Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park

  • Showers
  • Accomm
  • Picnic Areas
  • Campfires Permitted
  • Caravan Sites
  • Toilets
  • Camping
  • 4WD
  • Walking Trails
PDF Park Brochure
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Vulkathunha Gammon SA map

A rugged and remote park in the north Flinders Ranges, this is a park of contrasts, with deep gorges and chasms, towering mountains, tree-lined creeks and freshwater springs.

Tag your Instagram pics with #vulkathunhagammonrangesnationalpark to see them displayed on this page.

Vulkathunha Gammon SA map

A rugged and remote park in the north Flinders Ranges, this is a park of contrasts, with deep gorges and chasms, towering mountains, tree-lined creeks and freshwater springs.

Tag your Instagram pics with #vulkathunhagammonrangesnationalpark to see them displayed on this page.

About

Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park was proclaimed in 1970. The park forms part of the traditional country of the Adnyamathanha people and is rich with cultural significance. The spectacular terrain in Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park can be explored by the many hiking trails and via the 4WD tracks that lead you deep into the heart of the rugged landscape. The park is a haven for many rare and endangered plants and animals.

The stark wildness and landscape of Lake Frome is a unique feature of the park. This ephemeral salt lake stretches 100km long and 40km wide and plays an important role in the lives of the Adnyamathanha people. The 'Plains Block' leading out to the edge of Lake Frome still remains a traditional hunting ground.

There are several hiking trails to explore the park including the Italowie Gorge Hike which takes you past Mount McKinlay Spring or the Weetootla Gorge Hike which meanders though the stunning Weetootla Gorge.

There are several tracks to explore the park and its surrounding areas by car. Most tracks are accessible by 2WD, although the Wortupa Loop Track and the track to Lake Frome require 4WDs.

Opening hours

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Traditional use zone

The cultural use zone by Lake Frome is closed to the general public from 3pm-5am daily, to allow hunting in this area.

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

Contact details

Natural Resource Centre - Port Augusta

Phone: (+61 8) 8648 5300
Email: DesertParks@sa.gov.au

Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park Headquarters - Balcanoona

Phone: (+61 8) 8648 4829
After Hours Regional Duty Officer: 0408 378 284

Getting there

Vulkathunha–Gammon Ranges National Park is 660km north of Adelaide, 100km east of Leigh Creek. All main access roads to the park are gravel and are suitable for 2WD vehicles, however most of the tracks within the park are 4WD accessible only.

Please check road conditions before leaving home. Closures may occur during and after wet weather.

Outback Road Report

1300 361 033 (24-hour automated service)
Northern and Western South Australian Outback Roads Temporary Closures, Restrictions and Warnings Report

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 pit toilets at Grindell's Hut, Italowie Gorge and Weetootla Gorge campgrounds. There are no facilities at other campgrounds. However, public toilet and shower facilities are available at Balcanoona (park headquarters).

Useful information

  • There is no mobile phone coverage in the park.

Outback Road Report

1300 361 033 (24-hour automated service)
Northern and Western South Australian Outback Roads Temporary Closures, Restrictions and Warnings Report

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

Traditional owners

Since 2010, Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park has been co-managed by the traditional owners – the Adnyamathanha people – and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR). This partnership arrangement allows for shared responsibility and decision-making in the strategic management of the Park.

The Adnyamathanha community manages the Nantawarrina Indigenous Protected Area, which adjoins the park’s southern boundary. Access is by permit from the community. For further information, phone (+61 8) 8648 3764.

Words from the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park Co-management Board

Our society is complex and mature, with our personal, social and spiritual life integrated with the surrounding environment. 

Muda stories and song-lines weave throughout the area and numerous sites of cultural significance are located within the park. Many animals and plants once found in the park (including the bilby, rock-wallaby, stick-nest rat and carpet python), are our Mukunha (a form of totem connected with a piece of land).

We have always maintained strong links with our country, derived from our Mukunha affiliations, with our Yarta or ‘country’ and are pleased to have a central role in park management today through co-management.

The management plan includes a cultural use zone at the Plains Block, which allows Adnyamathanha people to hunt and gather using firearms. The cultural use zone by Lake Frome is closed to the general public from 3pm-5am daily, to allow hunting in this area.

We are keen to help others understand and appreciate the natural and cultural values of this land.

See and do

Rangers recommend

We have picked the brains of our park rangers to find out what they would recommend you see and do whilst visiting this park.

