The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park

  • Accomm
  • Picnic Areas
  • Camping
  • Walking Trails
  • Bird Watching
PDF Park Brochure
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Dutchmans Stern SA map

Explore the rugged landscape, climb the bluff, admire the views then spend the night in the shearer’s quarters at Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park.

Dutchmans Stern SA map

Explore the rugged landscape, climb the bluff, admire the views then spend the night in the shearer’s quarters at Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park.

About

The bluff known as the Dutchmans Stern, located 10km north east of Quorn, is a prominent landmark. Home to a host of plants and animals, the Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park has plenty of walking trails to explore the rugged landscape.

Make your way to the summit via the Dutchmans Stern hiking trail. The summit offers spectacular views of Spencer Gulf, surrounding ranges and the Willochra Plain. The Heysen Trail also winds its way through the park.

Extend your visit overnight at the old homestead or shearers' quarters located within the park

Opening hours

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This park is closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger and may be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger.

Listen to the local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety. 

Contact details

Phone: (+61 8) 8634 7068

Getting there

Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park is located 10km north west of Quorn. Access is via Arden Vale Road, the signposted turn-off to the park is 6.5 km from the Port Augusta road intersection in Quorn. It is then a further 3 km to The Dutchman car park. All walking trails commence at the car park.

Pets in parks

Pets are not permitted within this park. There are however, a number of South Australian National Parks where you can take your dog on a lead. 

Facilities

There are accommodation and picnic areas available in this park.

Traditional owners

The Nukunu people are the Aboriginal group connected with this area. The Barngarla group to the west also have ties to the Dutchman region.

Aboriginal South Australians are the first peoples of our State and have occupied, enjoyed and managed these lands and waters since the creation. For SA's First Peoples, creation ancestors laid down the laws of the Country and bestowed a range of customary rights and obligations to the many Aboriginal Nations across our state. 

Aboriginal peoples' oral histories and creation stories traverse the length and breadth of Australia’s lands and waters, including South Australian Parks. These stories interconnect land and waters with complex meaning and values and hold great cultural significance. We recognise and respect Aboriginal people's ownership of their stories and that they hold rights and obligations to care for Country. It is through these rights and cultural obligations and a shared goal to protect the environment for generations to come that DEWNR is committed to meaningful collaboration and involvement with Aboriginal peoples in the management of our shared parks.

History

Rocks in the Flinders Ranges have formed from the compression and folding of 500-800 million year-old sediments, which accumulated in the lakes and shallow seas of a massive depression known as the Adelaide Geosyncline. Two rock types are displayed at The Dutchmans Stern - hard, blocky ABC Range quartzite and softer Brachina Formation siltstones (both are also found further north in Flinders Ranges National Park). The Dutchmans Stern ridge is comprised of the hard quartzite, the lower slopes of the softer siltstone. Other different quartzites and siltstones also occur in this region.

The park gets its name from the bluff’s similarity to Dutch sailing ships of the eighteenth century. The rocky outcrops and slopes appear to resemble the reverse stern of these ships. The bluff was named by Captain Matthew Flinders who charted the nearby Spencer Gulf in 1802.

The Dutchman was a pastoral lease from the 1880s until it was acquired for conservation in 1985. Visitors may notice yards, tracks, buildings, fences and other reminders of the area’s pastoral history. Despite over 150 years of grazing, biodiversity has been maintained. Woodcutting, wattle stripping and yacca resin collecting activities also occurred. Scars remain from where mining companies have undertaken exploration work throughout the ranges.

See and do

Bushwalking

Bushwalking is a fantastic way to connect with nature, keep fit and spend time with family and friends. 

South Australia's national parks feature a range of trails that let you experience a diversity of landscapes. Our trails cater for all levels of fitness and adventure and our classification system makes it easy to select an experience suitable for you.

Moderate hikes

  • The Dutchmans Stern Hike (5 hrs return, 10.5km loop)

    Explore the scrubland, gorges and open woodland that this park is known for.

  • The Dutchmans Valley Hike (5 hrs return, 10km return)

    This track takes you west of the Dutchman range to two lookouts with spectacular views down Spencer Gulf and north-west towards Lake Torrens. Follow the Northern Boundary Track for 1.8 km before turning south along the Valley Track. Trail markings end where the Heysen Trail leads off.

  • To the Summit (4 hrs return, 8.2km return)

  • The Heysen Trail

    This section of the long-distance walking trail that extends from the Fleurieu Peninsula to the northern Flinders Ranges enters the park near the south-eastern boundary, turns north-west and exits through the northern boundary.

    Note: use of the Heysen Trail is prohibited during the Fire Danger Season.

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is currently not permitted in this park. 

