Government review of Pastoral Act may impact access for recreational bushwalkers in the Flinders Ranges

What is the issue?

The State Government is seeking input in order to review the Pastoral Act.

Much of the land in the Flinders Ranges north of Hawker is not private freehold land but instead is leased from the State Government to pastoralists to undertake grazing ventures1, and recognises the rights of Aboriginal people.

As the land is leased, people can undertake recreational off-trail bushwalking in these remote locations. They must notify the lessee of their intentions to walk, and the lessee can only deny access in certain scenarios. To clarify, by “off-trail bushwalking” we often mean following old vehicle tracks, or walking in a low impact environment, and can include camping for a few nights.

The Act also provides what are called Public Access Routes (PARs), which are often used by 4WDers for recreational use. They are well established and will likely probably remain, but our concerns are for access to other lands not part of PARs.

How could changes to Pastoral Act impact on recreational bushwalking? What are our concerns?

Currently, people intending to undertake bushwalks must notify the lessee of their intentions to walk, and the lessee can only deny access in certain scenarios. If support vehicles are to be used (or if the activity is recreational 4WDing), consent must be gained from the lessee.

Whilst we acknowledge that the Pastoral Act needs updating to allow for more flexible uses, including tourism and energy production, as well as the current need for cultural sensitivities, or mining activities, we’re concerned that access for recreational bushwalking may become restricted in these lands outside those limited, defined areas.

As tourism ventures are being considered to be included in the Act, this could further restrict access for recreational bushwalkers. We acknowledge that in some circumstances tourism ventures may be predicated on offering an exclusive access to experience the land, but would urge the Government to consider how this could adversely affect access for recreational bushwalking if it was widely implemented.

Who does this impact (in the context of undertaking recreational bushwalking)?

  1. Individuals doing self-planned self-guided bushwalking (in reality this is not individuals, but small groups of say 2-8 people)
  2. Bushwalking clubs, predominately those being Member Walking Clubs of Walking SA (the peak body for all forms of walking in South Australia), particularly those active in doing off-trail bushwalks north of Hawker, for instance Adelaide Bushwalkers, Friends of the Heysen Trail, and ARPA Bushwalkers (collective membership approx. 2,000 people) and other smaller walking clubs.

Examples of such bushwalks undertaken include:

  • Walking on the colloquially known “Beyond the Heysen”, being typically three weeks of walking from the northern trailhead of the 1,200km Heysen Trail at Parachilna Gorge to the northern extent of the Flinders Ranges at Mt Babbage or Mt Hopeless (via Narinna Pound, the Gammons, Arkaroola, and over or skirting the Mawson Plateau.)
  • Week-long trips up to the Mawson Plateau
  • Following the Flinders Ranges north of Wilpena Pound and outside of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park
  • Trips around Blinman and Parachilna Gorge that might include Narinna Pound or Patawarta Hill

Why is the State Government reviewing the Pastoral Act?

Whilst the current Act deals with the pastoral industry, access and rights for Aboriginal People and mining, its scope is quite specific.

To futureproof this landscape and those that depend on it, changes are being considered to increase the flexibility for a range of uses, such as tourism and energy production.

This would allow leaseholder businesses to diversify to better manage income and risk and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. This will still need to be balanced with the necessity of maintaining the condition of the land for future generations and recognising the rights of Aboriginal people.

Where is access for bushwalkers covered in the current Pastoral Act?

You can view the current Act at

Refer in particular to pages 30 and 31 (or easier: read this version with the relevant sections highlighted):

  • Part 6—Access to pastoral land
    • Division 3—Public access
      • 48 Right to travel across and camp on pastoral land
        • (2) on foot (not in a vehicle), and camp – must provide notice to lessee
        • (3) by vehicle, and camp, by consent of the lessee
        • (4) not camp near buildings or water points
        • (5) further deals with consent for point (3) (travel by vehicle)

How to provide feedback

Closing date: 5.00pm Friday 13 September 2019
Update 11 September: the Closing Date has been extended and is now 5pm Monday 30 September 2019.

“Based on stakeholder feedback and acknowledging the challenging conditions and competing priorities many pastoralists are facing, the Minister has extended the closing date for submissions to 5pm Monday 30 September 2019.” — PIRSA


Feedback is being gathered via the State Government’s website:

Complete the online survey at:

You will be asked to register your name and email address to commence the survey.

You can ask questions, or perhaps send a formal letter from a body, to:
Primary Industries and Regions SA

What sections of the Feedback Questionnaire are relevant to our bushwalking  interests?

