The Flinders Ranges is one of Australia's premier national landscapes, comprising of rugged mountain ranges, spectacular gorges, sheltered creeks lined with river red gums and abundant wildlife. Renowned for its natural, cultural and geological significance. Cradled within the park's towering mountains is famous landmark Wilpena Pound (Ikara).
In the 1930s, the celebrated landscape artist Sir Hans Heyson, towed a homemade caravan for several days behind his Model T Ford to capture the stark beauty of the Flinders Ranges on canvas - the Australian outback in its most striking form.
Today it’s just a 500-kilometre trek, five hours north of Adelaide on a sealed road. There are two ways to get there, either through the one of Australia's most famous wine producing regions, the Clare Valley a fascinating place for connoisseurs of both wine and history. Or up the shimmering coastal road from Adelaide. The Southern end of the Flinders Ranges looks so idyllically Australian and offers no clues as to what you’re about to encounter. It isn’t until your past the town of Hawker that the horizon begins to get severe. This is when you will begin to experience the real South Australian outback and soak up the incredible beauty of one of the earth’s oldest landscapes.
The lure of Wilpena Pound
It’s easy to understand why people travel to the north of South Australia, just to see Wilpena Pound. Visitors speak of the spiritually uplifting energy and sense of peace and serenity they feel when exploring the Flinders. Wilpena Pound’s natural amphitheatre rises from the desert in the shape of a cauldron spanning 100 kilometres. Sculpted by thousands of years of rain and sun, its jagged, thousand-metre quartzite peaks beg to be explored.
This extraordinary landscape is 800 million years old and has been home to Adnyamathanha people for tens of thousands of years.
Most visitors head where the four resorts are located, each in splendid isolation with views of the Pound's craggy walls known as ramparts.
There is so much to see and do, with a range of 4WD tours, guided Aboriginal cultural walks, nature and bush walks, and a scenic flight over Wilpena Pound and the Ikara Flinders Ranges that allows you to appreciate its magnitude and beauty.
Many of the trails weave past creek beds and through the surprisingly dense forest of centuries-old river gums, offering a chance to see kangaroos, wallabies and native birdlife.
Most hikes take an hour or two, but keen walkers tackle the four hour (one way) hike to St Mary Peak, to reach the 1171m crag.
There are a few caravan parks in the Flinders Ranges and Outback that also have campsites. Try Hawker Caravan Park, Melrose Caravan Park, the eco-conscious Quorn Caravan Park or the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary a popular ecotourism destination.
For more information call the Flinders Ranges Visitor Information Centre: 1800 220 980.