Flinders Ranges is the largest mountain range in South Australia, which starts approximately 200 km (120 mi) north-west of Adelaide. The discontinuous ranges stretch for over 430 km (270 mi) from Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna. Its most characteristic landmark is Wilpena Pound, a large, sickle-shaped, natural amphitheatre covering nearly 80 square kilometres (31 sq mi), containing the range's highest peak, St Mary Peak (1,170 m (3,840 ft)) and adjoining the Flinders Ranges National Park. The northern ranges host the Arkaroola wilderness sanctuary and the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park. The southern part of the ranges are notable for the Pichi Richi scenic railway and Mount Remarkable National Park.
Several small areas in the Flinders Ranges are protected as National Parks. These include the Flinders Ranges National Park near Wilpena Pound and the Mount Remarkable National Park in the southern part of the ranges near Melrose. The Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is a scenic protected area at the northern end of the ranges. In addition, the Dutchman's Stern Conservation Park, west of Quorn and the Mount Brown Conservation Park, south of Quorn, are protected areas of the ranges. The Heysen Trail and Mawson Trail run for several hundred kilometres along the ranges providing scenic long distance routes for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders.
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.
Flora And Fauna:
The flora of the Flinders Ranges is largely made up of species adapted to a semi-arid environment such as sugar gum, cypress-pine, mallee and black oak. Moister areas near Wilpena Pound support grevilleas, Guinea flowers, Liliaceae and ferns. Reeds and sedges grow near permanent water sources such as springs and waterholes.
Since the eradication of dingos and the establishment of permanent waterholes for stock, the numbers of red kangaroos, western grey kangaroos and euros in the Flinders Ranges have increased. The yellow-footed rock-wallaby, which neared extinction after the arrival of Europeans due to hunting and predation by foxes, has now stabilized. Other endemic marsupials include dunnarts and planigales. Insectivorous bats make up significant proportion of mammals in the area. There are a large number of bird species including parrots, galahs, emus, the wedge-tailed eagle and small numbers of water birds. Reptiles include goannas, snakes, dragon lizards, skinks and geckos. The streambank froglet is an endemic amphibian.The Ranges are part of the Tirari-Sturt stony desert ecoregion.