Who are the traditional owners of the Flinders Ranges?

The Adnyamathanha peoples are the traditional custodians of Ikara-Flinders National Park, living on this land for centuries and passing down their knowledge of the landscape, its animals, and how it was created, as well as how to care for and look after it, from generation to generation. This knowledge is often conveyed in stories but can also be seen in the ancient paintings and engravings that adorn certain rock formations within the park. The Adnyamathanha peoples (meaning hills or rock people) now co-manage and operate the park alongside representatives of the Department of Environment, Water, and Natural Resources and have done since 2011. 

When was the Flinders Ranges National Park renamed? 

The Flinders Ranges National Park was renamed the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park in 2016 as a further act of reconciliation between the South Australian government and the traditional owners of the land, the Adnyamathanha peoples. The word 'Ikara' means 'meeting place' in the Adnyamathanha language and was chosen as a reflection of one of the more significant cultural sites within the park, Wilpena Pound (a natural amphitheatre of mountains). 

What are the significant cultural sites in the Flinders Ranges? 

There are many significant sites within the park, with each one representing something different to the Adnyamathanha peoples. Each site also allows for a greater understanding of the rich history of the native Aboriginal way of life, as well as how important the landscape is for cultural connection.

Sacred Canyon

One of the more popular cultural sites is Sacred Canyon, a site where Adnyamathanha people gathered to tell stories about the 'creation'. The canyon's sandstone walls are filled with ancient Aboriginal rock carvings that are believed to have been left there by ancestral beings during the 'dreaming' and feature images depicting animal tracks, waterholes, and people. Some of these images are worn out in areas (it's to be expected after centuries) so the best time to view them is considered to be in the early morning or early afternoon. 

Arkaroo Rock

Another popular site within the park is Arkaroo Rock, a place of ancient Aboriginal painting and carvings. While this site may be small, its importance to the Adnyamathanha people is huge as it tells the creation story of Wilpena Pound. If you take a look around you'll see ochre and charcoaled images of animals as they navigate their way across the landscape, as well as a collection of waterholes and plant depictions. These images are considered to be more than 5000 years old so, as always, when visiting these sites and moving around the park in general, make sure you're being respectful and responsible to the sites themselves and to the culture they represent. 

Return to Flinders Ranges FAQs

Read more about Australia