Home to the Adnyamathanha people for untold millennia, Warraweena became part of the Oratunga Run (later renamed Moolooloo) leased by John and James Chambers in 1853. Three years later copper was found in Warrioota Creek. Soon after, Sliding Rock mine opened and a smelter was built. The first shipment of smelted ore was sent to Port Augusta in 1870. By 1874 Cadnia township, of some 300 people, accommodated the mine workers and their families. From the outset the operation experienced intractable problems of flooding in the shafts but mining continued sporadically until 1908. Today, shortly after entering the park the ruins of the mine and township dominate the landscape. The water which flooded the mines later became an asset and from 1944 to 1955 water from the old mineshafts supplied the new coal mining town of Leigh Creek.

After about fifty years Moolooloo Run was broken into smaller holdings and, in 1902, William Nicholls leased Warraweena in its current configuration, excluding the mine and township site. Warraweena was comparatively well-watered but the rugged terrain limited stocking capacity and maintaining a viable pastoral enterprise was always difficult. The lease changed hands again in 1928 but twenty years later Keith Nicholls, son of William, bought the Warraweena lease and the property remained with the family until the lease was bought by Wetlands & Wildlife in 1996. Several years later the Sliding Rock mine and township sites were added to the property thus enabling the entire area to be conserved in perpetuity as a single entity.

The rugged terrain that made Warraweena unsuitable for grazing provides some of the most spectacular scenery in the Flinders Ranges.


Since domesticated animals were permanently excluded from the property native plants have regenerated and much of what was bare grazing land is now burgeoning native white cypress-pine forest. Patches of threatened species of plants, including slender bell-fruit, have been fenced to protect them from grazing by feral and native mammals.

Previously, Wetlands & Wildlife at Warraweena was a partner with Flinders University and the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) in Operation Bounceback, a program to restore populations of yellow-footed rock-wallabies. Wetlands & Wildlife currently works with Landscape Partnerships to protect threatened species through the "Connecting Community through Ranges Riches" program. For more visit www.lp.org.au

With funding from the (former) Heritage Branch of DEH the two historic cemeteries at the Sliding Rock mine site have been fenced and parts of several of the ruined buildings associated with the mines have been stabilised. Volunteers have restored the old shepherd's huts.