When Sir David Attenborough was granted special access to Nilpena to film First Life, he nominated South Australia’s deservedly famous Flinders Ranges as one of his favourite places on earth. You can now gain the same access. Discover for yourself the remarkable ancient sea floor fossils that provided such added insight into the origins of early animal life that they prompted the declaration of a new geological period, named for the nearby Ediacara Hills. This unique fossil trove is located some 550 kilometres north of Adelaide. Absolutely nowhere else in the world would you be privileged to view these delicate imprints up close and to learn about the lives of these 550 million-year-old creatures. Nilpena is integral to Australia’s upcoming bid for a Flinders Ranges World Heritage listing.
We know that, for various reasons, not everyone who comes to visit the new Nilpena Ediacara National Park will be able to see these fossil treasures in the ground. Paths and terrain may be difficult for some to negotiate and weather conditions can be capricious. However, the historic Blacksmith’s Shop at Nilpena has been extensively restored and re-purposed to serve as a brilliantly immersive and interpretive experience. It houses one of the world’s great fossil beds, known as Alice’s Restaurant Bed (where you can get anything you want), which showcases the beginnings of animal life on earth. This building is an outreach centre to inspire everyone, especially school children, to investigate a unique and mysterious part of our planet’s history and to learn more about the natural world.
The new Nilpena Ediacara National Park is managed by National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia. A Google search will show you that it lies 30 minutes north of Parachilna and 40 minutes south of Leigh Creek – click here. You can take advantage of various accommodation options at towns such as Quorn, Blinman and Hawker.
Features a fully guided tour of the pastoral precinct, a memorable audiovisual experience at the brilliantly staged Blacksmith’s Shop interpretative centre and a visit to the Nilpena Station Woolshed.
During this up-close and fascinating journey of discovery, an expert guide takes you back in time on a walking tour through the actual Ediacaran fossil bed sites, where paleontologists continue to discover more imprinted evidence of the beginnings of life on Earth.
If you want to learn more about the Ediacara Fossils now and can’t get to the Flinders Ranges, you can learn from other sources. Children, parents and school groups can visit the impressive Ediacara fossils gallery at the South Australian Museum to explore fossil specimens, view animations and fossil models to gain an understanding of how these creatures may have moved and lived on the sea bed 550 million years ago – click here.
A number of schools have embraced teaching Ediacara and are planning excursions to the new national park. The Blacksmith’s Shop is the core visitor and education experience. And once this has been experienced visitors can view further fossils in the field at an active research site in order to gain greater understanding and knowledge.
The Foundation is working with the South Australian Science Teachers Association and the University of South Australia plus University of California, Riverside to produce education and learning resources for teachers that follow national curriculum guidelines.
The Year 8 Science electronic Ediacara resource for teachers was launched at the National Science Teachers Conference in July 2023.
To view the resource –
Once on the page, click on the ‘Join now’ button to access.