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 (wilpenapound.com.au) 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?