Gammon Ranges Bunyip Chasm

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesArkaroola Village
FinishArkaroola Village
DifficultyDifficulty 3/5
Suitable For4WD 
Distance207.74 km
Minimum Days1
Average Speed37.02 km/hr
Travel Time5 hrs 36 mins
Page Updated: 21 Oct 2021


This Trek is an adventurous loop from Arkaroola throughout the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges that incorporates access along 4WD trails on the plateau fringe to bush camping and accessible hiking trails. The highlight of the trek is a 5km walk from the campsite at Lochness Well along a creek bed to the spectacular Bunyip Chasm.

The Vulkathunha - Gammon Ranges National Park lies approximately 750 km to the north of Adelaide and 110 km from Leigh Creek. The park has around 128 000 hectares of chasms, deep gorges, towering mountains, tree-lined creeks and freshwater springs.

Bunyip Chasm is said to be the best walk in the entire area, although it is lesser known and publicised and requires 4WD access. For the general tourist, Gammon Ranges can be reached off the Copley Rd, however this trek is specifically prepared to give a good historical route through 4WD trails. The drive to Bunyip Chasm will reward you with spectacular views of the rugged terrain of the Gammon Range. There are many opportunities for self-reliant bush camping (permits apply) or you can rent a hut such as Grindell Hut complete with facilities.

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The Bunyip Chasm area is a spectacular red rock gorge and is reached via a 5km marked walk trail along a creek bed. It contains some relatively rare plants, reptiles, birds, euros, emus & the yellow footed rock wallaby. The creek has pools, River Red gums, fossil ripple marks on old sandstones & many other interesting things to appreciate & photograph.


Local aboriginals generally shunned the interior of the Gammon ranges, for fear of waking the fearful dreamtime serpent Akurra. Few places inside the Ranges therefore have aboriginal place names. Bunyip gorge (Winmiindanha) is one exception.

History of the Flinders Ranges

The Flinders Ranges are one of the oldest Mountain Ranges in the world, with fossil evidence dating back over 640 million years and today’s weathered remains of a once great mountain that was once up to 6 kilometres high. For over 15,000 years, these ranges where the home for the local Adnyamathanha Aboriginal people. There are many fine locations in the Flinders Ranges where their paintings and rock art sites can be viewed and it is well worth the time to visit one of these sites. At the time of European settlement, it was estimated that there were about 500 aboriginal people living in the Flinders Ranges, and like many other locations throughout Australia, the Adnyamathanha Aboriginal people defended their lands from the white people that were settling in their tribal lands and clashes were common, with many Aboriginal people being killed in the ensuing battles.

During the 1860’s, drought ravaged many parts of South Australia, and the Flinders Ranges did not escape these effects. Many of the Aboriginal people were forced to retreat to ration depots, where poor living conditions and disease wiped many of the Aboriginals out. By the mid 1870’s many of the Aboriginals were working on the local stations, working as shepherds and stockman. In this way they were still able to keep their very strong bonds with the tribal lands that they had been displaced from. In 1929 the United Aborigines Mission established a new mission at Nepabunna, east of Copley, which was a special place of the local Aboriginals. When that last full blood past away in 1973, so ended the handing down of special dreaming stories that could only be handed down to fully initiated members of the tribe. With the coming of white man, the Flinders Ranges were set to see many changes to the local Adnyamathanha people.

The first European to view ‘a chain of rugged mountains’ was Matthew Flinders in March 1802, on board the “Investigator”, while charting the coastline of Spencer Gulf. Flinders' group conducted limited land exploration and despite naming Mt Arden and noting the ranges as ‘a ridge of high, rocky and baron mountains’, these ranges remained unnamed for a further 37 years. The next European to see and visit the still unnamed mountainous area was Edward John Eyre in 1839, who undertook a series of expeditions to the Flinders Ranges over the next two years. While on his first exploration expedition, he discovered on the western side of the ranges, a permanent supply of water that made the ideal place for forming a permanent depot for further expedition, naming the place Depot Creek which was put on the map. A little further north of Depot Creek, Eyre became the first white person to climb the tall peak named by Matthew Flinders in 1802 - Mount Arden. The travels of Eyre proved very useful, and he named a number of features during his visits. In a letter dated 10th July 1839 by the then Governor of South Australia, Governor Gawler to Colonel Torrens, which was published on page 3 of the Government Gazette, dated 11 July 1839, Governor Gawler described the work of explorer, Edward Eyre and advised that he had named the mountain range ‘Flinders Ranges’, after their discoverer, Matthew Flinders, who never named any of his discoveries after himself. In 1856 Babbage was sent north to search for gold as far as the Flinders Ranges. He found none, but discovered MacDonnell River, Blanchewater and Mount Hopeful and was able to dispel the current idea of the impassability of Eyre’s horseshoe shaped Lake Torrens by ascertaining the existence of a north-east gap to the Cooper and Gulf country.

