1300 790 561 (Australia)
+61 2 9571 6399 (International)


Aboriginal History

The Adnyamathanha (Hill People) have inhabited the Flinders Ranges for many thousands of years and still reside here today. Cave paintings, rock engravings and other artifacts indicate they have lived in the region for tens of thousands of years. The area and its people played an integral part in the long-distance trade routes that crossed the continent. Ochre and pituri, a mildly narcotic drug, were traded along with stones used to make axes and tools, and shells which were used for decoration. Important archaeological sites including ochre quarries (ochre is used as a paint decoration in ceremonies), rock quarries and art sites have been found among the hills and valleys of the Flinders.

Early Settlers

In March 1802 the first European explorer to the region was Matthew Flinders, who spotted the ranges from the deck of his ship Investigator as it sailed up Spencer Gulf.  From his anchorage south of present-day Port August he sent an exploratory party to climb a nearby peak which is now known as Mount Brown, named after his intrepid botanist.
Edward John Eyre was the next to arrive to the region in 1839.  He set out to explore the western edge of the range.  Over a two year period heading both west and north he ran into a series of salt lakes which he believed to be one giant ring of salt blocking his journey north.  His last expedition saw him travel from Mt Deception, past Maroona through the ranges near Mt Serel, before heading north along the Frome River via a maze of gorges and rugged ridges before reaching Mt Hopeless.  He supposedly named this low hill prior to climbing it and from the top he once again spied a barrier of salt.
Four years later and the pastoral expansion reached the Flinders Ranges area.  William Chase, a stockman for the Browne brothers, was the first man to encounter Wilpena Pound, one of the natural wonders of the Flinders. It was Chase who discovered Wilpena, Aroona and Arkaba country (the Chase Range on Arkaba’s eastern boundary remains testament to his work).  Today Wilpena and Aroona make up the Flinders Ranges National Park whilst Arkaba is privately owned.

1850 - 1900's

Arkaba was first settled in 1851 by two Doctors from England called the Browne Brothers; Doctor William James Browne (1815-1884) and Doctor John Harris Browne (1817-1904). Although the Browne Brothers' names appear in the first South Australian medical register in January 1845 they did not practice much and instead abandoned their medical careers and turned to buying property. They were the second settlers in the region establishing Booborowie Station in 1843.
In 1850 W. J. Browne, J. F Hayward, G. Marchant and an Aboriginal guide explored for more country to the North. Heavy rain stopped the party just north of Hawker so they had to return to Booborowie Station. 
William Chace, a stockman for the Brownes, was later sent in 1850 to further explore the country.  It was then that Chace discovered the Arkaba, Wilpena and Aroona country (the Chace Range on Arkaba's eastern boundary remains testimony to his work.  The Brown Brothers claimed Arkaba and were issued with a Pastoral Lease 129 in July 1851 and engaged Frederick Sinnett, a surveyor from Adelaide to survey their claims.
Early in 1851 they placed managing partners (the Marchant Brothers) in charge, giving each a half share in the property.  The Great Drought of the 1860s broke many pastoralists.  The Brownes, however, had the means of surviving but not the managers so the Marchant Brothers left Arkaba.  The average rainfall is 12 inches per year (30cm).
In December 1862 a camel team returned from Cooper's Creek with the remains of explorers Burke & Wills and camped at Arkaba.  John McDouall Stuart also camped at Arkaba on his exploring expeditions to the north.
During the 1890s dingoes posed a great threat for the survival as Arkaba was still unfenced.  As a result Arkaba changed hands a few times between the 1860s and 1900, the owners not being able to hold on to the property, and was reduced to 460 sq km (180 sq miles or 115,000 acres).  Today the property is 260 sq kms (100 sq miles or 64,000 acres).

1900's and On

In 1901 Otto Bartholomaeus purchased Arkaba.  Otto spent all of his money to erect a vermin proof fence 6 ft high.  Paddock after paddock was fenced.  After this was completed he applied for and was granted a perpetual lease.  

The cost of 14 miles of fencing in 1912-1913 was £954, labour £324, material plus freight £630.  A man's wage was 30 shillings.  The completion of the dingo fence allowed dingo numbers to be controlled and Arkaba became a successful venture.

Otto's son, Frank took over the station and they held it in the family until 1984 when the Rasheed family purchased the property.  When the Rasheeds moved to Arkaba in 1984 there was only one road on the property and so destructive were the rabbits that much of the country looked like a moonscape.
The first major project was a program to eradicate vermin by using bulldozers, explosives and chemicals. This project took 14 years and many hundreds of thousands of dollars but the result was magnificent and won them 3 Ibis Awards for Pastoral Management.  Bushes and trees that have not been seen for many years returned and the carrying capacity of sheep increased from 3000 to 8000. Also, approximately 10000 feral goats were removed from Arkaba.