Arkaroola, SA (the place of Arkaroo)
Mountain scenery at Arkaroola, northern
Sillars Lookout (left), Arkaroola, northern Flinders Ranges
Arkaroo was a great serpent from the
Dreamtime who lived in the
Gammon Ranges south of Arkaroola. According to the
stories about him among the
Adnyamathanha people, he felt very thirsty so slithered down to
the plains and drank
Lake Frome and
Lake Callabonna dry. When
he finished drinking he went back to the Gammon Ranges, his long body
gouging out the bed of Arkaroola Creek and a number of waterholes
at places he rested along the way as he moved. The large volume of salty
water he drank gave him a terrible bellyache. The Aborigines believed
that was the cause of the rumblings coming from beneath the ground in
the Gammon Ranges, where he has slept in Yacki Waterhole since
that time, every time he moves around in his restless sleep the water in
his belly sloshing around rumbles. The water emerging from this spring
is just below boiling point.
An alternative explanation is that the sounds
result from minor tremors along fault lines produced by earth movements
associated with readjustment of the crust after uplift of the area.
Paralana Hot Springs is one of the most
important of the waterholes left by Arkaroo. The local Aborigines used
it for cooking and bathing, especially as is was said to cure minor
aches and pains. According to the dreamtime story it wasn't originally
hot but in the Dreamtime 2 young men fought over a girl, the winner
plunging the firestick he used to vanquish his rival into the spring
where it heated the water, remaining hot to this day.
Arkaroola is a small settlement located in the
Northern Flinders Ranges adjacent to the Gammon Ranges. It is over 600
km north of Adelaide. The privately-owned Arkaroola Sanctuary was first
established by Reg and Griselda Sprigg.
Things to do:
Gammon Ranges National Park is nearby.
Many walks and drives are
available through some of the most rugged and exciting country in the
Ranges. The Ridgetop track runs past Mount Painter to Siller's Lookout.
The track is not open to private vehicles, but 4WD tours regularly
operate from Arkaroola. Roads in the area are narrow and rough.
rare yellow-footed rock wallaby is found here.
There are several
waterholes in the area, including Stubbs Waterhole and the Bolla Bollana
Spring and Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole. The Echo Camp Waterhole is one of
the most beautiful in the Northern Flinders.
The area is of great
interest for people interested in geology and minerals. The Bolla
Bollana Smelter is the site of copper smelting in the 1860s. Copper from
up to thirty kilometres away was smelted here.
The Adnyamathanha Aboriginal people lived in the region before the
arrival of Europeans.
The area was earmarked for pastoral
development as early as 1857. After many chequered years, it settled
down to serious progress in 1937, when two brothers named Greenwood took
it over and named the property Arkaroola. They were offered the property
in exchange for eradicating vermin. They did this by 1944, but the
property did not prosper and instead, had a succession of owners. WB
Greenwood had an eye for minerals, and found rubies, sapphires, garnets
and amethysts in the region. In 1910 he discovered the Mount Painter
The uranium was identified by Douglas Mawson,
then reader in mineralogy at the University of Adelaide. For a brief
time in the 1940s East Painter Camp was established to assist in the
search for more uranium. Mawson brought students to the area, including
Reg Sprigg, who later played a major role in the discovery of oil and
gas deposits in the Cooper Basin. Reg Sprigg also found the first
Ediacaran fossils, jellyfish-like, in the
Ediacara Hills in 1946.
They lived between 670 and 540 million years ago. They are now regarded
as the step between single-celled algae and multi-celled plants and
In 1968, the Arkaroola property was purchased by
Reg and Griselda Sprigg. Reg Sprigg saw a unique opportunity to retain
its unspoilt character as a privately owned sanctuary. The continuing
eradication of stock and pests has brought improvements in the
kangaroos and emu.
was named by the Surveyor General, Goyder, after J.M. Painter, who was
responsible for the trigonometrically survey in 1857. In 1944 the Joint
Allied Atomic Commission re-opened the central Mount Painter uranium
mine which had been discovered in 1910, but that is now closed.
ACTIVITIES: Bushwalking, Mt Painter Sanctuary, Historic Reserve.
Royal Automobile Association of South
Australia, Robin Road Software and its suppliers, 1996 - 2000
Australian National Parks
Australian National Parks - South Australia
Flinders Ranges National Park
Australia - The Geology, Climate
Photos of Australia
Sources & Further reading
Helen Grasswill & Reg Morrison, Australia, a
Timeless Grandeur, Lansdowne, 1981
Sources & Further reading
- Isaacs, Jennifer, 2005, Australia Dreaming: 40,000
years of Aboriginal History, New Holland Publishers.