Bushwalking in Remote South Australia | Warraweena Conservation Park, Northern Flinders Ranges

 Looking for some off-track walking in a remote area in the Northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia? Already walked the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges? Well here is your chance to walk in a similar environment, but with a few more amenities, a window into the past and a little less remoteness.

Just back from a week’s bushwalking in the Warraweena Conservation Park, about 30 km south of Leigh Creek, and about 550 km north of Adelaide, in the Northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia.  (Thanks John for your leadership and planning)

Warraweena Conservation Park 

Adelaide – Warraweena (Google)


Warraweena is a 130 year old sheep station, which was originally part of the Oratunga Run (later renamed Moolooloo) until the late 1800s.  It was acquired in 1996 by Wetlands and Wildlife, a private conservation company, destocked and converted to a private Conservation Park. More info…..

Source: SAAL – NRM – Northern Flinders Ranges – FS-052007

Nearby is the old Sliding Rock copper mine, dating back to the 1870’s, where hundreds of miners, their families and local shopkeepers lived in its heyday.

Sliding Rock was discovered in 1870 by John Holding and Joseph Hele because of its pure copper. In 1872 the township of Cadnia was surveyed a few hundred metres east of the mine. The town catered for up to 400 miners and their families and had a sense of permanence. Horse races and cricket matches were held. A court house dispensed justice, the Rock Hotel catered for workers while 4 general stores supplied goods and food. In 1877 the mine was inundated by massive flows of water. Although a steam powered pump was used to stop the water entering the shafts this failed and later that year the mine was abandoned. The town quickly followed. More than a century later the water became valuable as a temporary supply to Leigh Creek. For fossickers and history buffs there is much to see. Enjoy the walk around the ruins of the early township and mining site. There are also 2 cemeteries marking the passage of time. Permissions to camp should be sought from the Warraweena homestead, a short drive from Sliding Rock.  (Source: Leigh Creek Visitor Information Outlet  downloaded 01/10/12)

Sliding Rock Copper mine ruins © Bush Walker 2012

More pictures of Sliding Rock mine and town

More recently, water pumped from the disused mine was used as a temporary water supply for Leigh Creek, until the Aroona Dam was built.

Bushwalking Potential

C. Warren Bonython in his book Walking the Flinders Ranges (Rigby 1971) pp103 – 118, describes how he walked on the Narinna Station, during early July1968, NE  parallel to the eastern boundary of Warraweena  from Patawerta Gap, through Narina Pound, past Narina Hut, Mt Tilley and Old Warraweena, Claypan Dam, Mt Hack and finally through Main Gap, continuing north towards Angepena. He met the owner of Warraweena, Keith Nicholls  near Mt Hack and had a lengthy chat.

Extract from Walking the Flinders Ranges (Rigby 1971) p104


Extract from Cadnia 50K Topographic Map NB Only the central part of the Warraweena lease is shown

The Park is 341 sq km in area, accessed by a small number of 4WD station tracks and numerous dry creek beds, making walking relatively easy.   The country is beautiful and typical of the arid Flinders Ranges, with open ridge lines and broad pebbly creek beds, lined with ancient  River Red Gums and native pines on the flats and slopes.

Warraweena Conservation Park © Bush Walker 2012

Mountains: The Park includes many of the highest peaks in the Flinders Ranges including Mt Hack, which is over 1000m. The photos below show Mt Stuart (881m), Mt Gill (914m), and Mt Hemming (799m), which are prominent (higher than Mt Lofty) mountains in the region and well worth the relatively easy climbs for the views.

Vegetation is  relatively open (see Google map above), especially on ridge lines, but there are places where native pines are thick and spreading. Creek lines are easily walked. Beautiful wildflowers abound in season.  The central-western area toward Mt Stuart, is open grassland with a sparse overstorey of drooping sheoak and gum and pine in the creeks.( Source: SEG 1999)

© Bush Walker 2012


Walk duration: day walks to 9 day extended walks are possible within the confines of the Park, and with a little planning, a variety of circular loops originating and finishing at Warraweena HS or the strategically placed shepherd’s huts are possible.

Water Availability: water is  available each night, either at one of the 27 permanent springs (Source: SEG 1999), the ephemeral creeks (Black Range Spring, Sandy Camp and Warriooota) or at the shepherd’s huts with their rainwater tanks.

