Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia

4WD field trip to rugged but geologically unique Flinders Ranges National Park in South Australia to explore the local Aboriginal rock art and hike in the various sections. The Aborigines of Flinders Ranges are the Adnyamathanha people, which name translates to hills or rock people, who have occupied the area for thousand of years.


The landscape of the national park is so captivating both scientifically and culturally, no wonder that the Adnyamathanha people have been inspired by its natural features, which have also been reflected in their dreamtime stories (the Aboriginal “Tjukurrpa” is the English translation of the term “Dreamtime” or “Dreaming”).


There is one Dreaming story about the journey of Yurlu the old Kinfisher man to Ikara (Wilpena Pound), according to which Yurlu journeyed south from his home to attend an important  malkada (corroborree, an initiation ceremony) at Ikara. On the way, Yurlu made a big signal fire and the smoke was a sign that he was on his way to the ceremony. At the same time two Akurra (powerful Dreaming serpents) set out to Ikara as well. The people looked up and saw bright stars rising, which they took as a sign to commence ceremonies but what they did not realize was that the stars were actually the eyes of the two Akurra looking down at them. When Yurlu the Kingfisher arrived, he threw a stick up into the sky, which turned into the red star Wildu (Mars). But the two Akurra came up to the site and ate up all the people with the exception two, who were freshly initiated: Wardnapa and Yakamburu. The bodies of the two Akkura form the sides of Wilpena Pound.


Sections of the national park with Aboriginal rock art include the 19 km long Sacred Canyon, which contains rock engravings that are believed to have been made by the ancestral beings during the Tjukurrpa. This is a short stroll compared to Arkaroo Rock, a small but nevertheless important Aboriginal site sitting on a slope that requires a bit of hiking (or at least this is how it felt in the burning heat with very little water on us) but it was absolutely worth the effort as its ochre and charcoaled paintings of emu and bird tracks were stunning. They were designed to describe the creation of Ikara (Wilpena Pound).


Date: December 2010

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