A journey through the deepest layers of rock and family

Photo credit: Ricky French

Fifty years after geologist Reg Sprigg purchased the lease for Arkaroola in the Flinders Ranges and developed Australia’s first real ecotourism venture, his descendants continue to transcend conventional family legacies.

High in the Flinders Ranges, SA, bruise-coloured storm clouds billow in the sky. A low rumble reverberates almost inaudibly through the granite, where a stately cairn marks the summit of Griselda Hill. The unexpected echo gives a sense of urgency to the sweaty scramble leading to the knife-edged backbone of the summit ridge. But the noise isn’t thunder.

At the foot of the mountain, Arkaroola village hunkers down, waiting to receive the rain, hemmed by quartzite ridges and a dry creek curled like a drained moat. Stones tumble down the steep hillside, whipping up clouds of red dust. But the rumble isn’t a rockfall.

The view seems to stretch across the entire 630 square kilometres of Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. Somewhere down there among the spinifex, unseen between bulging mountains, the hard, sinewy ridgelines and lowland valleys of native pines, are colonies of yellow-footed rock wallabies, once endangered but now thriving. But the sound isn’t a stampede.

The source of the low groan lies underground, where other Arkaroola mysteries and treasures dwell. It’s a place that’s been slowly revealing those secrets through one extraordinary family since 1968, but building its history for much longer…

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