The survey questions are broken down into the following areas:

Important Vision for the future of the pastoral rangelands (4 questions)
Question 1: What do you want South Australia's rangelands to look like for future generations? refer to page 3 of survey questions PDF
Question 3: Do you think the rangelands should be used for activities in addition to pastoral purposes?
Land condition (3 questions)
Lease arrangements (2 questions)
Rights of Aboriginal people (1 question)
Consider Land use (2 questions)
[possibly] Question 12: How should mixed uses of one site be managed as there may be different land impacts? refer to page 7 of survey questions PDF
Land management (4 questions)
Important Public access (3 questions)
Question 17: Do you agree public access to the pastoral rangelands should be preserved? If so, why? refer to page 9 of survey questions PDF
Question 18: How should public access to the pastoral rangelands be managed?
Question 19: Who should be responsible for monitoring and maintaining the provision of public access?
Land access (2 questions)
Governance (2 questions)
Dog fence (1 question)
Somewhat important Assessment and compliance (3 questions)
Question 25: What assessment and compliance should be in place to manage risk? What obligations should be on different parties? refer to page 13 of survey questions PDF
Administration (2 questions)
Important Other (1 question)
We recommend using this to highlight issues for access to recreation bushwalking refer to page 15 of survey questions PDF

  1. Pastoral land in South Australia covers 410,000 square kilometres of the state, comprising 324 leases. The management, condition and use of pastoral lands is provided for in the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act 1989. Link to Act.

Walking SA seeking a Treasurer – voluntary position

Walking SA calling for Expressions of Interest (EOI)
Treasurer – voluntary position on Board

We’re seeking someone to fulfill the role of Treasurer, due to a vacancy on our Board.

Our vision is to see more people walking more often. If you have some finance skills and enjoy walking in any form and want to see more people experience the benefits of walking more often, then read on.

Type of work
Accounting and finance
Suitable for
Skilled volunteers
Time required
An average of 2 hours per month,
Board meeting 2 hours bi-monthly
2 year period, option for ongoing

The position may be suitable for someone:

  • with suitable accountancy skills looking to do some volunteer work and promote walking and
  • who has some experience in fundraising.

The Treasurer’s role includes:

  • Ensuring compliance with ATO requirements (usually GST and PAYG returns)
  • Ensuring compliance with the terms of our grants and project funds (usually trust funds)
  • Charging back overheads and other costs against projects where appropriate
  • Planning and preparing budgets
  • Providing advice and tracking on expenditure
  • Planning cashflow requirements, including managing term deposits
  • Seeking and following up new sources of funding
  • Ensuring transparent reporting

The position is supported by our Executive Officer. The Board of Walking SA was formed in August 2013 and consists of 12 members with a variety of skills.

Walking SA is the not-for-profit peak body that leads, promotes and supports all forms of walking in South Australia, including walking for recreation, transport, health, wellbeing, organised events, adventure, environmental appreciation and fun experiences.

Please direct any questions about the role or interest to our Executive Officer Greg Boundy on 0457 006 620 or

Walking Awards 2019 Presentation Ceremony & AGM

The annual Walking SA Walking Awards are to recognise sustained and outstanding contribution to walking at all levels throughout SA. Many volunteers and others have contributed to South Australia’s great walking trails, walking clubs, and walking promotion and opportunities for health, wellbeing, recreation and tourism.

Please join us to present and celebrate our outstanding community members at The Jade in Flinders St Adelaide.

Public welcome.

Venue: The Jade, 142-160 Flinders Street, Adelaide SA 5000 (View Map)
Date: Wednesday 23 October 2019
Time: AGM 6.30pm – 7pm, 7pm networking and refreshments, 7:45pm Awards

Our guest speaker will be Ben Trewren. Ben was awarded the 2018 Terry Lavender Churchill Fellowship to explore opportunities for trail destinations to attract and grow world class ‘shared-use’ interests. Having recently returned from his exploratory trip overseas, he is moving on to writing his investigation report. Ben will present a report about what he discovered about how trail destinations attract and grow world class ‘shared-use’ interests.

If you know of someone who should be considered for an award there’s still time to nominate. Get your nomination in by Friday 27 September 2019.

Bar will be open for purchase of drinks, light refreshments provided.

For some guidance for catering purposes please RSVP Wednesday 16 October 2019 to Greg Boundy


The Walking SA Annual General Meeting will be held before the Awards presentation, from 6:30pm to 7:00pm.

The AGM Agenda will be released shortly.

If you wish to nominate for the Board you are strongly encouraged to do so. Please refer to the Nomination Form ( Microsoft Word, or PDF.)

There is free on-street carparking after 6pm and nearby multi-story parking areas. The Jade is 6-10 mins walk from the closest tram stop.

