By Clair Morton
Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Updated: February 20, 2019 at 9:56 am
It’s hard to say exactly when the landscape changes on the drive north from Adelaide, but once you’re in heart of the Flinders Ranges, there’s no escaping it.
Expanses of rich red soil traversed by emus and kangaroos, scenic hills harbouring the oldest evidence of life on Earth, imposing mountain ranges looming over the sparse plains – everything about this land feels primal, almost alien.
Here, it’s easy to see why so many people call South Australia the gateway to the outback.
The first English settlers in this region were working against the elements, as evidenced by the highly photogenic ruins of the long abandoned Kanyaka cattle and sheep station north of Quorn, the well-preserved buildings at the Old Wilpena Homestead, and the pitch-black passageways of Blinman’s copper mine.
The highest town in South Australia, Blinman is now home to just 18 people, but was once a huge tented community with a population of about 2000.
This was due to a huge copper deposit discovered in the hills in 1859, dug out over the next 60 years or so by Cornish migrants.
Visitors can be transported back to those days by booking the Blinman Underground Mine tour, which is run by locals and takes you into the heart of the mine.