Ben Goode
South Australia
Flinders Ranges & S.A OutbackA region where you can have one of Australia's greatest outback experiences - from exploring the mountainous Flinders Ranges to sleeping in an underground cave in Coober Peedy, driving across the desert, or witnessing the magic of Lake Eyre.
What is your idea of the 'real' South Australia? Explorers, dreamers and legends? You’ll find what you’re looking for in the Flinders Ranges and South Australian outback. The land is a country of thick, gnarled gum trees, growing alongside stony creeks. There are ruins of farms left by pioneers, beaten back by the harsh landscape. The Flinders Ranges is an ancient and unique part of the world. It is where you’ll find Australians who live hundreds of kilometres from their nearest neighbour. They wait for the twice-weekly delivery of mail and goods from the outside world, brought by a postman and the few lucky tourists accompanying them. There are magnificent mountains, glowing red in the sunset, with caps of lichen-covered rocks and razored edges. Feel part of nature with emus and kangaroos passing by your campsite. Experience the peace and darkness at night in the bush. Wedge-tailed eagles soar above the horizon as you tackle the deep, red sand and spinifex of the Simpson Desert or Strzelecki Track. The eyes of the desert lizards will watch, as you stop to see the beauty of Lake Eyre in flood. Feel the burr of the cattle grids under the wheels of your car and mark your journey across this wilderness. Waterholes and narrow gorges of red rock hide yellow-footed rock wallabies and tiny Lake Eyre dragons. Walk, explore and watch. Listen to Dreamtime stories under the shade of gumtrees. It’s vast, ancient and seemingly empty. It is full of adventures and a world far removed from any modern city. There’s the strange beauty of the giant, natural amphitheatre, Wilpena Pound and the siren call of the opal fields. It’s like stepping into a different world.
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Things to do
See some of the country's oldest Aboriginal Carvings
As one of the main wonders along the Pekina Walking trail, the Aboriginal carvings are one of the oldest remnants of the Aboriginal people who inhabited this land before us. Many believe that these carvings were maps of where food and water could be found or a map of the area.
Stay and experience Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary
Off the beaten track, we are in the heart of the more rugged and spectacular Northern Flinders Ranges. The 61,000 hectare, privately owned Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary offers guests a unique outback experience. We have Advanced Ecotourism accredited Ridgetop, Waterholes and Astronomy tours. Our scenic flights, multiple bushwalks, and other guided and non-guided tours offer you an unforgettable experience. Winner of the 2007 South Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame for Ecotourism, 2007 Major Tourist Attraction, 2007 Sustainable Tourism and 2007 Bronze Medal for Festivals and Events (Arkaroola's Star Party Down Under). Future bookings available, please discuss all future itinerary details with our office. Email: res@arkaroola.com.au
Explore Ikara - Flinders Ranges National Park
Rugged mountain ranges, spectacular gorges, sheltered creeks lined with river red gums and abundant wildlife are just some of the attractions that make up Flinders Ranges National Park. Renowned for its natural, cultural and geological significance, Flinders Ranges is one of Australia's premier national landscapes. The famous landmark of Wilpena Pound (Ikara) is cradled within the park's towering mountains. Start your adventure at the Wilpena Pound Visitor Information Centre where you will find extensive information about the park. From here, explore the park's stunning landscape, Aboriginal rock art sites, fossil heritage and ruins of early European settlement. For an in-depth look at the wonders of the region join a guided tour and enjoy a scenic flight over Wilpena Pound, or make your own discoveries along the many bushwalking trails and scenic drives. The park offers plenty of facilities, with accommodation ranging from bush camping to four-star accommodation. A per vehicle park entry fee applies. Camping fees also apply, refer to the website for details.
Drive the Caernarvon Track
The track is located on The Bunkers Conservation Reserve in the Northern Flinders Ranges and takes you to the summit of Mount Caernarvon (921 metres), providing spectacular 360-degree views of the Flinders Ranges and far beyond. The Bunkers Conservation Reserve is situated within the traditional lands of the Adnyamathanha Aboriginal people. Established in 2001 by the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby Preservation Association (YFRWPA), the Bunkers Conservation Reserve borders the northeastern side of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park and takes in some of the most rugged country of the Flinders Ranges, including Loves Mine Range, The Bunkers Range and Mount Caernarvon. The Caernarvon Track provides drivers with breathtaking ascents and descents, scenic valleys, gorges, and tree-lined creeks while experiencing the diverse fauna, flora and geological features unique to the Ikara-Flinders Ranges. The charter of the YFRWPA is the protection of the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby and to further protect the environment for future generations. All proceeds from the Caernarvon Track support the on-going conservation programs associated with the YFRWPA. Open daily subject to the weather.
Visit Coober Pedy
In the opal mining outpost of Coober Pedy, half the population lives in underground dugouts to escape high temperatures in summer. It's a fascinating and friendly place to visit, and a must-do on your Outback holiday. Coober Pedy has some 1700 residents from more than 40 countries. Taking its name from the Aboriginal word "kupa" (uninitiated man or white man) and "piti" (hole), Coober Pedy produces most of the world's opals. Its opal fields, discovered in 1915 by 14-year-old Willie Hutchison, cover an area of 4,954 square kilometres and consist of over 70 individual fields. Try your luck at "noodling" (fossicking) at various spots around town; get a great insight into the history of Coober Pedy at many local underground mines and attractions, then find your very own special opal at one of more than 30 opal shops - many who mine, cut and set their own stones. There's also a host of awesome natural landscapes, including the Painted Desert, the Moon Plain and the Breakaways. Incidentally, these great desert locations have attracted filmmakers from around world, for movies including 'Fire in the Stone', 'Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome', 'Ground Zero', 'Pitch Black', Val Kilmer's, 'Red Planet', and the up and coming Mortal Kombat (2021 release). Visit late June for the annual Coober Pedy Opal Festival (featuring events from the fun to the outrageous), or in August for the Coober Pedy Races. Coober Pedy is one of the most fascinating, quirky, excentric places on (or under) the earth. So make it a must-do on your bucket list, GET outback, GET underground and just get to Coober Pedy!
