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Flinders Ranges: Desert Fortress
It's the high walls of the Flinders that make possible an abundance of life in this arid region. They deflect moist, warm air upwards, where it cools, condenses and falls as rain. Nowhere is the effect more striking than in Wilpena Pound. It was once a deep valley enclosed by high mountains. Now it's eroded to a vast basin some 11km long. Like a fortress, it holds back the relentless march of the desert. Outside its ramparts, the land is dry and dusty, but inside, lush grasses and forests flourish. When settlers first arrived at the Flinders Ranges, there had been long periods of good rain and feed was plentiful.
The circular walls of the Pound made it the ideal grazing run. Their flocks soon thrived. There were entire forests of cypress pine for building and fencing.
A dilapidated shed built of pine stands next to the ruins of an old stone homestead.
Stone was plentiful and houses could be built easily. But all was not rosy. With rain the grass grew, but so too did introduced weeds.
Shot of a field of purple flowers.
The Salvation Jane, or Paterson's curse, that painted the hills with colour was potentially poisonous to stock. Worse still, from 1864 to 1866, not a drop of rain fell. Sheep and cattle perished. Many runs were deserted as settlers fled back to the coast, to places where rainfall was more reliable. While the red gum endured, the will of the settlers collapsed, along with their dwellings. The stone ruins are testament to a pioneering spirit that fought against unbeatable odds.
Write a friendly definition (in your own words) to describe what the following words mean.
Answer the following questions using full sentences
1. Where are the Flinders Ranges?
2. Why can animals survive in this arid region?
3. How is the ‘inside’ of the basin different to the outside land?
4. Why did early English explorers settle in this region? (three reasons)
5. What challenges did early settlers experience in this region?