  • Visiting Weetootla Gorge and enjoying its many hiking trails and 800 million year old rocks.
  • Taking the Monarch Mine Hike past an abandoned copper mine.
  • Exploring the Wortupa Loop Track in your 4WD, admiring the views of Mount McKinlay, The Wall, and the chasms of Blue Range.

Bushwalking

The rugged hills of the north Flinders Ranges can often only be accessed along the stony beds of creeks that have cut their way through the ranges. Explore one of the linear hikes or create your own adventure by following sections of the different walking trails. All of the walking trails expose 800 million year old rocks that form a huge basin under the quartzite and sandstone of the Gammon Ranges.

There are three locations in the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park where you can access walks in the Weetootla Hike Network. 

Weetootla Campground Trailhead – 7.1km from Balcanoona. Turn off the Arkaroola Road at 1.9km from the signpost at Balcanoona. The track is 2WD accessible.

McTaggart Track – 18.2km from Balcanoona. Turn off the Arkaroola Road at 8.2km from the signpost at Balcanoona. Continue approximately 10km along the 4WD track to reach the checkpoint.

Grindell's Hut Trailhead – 26.5km from Balcanoona. Turn off the Arkaroola Road at 8.2km from the signpost at Balcanoona. Continue for 17km along the signposted 4WD track.

Easy walks

  • Uncle Gill's Walk (15 mins, 300m)

    Trace the footsteps of the Aboriginal people and pastoralists throughout history around the Balcanoona Shearing shed and stock yards. The footpath is well defined and interpretive plaques display historical information.

Moderate hikes

  • Balcanoona Creek Hike - Weetootla Hike Network (2 hrs 30 mins one way, 6km)

    This hike meanders through the Balcanoona Range to the Weetootla Gorge and its network of hikes. The hike passes by Grindells Hut. This can be walked as one-way linear hike or as a circuit shown on the map.

  • Italowie Gorge Hike (8 hrs one way, 15.8km)

    This hike takes you from Italowie Creek campground to Grindells hut via Mt. Mckinlay Springs and return the same route.

  • McTaggart Track Hike- Weetootla Hike Network (3 hrs one way, 7.6km)

    A longer hike along the McTaggart Track, can be done in conjunction with one of the hikes above. This can be walked as one-way linear hike or as a circuit shown on the map.

  • Monarch Mine Hike - Weetootla Hike Network (2 hrs 30 mins one way, 6.8km)

    This hike takes you past an abandoned copper mine and over shale and magnesite hills. This can be walked as one-way linear hike or as a circuit shown on the map.

  • Oppaminda Nudlamutana Hike (7 hrs one way, 15.2km)

    This hike takes you from the Munyallina Trailhead near Nudlamutuna Hut through to Arkaroola via Mt. Warren Hastings.

Camping

Immerse yourself in arid wilderness and relax amongst the sounds of the outback in one of the bush campgrounds dotted around the park. Several camp sites provide an ideal base from which to explore the park’s hiking trails. Please note that some sites are only accessible by 4WD vehicles.

The campgrounds are basic with pit toilets available at Grindell's Hut and Weetootla campgrounds. Other camping areas have no facilities. 

Toilet and shower facilities are available at Balcanoona.

Camping permits can be obtained from the park headquarters or from self-registration stations at Balcanoona and on the way into most camping areas.

Grindell's Hut (4WD accessible only)

Located approximately one hour’s drive west of Balcanoona via Wortupa Loop Track. Access is 10 km up Arkaroola Road then 17 km via the signposted 4WD track. Camp sites are located along the creek below Grindell's Hut. Please camp in designated sites. The Weetootla and Italowie Gorge hikes can be accessed from this camping area.

Facilities include fire pit, barbecue and pit toilets.

Mainwater Well (4WD accessible only)

The Mainwater Well camping area is approximately two hours drive north-west of Balcanoona via Wortupa Loop Track. A small camping area is located next to the old well alongside the tea-tree lined Mainwater Creek. This camping area provides a great base from which to explore the northern areas of the park and for hikers to explore Mainwater Creek.

Arcoona (4WD or high clearance 2WD recommended)

The campground is located on the western side of the ranges approximately one and a half hours drive from Balcanoona via the Copley-Balcanoona and Umberatana Roads. Camp sites are located near and around the end of the track just above the river red gums and native pines of Arcoona Creek. This camp provides a great stop for people travelling through the park and as a base for hikers wishing to explore Arcoona Bluff and the Gammon Plateau.

Lochness Well (4WD accessible only)

Five kilometres beyond Grindell's Hut is the Lochness Well camping area. A small number of sites are set on the southern bank of Balcanoona Creek amongst native pines and river red gums. This is a popular spot for bushwalkers to begin hikes into the wilderness of the gorges and chasms of Mount John Roberts and Blue Range.

