The fabulous Flinders is often portrayed as the gateway to the Outback and that’s exactly what it is. Situated only 160 kilometres or so north of Port Augusta in South Australia, the Flinders are easily accessible to the residents of Adelaide and to those ‘crazy Victorians’ charging across for the school holidays. This accessibility, as well as its incredible beauty, make the Flinders a very popular destination during peak season. For the grey nomads, who aren’t restricted by such mundane considerations as school holidays, it is worth putting some effort into avoiding the crowds.
The Flinders Ranges National are the largest mountain range in South Australia. St Mary Peak at a towering 1,170 metres is the highest jewel in the crown.
Although the Flinders Ranges National Park is actually divided into two sections, it is the northern Flinders that boasts the majority of the attractions. Central to this is the amazing Wilpena Pound. It’s a quite spectacular natural amphitheatre that is five kilometres wide and 10 kilometres long.
This is where the national park’s major campground is located, along with information centre, pub, shop and petrol station. There are some awesome bushwalks here and they range in difficulty from those in the pleasant stroll category to the downright gruelling. The effort is always well rewarded.
There are also more basic, and significantly cheaper, camping spots available throughout the park. The roads are bumpy and rough but, for the most part, are suitable for caravans – if carefully driven.
IN THE AREA
The scenery throughout is spectacular, rugged and breathtaking. The mountains here were formed hundreds of millions of years ago and are reputed to be among the oldest in the world. Among the many highlights are Edeowie Gorge, Brachina Gorges Wilkawillina Gorge, Arkaroo Rock, Hucks Lookout, and the Aroona and Bunyeroo valleys.
The wildlife is equally fascinating. Look out for western grey kangaroos, yellow-footed rock wallabies, a huge assortment of incredible birdlife, an assortment of snakes, and much else besides.
If you time your visit right and the conditions have been favourable, you may be lucky enough to see this harsh landscape transformed by an explosion of wildflowers.
It’s heady stuff and a place you will most definitely want to linger. This is normally a dry, dry part of the world and there are restrictions on when you can have campfires. However, if you visit when they are allowed, the Flinders is a great place to do some socialising around the campfire.
MAKE SURE YOU …
Learn more about Hans Heysen, the artist who captured the essence of the Flinders; view Aboriginal rock art sites; visit the ‘Great Wall of China’ rock formation; take some bushwalks; explore Wilpena Pound; consider taking a 4WD adventure.
WHERE TO CAMP
The national park’s main well-serviced campground is at Wilpena Pound. There are also camping sites at Acraman, Aroona, Brachina East, Cambrian, Dingley Dell, Koolamon, Teamsters, and Tresona. Just outside the park, the camping at Parachilna Gorge is popular … and the price is definitely right!