An account of walking the Heysen Trail Beyond Parachilna

View from Patawarta Hill... should be Patawarta Mountain!

View from Patawarta Hill… should be Patawarta Mountain!

This article originally appeared in the Friends of the Heysen Trail Spring 2019 Trailwalker magazine, and is reproduced here with permission.

Jim McLean, in previous issues of Trailwalker 1, has proposed starting the Heysen Trail from Kangaroo Island. Here he details his trek beyond the northern trailhead of the 1,200km Heysen Trail from Parachilna, walking 18 days to Mount Hopeless, in the northernmost Flinders Ranges.

In May 2012, I gloriously climbed the stile in Parachilna Gorge to complete the 1200kms of the Heysen Trail independently over 22 years. My companions and I looked at each other and said, ‘We shouldn’t stop here. Look what’s over the road!’

In the 1960s, Warren Bonython walked all the way to Mount Hopeless 2, the unofficial northern extent of the Flinders Ranges. We should do the same!

Andrew McLean and and Jim McLean enjoying the view from atop Tam O’Shanter Hill

Andrew McLean and and Jim McLean enjoying the view from atop Tam O’Shanter Hill

Plenty of groups have done it, we thought, as we eyed the remote and mysterious country beyond. Such expeditions are not for the inexperienced, unskilled or faint-hearted. We did not fit any of these categories, but we were getting on a bit. We were past carrying 20kg packs on our backs. So this story is an attempt at a solution for everyone, including our valued senior citizens.

Spreading the maps over the table revealed a possibility that, unfortunately, did not include the spectacular interior of the Gammon Ranges. We were thinking of bases in the sheep station country between Parachilna, the Gammons and Arkaroola. From there with the aid of 4WDs we could do the route in bits and pieces: day walks and one or two overnighters. We thought Freeling Heights difficult but unavoidable. You wouldn’t want to leave it out anyway.

As luck would have it there was an immediate spark of interest from my brother Andrew – a serious four-wheel driver and not so serious walker – offering transport and support for Robert Koehne, John Fuller and myself.

The base for an initial trip was Blinman Hut, the initiative of Keith and Lisa Slade of Moolooloo Station, built and fitted out for nomads like us. All country in this region is privately leased. Developing respect and good relationships is fairly straightforward but essential. If you wish to deviate from the publicly-accessible roads in the area you need permission from the landholders.

Setting off in June 2018, we quickly discovered driving to Moolooloo, chatting with Keith, and on to Blinman Hut, that it would take us longer than expected for drop-offs and pick-ups. Certainly our plan to get to Arkaroola this time round might have to be modified.

Blinman Hut was the perfect stay. Bore and rain water were on tap, the wood-fired stove warmed us in the evenings, and we had warm showers when we stoked up the elevated boiler outside. Andrew’s 4WD provided refrigerated storage and lighting inside the hut. We also were equipped with spacious tents for sleeping.

The promising but failed Nuccaleena Mine

The promising but failed Nuccaleena Mine

A few planned warm-up excursions proved to be engaging and sobering. The promising but failed Nuccaleena Mine must have been exciting in its short life span. A lot of investment money was lost when it prematurely ran out of ore.

We searched without success for the Aboriginal rock art on Tam O’Shanter Hill, but got a great view from the top. We secured permission from the owner of Narrina Station to climb Patawarta and visit the historic Artimore sheep station. Like many features in the northern Flinders Ranges, Patawarta Hill is inappropriately and tritely named. (Bonython spends some time in his book on this point, citing examples like Dick’s Knob.) Patawarta Hill should be Patawarta Mountain! From the north it was not a difficult climb; a most rewarding walk and the best of panoramic views from the top.

The main business of our visit – following the Oratunga, Molkegna and Narrina creek lines, with some vehicular track on the connecting flats – was no less rewarding. It was the most pleasant ‘get-away-from-it-all’ country anyone could imagine.

The historic Artimore sheep station

The historic Artimore sheep station

We made it from the Trailhead at Parachilna Gorge to Narrina Homestead in four ‘day walks’. But by then we were spending so much time in drop-offs and pick-ups that we knew if we went any further we would have no time for walking.

Next time we will possibly have bases at Grindell’s Hut and Arkaroola, pushing on to the closest vehicular access below Freeling Heights. After that we would make our own base camps. The valley after Freeling sounds, from Bonython’s book, inviting and well worth aiming for on the way to Mount Hopeless.

I have an 18-day plan in spread-sheet format and a set of maps of a route from Parachilna Gorge to Mount Hopeless that I would be willing to share. Contact me via email on if you are interested.

  1. Split article, published in Spring 2017, and Summer 2018
  2. Walking the Flinders Ranges by C. Warren Bonython, 1971