Weetootla Gorge, Wiriti Urdla (2WD and small caravan accessible)

Weetootla Gorge camping area is located to the west of Balcanoona at the end of Weetootla Gorge. Camp sites are located along Balcanoona Creek among mallee, native pines and bullock bush. The camping area is approximately 20 minutes from Balcanoona, 2 km towards Arkaroola then 5 km along the signposted track. The campground is located approximately 4 km from the self-registration station. Designated camp sites are set out adjacent to the pit toilets. These can also be found 1 km further on, near the Weetootla Gorge trailhead.

Italowie Gap, Ithala Awi (2WD and small caravan accessible)

The Italowie Gap camping areas are located approximately 20 minutes from Balcanoona on the Copley-Balcanoona road. There are two camping areas. The first area is on the south-western side of the gap via a small access track. This area is set amongst river red gums below a small cliff face and is a shady spot for summer. The second area is located on the north-eastern side of the gap, off the access track behind the self-registration station. These sites are set amongst wattles and river red gums near the start of the Italowie Gorge Hike.

Accommodation

Grindell’s Hut (4WD accessible only)

2 x Bedrooms (one with a queen bed and one with 3 x bunk beds)
1 x Sleep out / sitting area
1 x Lounge (with combustion fire place)
1 x Kitchen (fridge, stove/oven, sink, crockery and cutlery)
1 x Storeroom (food storage / cleaning equipment)
1 x Laundry (2 x sinks and rain water tap)
1 x Bathroom (toilet, basin, combined bath/shower)
1 x Gas BBQ and outdoor seating
1 x Wood BBQ
Firewood is provided in the wood shed at the rear of the hut.

Grindell’s Hut is located in the heart of the Vulkathunha - Gammon Ranges National Park on a hillside with spectacular views over the valleys and foothills of the Illinawortina Pound and the Blue Range. The McLachlan Pastoral Company built the Hut in the 1950’s, the original hut built in the late 1800’s by Grindell still stands just behind the newer hut. 

The Hut provides a comfortable base for a variety of walks and 4WD trips. Sit out on the veranda and watch the changing colours and the play of light across the ranges.

What to bring:

All linen, blankets, pillows, towels, tea towels, toilet paper and matches.

Nudlamutana Hut (2WD accessible)

1 x Bedroom (1 x double bed + 1 x set of bunk beds)
1 x Lounge (with combustion fire)
1 x Kitchen (fridge, stove/oven, crockery and cutlery)
1 x Outside bathroom (toilets, sink and shower)
1 x Sleep out / enclosed veranda

Nudlamutana Hut is located on the boundary between the Vulkathunha - Gammon Ranges National Park and Arkaroola Wildlife Sanctuary. This hut was built as an outstation for the pastoral lease and still retains its rustic charms.

The Hut is nestled in a picturesque valley between rugged hills approximately 2 km off the Balcanoona/Arkaroola Road. It is a perfect location from which to further explore the many walking trails and drives within the park.

What to bring:

All linen, blankets, pillows, towels, tea towels, matches and toilet paper.

Balcanoona Shearers Quarters (2WD accessible)

8 x Single bedrooms (2 x single beds)
1 x Managers bedroom (1 x double bed, sitting area, separate toilets, shower and fridge) 
1 x Communal kitchen (2 x large fridges, chest freezer, stove/oven, crockery and cutlery)
1 x Communal lounge (TV, lounges, table and chairs)
2 x Toilets (located in adjoining building)
2 x Showers (located in main building
1 x Laundry (cold washing machine)
1 x Gas BBQ
Additional 2 showers and toilets are accessible in the public amenities a short walk away.

The Shearers Quarters are located at the National Park Head Quarters at Balcanoona.  Originally built to house the shearing teams for Balcanoona Station, the Quarters now provide accommodation for individuals or groups visiting the area. 

Shearing teams used the quarters up until the late 1970’s when sheep were destocked and the property became part of the Vulkathunha - Gammon Ranges National Park.

What to bring:

All linen, blankets, pillows, towels, tea towels and matches.

4WD

Much of Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park is accessible by 4WD only. The only area of the park accessible to 2WD is the track to Weetootla Gorge.

The Wortupa Loop Track is an 80-kilometre return journey from Balcanoona. It takes approximately five hours to complete and you can explore the park’s rich Aboriginal and European heritage. You could see animals such as euros, red kangaroos, emus, and wedge-tailed eagles along the way.