The Arkaba Walk
Explore the beauty of the Flinders Ranges in comfort and by foot Australia's environment is one of the most specialized and diverse on earth and the best way to appreciate its subtleties is on foot. With expert guides to interpret the geology, flora and fauna of the Flinders Ranges, the three-day walking safari brings a few luxury touches to an immersive bush experience. Traversing Wilpena Pound and 60,000 acres of Arkaba's private wildlife conservancy, the walk is an opportunity to share with just a privileged few one of Australia's most spectacular outback landscapes. From dry creek beds and isolated waterholes, lined with 1,000-year-old river red gums to craggy ridgelines and rolling hills covered in cypress pines to the ancient ramparts of Wilpena Pound, this is some of the most stunning walking country in Australia. Arkaba's guides will share their passion for the conservation of Australia's natural and cultural heritage. They will also show you the secret spots on the property and recount stories of the indigenous inhabitants, explorers and settlers, who have created the area's human history. Two nights are spent at signature swag camps, Elder Camp, which are in spectacular locations on the property with the third night at the beautifully restored 1850s Arkaba Homestead
Experience an Aboriginal Cultural Tour
Adnyamathanha guides at Wilpena Pound Resort deliver unique and memorable Aboriginal experiences to visitors to the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. The Yura Udnyu walking tour (“yura” being the name for Adnyamathanha people and “udnyu” mean-ing white) to Old Wilpena Station and the Ikara monument, covers the intertwining histories of both cultures. Learn about the diversity of the land, native animals, native bush-tucker, and uncover the rich history and mystique of ancient and contemporary Aboriginal culture. On the half-day 4WD tour, explore the gorges around Wilpena Pound which provide an ancient and fascinating history of the Flinders Ranges, and are visible in the fossil layers. Marvelling at the rugged beauty of Brachina and Bunyeroo Gorges. Learn about Adnyamathanha Dreaming, which is still very strong in traditional Yarta (land). Each night, a Yura traditional owner welcomes visitors to Wilpena Pound Resort and the Flinders Ranges, speaking in Yura Ngawarla, the language of the Adnyamathanha people, and telling stories of the creation of Ikara. From the ancient and rugged beauty of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges to the brilliant sunsets over the vast landscape, the Adnyamathanha people will connect you to over 100 million years of tradition, culture and this unforgettable land.
Stay at Prairie Hotel
Where the desert meets the Flinders Ranges, The Prairie Hotel, Parachilna, South Australia, is an icon of the Outback. Local family-owned and run, and licensed since 1876, The Prairie is a perfect base for exploring the Flinders Ranges and Outback or as a stopover en route to outback tracks. The Prairie restaurant is a regional beacon, renowned for its 'feral fare with flair', and innovative use of native ingredients across its restaurant menu. Whether choosing a feral antipasto platter, an FMG (Feral Mixed Grill), or a less feral seasonal specialty, the Prairie's own ‘The Flinders Range’ condiments or local Ediacaran fossil inspired wine range, perhaps a ‘Fargher Lager’ brew, make perfect dining partners. Alternatively, enjoy a selection from the daily 'grazing menu', and a barista-made espresso coffee. The restaurant walls are quite a Gallery. Admire work by highly collectible indigenous and South Australian contemporary artists on your visit. Relax with a pre-dinner tipple watching a Parachilna sunset from the front verandah. Locals and visitors, famous and infamous, you never know who you will meet at the Prairie! The Prairie Hotel is 90 kilometres north of Hawker in the Flinders Ranges region.
Stay Wilpena Pound Resort
Wilpena Pound Resort sits within the stunning Flinders Ranges National Park, surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery in South Australia - 430 kilometres north of Adelaide. This extraordinary landscape is 800 million years old and has been home to Adnyamathanha people for tens of thousands of years. Located at the entrance to Wilpena Pound itself, the resort is the perfect base for exploring this diverse and fascinating region. Guests enjoy a haven of outback hospitality with 60 hotel rooms, 15 luxury Safari Tents, and a picturesque campground set among towering red river gums. All hotel rooms are air-conditioned and come with in-room fridge and television (some with kitchenettes), Safari Tents are air-conditioned and feature a modern ensuite bathroom. The campground has powered and unpowered campsites, as well as permanent tents and bus bays. Resort facilities include a National Park Visitor Information Centre, a general store, bottle shop petrol, diesel, a resort restaurant, bar/bistro, and guest swimming pool. As well as general tourist information. the Visitors Centre offers bicycle hire, a range of 4WD tours, guided bush walks by Adnyamathanha guides and the ‘must-do’ Wilpena Air scenic flights over Wilpena Pound and Lake Eyre.
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We acknowledge the traditional owners of the country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community.We pay our respect to them and their cultures and to the elders past and present.