Saw-tooth quartzite ridges rising from gibber plains are the most recognisable face of the Flinders Ranges, in central South Australia, but colour is their big surprise. From afar they look mauve, purple and blue yet up close the rock is very red and radiates age. The landmark feature of Ikara/FlindersRanges National Park is Wilpena Pound, an extraordinary stone ring scored with bushwalking South Australia trails.
Geologists claim that Wilpena Pound is the product of 1,200 million years of sedimentation, uplift and weathering. In the mythology of the local Adnyamathanha people it is the nose-to-tail bodies of two akurras (Dreaming serpents) that encircled an important corroboree and ate the participants. So perhaps St Mary Peak, the pound rim high point, is the head of a snake!
This is timeless country where rocky walking trails pass sheets of ancient, rippled sea bed and where shingleback lizards ambling between rafts of wildflowers have right of way.
The 1,200km Heysen Trail traverses Wilpena Pound but there are many fabulous shorter walks including the Pound Traverse. And few views anywhere in Australia compare with those from St Mary Peak (the Pound high point) and Mt Ohlssen-Bagge.