Stay in the park

Camping

Get back to basics and find a secluded spot to pitch your tent among the park’s steep ranges and deep gorges. While vehicle-based camping is not permitted in the park, backpack camping is allowed west of the Dutchman Range outside of the Fire Danger Season. There are no designated camp sites and no fees.

Camping is not permitted during the Fire Danger Season.

Accommodation

For a unique experience, stay overnight in a classic 1950s Australian homestead or shearers’ quarters. The Dutchmans Stern Homestead and Shearers’ Quarters are self-contained buildings situated against a stunning mountain backdrop.

Dutchmans Stern Homestead (2 bedroom with lounge & kitchen, sleeps 6)

This spacious homestead is self-contained and sleeps up to six people. It features a fully-furnished kitchen, living room and two bedrooms. After a day of enjoying the park, relax on the front verandah which overlooks the rugged landscape.

You will need to provide own linen, pillows, towels and tea-towels. Crockery, cutlery and kitchen utensils are supplied.

Shearers’ Quarters (3 bedroom with lounge & kitchen, sleeps 9)

This rustic building sleeps up to nine people and includes three bedrooms and a large combined living and dining room. The views through the glass doors in the main bedroom provide an impressive vista of the ranges and the bluff - a prominent landmark in the park.

Facilities include toilets, showers, cooking facilities, heating, barbeque and a fridge. Please bring your own linen.

Flora

Changes in vegetation reflect rock type, altitude and aspect. Sugar gums occupy the crest and upper slopes of the bluff, with stands of drooping sheoak scattered amongst them. White cypress-pines are found on cliff faces some distance below the crest of the range and blue gum covers the lower slopes. An attractive heath of common fringe-myrtle and needle bottlebrush on the northern slopes contrasts with the Christmas bush and curry bush on deeper soils of the southern and lower slopes. The park is home to great numbers of Quorn wattle, which are endemic to this region. The area comes alive after sufficient rain events with colourful wildflowers including the bright pink garland-lily found along creek lines.

Flora list for The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park

  • Blanket fern Pleurosorus rutifolius – small fronds to 12 cm, three lobed leaves, brownish hairs
  • Blue gum Eucalyptus leucoxylon – tree to 15m, grey/yellow streaked bark
  • Christmas bush Bursaria spinosa – medium shrub, white flowers in spring
  • Clammy daisy-bush Olearia decurrens – small white daisies, March
  • Common fringe-myrtle Calytrix tetragona – low bush, masses of pale pink starry flowers, spring
  • Curry bush Cassinia laevis – loose clusters of tiny white flowers, late summer
  • Drooping sheoak Allocasuarina verticillata – tree to 9m, pendulous leafless branches
  • Feathery groundsel Senecio anethifolius – shrub 1 to 2m, yellow daisy flowers without petals
  • Golden wattle Acacia pycnantha – golden balls of flowers in spring
  • Hard mat-rush Lomandra multiflora ssp. dura – small grass-like plant, clusters of creamy yellow flowers, spring
  • Mallee box Eucalyptus porosa – multi-stemmed tree to 5 m, dense shining green canopy
  • Mealy saltbush Rhagodia parabolica – grey bush, insignificant flowers
  • Mount Lofty grass tree Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata – trunk to 1m, crown of long spiky leaves, 1.5m flower head with cream florets in late summer
  • Narrow-leaf hop-bush Dodonaea viscosa var. angustissima – bronze/purple hops, spring
  • Native cherry Exocarpus cupressiformis – dense canopy of bright green ‘leafless’ branchlets
  • Native cranberry Astroloma humifusum – low shrub, small spiky blue-grey leaves, red tubular flowers in spring
  • Needle bottlebrush Callistemon teretifolius – shrub to 2 m, spiky leaves
  • Pink garland-lily Calostemma purpureum – bright pink to maroon flowers in March
  • Prickly guinea-flower Hibbertia exutiacies – low shrub, yellow flowers, winter/spring
  • Quorn wattle Acacia quornensis – rounded shrub to 2 m, blue-green leaves
  • Rock wattle Acacia rupicola – open prickly shrub to 1 m, cream flowers, spring
  • Showy speedwell Derwentia decorosa – low shrub, white flowers streaked with mauve, spring
  • Silver daisy-bush Olearia pannosa – shrub to 1 m, dark green leaves, velvety underneath, large white daisy flowers in spring
  • Sugar gum Eucalyptus cladocalyx – tall tree to 25 m, smooth bark with off white/buff patches, canopy characterised by clumps of foliage
  • White cypress-pine Callitris glaucophylla – cypress-like tree to 15m

Fauna

The diverse vegetation of this conservation park attracts a similarly varied range of birds. Over 51 species have been recorded, including several species of conservation significance. If you are lucky you may spot the uncommon chestnut-rumped heathwren, Gilbert’s whistler or diamond firetail. Keep an eye out for the fastest animal on the planet - the peregrine falcon, which reaches speeds in excess of 320 km/h when diving.

