Gawler Ranges  2021  


Photographs and commentary: copyright Jonathan C Nevill,  2021, unless otherwise credited. Camera: Samsung Galaxy S7.

The Gawler Ranges lie north of the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia.

A large part of the ranges are protected within the Gawler Ranges National Park.


This photo-essay covers the small township of Fowlers Bay, the long-deserted township of Yantanaby, the ancient Pildappa Rock (south of the ranges)

and "the Organ Pipes" within Gawler Ranges National Park.


The Gawler Ranges are home to many different vegetation communities, which I found fascinating and beautiful. The differences are striking, and the boundaries are often tightly delineated.  I suppose the differences are brought about largely by different soils, slope, fire history and drainage. These include communities of native pine, mulga (acacia), mallee (eucalypt), salt-bush, and spinifex.


Fowlers Bay. Looking towards the south. The ocean lies beyond the dunes. 

The township of Fowlers Bay lies just to the left (east) of the photo.


The sleepy little township of Fowlers Bay has one main asset: a great little pier. Or at least it was a great little pier when it was renovated 20 years ago. 

It is now starting to fall into disrepair, as you can see from the missing diagonal struts.  In my view it should be rebuilt; certainly it should be if the South Australian Government cares about keeping the town viable.


The above photo also tells you that, off-shore, there's a lot of shallow water.


Just to the west of the town, there's a huge sand-dune, which is moving, very slowly, into the town's western edge. 

I spoke to some of the residents. They seemed quite relaxed about the dune. Mind you, their properties were not on the western edge.


I headed north after leaving Fowlers Bay.

The Yantanaby Memorial Hall is all that remains of the small Yantanaby township.

The hall is now owned and maintained by an elderly woman, who grew up in the township. She lives elsewhere, but maintains the hall. 

It seems a bit sad, 'lost' in the middle of nowhere, but I like to see historic buildings valued and maintained.

Ruins, of course, have their own beauty and nostalgia too...



This photo was taken many years after the township was abandoned.  

Note the lack of trees, which would have been cleared to provide firewood for the township.

Note "5", the Memorial Hall.  All the other buildings have disappeared, like so many others in this arid, lonely country.




Pildappa Rock is a popular tourist overnight camping spot, south of the Gawler Ranges. It's not clear who manages the site; possibly the local shire council.

Signage at the site says the rock is the result of a crustal intrusion 1.5 billion years ago. That's a long time back...  before I was born.

The original vegetation around the site has long gone. As this Google Earth image illustrates, Pildappa Rock sits in a small isolated patch of remanent vegetation, probably very different from the original vegetation two centuries ago.

In this image the rock appears grey. It's colour seems to vary with the time of day.

In my view, the access tracks and toilet facilities have been placed far too close to the rock, which itself is magnificent.

Hopefully, some time in the future, the tracks and camping areas will be relocated in a way that respects the grandeur of the rock.






A northerly face.



There's a pool on the upper surface. I don't imagine it's deep, but it does have water-weed growing in it.

The Gawler Ranges are visible on the horizon.



A southerly face. Lichen favour the cooler southerly aspect.




Early morning, looking west, away from the rising sun.







Local history has recorded that these geraniums were planted by "The Kwaterski Girls" in 1938.




I travelled northeast from Minnipa to Pildappa Rock, then to the Organ Pipes in the northwest of the Gawler Ranges National Park. 

The arid country north of the Gawler Ranges is classed as "remote", and roads carry warning signs for unwary motorists.

From there to Paney, then westwards out of the park, through arid grazing country towards Kimba. The map shows a road network from Moongi running south: here the land is farmed for wheat and other grains. Kimba was my next stop, where the local shire has established a free (and well maintained) camping area, with toilets and showers, for travellers.


Below: on the way to the Organ Pipes.









There are wallabies here, but my visit was late in the morning and none were offering themselves for photographs.

However there were plenty of grasshoppers (note the pale eye) and lizards.


These lizards can jump with ease from rock to rock.




An overview of the terrain around the Organ Pipes.  Looking towards the west.




Here's a long single hexagonal crystal of rock.

The rock here 'rings' when struck, suggesting both hardness and integrity.









The view from the crest of the little stream valley which holds the Organ Pipes.

Looking towards the east. The car park sits on the valley floor about 1km away.



Typical mulga country to the east of the Gawler Ranges. 

Heading towards Kimba.