On March 10th 1802 Captain Matthew Flinders dispatched a party from the H.M.S. Investigator to climb and view a mountain range that lay to the north of their anchorage in Spencer Gulf, South Australia. The party led by the ship’s botanist, Robert Brown set out before sunrise and made for the highest visible mountain in the chain. The mountain lay N. by E. 30o and Brown estimated the distance to the base to be not more than five miles. However, like many of the early explorers, Brown was to misjudge the actual distance by some ten miles and therefore, was unable to reach the summit until the late afternoon.
The view from the mountain was as disappointing as it was spectacular. To the east lay a vast, lightly wooded, grassed plain. To the west lay a flat, seemingly endless wooded scrub, uninterrupted except for a series of low tent-hills. To the south the range gradually dropped away with no exceptional feature to catch the eye, but to the north the range continued unbroken and on the horizon, just visible through the afternoon haze, lay an enticing, shimmering lake.
This and other early accounts by the explorers Eyre, Sturt and Stuart were to commence an enduring fascination with a region of South Australia, that has persisted to the present day.
The mountain climbed by the party in the late afternoon of March 10th 1802 was named Mt. Brown by Flinders in respect of the botanist and the low, rugged, mountainous range is now named in honour of the Captain of the Investigator :- The Flinders Ranges.