Arkaroola, SA (the place of Arkaroo)
Mountain scenery at Arkaroola, northern
Ranges Sillars Lookout (left), Arkaroola, northern Flinders Ranges
Arkaroo was a great serpent from the Dreamtime who lived in the
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
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 kms. north of Adelaide. The privately-owned Arkaroola Sanctuary was first established by Reg and Griselda Sprigg.
The name Arkaroola is from an Aboriginal word, place of the Arkaroo, a legendary Dreamtime snake which drank
Lake Frome dry, then carved out the Arkaroola Creek and filled it by making water. Arkaroo finally came to rest in the Gammon Ranges where he has slept ever since.
Because he drank so much salty water he got a bad stomach ache, and this is the
cause of the rumblings that can be heard in the area.
Geologists say the rumblings are from minor earth tremors along fault lines
as the rocks adjust after uplift.
Things to do:
The 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.
The 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 kms. 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 foundrubies, sapphires, garnets and amethysts in the region. In 1910 he discovered the Mount Painter uranium deposit.
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 animals.
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 population of
kangaroos and emu.
Mount Painter was named by the Surveyor General, Goyder, after J.M. Painter, who was responsible for the trigonometrical 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. Arkaroola Observatory.
Royal Automobile Association of South Australia, Robin Road Software and its suppliers, 1996 - 2000
National Parks - South Australia
- Australia - The Geology, Climate
- Photos of Australia
Sources & Further reading
Helen Grasswill & Reg Morrison, Australia, a
Timeless Grandeur, Lansdowne, 1981