Beyond the Heysen Trail

Following the Flinders Ranges north to Mt Hopeless

The first vision for the Heysen Trail was a trail that followed the spine of the Flinders Ranges, from the mid-north town of Crystal Brook in the south to Mt Babbage in the north. The trail was constructed from southern Cape Jervis, following the Flinders Ranges spine north from Crystal Brook, to Parachilna Gorge in the central Flinders Ranges.

Extending the Heysen Trail to Mt Babbage is no longer on the agenda but it is a good destination for wilderness walkers. This page collates some of the experiences of those walkers, in order to share this with other walkers seeking to follow the way north.

Share Your Information

We encourage anyone who tackles walking north of Parachilna to contact us and share their experiences, track notes, route information or maps so we can publish them on this page.

If you find incorrect information on this page, or can contribute more torwards it, for instance a correction to a pastoral station entry, or addition of a tour operator, please contact us.

Important Information

  • The northern trailhead of the Heysen Trail is at Parachilna Gorge. There is no trail north of Parachilna Gorge.
  • Walkers will need a high degree of navigation skills, using a compass, topographic maps of various scales, and possibly a GPS unit.
  • There are few public roads and few 4WD/old station/old mining tracks, some of which are in very poor condition (and unsuitable for vehicles) and may be overgrown and difficult to follow.
  • Walkers should expect to go for periods of a week or more without seeing anyone else.
  • Sourcing water may be the most difficult logistic to overcome. Water availability from creeks, waterholes, springs, dams and tanks (some old and unserviced) varies from season to season, and year to year. Water drops are often needed.
  • Except for Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park the land is private, you will need permission from landholders. Some land is pastoral lease, some is aboriginal communities, some is national park or wilderness sanctuary. Information about current water conditions from these parties could be invaluable. Please respect landholders and future walkers by gaining permission for all property you cross.
  • There are very few facilities. There is no mobile phone service whatsoever. The way between Parachilna Gorge and Mt Babbage is cut by a single public road, a dirt road from Copley to Arkaroola. 40km north of Mt Babbage lies the Strzelecki Track. The only shops of any sort are at Iga Warta and at Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.
  • For safety reasons walking parties should consist of at least four members, one to stay with a sick or injured member, the other two to walk to get assistance (which may be more than one days walk away)
  • This area is remote, a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) or similar emergency device should be carried.
  • Rain falls in the Gammons and northern Flinders Ranges (Arkaroola and north) area over summer, not winter. The rain season correlates with the wet season in the continent’s tropical north, rainfall comes from dissapating tropical storms and cyclones. Winter rains from the continent’s southern weather systems fall in the central Flinders Ranges, often not affecting areas in the northern Flinders Ranges. Check recent rainfall on the Bureau of Meteorology’s website – there are rainfall gauges at Hawker in the south, and in the north Leigh Creek, Arcoona Saddle (Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park), North Moolooloo and Arkaroola.


The way is often divided into three broad sections between the public roads:

  • Parachilna Gorge (Parachilna to Blinman Road) to Copley/Balcanoona Road
  • Copley/Balcanoona Road to Arkaroola
  • Arkaroola to Mt Babbage/Mt Hopeless (the Strzelecki Track 40km north of Mt Babbage, 10km north of Mt Hopeless)


Broad area map – 1:350 000 map of the Flinders Ranges by produced Cartographics at Unley or, 1:400 000 scale of the Flinders Ranges from Mt Hopeless to Melrose.

1:50 000
Topographic Maps

The SA Government produces a series of 1:50 000 scale maps (1km = 2cm) of much of the state. Although maps are allocated for the entire state, not all of the maps have been produced. This map series extends to just north of Arkaroola.

View the index of maps. Generally walkers will need the following maps:
Blinman (6635-4),
Cadnia (6636-3),
Narrina (6636-2),
Angepena (6636-1),
Nepabunna (6736-4),
Serle (6637-2),
Illinawortina (6737-3),
Wooltana (6737-2),
Umberatana (6737-4),
Yudnamutana (6737-1).