Views of Mount McKinlay, The Wall, Mount John Roberts, and the chasms of Blue Range are a highlight along the one-way section of track between Gammon Yards and Lochness Well. There is also a 4WD track out to Lake Frome.

4WD tours to significant sites are available from Arkaroola.

Flora

As you explore the creeks, freshwater springs, gorges and mountains of Vulkathunha–Gammon Ranges National Park, you’ll see unusual and endangered plant and animal species.

Fauna

As you explore the creeks, freshwater springs, gorges and mountains of Vulkathunha–Gammon Ranges National Park, you’ll see whole populations of yellow footed rock wallabies, or andu, in the Adnyamathanha language.

Volunteering

Become a Campground Host

Combine your love of camping with doing a good deed by becoming a volunteer campground host in this park.

A campground host is a volunteer who stays at the park either for a specific peak period, like the Easter break or a long weekend, or an extended period of time (up to a few months) to support park rangers. 

If you are passionate about the environment, a keen camper, like to meet people from all around the world, and are a happy to help, then hosting could be right up your alley. 

Friends of the Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges National Park

The Friends of Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges National Park is a community-based group of volunteers who work to protect and develop the natural and cultural heritage in the park.

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

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is currently not permitted in this park. 

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

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 permitted outside the annual Fire Danger Season.
  • You must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited.
  • Gas fires are permitted through the year, other than on days of Total Fire Ban.
  • Ensure you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

4WD

When 4WDriving in the park, it is important to be aware of the following:

  • Standard road rules apply when driving anywhere in the park, including the laws for speed limits, drink driving, vehicle registration and seat belts.
  • Take extreme care when driving in the park – be aware of blind corners, crests and narrow two-way tracks.
  • Observe all track and safety signs, especially 'No public access' signs.
  • Do not take your vehicle off the designated tracks. Wildlife can be threatened and precious habitat and indigenous sites can be damaged by off track driving.
  • Make sure you know what to do in the event of getting bogged and always carry a shovel.
  • When driving on sand, deflate your tyres as appropriate for your vehicle. Don’t forget to reinflate your tyres to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure before leaving the park. Take care when lowering tyre pressure as there is risk you could roll the tyre off its rim. Also, remember that lower tyre pressure can mean a change in how the vehicle handles.

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.

Maps

Park maps

Maps on your mobile

If you have a smartphone or tablet you can download the Avenza PDF Map app to get the most out of our maps.

The app displays park maps and interact with GPS signals. It will show your location on a park map and calculate distances even if there is no internet access in the park.

How to get it working on your device:

1. Download the Avenza PDF maps app from the app store whilst you are still in range (its free!).
2. Open up the app and click the shopping cart icon.
3. Click ‘Find’ and type the name of the national park or reserve you are looking for.
4. Click on the map you are after and install it (all our maps are free).
5. You will now find a list of your installed maps on the home page of the Avenza app.
6. Use our maps through the Avenza PDF map app while in the park and never take a wrong turn again.

Fees

Entry fees

Park entry is free, however fees apply for camping and accommodation within the park.

Camping

Fees can be paid at the self-registration stations in the park. Please bring the correct money as change is not available.

Campsite fees (per night)

Vehicle (max 8 people) - $12
Hikers/cyclists/additional vehicle occupant (per person) - $6.50
Group camping (20+ people - per person) - $6

If you are planning a trip for a school group or other large group, please ensure you let the park know of your intentions.

Fees collected are used for conservation and to maintain and improve park facilities.

Accommodation

Bookings and enquiries: Natural Resource Centre - Port Augusta

Phone: (+61 8) 8648 5300
Email: DesertParks@sa.gov.au

Grindell's Hut (sleeps 8)

Per night: $160.00
Per week: $800.00

Nudlamutana Hut (sleeps 4)

Per night: $100.00
Per Week: $500.00 

Balcanoona Shearers Quarters (Northern Flinders)

Exclusive use (sleeps 18) - per night: $300.00
Exclusive use (sleeps 18) - per week: $1500.00
Per room (sleeps 2): $45.00
Manager's Quarters (sleeps 3): $67.00
Shower access at Balcanoona (per person): $5.00 n/a 

Park pass

Holiday Park Pass and Multi Park Pass

Want to explore SA’s parks all year round? Purchase a Multi Park Pass (12 months), or a Holiday Park Pass (for 2 months) which entitles you to vehicle entry and optional camping not just for this park, but up to an additional 58 parks as well!

Other fees and permits

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