During the early years of the Colony’s life, Bungaree Station, just a few kilometres north of Clare, was the outer limit of civilization in the new state, but slowly pastoralism pushed north for bigger and better properties. From 1850 occupational licences were granted. Early surveyors became explorers in their own right and by the 1860’s, all the Flinders Ranges were under pastoral leases.

During the early years of settlement in the Flinders Ranges the area received very good rainfall, resulting in large area of land cleared and crops plated, as well as overstocking the properties with both sheep and cattle. These years of good rainfall soon reverted back to the usual low rainfall, resulting in crops failing and many thousands of head of stock perishing because of the low rainfall and drought conditions. Measures were put in place by the Government to stop further cropping and overstocking of land that was deemed not suitable for cropping, and an invisible line was created of maps, a line that is still in place today, and is known as Goyder’s Line. Goyder’s Line of rainfall is an imaginary line marking off a very large area of rural South Australia that receives 254mm of rainfall a year or less. This line was named after the then Surveyor General, George Goyder, who in 1865 travelled nearly 5000 kilometres on horseback to distinguish a division between arable (guaranteed rainfall) and arid land. North of the Goyder’s Line was deemed Pastoral land and should not be cropped and was also the start of Saltbush and Bluebush country.

During the early years of European settlement in the Flinders, South Australian’s were looking for Copper. By the late 1850’s a large copper ore deposit was discovered in Blinman. The mine site was sold to the Yudnamutana Copper Mining Company in 1862 but was closed in 1874. The Blinman mine then was worked on and off over the next 20 years, but was never a profitable venture to continue. Many other sites in the Flinders opened, all with the thoughts of finding that mother load. Sites like Nuccaleena, Sliding Rock, Prince Alfred, and Yudnamutana were just some of the sites that showed promise, but petered out after a few short years after mining commenced.

Copper was not the only mineral of importance that was discovered in the Flinders Ranges. There were a number of gold fields discovered, as well as silver and lead. Mining is still undertaken in the Flinders Ranges today, with coal, barites, talc and uranium being mined at various locations. Another venture that has taken off with great interest is the diversification of station properties, which have opened up their properties to the increasing number of four wheel drive owners that seek the challenges that are on offer, that gives those that take these tracks to see another side of the Flinders Ranges, that until a number of years ago, was only viewed by station owners and workers.

TrekID: 83


MUST READ: You are strongly encouraged to read the following articles prepared by the knowledge experts at ExplorOz for your safety and preparation before undertaking any published ExplorOz Trek - Outback Safety, Outback Driving Tips, Outback Communications, and Vehicle Setup for the Outback.


Please refer to Road Reports published by the local shire and/or main roads for the area you intend to visit. Road/Track conditions can change significantly after weather events. Travellers must be responsible for their own research on current conditions and track suitability.
If you plan on going hiking, then appropriate rubber soled walk boots or shoes are highly recommended. A handheld GPS unit is not essential but it has its advantages. You should take sufficient water, around two litres per person and more in hot weather. Drinking water is available at Arkaroola or Grindell Hut and Creek water should be treated before drinking.

Bunyip Chasm

No permits are needed to walk to Bunyip Chasm. Directions to Bunyip Chasm are given in many walking books on the region, but none are detailed & some are confusing. Park Staff are now refusing to give directions as they state that the climbs involved are dangerous.

If climbing is a problem for you, then do the walk as far as the first climb only (eg. elderly and young children may have problems). The walk is an easy 2 hours each way, being mostly level, with a fairly well defined track. There are 4 climbs up waterfalls in the last half kilometre. They would certainly be dangerous in wet weather. The tallest is about 15 metres high. The climbs should be done slowly & with care without any problems, though probably not without some trepidation! Ropes are suggested, but an experienced climber would have to be along to use them correctly & safely.


