Nilpena Ediacara National Park, South Australia’s newest national park, officially opened this week, protecting a fossil site that dates back to the dawn of animal life on Earth, some 550 million years ago.


Found around 500km north of Adelaide in the Flinders Ranges near Parachilna, Nilpena Ediacara National Park is located on the traditional country of the Adnya­math­anha peo­ple.


Preserving Millions of Years of History

The new park has been established to protect Nilpena, the richest and most diverse Ediacaran fossil site on the planet and the Earth’s single most important site for understanding the rise of early animal life.

The fossils date back to the Ediacaran Period, a geological period that spanned 96 million years and occurred around 635 million years ago.

Over 40 species have been found in the sediments of what was once an ancient seafloor at Nilpena, including the first multi-cellular creatures that moved, ate, and reproduced sexually.

‘From day one of this project, NPWS has taken a lead role in ensuring the preservation of the region for all future generations,’ said National Parks and Wildlife Service Executive Director Mike Williams.

‘It will lead to new levels of understanding of the world in which we live, highlighting the importance of our efforts in conservation and environmental care,’ he said.

Since its discovery 75 years ago Nilpena has gained international attention from conservationists, researchers, and paleontologists, including NASA and Sir David Attenborough.

A Place of Cultural and Heritage Significance

The national park also preserves many culturally significant sites for the Adnya­math­anha peo­ple, including middens, meeting places, and traditional ceremony sites, as well as South Australia’s more recent history with the restoration of pastoral heritage sites. 

The creation of the national park is an important step in the current bid for the Flinders Ranges to receive World Heritage status. 

Can I visit?

Visitors to Nilpena Ediacara National Park are welcome, however in order to help preserve the fossil site’s integrity, entry to the park is through guided tour only. The tour includes an audio-visual experience that recreates the ancient seafloor, bringing the fossils to life using the latest 3D animation technology. 

Tours cost $80 per person and it’s recommended to book at least a week in advance.




Photos thanks to South Australian Museum