The Outback made easy: Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges

Nature nomad Laura Waters shares her tips for an easy Outback holiday.

The Outback made easy

Laura Waters is a freelance travel writer with a passion for inspiring people to connect with nature. She is loosely based in Melbourne but usually found roaming with a backpack and laptop in search of adventures in the great outdoors.

Just a few hours north of Adelaide awaits an Outback experience that’s accessible for everyone. Nature nomad Laura Waters has just returned from Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges, and her tips make seeing The Outback easy.


The Outback is part of the Australian psyche, conjuring images of orange dirt, roaming emus and kangaroos and an endless horizon. It’s somewhere every Aussie should visit at least once yet it can be an unforgiving place for the uninitiated. After all, who wants to worry about bouncing along corrugated roads for hours, carrying spare fuel and the possibility of breaking down in the middle of nowhere?

But one place where you can enjoy a hassle-free outback experience is the Flinders Ranges. The tiny settlement of Wilpena is accessible via an easy five-hour drive from Adelaide on a fast-sealed road and, once there, many of the sights are literally on your doorstep. Wilpena Pound is the main attraction, a natural amphitheatre of serrated mountains 17km long and 8km wide rising from a landscape around 800 million years old. Combine this impressive natural wonder with gorges hiding ancient fossils, Aboriginal rock art, intriguing flora and fauna, and relics from a pastoral history. There is plenty to explore. 

Soar with the eagles

There’s only one way to really understand the scale of the Outback and that’s to get a bird’s eye view. Scenic flights provide jaw-dropping views of Wilpena Pound and surrounding mountain ranges snaking across the desert. For the ultimate experience, treat yourself to a half-day excursion that includes Lake Eyre.

Explore ancient gorges
With the right vehicle you could drive through Brachina and Bunyeroo Gorges yourself, but a half-day 4WD tour lets you enjoy a stress-free ride with the bonus of a knowledgeable guide. Cross sections of tilted rock here trace 100 million years of geological history, plus a keen eye will help spot the striking yet endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby.

Take a hike

The Flinders Ranges are a walker’s paradise and a multitude of trails cater for all abilities and energy levels. Five trails start directly from Wilpena Pound Resort, from a gentle amble to the historic Hill’s Homestead to the energetic climb up St Mary Peak with stunning views. A short drive will open up a dozen more trails to choose from.

Discover Indigenous culture

The Adnyamathanha have called the area home for tens of thousands of years. Paintings on the underside of an overhang at Arkaroo Rock are around 5000 years old and a short walk into Sacred Canyon reveals rock engravings representing waterholes and animal tracks. Wilpena Pound Resort offers a free daily Welcome to Country by a traditional owner.

Sure, you can bunk down in your own caravan or a hotel room but sleeping in a safari tent at Wilpena Pound Resort is an experience in itself. Stay immersed in the outback, watching the sun set over red mountains while kangaroos nibble at your doorstep. Tents are heated for cold desert nights and contain proper beds and ensuite bathrooms.

Wilpena Pound Resort ( is the only accommodation inside Ikara-Flinders National Park with a range of options from camping to hotel rooms. The resort also organises various tours and scenic flights.

Have you ever visited Wilpena Pound? Have you been to the Flinders Ranges? Would you recommend this trip to our members?



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    20th Oct 2018
    Just back from the Flinders again. This time its very very dry unlike 2 years ago. Last time we stayed in the Blinman Hotel this time in Hawker also have stayed at Wilpena and Peterborough plus other places. Its great to base in one town and do all the side roads. Between Hawker and Parachilna this time on road kill we saw 5 Wedged Tailed Eaglkes so you never know whats around the corner. Also you don`t need a 4WD even on a lot of the dirt roads. Drive to the conditions and you will get through, we have never had a 4WD. Love this area but this time had a friend from Houston Texas with us and it was great seeing the Flinders through her eyes. I will always recommend this area of our state as its so beautiful. I`d say go in spring when wildflowers are around but Autumn and Winter are good too but I wouldn`t recommend Summer

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