Park entry permit from the SA Department for Environment and Heritage and also available at Balcanoona. For information on camping fees and permits please click: Camping in Vulkathunha - Gammon Ranges National Park.

Fuel Usage

Petrol & Diesel are the fuel types available at Arkaroola Village.
4cyl 29 litres4cyl 34 litres4cyl 42 litres
6cyl 32 litres6cyl 38 litres6cyl 37 litres
8cyl 32 litres8cyl 34 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

Closest Climatic Station

Distance from Trek Mid Point 0.1km NW
Mean Max. °C34.333.229.825.220.216.816.519.023.326.530.032.6
Mean Min. °C20.119.315.811.
Mean Rain mm33.339.131.114.317.
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended


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Arkaroola Village to Sitting Bull
Driving: 3.72 km
Heading: 300°
Avg Speed: 20.39 km/hr
EST Time: 10:56
Sitting Bull to The Pinnacles
Driving: 0.85 km
Heading: 301°
Avg Speed: 34.18 km/hr
EST Time: 01:29
The Pinnacles to Old Bolla Bollana Smelters
Driving: 3.65 km
Heading: 273°
Avg Speed: 25.26 km/hr
EST Time: 08:40
Old Bolla Bollana Smelters to Wealthy King Mine
Driving: 21.6 km
Avg Speed: 19.64 km/hr
EST Time: 01:05:59
Wealthy King Mine to Tourmaline Hill
Driving: 16.33 km
Heading: 233°
Avg Speed: 20.18 km/hr
EST Time: 48:33
Tourmaline Hill to Umberatana
Driving: 4.92 km
Heading: 262°
Avg Speed: 23.12 km/hr
EST Time: 12:46
Umberatana to Yankaninna
Driving: 17.01 km
Heading: 207°
Avg Speed: 39.35 km/hr
EST Time: 25:56
Yankaninna to Idninha
Driving: 14.48 km
Heading: 80°
Avg Speed: 19.91 km/hr
EST Time: 43:38
Idninha to Grindell Hut
Driving: 27.14 km
Heading: 168°
Avg Speed: 24.35 km/hr
EST Time: 01:06:52
Grindell Hut to Illinawortina Pound
Driving: 1.92 km
Heading: 22°
Avg Speed: 23.75 km/hr
EST Time: 04:51
Illinawortina Pound to Mount McTaggart
Driving: 11.64 km
Heading: 80°
Avg Speed: 26 km/hr
EST Time: 26:51
Mount McTaggart to Balcanoona
Driving: 13.49 km
Heading: 169°
Avg Speed: 49.29 km/hr
EST Time: 16:25
Balcanoona to Italowie Gap
Driving: 15.49 km
Heading: 258°
Avg Speed: 56.84 km/hr
EST Time: 16:21
Italowie Gap to Balcanoona
Driving: 15.49 km
Heading: 78°
Avg Speed: 56.84 km/hr
EST Time: 16:21
Balcanoona to Balcanoona Gorge
Driving: 7.3 km
Heading: 308°
Avg Speed: 41.74 km/hr
EST Time: 10:29
Balcanoona Gorge to Nardlamathanha Hill
Driving: 21.06 km
Heading: 41°
Avg Speed: 49.9 km/hr
EST Time: 25:19
Nardlamathanha Hill to Arkaroola
Driving: 7.09 km
Heading: 12°
Avg Speed: 71.2 km/hr
EST Time: 05:58
Arkaroola to Devils Slide
Driving: 2.44 km
Heading: 334°
Avg Speed: 55.18 km/hr
EST Time: 02:39
Devils Slide to Arkaroola Village
Driving: 2.12 km
Heading: 283°
Avg Speed: 46.28 km/hr
EST Time: 02:44
Distance is based on the travel mode shown (Driving, Straight, Cycling, Walking etc), Direction is straight line from start to end, Avg Speed & EST Time is calculated from GPS data.

What to See

The 4WD Yankaninna-Yadnina-Balcanoona track winds its way through the centre of the Vulkathunha - Gammon Ranges. This track will take you through some of the most spectacular scenery and along the way there are plenty of places which make great bush camping spots.


Where to Stay

Services & Supplies

Limited supplies available at Arkaroola. Full supplies available at Angorichina & Blinman to the south.


Related Travel Journals

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