Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


To the gates of hellNatural healing

With many natural ecosystems in South Australia’s northern Flinders Ranges under pressure, a privately-owned conservation park is seeking to repair the damage, while allowing visitors to enjoy a unique part of the outback.

Story and photos Denis O’Byrne

It’s a crisp August morning on “Warraweena”, a former sheep station in South Australia’s northern Flinders Ranges. Black Range Springs is still in shadow as a four-wheel-drive Toyota ute pulls up on the edge of the camping area. The nuggetty figure of Stony Steiner leaps from the driver’s seat, takes a deep breath of air that is as pure as God intended, then gazes admiringly at the steep, pine-clad slopes around him. “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I was back in Switzerland,” he chuckles.

Almost as he speaks, a wallaby with a distinctively banded tail bursts from cover just a few metres away and dashes for the ridge. Reaching the safety of the rocks it pauses to look back, displaying its rich markings. “Yellow-footed rock wallaby,” Stony says quietly in a reverent tone. “They’re fairly common around here, but it’s not every day you see one. Beautiful, hey?”

Born and bred in the Swiss Alps, Stony, 39, migrated to Australia in 1996, joined by his wife Gina, an Adelaide girl. He’d earlier visited the oiutback as a tourist and immediately fell under its spell. “The colours, the vast horizons, the history of the landscape,” he enthuses. “… so different to Switzerland.” Stony and Gina lived in Adelaide while he completed a degree in conservation and park management. Then, early in 2001, he was appointed manager of Warraweena which, in 1996, was bought by the South Australian-based conservation organisation Wetlands & Wildlife and has since been run as a conservation park and low-key bush tourism resort. Visitor numbers (around 1000 in 2003) are steadily increasing, with popular activities being four-wheel driving, climbing Mt Hack (1086-metres), bushwalking, wildlife watching and remote camping. It’s the sort of place that attracts self-reliant enthusiasts seeking a bush experience with no bells or whistles attached.Story end

Full story OUTBACK Issue 37 October/November 2004

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