Bushwalking in the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges, South Australia | Pt 3 Useful Planning Notes from Bonython’s Walking the Flinders Ranges

This article provides bushwalk planning notes obtained from one of the books listed in my posting Pt 2  Bushwalking in the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges, South Australia.  I have filtered the vast amount of the information available based on its relevance to a 3-4 day bushwalk with either a base at Grindell’s Hut or via Italowie Gorge.


A.  C. Warren Bonython. Walking the Flinders Ranges. Adelaide: Royal Geographical Society of South Australia, 2000. [ISBN 0 85179 286 3] pp 123-159

NB All grid references have been taken from the 250K Copley map using map datum GDA94 and grid zone 54J and should be verified on the relevant 5OK map before use for navigational purposes.

Chpt 8 The Gammon Ranges

 …massive flat-lying sandstone beds have created a high plateau (Gammon, 1000m), formed as a result of weathering over 400 million years, followed by uplift and then the incision of the deep gorges.

…..central SW-NE  ridge line, including Blue Range, with steep cliffs on eastern side… three pounds Mainwater (N) , Arcoona (NW) Illinawortina (E)… high summits at the four corners Benbonyathe Hill (0325279 6634688, NE), Mount McKinlay 1053m (0317615 6622286, SE), Mount Rowe 900m (0328637 6607175, SW) and Gammon Hill 1012m (0309622 6633148, NW) and Arcoona Bluff  (0305575 6632438, NW)

…Gammon Plateau covered by thick scrub, dissected by deep trench-like gorges.

 Ridge walking is varied through triodia covered slopes, thickets of broombrush,  wirebranch acacia, mallee with open  grassy glades or rocky pavements, with little vegetation.

Creek beds filled with large gum and pine, …..rounded creek stones with animal pads higher up to be followed where available.

…survey stations, signified by stone cairns  which still exist, were built in 1857 by Painter’s survey parties…

Gammons from South – Click to see larger version

Many of the features where named by Warren Bonython (Adelaide Bushwalkers Patron), [Loch Ness Well (0324847 66291110), Steadman’s Ridge, Mt John Roberts (0322311 66300630), Streak Gorge, Mt Changeweather (0315807 662562). in 1946-47 as he attempted and eventually succeeded in the first N-S crossing

As they walked SW along the Blue Range, Cleft Peak (0319128 6627385) dropped behind and below and Octopus Hill (0316741 6624932) appeared with Mt McKinlay 1053m (0317615 6622286) towering in the background.

(East-West crossing, 1948) ….first ascent/descent of Cleft peak from the South then following the gorge of the upper Italowie Creek all morning, they turned into boulder choked Streak Creek and made laborious progress until in late afternoon when they climbed up the west slope to the Plateau and camped overnight at a lone pine tree. Next morning walked west towards Elephant Hill 980m (0310680 6627170) though thick scrub, down triodia covered slopes to the south end of Arcoona Pound.

In good rainfall years yellow cassias and sidas , with starry flowered calythrix and eristemon at higher levels flower. Fern Gorge contains Doodia caudata in good years.

 Chapter 9 Mount Serle to Arkaroola

… water shortages are to be expected on the Plateau and the nearest water is 300m below. 

Bonython’s party left from Mt Serle station, crossed the saddle (690m, 0299639 6615794) to the S of Constitution Hill. They found water in the creeks below Mt Rowe and then climbed up to Mt Rowe where they found excellent views of Mt Serle (0298796 6623195) 6km to the NW.

Mt McKinlay has a vehicle track made by American astronomers using a 4WD Haflinger.

Haflinger 4WD (1967)

The lower slopes, below and south of The Plateau, were covered in dense vegetation; yellow cassias and sidas, waxy red of native hopbush (Dodonea), pines and bullock grass.

Gorges are often filled with large boulders and dwarf eucalypts (mallee). Gammon Plateau is an open stony plain with scattered clumps of mallee. 

Time to climb from camp at GR 010744 6619986 to 0310049 6626325 via creek bed and gorges (6.4 km as crow flies, 600m climb) takes a full day carrying 14L of water for two.

Water to be found in gorges SSW of Elephant Hill as high as 850m. Moving NE of Elephant Hill, along The Plateau, mallee glades are found, with a sparse carpet of Goodenia and grasses, while in other parts through thickets of broombrush and Acacia rigens.

Cleft peak from near Prow Point return: full day trip with day packs, possible rock pool at intersection of Cleft Ck and Wildflower Ck.

Bonython’s Dictum: best place for photographing a mountain is at roughly half its height and across the valley from it.

Mt John Roberts

Prow Point to Crocker’s Saddle (3hrs) : very thick scrub  (Casuarina). Reached Benbonyathe Hill late afternoon, which has remains of American astronomers campsite.

Painting: Max Ragless  Sunrise on the Gammons

Other Articles in this series about the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges

  Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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