Mt Hemming (midground) Cockatoo Well (yellow pin NE) Mt Stuart (further back)
Cockatoo Well – Mt Gill
Warraweena (yellow pin to NW) – Cockatoo Well – Mt Gill (foreground)


The Homestead and Shearer’s Quarters provide a base camp for those planning day walks, with 4WD access from these to more remote sites. Shepherd’s huts, such as those at Cockatoo Well, Dunbar Well and others, provide basic amenities (long drop pit toilet, bed frames, water tank, fire ring and table) and are spaced about a day’s walk (15 km) apart throughout the park.  They are accessible by 4WD, but not 2WD. More info and bookings…

cockatoo well hut © Bush Walker 2012
Cockatoo Well Hut  Warraweena © Bush Walker 2012


Red and western-grey kangaroos, euros, dunnarts, bats, emus, native birds (Inland Thornbills, Southern Whitefaces, Australian Ringnecks, Yellow Throated Miners, Red-capped Robins, White Browed Babblers) and reptiles (sleepy lizard, snakes, tree dtella, geckos, skinks) and frogs abound. (Source: SEG 1999)

Thirteen Colonies of yellow-footed rock wallabies have been sighted and one very rare plant, Menzell’s Wattle. There is an enticing panorama of open hillsides, pine forests, ranges, creeks thick with red gums, waterfalls and water holes and towering the eastern section of the property is Mount Hack, 1086 metres and the second highest peak in the Flinders. Bird surveys have counted 77 species here and the property is a great place to observe bird life. Around 168 species of plants were found. Anyone can camp here, bushwalk or bird watch for a nominal fee. There are shearer’s quarters with amenities that are very comfortable.  (Source: Leigh Creek Visitor Information Outlet  downloaded 01/10/12)

You will see the occasional small woolly flock of sheep, invaders from a nearby sheep station. Unfortunately, there are still some large herds of goats remaining, despite the efforts of sports shooters. Foxes and rabbits are common.

Dragon Lizard © Bush Walker 2012


Best months for walking are May to August when the average monthly maxima are in the low 20’s (19-24ºC). Overnight temperatures are just above freezing (2-7ºC). These are also the driest months, as most rain falls December – April.

Check the Copley weather  and Leigh Creek Airport forecast (Weatherzone)


  1. Contact the Park Manager, Stony Steiner, by email  or phone (08) 8675 2770
  2. Warraweena in the North Flinders: In the Flinders Ranges area of the Outback region of South Australia (Postcards)
  3. Warraweena Wetlands and Wildlife (Wetlands and Wildlife is a conservation company that was founded by Mr Tom Brinkworth to hold land of significant conservation value for the benefits of future generations. )
  4. Warraweena: The Sentimental Bloke (Spectacular pictures by Peter MacDonald, capturing the essence of the Flinders Ranges and outback South Australia. )
  5. Warraweena (Flickr photo search)
  6. Goats on Warraweena (Sporting Shooter Magazine,  22 Sep 2011)
  7. Expedition Warraweena pdf (Scientific Expedition Group)
  8. Warraweena – Cockatoo Dunbar Loop (LCOOL Flinders Ranges Trip Day 7 – 3 Oct )
  9. Warraweena – Mt Gill Day Drive (LCOOL Flinders Ranges Trip Day 6 – 2 Oct)
  10. South Australian Arid Lands – Natural Resources Management Group – Northern Flinders Ranges – FS-052007 Fact Sheet (pdf 1.2Mb)
  11. Copley weather and Leigh Creek Airport forecast (Weatherzone)
  12. Public Access to Pastoral Lands (pdf) Four Wheel Drive SA
  13. Public Access Routes  Four Wheel Drive SA
  14. Public Access Routes Fact Sheet (lists 24 routes, including Warraweena)  DEWNR (pdf)
  15. Pastoral Access Request Form DEWNR (pdf)
  16. Arid Lands Information System DEWNR ( zoomable map of pastoral leases)
  17. Bushwalking in Warraweena, Northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia Ian Bate, Shannon Carne, Shane Hutchins ( Wetlands and Wildlife, South Australia 2003)
  18. Corbett, David A Field guide to the Flinders Ranges (Rigby 1980)
  19. Barker, Sue et al Explore the Flinders Ranges ( Royal geographical Society of Australasia
  20. Davies, M et al Natural History of the Flinders Ranges  (Royal Society of South Australia, 1996)

Similar posts

  1. Bushwalking in the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges,  South Australia | Pt 1 Trip Planning Resources
  2. Bushwalking in the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges,  South Australia | Pt 2  A Key to Learning About the Gammons 
  3. Bushwalking in the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges, South Australia | Pt 3 Useful Planning Notes from Bonython’s Walking the Flinders Ranges
  4. Other BushwalkingSkills posts related to the Gammon Ranges(7)

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