Trip Planner: South Australia’s bushland and mountains

At the heart of South Australia’s bushland is the Flinders Ranges, a fantastic center for hill-walking, rock art and sweeping views

Team Wanderlust
05 November 2015
Promoted by
Explorers Guide to Australia

DURATION: 10 days
BEST FOR: Hill-walking, rock art, sweeping views
ROUTE: Adelaide • Mount Remarkable • Quorn • Wilpena Pound • Arkaroo Rock • Blinman • Parachilna
WHY DO IT: Trace a trail through the Flinders Ranges via heritage towns, Aboriginal history and ravishing rocks

An immense, craggy belt of red-hued peaks unfurling for 267 miles, the Flinders Ranges represents one of Australia’s most impressive natural sights. These crags are also among its oldest, dating back a whopping 540 million years. Here, you’ll be treated to a timeless spread of gorges, ridges and lofty escarpments – a bush-hiking paradise, though serious walkers should come between May and October, when temperatures are coolest; during the Australian summer the mercury rises above 40°C.

Driving up from Adelaide, Mount Remarkable National Park is likely to be your first stop-off – it offers some great looped day-walks, including one through beautiful Alligator Gorge. The adjoining town of Melrose is the oldest settlement in the Flinders, with a rich copper-mining heritage. You can follow the chain of the Flinders Ranges south to north. Call in at the town of Quorn to ride the steam-powered Pichi Richi Railway before reaching the mountains proper.

There’s heritage of a different kind farther north, meanwhile, in the form of Wilpena Pound – one of the highlights of the entire range. A crater rim forming a monumental natural amphitheatre, it has long associations with Aboriginal culture. That’s also true of nearby Arkaroo Rock, where a gallery of age-old art has been preserved. The region is particularly colourful in springtime (September to November) when it’s festooned with wildflowers – one of the reasons the Flinders draws so many photographers and painters.

Continue up through the mountains, gum trees and gorges to round off your travels at the hill-ringed towns of Blinman and Parachilna, both of which are stocked with inventive restaurants and atmospheric hotels. The Prairie Hotel in Parachilna combines both heritage and culinary class – you can even toast your trip here with ‘feral antipasto’ such as smoked kangaroo and emu pâté.

Top walking trails in the Flinders Ranges

The whole area is threaded with excellent bushwalking trails. Three great options are: the Wangara Lookout Hike (3.5hrs), along which you can gaze down onto Wilpena Pound; the St Mary Peak Hike (6hrs), a challenging climb to the Flinders’ highest summit, topping out at 3,841ft; and Aroona to Youngoona (7hrs), which offers breathtaking views and varied rock formations.



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