The maps are available from the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) Map Finder (using the ‘Map Finder’ page, locate the ‘Product Filter’ drop down menu and select Land Features.  Enter the map name in the ‘Place Name Search‘ list, and then select relevant Mapsheet result. Download as JPGs or delivery in A1 prints) or from these stores and resellers.

1:250 000
Topographic Maps

The Australian Government produces a series of 1:250 000 scale maps (1km = 4mm) of the entire country.

These maps are available for free download. Some maps from the 1:250 000 series are no longer being printed, these maps may be difficult to source from retailers. Some map retailers can print a selected 1:250 000 data area as a paper map.

View the index of maps. Generally walkers will need the following maps (free download):
Frome and

The maps are available from these map retailers or direct from GeoScience.

Coordinates for GPS units

The coordinates of many geographical landmarks, including mountains, waterholes and huts, can be found by searching either the South Australian Government’s South Australian State Gazetteer – PlaceNames Online or the Australian Government’s Geoscience Australia – Gazetteer of Australia.

Key Landholders

Much of the land is private, mostly pastoral lease stations, some is aboriginal communities, or wilderness sanctuary. The only public land is the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park.

Map of Pastoral Stations

Click to view larger version - Pastoral Stations of the northern Flinders Ranges
Purchase a current copy of this map at Department for Environment and Water (DEW) Map Finder. On the ‘Map Finder’ page, locate the ‘Product Filter’ drop down menu and select State Wide Map. From within the ‘Search Results’ list, select  – State Map – Pastoral Areas of South Australia.

Contact information

Parachilna Gorge to Copley/Balcanoona Road

  • Alpana Station, accommodation, ph 08 8648 4626, visit Alpana Station
  • Oratunga Station, ph 08 8648 4881
  • Moolooloo Station, shearer’s quarters accommodation, camping, 4WDing, ph 08 8648 4861, visit
  • Narrina Station, ph 08 8648 4866, ph 08 8648 4882
  • Warraweena Conservation Park, shearer’s quarters/homestead/cabin accommodation, camping, 4WDing, ph 08 8675 2770, visit
  • Pinda Springs (not shown on map, it is the north-western part of Mulga View), ph ???? ????
  • Mulga View Station, shearer’s cottage accommodation.
  • Angepena Station, shearer’s cottage accommodation, ph 08 86752152

Copley/Balcanoona Road to Arkaroola

  • Mt Serle Station, ph 0429 677 749
  • Nepabunna Community, of the Adnyamathanha People, backpacker accommodation, ph 08 8648 3764, visit www.nepabunnatourism
  • Iga Warta, a tourist facility of the Adnyamathanha People, ph 08 8648 3737, visit
  • Yankaninna Station, a youth development facility operated by Operation Flinders, a not for profit organisation. Contact via their Adelaide office, ph 08 8245 2666 or email
  • Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park, ph 08 8648 4829, visit www.environment
  • Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, ph 08 86 48 48 48, visit

Arkaroola to Mt Hopeless

  • Umberatana Station, ph 08 8648 4767
  • Mt Freeling Station, shearer’s quarters/cabin accommodation, camping, 4WDing, ph 08 8648 4851.
  • Wooltana Station, ph 08 8648 4822
  • Moolawatana Station, ph 08 8648 4815
  • Murnpeowie Station, ph 08 8648 4824

Public Access Routes (PARs)

Public Access Routes (PARs) were established to provide public access over pastoral land without the need for travellers to ask permission from the lessee of the pastoral lease. There are 24 PARs in South Australia, of which three might be of interest to hikers in this area. Details of PARs are available from the Department of Environment and Water and by viewing this map of the Flinders Ranges – PARs are shown on the above map with the following icon.

Road Reports

Dynamic signs provide up-to-date road statusRoads north of Port Augusta and Quorn can be affected by rainfall. Dirt roads may close for a week or so after heavy rainfall. Dynamic signs are placed at the entry point to roads providing live information.

