwind whilst devouring a group about to hold a corroboree and initiation ceremony. The bodies of the serpents now form the outer ridgeline of Wilpena.

I’d have to say that Wilpena combines everything that I love about the Australian outback; the rugged beauty, the isolation, the stillness, the challenging trails to rewarding vistas.

Rawnsley Park Station Sunrise

The drive there follows the giant spine that is the Flinders Ranges. Many brick homesteads lie abandoned in paddocks, most of the time in ruins, signifying the challenge settlers faced in sustaining a way of life on the semi-arid landscape.

I put my tent up on the edge of the lake at Rawnsley Park Station. The front door opened out to views up to Wilpena’s Rawnsley Bluff. In winter, the lack of moisture in the air causes temperatures to plummet at night, so it can be quite chilly getting up to photograph the sunrise.

Rawnsley Bluff Cairn

Given the multitude of walking opportunities at Wilpena, it was bound to be a challenge to choose one to suit. We decided on the 14 km return trek up to Rawnsley Bluff which took a detour to views across the inside of the Pound itself.

From the ground it is hard to get an appreciation for the unique shape of Wilpena. Had I a bit more money I would have taken a plane flight. I’ve included a photograph from Stuart Phoenix to detail what I missed out on.

Late in the afternoon light I took my Honda across some pretty rough roads to see Wilpena from a few different angles. Hucks Lookout and Stokes Hill Lookout both provided some pertinent foreground interest to characterise the region.

To Infinity and Beyond - Stokes Hill Lookout

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12 responses to “The Akurra and Ikara – Wilpena Pound

  1. giiviak

    Some lovely landscape shots here mate. Glad to see you have been out and about!

    • these are some older shots – i’ve been putting up a few posts about some parks i’ve been able to get to. i found a few people’s blogs, like your own, and thought it might be worthwhile to do my own. a lot less spam to respond to, haha!

  2. tonymiddleton

    Good post Cain, the Flinders are awesome – I love how they are made up of countless or perhaps even hundreds of smaller ranges all of which have their own differences and characteristics. Travel further north in them to the Gammon and Arkaroola – awesome! They are basically outback desert ranges yet only 400-500km from Adl.
    I like the Hucks lookout image the best (perhaps a touch over exposed in the foreground). If you go there again there is also another hill/lookout that has a good vantage point on Wilpena – it’s up a road on the east side of the pound, so it is good at sunrise.

  3. tonymiddleton

    Hi Cain,
    I’m not sure if that is the same spot or not – I will have to browse through my 35mm slides from the trip to check. I know for sure that I didn’t have the road snaking through mine. I do recall sitting up on the hill having brekky with the sunrising though.
    I met a bloke from SA in my travels this year and he told me about the SA legislation on mining over landhold rights etc…disgusting to say the least. Similar practises seem to go on everywhere – like the ranges in NW Qld where I met him – unreal ! but with drilling exploration going on everywhere to potentially dig them up ! We are no better off down here with the STUPID Brumby Gov. kicking landowners off generations of landhold farms to build a needless shortsighted pollution factory that they call ever so nicely a ‘desalination plant’…

    • I’d be keen to see those slides if you ever get around to scanning them. The photographer of that Arkaroola shot is a big activist against mining in S.A. I have to say I am pro-conservation if there are reasons to warrant it. After reading a few points from Environment Victoria on their assessment of the EES for the Wonthaggi desalination plant I have to say I’m swaying against it. I think I told you a while back I’d wait for the EES, and even better still wait for an auxiliary authority to assess it. It amazes me of the developer’s lack of foresight and lack of research into: risk to water conservation programs, failure to consider alternative options for augmenting supply, effect on marine environment, waste disposal, alternative sites.

      Having skimmed this, I must check out the EES.

  4. great images Cain!
    looks like a wicked place to get to, i’ve not seen any images from this section of the Flinders before so really enjoyed these.
    fascinating post as well.

    really nice composition on the sunrise image, love those branches reaching for the sky.

    • That’s great mate, thanks for the feedback. One guy over in W.A said the landscape reminded him of the Chichesters over there (somewhere in the Pilbara I think?). IMO, the Flinders Ranges are very underrated and a great place for those interested in photography.

  5. Very nice set of images in this post Cain. I especially like Wilpena Pound from Hucks Lookout and To Infinity and Beyond – Stokes Hill Lookout. The colours and POV are very very nice.

  6. Cain, only recently discovered you have a blog now, sorry I’m so late, love reading your posts! The Flinders look awesome; I haven’t visited yet but as you might know I am sorta obsessed with the outback so Flinders Rangers is on my must-shoot list!
    Have added a link to your blog on mine.

    • Thanks Flemming, I’ve also added a link. I’ve noticed your appreciation for the Aussie outback – Wilpena is the idyllic spot to get a taste for the Flinders. I hope these shots have further inspired you.

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