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Published October 9th 2014
Finding one of South Australia's hidden gems
The Warren Gorge has been in existence for many years, but because it has been "off the beaten track", it has been relatively unknown to many people. However the recent sealing of Arden Vale Road has opened the opportunities to view this Gorge and its inhabitants. The Gorge is located 21 kilometres north of Quorn on the Arden Vale Road, 15km of which was bitumenised in the last three years, with approval given to reseal the remainder over the coming summer.
The sign at the entrance is an old RAA sign which I believe was last made in the 1970's prior to the metrification of road signage from 1974. Alongside the sign is an honesty box whereby the Flinders Ranges Council trusts that cars staying overnight will leave $10 per night, while cars on day trips will leave $5 in a secure deposit box. Next to this deposit box is the entrance to the caravan and camping area, with a set of long drop toilets within a short walking distance.
Immediately beyond the entrance campground is the Warren Gorge itself. The jagged bright orange rock formations provide a stunning contrast alongside the bright blue sky, the sharp contrasting greenery of the native Cypress Pines and the clear waters of the creek running through the Gorge.
Between these rock formations, a road follows a small creek and enters a wider valley where there are numerous areas to camp. Access to these areas is not available for caravans, but easily suits 4wds and 4wds camper trailers, many of which form their own personal "campground" under trees and overlooking the main creek which is the main water source for the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby.
The Rock Wallabies are most prevalent at dawn and dusk, and are attracted to the water that runs through the creek for the majority of the year. Alongside the creek in the campground is a 5.2km walking trail that criss-crosses the creek several times past reeds and amongst tall gum trees.
The walking trail heads through the campground, and through a plantation of native Cypress Pines. Shortly thereafter the trail reaches the furthest point of the campground at a saddle, some 2.6km away from the entrance, and then turns back upon itself and heads up a steady incline to the spectacular Warren Gorge Lookout. The Lookout overlooks the campground to the Southwest, Mt Arden to the Northwest, Buckaringa Gorge to the North, Wilpena Pound to the Northeast and Arden Vale Road to the East.
From the lookout it is a moderate descent back to the entrance campground through a number of different and changing landscapes including standard Flinders shale, Cypress Pines, Acacias, Gum trees and ultimately Salvation Jane next to the creek.
The Warren Gorge is open all year round and is most heavily populated during school and public holidays. The Gorge is only a short distance from Quorn, a town that has the majority of modern facilities that anyone may need. Facilities at the Gorge are limited to long drop toilets, and some water tanks and some rubbish bins with a preference for campers to leave the Gorge as they found out.
Hikers on the Heysen Trail and cyclists on the Mawson Trail also pass very close to the Warren Gorge, thus providing an ideal and pleasant resting spot en-route to their ultimate destination.
Warren Gorge was almost unknown back in the 1940's except for the locals,who picknicked there from the Quorn area.I have seen it just after good rains on a sunny day,with little streams heading down to the creek.As it became more widely known,it became a favourite camping spot for Adelaide folk and if you go there one can understand why.I might add that Quorn has a very nice caravan park,close to the pubs and shops and this area offers holiday makers many nice places to enjoy walks in the ranges.Not that far away is Alligator Gorge near Melrose/Wilmington,with easy access from the car park...recommend visiting here as it is really worth a visit.