Parachilna Gorge, Flinders Ranges

About 8km from the little township of Parachilna in the far north of South Australia is Parachilna Gorge. Parachilna Creek meanders through this part of the long chain of rugged mountains known as the Flinders Ranges. They were named by the English explorer Captain Matthew Flinders in 1802.

Beautiful Gorge

The creek has carved out a steep and rocky gorge through the mountains. Parachilna Gorge is one of the larger gorges in this chain of mountains. Normally the creek is a mere trickle of water easily stepped over in one stride. Several waist deep waterholes can be found in various places. In drier times, even this little trickle of water dries up. The stark red rocks of the gorge light up in the early morning or late afternoon sun and make excellent photographic subjects. The flat areas near the creek make excellent camping spots; we have camped there on a number of occasions. Many people also come here for picnics as it is a very pleasant spot to stop if travelling from other parts of the ranges.

Floods

While I was teaching at the nearby Parachilna Rural School in the late 1960s I also saw the other face of the Flinders Ranges. From my classroom I could see a long stretch of the range. Early mornings witnessed the soft blues of the hills and valleys, sometimes shrouded in mists. In the late afternoons the mountains become fiery battlements in the setting sun. Heavy rain in the ranges higher up would cause each creek to become a raging torrent of water, each emptying into the Parachilna Creek, the only way for the water to escape to the plains below. At these times the gentle trickle of water became a rampaging, runaway monster taking all before it. To see one of these creeks in flood is an awesome sight.

Flood Damage

These thundering flood waters are capable of snapping off hundred year old eucalyptus trees and sending them tumbling downstream, tossing them around like toys in a bathtub. Large boulders can be moved downstream. In one famous downpour in 1955 a section of a railway bridge south of Parachilna at Hookina was washed away by floodwaters. On at least one occasion I camped overnight in the back of my car in Parachilna Gorge waiting for the waters to subside enough to complete the drive back to Parachilna.

 

10 Responses to “Parachilna Gorge, Flinders Ranges”

  1. Darren says:

    Trevor,

    when were you last at parachilna gorge. i heard that most of the good campsites have been washed away ? we use to go there every year and are planning a trip later this year.

    regs,

    Darren

  2. Trevor says:

    Hi there Darren,

    Sorry – i don’t have current information as the last time we were there was in July 1998. This makes me realise that we are badly overdue for another visit. Maybe this year?

    It might be worth contacting the local tourist village at Angorichina. Their website is
    http://www.angorichinavillage.com.au/

  3. Jo-Ann says:

    Dear Trevor,
    My husband and I rode up to Wilpena Pound on our Yamaha FJR in March, 2007 from Western Australia, and we took a 4WD tour of Parachilna Gorge. The whole area is absolutely stunning! I am reluctant to tell too many people about how wonderful it is though, as too many visitors might spoil it!
    We will visit again one day, maybe in winter so we can see the creek with more water in it.

  4. Trevor says:

    Hi there Jo-Ann,

    I agree that this area is indeed stunning. I must revisit the area again soon because it has been far too long since my last visit.

    Probably the best time to visit is late winter to early spring, say August through to October. Not only will the creeks be running, but the bird life and wildflowers will be at their best. Just be prepared for heavy frosts that time of the year.

    When my son finishes scanning all my slides taken many years ago in the Flinders Ranges, I will include them here on my blog and in the photo gallery.

    I try to add a new article with photos every day, so I invite you to visit often.

  5. Rita says:

    Hi Trevor,

    I agree with everyone, Parachilna Gorge is beautiful.
    My husband and I drove through Parachilna Gorge the first time in September 2001. The creek had some water because there was some rain in the Flinders Ranges the weeks before.

    My second visit to Parachilna Gorge was just three weeks ago. The creek was completely dry, as was the vegetation throughout the Flinders Ranges.

    We could see the difference in many areas of Outback South Australia. The land is so dry. I wish you get all the rain you need soon.

    BTW, this is a wonderful blog with interesting topics and great photos.

    See ya, Rita

  6. Trevor says:

    Hi there Rita – welcome to my travel blog. The Flinders Ranges hold a very special place in my heart – and my life – I met my wife while teaching there in the 1960s. We don’t get back there often enough.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving some comments. Thanks also for the kind words about this blog and my photos. (Did you check out my other blogs – see the Links on the side bar)

  7. Rita says:

    Hi again Trevor, and a Happy New Year to you,

    Yes, I checked your other blogs as well, beautiful. I especially love the birds blog. I just love Australia’s nature. Unfortunately, I live so far away, in cold Germany.

    If you got a minute, would you check my Outback Guide website? I am interested in doing a link exchange with your travel blog, and the birding blog as well. Please let me know what you think. Feel free to contact me through my email address.

    Thank you, Rita

  8. andrew says:

    Hi Trevor,
    The gorge is fine, I am often in there. I usually camp on high ground above Tex’s cabin in the first gorge to the north. There are still plenty of camp sites up there. I would love to link to your blog, check out my site, it has heaps of info on the Outback. I am currently fighting fires in Victoria, I come from Jamieson, and today we are sitting around waiting for the siren to go off
    Best to you
    andrew

  9. Trevor says:

    Thanks for your comments Andrew.

    Other readers of this blog can check out his site here
    http://www.diamantina-tour.com.au/

    Hope all goes well today and that you have no fires to fight. Keep safe. I admire all the firies out there keeping us safe.

  10. Bruce Weir says:

    Hi Trevor,Parachilna is aboriginalfor”place of Peppermint Gumtree”.However the peppermint gum doesn’t grow north of Quorn (Euc.odorata) Could you possibly give me the Botanical name for the “peppermint Gum’ at Parachilna for a book that I’m writing.
    Best Regards
    Bruce

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