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Exploring Arkaroola Walking Trails

Home > Adelaide > Adventure | Escape the City | National Parks | Parks | Walks
by Steve Hudson (subscribe)
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Published January 18th 2015
Admiring our ageless yet fragile country
Arkaroola, in the north east of South Australia, is a geologist's dream. In fact, the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is owned by the family of the late Reg Sprigg, a prominent South Australian Geologist whose legacy includes geological findings in the northern Flinders Ranges and the Cooper Basin, and a significant role in the formation of Santos and Beach Petroleum.

Arkaroola, Acacia Ridge
Main Road to Village - Steve Hudson

But it was his purchase of the derelict pastoral property at Arkaroola in the late 1960's, and its subsequent conversion in to a wildlife sanctuary, a tourist destination and a place where graduate Geologists could ply their trade that placed Arkaroola on the map. In the early days, much of the exploration around Arkaroola was done on foot, and even today that continues with a series of walking trails around the Sanctuary. There are three walking trails which commence from the Accommodation Village, and recently I had the pleasure of walking all three.

Arkaroola, Acacia Ridge
Distant Views - Steve Hudson

Acacia Ridge

As the name suggests, this trail incorporates Acacias and a Ridge. Starting from the Village, it is a 4km walk (or bus transfer if you are ready at 9am each day) along the main road to the start of this trail. At the start, there is a trailhead and map, and the walk literally heads in to the hills. As the trail climbs, there are stunning views to the north and south of rolling hills and ranges that go on, and on, and on.

Mulga, Acacia Ridge, Arkaroola
Mulga Acacia - Steve Hudson

Arkaroola, Acacia Ridge
Rolling Hills - Steve Hudson

After 2.5km, the trail reaches the summit, again with views that are rarely seen. From the summit we can observe the dead finish and mulga acacias in abundance, but struggle to see the other two types of acacias that occasionally frequent the area. From the summit the trail then heads downhill along the ridge, providing glorious views of the Village, the local dam, and the surrounds. Once at the bottom, it is a short 0.5km walk back to the village, which completes a 9km round trip.

Arkaroola, Acacia Ridge
Ridgetop Views - Steve Hudson

Arkaroola, Acacia Ridge
Northern Ranges - Steve Hudson

Griselda Hill

Griselda Hill was named after Reg Sprigg's second wife who had the idea of a tourist destination in Arkaroola due to its unique and pretty qualities. Griselda Hill is a few hundred metres from the Village, and is a steep climb of just over half a kilometre. The climb follows a trail until it nears the top when you need to jump over a few large rocks to reach the summit before being able to place a stone on the growing cairn at the highest point.

Griselda Hill Walk
Steep Trail Ahead - Steve Hudson

Griselda Hill Walk, Arkaroola Village
View of Village - Steve Hudson

The views from the top are breathtaking, and provide further evidence of the beauty of the region. The views are predominantly in an east-west direction, and they highlight the views of the "valley" that the main road takes and the Village is built upon.

Griselda Hill Walk, Arkaroola Village
Breathtaking Views - Steve Hudson

Griselda Hill Walk, Arkaroola Village
Top of the Hill - Steve Hudson


The easiest walk of the three is the Mawson-Spriggina connected trail. Starting at the Village and heading west, the trail follows the natural curvature of the hills while maintaining the same elevation, and makes its way to The Pinnacles. The Pinnacles are a series of exposed granite rocks that were formed around 450 million years ago. The trail walks between The Pinnacles and offers great views from all angles.

Sitting Bull, Pinnacles, Arkaroola
Sitting Bull and Pinnacles - Steve Hudson

Pinnacles, Arkaroola
Trail around The Pinnacles - Steve Hudson

From the car park, the trail continues through natural bush land before making its way up a slight hill to the Spriggina lookout. The Spriggina is the name given to a flatworm that lived years ago when the area was part of the inland sea. The Spriggina was found in a fossilised form amongst many rocks in the area. Looking east from the lookout to the valley floor, a giant replica Spriggina has been re-created in order to provide visitors with a view as to what this creature would have looked like many million years ago.

Spriggina, Arkaroola
Replica Spriggina on the Valley Floor - Steve Hudson

After leaving the lookout, the trail heads downward towards the camping area, with views of the Arkaroola observatory in the distance. A quick circumference of the Village leads you back to your starting point, and provides an end to this 8km loop.

Spriggina, Arkaroola
Valley Views - Steve Hudson

All of the walking trails are signposted, and brochures are available for purchase from the Village Shop for 50c each, with proceeds going to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. All walks are suitable for families of all ages, with perhaps the latter part of Griselda Hill being the most difficult to negotiate.

Further details on the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is available from their website. Arkaroola is approximately 700km northeast of Adelaide, 600km of which is bitumen with the remaining 100km being a gravel road suitable for all car types.
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Why? Unspoilt country everywhere
When: March to November
Phone: (08) 8648 4848
Where: Arkaroola, South Australia
Cost: Free
Your Comment
A very interesting and well researched article Steve!
by Paula McManus (score: 3|3431) 1788 days ago
I'm planning to ride my BMW R1200GS to Arkaroola in May/June 2015 with my wife on the back and this article is very informative and has given me a degree of confidence that we will make on my "semi off road" tires for the last 130Km gravel road section as long as I'm careful. If anyone has an opinion to the contrary, I would appreciate any feedback. I'm 74 years old so that will be a challenge. Keith Noyes (Melbourne)
by keybr (score: 0|4) 1731 days ago
This looks like a spectacular place to visit. I will put it on my must do list
by Sharon (score: 1|50) 1789 days ago
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