Photography obsessed writer and urban explorer. Lover of nature, art and long weekends. Adelaide, South Australia.
Published June 20th 2021
I'm a big fan of the Flinders Ranges and feel so lucky that they are in my own backyard here in South Australia. Within the National Park there are significant sites of ancient rock art which are sacred; places of power that record the history of our nation's first people.
Up until recently, these sacred sites have been available to visitors to view; built in to cost of the National Park entry fee. But, there are major changes happening within the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. Firstly, NRMA Parks and Resorts have been appointed the new managers of Indigenous-owned Wilpena Pound Resort. NRMA are one of Australia's largest transport and tourism operators.
Additionally, $3million will be spent at Arkaroo Rock by National Parks and Wildlife Service "to improve the visitor experience, increase patronage and in turn create local jobs for the region". So far, two of the big ticket spots -- Arkaroo Rock and Sacred Canyon - will become exactly that - promoted heavily to tourists with a big ticket price attached.
Visitor access to Sacred Canyon will be "through Commercial Tour Operators that are approved to provide Adnyamathanha guided tours. Access to Sacred Canyon for independent visitors or Commercial Tour Operators without Adnyamathanha guide is not permitted" (from WilpenaPound.com.au). The guided tour can be booked online through Wilpena Pound Resort. Prices are $85 per adult for a 2 hour tour.
Arkaroo Rock will be closed from the 31st July for a 'facilities upgrade'. The price for Arkaroo Rock will also be $85 per adult for a 2 hour tour, however Arkaroo Rock is free (with your National Park entry fee) until 31st July 2021 and after it re-opens.
I understand that there are ideas / plans in progress for an upgrade of the Brachina Gorge Geological drive as well, but there seems that nothing is in place at the moment. Watch this space!
It is a shame that Sacred Canyon has been closed and Arkaroo Rock will be closed from 31st July to all bar those on paid guided tours and I understand their reasons for doing so. Vandals have been and desecrated the carvings at Sacred Canyon, which is disgusting and disgraceful. I wonder why there can't be a gate installed and have visitors pay a key deposit? I know that I would definitely do this - it's a system that works well in other remote locations and would be a great way of both culture sharing and keeping the sites safe.
I feel incredibly grateful to have visited and enjoyed both of these sites, but am saddened that my children and grandchildren will most likely pass these places by. $250 for a family ticket for 1 site tour is outrageous, in my opinion.
Visiting the Flinders is something that everyone should make time to do. If you'd like to visit Arkaroo Rock for free, then get your camping gear organised and head to the Flinders before the 31st July. And please - take only photos and leave only footprints.
This was a fascinating read and has raised some questions for me. My wife is a full blooded adnyamathinya woman, I am a caucasian but significant to me is that she is not employed by Wilpena as a guide. Does this mean that she has to pay to visit areas which are a part of her culture? Does this mean that as her husband I need to pay to share in my wife's culture? The answer is we ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT! We live in the Flinders and nobody will tell my wife or me we have to pay a price for entry or an annual subscription fee. I believe she has the right of access by birthright and I have right of access by marriage, on the respectful condition that I'm accompanied by my wife or a member of her family.
I also believe that such a charge is not in the interests of cultural awareness/appreciation to the rest of the Australian people. Common sense dictates that if an excessive charge is on aspects of a still living culture there will never be broader community appreciation or understanding of this living culture, such qualities have been priced out of most Australians budget. I'm actually quite angered to read this as the Australian aboriginal culture's are not an extinct as others are eg the Aztec or Mayan. THIS DOES NOTHING TO OPEN UP MINDS, REDUCE IGNORANCE OR EVEN SUPPORT A CULTURE THAT IS A SIGNIFICANT PART OF AUSTRALIA. WORSE STILL, IT DISCOURAGES BROADER COMMUNITY UNDERSTANDING, APPRECIATION AND AWARENESS.