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Virtual tourists can now teleport back 600 million years, exploring the Flinders Ranges’ ancient beginnings

University of South Australia Media Release

Fancy donning a VR headset and taking a journey through deep geological time? From today it’s possible, with the launch of a 360-degree virtual tour of the 600-million-year-old Flinders Ranges in South Australia.

One of Australia’s most captivating landscapes can now be explored virtually, thanks to a University of South Australia project that documents the geological and cultural significance of the Flinders Ranges.

Led by UniSA geologist Professor Tom Raimondo, the project is supporting the SA Government’s bid for World Heritage status of the region, expected to be submitted in 2024.

“The launch of this immersive virtual tour marks a significant step towards opening the Flinders Ranges to the international community,” Prof Raimondo says. “Ultimately, UNESCO World Heritage status will allow it to stand alongside icons like the Great Barrier Reef and Yosemite National Park.”

“The Flinders Ranges has a remarkable history, cultural heritage and scientific value. It is home to our earliest animal ancestors, the Ediacaran biota, and we’ve unlocked half a billion years of the story of life through the power of virtual reality. Now, anyone from across the globe can see why this landscape is so special and unique.”

The virtual tour takes viewers on a flight over rugged mountain ranges, discovering how Ikara (Wilpena Pound) was formed; transporting viewers underground through historic tunnels to experience the challenges of early copper miners; and including a virtual swim on the Ediacaran seabed, home to the first animals on Earth.

The Ediacaran fossils are unique to the Flinders Ranges and a key element of the World Heritage nomination.

From 2023, South Australia’s school children will become very familiar with their significance, learning about these incredible fossils as part of the Year 8 science curriculum.


Sacred Canyon, Wilpena Pound (Image from


“We have worked with the South Australian Science Teachers Association, the Department for Education and the Ediacara Foundation to produce content for this new resource that is drawn from the virtual tour.

“Students will be able to view 3D reconstructions of the ancient animals and virtually swim through their seafloor habitat. It will be the next best thing to bringing 600-million-year-old fossils back to life, and hopefully inspire a new generation of budding geologists to follow in the footsteps of Douglas Mawson and Reg Sprigg.”

The virtual tour has been created as part of UniSA STEM’s Project LIVE initiative. More details here: 360° Flinders Ranges.

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  1. New England Cocky

    This demo clip shows the imaginative possibilities of computer teaching that successive members of the NSW DoE Head Office have ignored for about 40 years.

  2. Michael Taylor

    NEC, it’s very spectacular up there.

    I serviced the Aboriginal communities/homelands in Flinders Ranges when I worked for ATSIC in Port Augusta. The Flinders Ranges are the traditional lands of the Adnyamathanha people. (Adnyamathanha has a couple of meanings: “The people from the hills” or “The rock people”).

  3. leefe

    Frankly, I’d rather go back in person. It’s an incredible and enthralling area. But I suppose virtual has to do for those who can’t manage it otherwiise.

  4. Douglas Pritchard

    I spent a few nights in a small tent inside Wilpena Pound at the end of a humungous m/c ride, many moons ago.
    It was possibly the nearest i came to having a religous experience.
    Campers lit small fires in the wooded areas, and it was just so tranquil.
    I don`t think you can get that from AI.

  5. Michael Taylor

    When he was a wee lad, former SA premier John Bannon and his family stayed at Wilpena Pound, when John’s young brother went missing. Adnyamathanha trackers followed his tracks, which stopped suddenly, as though he was ‘grabbed’ from the air.

    It was in a part of the Pound that local Adnyamathanha people never dare go, for there be evil things.

    His body was found atop a peak, impossible for a young boy to reach, or indeed, a person to carry him to.

    John Bannon never forgot what Aboriginal people did for his family.

    True story, told to me by an Adnyamathanha man. To this day, the boy’s disappearance, cause of death, and the circumstances around how he ended up on an inaccessible peak remain a mystery.

  6. Michael Taylor

    Douglas, for three years the Flinders Ranges were my ‘office’. I’d happily check it out with the help of AI.

  7. wam

    As a young teacher, I had two marvellous camping trips one in the area around the Pound and the other at chambers gorge. The former saw bodge lapthorne, in a sleeping bag, show me the flame and the latter began with a beerless Parachilna pub,
    I remember reading the flinders was once higher than everest and you can see some great folding so the app should be another of Uni SA ‘s world class projects.

  8. Michael Taylor

    wam, you wouldn’t want to order any food from the Parachilna pub these days: they charge like wounded bulls. But if you do decide to dine there you might want to try an emu pie.

    I haven’t had one, and I’m not likely to either. 😁

  9. Michael Taylor

    One thing that not many people experience is to drive around the Flinders Ranges with an Adnyamathanha person and hear about the Dreaming stories behind each hill or large rock.

  10. w

    my best trip 1962 was in the bodge’s beetle 5 of us, plus noodling gear, to Andamooka.
    We met two young blokes using jack hammers to knock out the pillars(a careful experience).
    Had a great time. We met an old bloke who found Kalgoorlie gold mining too hard so, about 1914, put a barrel of water on a wheelbarrow and walked to Coober pedy and then to Andamooka.
    We went to a dam and caught yabbies. I watched with amazement when he ate them because he ate the lot shell and all.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Andamooka is one of the few places I never got to.

    I have a cousin who lives there. About 45 years ago this young bloke of 21 walked into my uncle’s pub (The German Arms in Hahndorf) and said to my uncle: “Hello. I’m your son.” Turns out that he was … to my uncle’s surprise.

    He now runs some scrap metal yard in Andamooka. I’ve never met him, but my Adnyamathanha brother knows him fairly well.

  12. leefe


    re the Parachilna Pub – yeah it”s pricey but when you’ve beeen walking for weeks and living off freeze dried this, dehydrated that, and pre-packaged just about everything, a hot feral goat pie with side salad is pure gourmet bliss.

  13. Douglas Pritchard

    You are all breaking the golden rule.
    “Dont spread the word too far or everyone will want some of the action”.
    I would not like to see an over exploited Flinders.
    So lets just keep it to ourselves,…..

  14. Michael Taylor

    Douglas, I sure did turn off the thought of biking through the Ranges for a young English couple.

    At the diner in a petrol station just after you turn off the main road I told them to be careful, coz giant goannas have been known to chase down people on push bikes and eat them. Their faces turned white with fear.

    My boss, in the meantime, was wetting himself laughing (out of sight, of course, from the horrified and frightened tourists).

    Fun. It’s all in a day’s work.

  15. Michael Taylor

    leefe, I’d keep going until you reached Leigh Creek just for the hamburgers at the Open Cut Café. They’re even better than the famous Oodnaburger (the only burger I know that could feed a family of four) from the Pink Roadhouse in Oodnadatta.

    Why am I always thinking about food? 🤷🏻‍♂️

    Speaking of the Parachilna Pub, my miserly boss – and this is about 20 years ago – was horrified that a piece of cake was the same price as a day’s pay decided to be tricky and order the whole cake. They bought out said cake, cut it into 12 pieces and charged him $72.

  16. Michael Taylor

    Getting back to the article, I think this is a wonderful idea. The Flinders Ranges are amazing.

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