Arkaroola Village is the settlement and resort at the hub of a wilderness sanctuary in the Northern Flinders Ranges in South Australia, adjacent to Gammon Ranges National Park and the Mawson Plateau.
The Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is located 700 km north of Adelaide in South Australia. The most common way to get there is by car, but a plane can be chartered from Parafield Airport in northern Adelaide.
The area's first inhabitants were the Adnyamathanha
tribe of Indigenous Australians
. One of
their dreamtime stories says that Arkaroo, a mythical monster, drank Lake Frome
dry. He then
crawled up into the mountains. When he urinated he created the waterholes that are a feature of the
area. His movement over the land created Arkaroola Creek.
The first Europeans to visit the area was explorer Edward Eyre in 1840 and the surveyor
George Goyder in 1857. There was a small failed settlement nearby, at the Yudnamutana copper mine,
from 1860 to 1863. The drought of 1863 drove the miners away. Settlement didn't occur again until
1903, when rubies and sapphires were discovered. By 1910 a copper smelter was built at Yudnamutana and
uranium was also discovered nearby by Douglas Mawson, famous Antarctic explorer.
The land was always marginal and projects failed quickly. Uranium exploration persisted sporadically and led to the development of good roads by optimistic companies. The Arkaroola property was fenced by 1935 and a process of eradication of pests started. The land was covered with donkeys and camels. There was a failed health project in 1948.
Arkaroola was established by geologist Reg Sprigg in 1968 after he purchased the land. He had been involved in
surveys in the area before that. He purchased 610 km² and began the conversion to a wildlife
sanctuary. It was established on condition by the state government that the feral
rabbits, goats and camels would be controlled in the rough terrain. In 1979 he was a trustee of the World Wildlife Fund due to his work in the protection of the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby.
Road loops and 4WD tracks
There are many self drive tracks for 2-wheel drives and 4-wheel drives, ranging from beginner to advanced in difficulty. A popular attraction of Arkaroola is the organised Ridge Top Tour, which is a four-hour trip along the ridge top track with three lookouts that end at Siller's Lookout, providing a panoramic view across the plains towards Lake Frome
and the Beverley Uranium Mine
. Siller's Lookout is named after Bill Siller, whose uranium exploration companies constructed the Ridge Top Tour track in the late 1960's; Beverley Uranium Mine, also discovered by Bill Siller's companies, is named after his wife, Beverley.
The Echo Camp Backtrack is also popular and is a very challenging drive. It leads through some wonderful country and then over the hills (rough) and down onto the plains east of the Flinders Ranges. This joins another track back to Arkaroola via Claude’s Pass, Stubb’s Waterhole (including aboriginal cave paintings), Bararranna Gorge (a popular spot for yellow-footed rock wallabies), Welcome Pound and back to main road to the Arkaroola Village.
Arkaroola has two 14-inch telescopes, which are some of the largest privately owned telescopes in the Southern hemisphere
. Since the weather is usually fine and there is little light pollution, observers can see literally millions of stars with the telescopes.
Paralana radioactive springs
The geothermal waters of Paralana hot springs, located at Wooltana
, North of Arkaroola, issue from major earth crustal fractures in this vicinity that date back one billion years. These geological faults which once produced forth large quantities of lava, now facilitate continental geological movement of the surrounding mountain region. These waters are heated by hot rock at shallow depths, and by radioactive mineral decay. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, radon and helium bubble forth continuously. Because the Paralana springs contain small amounts of naturally occurring radioactive elements, swimming in or drinking the water constitutes a health hazard. Living on the floor of the springs is an extremophile
algal mat that survives the warm temperatures of 62°C and high radioactivity.
The mountain summit called under this name is of volcanic origin and gives a great occasion to climb it. The basalt is solid material for rock climbing
Available accommodation ranges from motel-style rooms to budget accommodation, caravan park and camp sites.