Euros are common in the reserve. Western grey kangaroos can be seen in less rugged areas, while red kangaroos are common on the western side of the park. Conservation efforts have resulted in an increase in numbers of the endangered yellow-footed rock-wallaby, which may be glimpsed along gorge walls. Three species of bat have been recorded in the reserve. The observant visitor may also spot an echidna or at the very least discover some of their diggings.

The creek lines and watercourses of the park provide habitat for several amphibians, including a new subspecies of the brown toadlet. Several snake species are present in the park, so take care when bushwalking.

Volunteering

If you think you might be interested in volunteering opportunities within this park please contact our Volunteer Support Unit.

Safety

Bushwalking

The international Trail Users Code of Conduct is to show respect and courtesy towards other trail users at all times.

Ensure that you:

  • when hiking, wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen
  • make sure you have appropriate weather proof clothing
  • carry enough water to be self-sufficient
  • please be respectful of other users at all times
  • stay on the designated trails and connector tracks for your own safety, and prevent the spread of declared weeds to other areas in the park
  • ensure someone knows your approximate location and expected time of return
  • take appropriate maps.
  • Walk, hike or trek - what's the difference?

Camping

When camping in a National Park, it's important to remember the following:

  • Always let someone responsible know your travel plans, especially when travelling in remote areas. It's a good idea to let them know when you expect to return.
  • Check the weather forecast before you leave, including overnight temperatures on the Bureau of Meteorology. Even during very mild weather, the nights can get very cold. 
  • The quality and quantity of water cannot be guaranteed within parks. Please bring plenty of water and food to be self-sufficient.
  • Always camp in designated sites (where applicable) - do not camp beneath trees with overhanging branches, as they can drop without warning. It's also a good idea to check that there no insect nests nearby.
  • Check to make sure you're not camping in a natural waterway, flash floods can happen anytime.
  • If camp fires are permitted, you must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Extinguish your camp fire with water (not sand or dirt) until the hissing sound stops.
  • Ensure that you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Fire

This park is closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger and may be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger.

Listen to the local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety. 

Fire restrictions

  • Wood fires and solid fuel fires are prohibited throughout the year.
  • Gas fires are permitted, other than on days of total fire ban.
  • Ensure you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Know before you go

Every national park is different, each has its own unique environment, it is important to be responsible while enjoying all the park has to offer.

Please ensure that you:

  • leave your pets at home
  • do not feed birds or other animals, it promotes aggressive behaviour and an unbalanced ecology
  • do not bring generators (except where permitted), chainsaws or firearms into the park
  • leave the park as you found it - place rubbish in the bins provided or take it with you
  • abide by the road rules (maintain the speed limit)
  • respect geological and heritage sites
  • do not remove native plants
  • are considerate of other park users.

  • Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited.

Fees

Entry fees

Entry and backpack camping are free, however fees apply for accommodation.

Park pass

This park is not included in the park pass system. 

Camping and accommodation

Camping 

Backpack camping is free in this park.

Get back to basics and find a secluded spot to pitch your tent among the park’s steep ranges and deep gorges. While vehicle-based camping is not permitted in the park, backpack camping is allowed west of the Dutchman range outside the Fire Danger Season. There are no designated camp sites.

Camping is not permitted during the Fire Danger Season.

Accommodation

Dutchmans Stern Homestead (sleeps 6)

Sunday to Thursday - $145.00 per night
Friday, Saturday, pre-public holidays and school holidays - $175.00 per night

This spacious homestead is self-contained and sleeps up to six people and features a fully furnished kitchen, living room and two bedrooms. After a day of enjoying the park, relax on the front verandah which overlooks the rugged landscape.

2 bedroom with lounge & kitchen. Need to provide own linen, pillows, towels and tea-towels. Crockery, cutlery and kitchen utensils are supplied.

Shearers' Quarters (sleeps 9)

Sunday to Thursday - $170.00 per night
Friday, Saturday, pre-public holidays and school holidays - $195.00 per night

This rustic building sleeps up to nine people and includes three bedrooms and a large combined living and dining room. The views through the glass doors in the main bedroom provide an impressive vista of the ranges and the bluff - a prominent landmark in the park.

3 bedroom with lounge and kitchen. Facilities include toilets, showers, cooking facilities, heating, BBQ and a fridge. Please bring your own linen.

Other fees and permits

There are no other fees or permits associated with this park.