Pliocene – Pleistocene – Holocene and Modern Dune Systems of South Australia

What are we exploring?
Pliocene – Pleistocene – Holocene and Modern Dune Systems of South Australia

Sat  9 July to Mon 11 July 2016


The field trip will take 3 days beginning at Mildura at 9am Saturday the 9th July and ending on the late afternoon/early evening of 11th July in Adelaide. It will cross the most extensive uplifted Pliocene-Pleistocene multiple barriers system in the world, traversing both coastal and aeolian desert dune complexes including lakes and lunettes, and also a variety of Holocene and modern coastal dune systems (foredune and foredune plains, blowouts, parabolics, clifftop dunes, and transgressive dunefields) including one of the three longest beaches in Australia, and classic aeolian calcarenite (and dunerock) coast. The trip will also enable you to see some iconic Aussie animals in the wild/semi-wild, experience the mallee culture and environment, examine living stromatolites and Holocene volcanoes, and visit a couple of fabulous wineries. The details and highlights of the trip are outlined below.


The cost is $440 Australian (~ USA$335.00 on May 2nd) which includes bus travel, accommodation and the first day’s lunch.

The cost of day 1 dinner, day 2 breakfast, lunch and dinner and day 3 breakfast and lunch costs are separate (i.e. additional, and not included in the $440). Please note that in order to keep costs down, accommodation will be shared rooms. If you have a partner of preference please let Patrick know as soon as possible (email: <>).


Payment and registration

If you wish to participate you need to register and pay onlineAs a backup, please email me a copy of your registration also.

YOU MUST REGISTER BY THE 30TH MAY LATEST.  Please note that if less than 20 persons register for the trip, the price will have to increase due to the fixed price of the bus hire. If less than ~12 persons register the trip may be cancelled. In this case you will receive a refund.

What to bring / wear

Warm clothing (mean temp range for July is 80 to 150), raincoat (this is the rainy month – mean rainfall 104mm), hat, sunscreen, water bottle, joggers/tennis/shoes/light boots, small daypack, camera.
Accomodation in Adelaide (11 June, 2016)
Unless you have a late flight out of Adelaide on the 11th, I recommend you stay at Glenelg which is a very nice beach suburb in Adelaide, 20 min from the airport and 20-30 min from downtown. There are many cafes, pubs and restaurants at this location and a great beach promenade. Two reasonable hotels on the beach front are The Oaks Plaza Pier (~$126/night) or the Stamford Grand Adelaide Hotel (~$131/night). You can take a tram/street car from here into town and back also.

If you plan to stay longer I can email you some recommendations but there is lots to see and do; take a look at doing a wine tour of the nearby McLaren Vale or Barossa wineries (fabulous reds), Kangaroo Island, hire a car and drive through the Vale and onto Victor Harbour and surrounds, or head downtown to the café/bar districts, shopping and/or museums.

Trip leader

Patrick Hesp, Flinders University.  Contact:

Fieldtrip itinerary

DAY 1 (9th July):

Breakfast at Mildura (cost not included). From Mildura travel down Highway A79 to Ouyen crossing Pliocene Pleistocene linear, parabolic and transverse dunefields, and 6 million and younger coastal palaeo-barrier systems.

From Ouyen to Linga on Hway B12. Pink lakes road to Lake Crosbie in the Murray-Sunset National Park to examine salt lakes, lunettes and dune systems. Lunch provided.

Lake Kenyon

Figure 1: Lake Kenyon, Pink Lakes.

Travel from Lake Crosbie to Pinaroo on Highway B12.

Big Desert

Figure 2. Big Desert Wilderness Park. Transverse, sub-parabolic and parabolic dunes overlying, and having reworked to various degrees the Pleistocene coastal barrier systems. Scale bar is 1km.

From Pinaroo to Cannawigara on Hway B57, and thence to Bordertown on Highway A8. Cross the Big Desert Wilderness Park (Figure 2). Visit the Bordertown wildlife park (rare white kangaroos). Stay at 105 On the Park Motel, Bordertown.

DAY 2: 10th july

Breakfast at Bordertown (cost not included).

From Bordertown to Padthaway through the Little Desert via Padthaway- Mundulla Rd.

Padthaway to Naracoorte on Hway A66 visiting 1 million year old Pleistocene barrier systems, and wineries.

Naracoorte through Penola to Mt Gambier on Hway A66 visiting historic cottages, 6ka extinct Holocene volcanoes including Blue Lake, Valley Lake and Umpherston Sinkhole.

Blue lake

Figure 3; Blue lake, a Holocene volcano at Mt Gambier.

Lunch at Mt Gambier.

Mt Gambier to Robe (through Millicent, Tantanoola caves and ancient seashore/cliffs) along Pleistocene barrier systems. Stay at Robe.

DAY 3:11th July

Breakfast at Robe (at your cost). Collect lunches.

Visit Pleistocene aeolian calcarenite cliffs exhibiting multiple low sea level dune and palaeosol sequences, plus stacks and rock platforms.

Robe to Lake Fellmongery and modern stromatalites. Then to mid Guichen Bay Holocene foredune plain examining relict foredune plain, prograded barrier, and modern foredune and beach. Then cross the penultimate interglacial barrier to Toops road, the southern end of the Younghusband Penninsula/Coorong lagoon system to examine ultra fine carbonate very low energy beaches and dunes. Then to The Granites to examine the Holocene paleo-lagoon system, foredune plain, modern dunes), then to the last Interglacial relict foredune plain prograded barrier; then to 42 Mile Crossing to visit high energy beach, Holocene and modern transgressive dunefields, parabolic dunes, foredunes and blowouts (NOTE: this portion has a 3km walk through dunes). Then to Adelaide crossing the Murray River and Mt Lofty Ranges. Drop-off at Glenelg.


Figure 4. High erosional foredune-blowout complex at 32 Mile Crossing, Younghusband Penninsula.