Arkaroola

Interesting privately owned sanctuary in the Northern Flinders Ranges.

Located 660 km from Adelaide (the road to Copley or Lyndhurst is sealed - the rest is good quality dirt road) Arkaroola is the personal vision of the late Dr Reg Sprigg who purchased the 610 square kilometre (61,000 hectare) property in 1968 and slowly converted it into a wildlife sanctuary complete with a lodge. It is probably the most isolated self-supporting village in Australia. It is also a truly fascinating region with dramatic, ancient hills (some of the rocks are estimated to be older 1000 million years), beautiful waterholes and a truly harsh and dry environment.

The area is an important part of Aboriginal culture. The Adnajamathana Aborigines believed that Arkaroo, a mythical monster, drank Lake Frome dry and then crawled into the mountains. As Arkaroo moved through the land he created the Arkaroola Creek. Where he stopped and urinated he left the waterholes which are one of the most beautiful parts of the Arkaroola area.

The area around Arkaroola was first explored by Edward Eyre who passed through the area in 1840 and by G. W. Goyder (famous for Goyder's Line - the northern limit of agriculture) who started to survey the land in 1857. In 1860 miners moved into the area as a result of the discovery of copper at Yudnamutana but the drought of 1863 drove them from the area. It wasn't until the early twentieth century that settlement occurred again. In 1903 rubies and sapphires were discovered near Mount Pitt and by 1910 a smelter had been built at Yudnamutana and uranium had been discovered at Mount Painter. The first person to identify the uranium in the area was the geologist, Douglas Mawson, who later became a famous Antarctic explorer.

It was always marginal land and these projects were short-lived although the constant search for uranium meant that miners periodically attempted explorations and this resulted in the area being well covered with reasonable roads constructed by optimistic mining companies. By the 1930s the area was full of wild camels and donkeys so by 1935 the property had been fenced and an eradication program had commenced. This program, initiated by the Greenwood brothers, was a serious attempt to convert the area to grazing land. By 1945 the program had been successful and in 1948 there was a short and unsuccessful attempt to open Arkaroola as a health spa.

Dr. Reg Sprigg purchased the property in 1968. By 1979 he was a trustee of the World Wildlife Fund and actively involved in protecting the endangered yellow footed rock wallaby at Arkaroola.

The late Dr Reg Sprigg was a fairly ferocious self publicist. The walls of the bar at Arkaroola are emblazoned with mementos which range from the impressive (the Order of Australia) down to personal Christmas Cards from Don Dunstan, the one-time Premier of South Australia.

Things to see:

Ningana Visitor Information Centre
An excellent natural history and geology museum at Arkaroola which includes early Aboriginal artefacts, photographs, geological maps and fossils. It is an ideal starting point for any exploration of this remarkable area.

Old Copper Mine Ruins at Bolla Bollana
The highlight of the journey to Bolla Bollana (it is a short distance away from the resort) is the remarkable Bolla Bollana copper smelter with its distinctive beehive shape. It was erected in the 1890s to smelt copper ores which were brought to this isolated smelter from the mines at Yudnamutana, Daly and Wheel Turner by bullock wagon. At the time the area was home to Cornish miners. The special high temperature bricks were brought from the Midlands of England while the other bricks were baked in a round house kiln. The area is so isolated it is hard to imagine that it was once an important part of South Australia's copper industry.

Astronomical Observatory
The Arkaroola Astronomical Observatory houses two substantial telescopes. On nights when the sky is clear (a common phenomenon in the desert) tours and viewings are held. The 360 mm computer operated telescope offers excellent viewing of other galaxies and distant planets.

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Paralana Hot Springs
These hot springs rise through a fissure and contain helium, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and radon gas (which is poisonous). Camping in the area is prohibited because of the possible build up of deadly gases. The water reaches the surface at near-to-boiling point.

Guided Tours
While many people who arrive at Arkaroola are driving 4WD vehicles, the 'resort' does offer excellent 4WD guided tours with guides experienced in the region's geology, biology and botany. The trips to The Ridgetop (this route is not available to privately driven vehicles), Echo Camp, East Painter, Hidden Valley, Nooldoonooldoona (it is an Aboriginal term reputedly meaning 'place of falling rocks') Waterhole, Mount Jacob and Paralana offer great diversity and are excellent opportunities to experience the richness of the landscape.

Environs
The Gammon Ranges National Park is near the Balcanoona Pastoral Station. The major part of Balcanoona Pastoral Station was added to the Gammon Ranges National Park in 1982. The name Balcanoona is derived from a word in the Adnjamathanha language meaning 'old woman'. This is the name given to a rock formation high on the hill overlooking the area. On the road from Blinman to Arkaroola is the solitary grave of Peter Fagan who died in January 1871. The name and date were once on the piece of wood on this lonely grave. Now it has just worn away leaving a blank and bleached piece of wood.

Flinders Ranges & Outback InformationArkaroola SA
Telephone: 1800 633 060
Facsimile: (08) 8223 3995

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary
Private Bag 106
Port Augusta SA 5710
Telephone: (08) 8648 4848 or 1800 676 042
Facsimile: (08) 8648 4846
Rating: **

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary
Private Bag 106
Port Augusta SA 5710
Telephone: (08) 8648 4848 or 1800 676 042
Facsimile: (08) 8648 4846
Rating: ***

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary
Private Bag 106
Port Augusta SA 5710
Telephone: (08) 8648 4848 or 1800 676 042
Facsimile: (08) 8648 4846

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary
Private Bag 106
Port Augusta SA 5710
Telephone: (08) 8648 4848 or 1800 676 042

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