Road report information from the Department of Planning Transport and Infastructure can be obtained by phoning or 1300 361 033 or visiting

Transport Services

Air services providing scenic flights could be chartered:

There are servicable airstrips at Hawker, Rawnsley Park, Wilpena Pound, Blinman, Nepabunna, Balcanoona and Arkaroola. The airstrips at Mt Hopeless Outstation and Mt Fitton are not servicable and no longer appear on aviation maps.

Tourism operators providing 4WD tours could also be chartered:

  • David & Sally Henery of Alpana Station (near Blinman), ph 08 8648 4626, visit Alpana Station
  • Mt Feeling Station ph 08 8648 4851.
  • Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary ph 08 86 48 48 48, visit

Other stations providing tourism services may be able to provide transport services upon request.

Bus services:

Further Reading

  • Walking the Flinders Ranges, C Warren BonythonWalking the Flinders Ranges, C Warren Bonython, Adelaide: Rigby, 1971 (reprinted 2000, Royal Geographical Society of South Australia) ISBN 0909112258
  • The Story of the Flinders Ranges, Hans MinchamThe Story of the Flinders Ranges, Hans Mincham, Adelaide: Rigby 1965, (revised editions 1974, 1977) 306pp ISBN 0851792987
  • Range Without Man: The North Flinders, text by Colin Thiele, photographs by Mike McKelveyRange Without Man: The North Flinders, text by Colin Thiele, photographs by Mike McKelvey, Adelaide: Rigby 1974, 72pp ISBN 0851795307

Walker’s Track Notes, Maps

Here are some links to tracks notes, maps, route information, articles and photos of walkers who have undertaken these walks.

2009-2011: Simon Cameron, Jeremy Carter, Graham Connor, Nick Lagos, Steve Wilkinson (part)

Walked three week long walks, carrying lightweight packs, with no vehicle support. Followed creeks, valleys, ridgelines and tracks. La Nina – the warming of the oceans which cause increased rain over much of Australia – was in effect for the last two walks. The second walk was undertaken when La Nina had recently begun, creeks were flowing in the Gammons, the best season in 20 years. The third walk was undertaken when the La Nina effect had intensified into one of the strongest on record, the best season in 40 years.

August 2010: ARPA Bushwalkers

  • Parachilna Gorge to Angepena Station – article

2009-2010: ARPA Bushwalkers, Heysen Trail Group 8

  • Parachilna Gorge to Owieandana Station, Sept 2009 – article
  • Owieandana Station to Terrapinna Waterhole, 2010 – article

2006-current: Nick Landsford, Jerry Foster, Michelle Foster, Trevor Lee and friends

  • Walking with vehicle support
  • Parachilna Gorge to Angepena Station, 2008
  • Planning to walk to Mt Hopeless

2002-2005: Malcolm Blight, Tony Budarick, Alex Richards

  • Parachilna Gorge to the Armchair (north of Arkaroola), 9 days between September 2002 and June 2003
  • The Armchair to Mt Hopeless, 5 days, July 2005
  • Article: Trailwalker article

2000-2001: Gavin Campbell, Dennis Cowling, Les Skinner, Gunther Schmidt, Geoff Wilson, Mark Darter, Norrie Hamilton

  • Parachilna Gorge to Angepena Station, May 2000
  • Angepena Station to Arkaroola, October 2000
  • Arkaroola to Mt Hopeless, May 2001
  • Trailwalker article

Relaxing on the summit of Mount Babbage1986: The First End-to-End walk of the Heysen Trail, a South Australian Jubilee 150 project, Andrew Eastick

1960s: Warren Bonython and friends

  • Crystal Brook to Mt Hopeless
  • Book: Walking the Flinders Ranges, Adelaide: Rigby, 1971 (reprinted 2000, Royal Geographical Society of South Australia) ISBN 0909112258