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Exploring the Flinders Ranges in South Australia

March 22, 2018

It was Kirk’s 30th Birthday, so I wanted to organise something special for him, and visit somewhere that we hadn’t yet been before. After 12 months of travelling around the world, we returned home with a greater appreciation for our own country, Australia. Based in South Australia, we have taken for granted all the wild and wonderful places that there is to explore in this state, and one of our intentions for 2018 is to explore more around our own backyard.

 

After doing a lot of research about the Flinders Ranges online, reading lots of travel blogs, and being inspired by other local Instagrammers photographs, I decided that it was the perfect place to organise a long weekend away for Kirk’s big 3-0.

I hope that this blog is helpful for anybody travelling through South Australia or Australia, with the Flinders Ranges on their bucket list! And if it’s not on your bucket list, then it should be!

 

Where to Stay:

 

We spent two nights in a glamping safari tent, a new-ish addition to Wilpena Pound Resort that was perfect for our little weekend getaway and truly took “glamping” to a whole new level!

 

Our “tent” had an ensuite bathroom, king bed, air conditioning unit, private deck, tea & coffee facilities, a refrigerator, and even our own beautiful kangaroo friends who would come and greet us every time we arrived back to our home base.

 

Wilpena Pound Resort is the only accomodation located within the Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park, and is well known for being home to the Adnyamathanha people for tens of thousands of years. With a range of different accomodation options such as camping, glamping, and hotel rooms, they have something for everyone! There is also wonderful facilities on site including a visitors centre, general store, restaurant bar / bistro, and swimming pool.

 

We found Wilpena Pound Resort to be such a perfect home-base during our stay, and the staff were extremely helpful and friendly with loads of recommendations for walks, trails, sunset and sunrise lookout spots, info about the animals, and all the good things to do and see nearby! They can also help with organising scenic flight and 4WD tours, and were full of information about the history of the park.

 

We woke to the sound of the birds, and loved enjoying a cup of miitea  on our little deck in the mornings, while we spotted wildlife hopping around nearby.

 

What to Do:

 

There is so much to do, see, and explore in the Flinders Ranges! We visited in January which can typically be a very hot time of year, but we lucked out with a cooler weekend (only reaching a high of around 30 degrees), and it meant that we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves as it’s not as popular during the summer months! Because we only had a 2WD, we were able to access all of the tracks as the roads were dry and packed, so it suited us really well. A few of our favourite spots that we visited as below:

 

  • Razorback Lookout: This lookout spot was around a 20-30 minute drive from Wilpena Pound Resort as we took it pretty slow in our 2WD up the windy and bumpy path. Once we reached the top, we had an incredible view of the Bunyeroo Valley below, and the iconic zig zag curvy road where we stopped, set-up a little picnic, and took some snaps!

  • Pugilist Hill Lookout: This is also around a 20 minute drive from Wilpena Pound, but towards Rawnsley Park Station. Upon doing some research we learnt that Pugilist means to fight with fists, and this lookout was given its name after two station hands has a fight on top of this hill in the early 1930’s. The view’s from this spot were incredible, and 360 degrees, with a wonderful look over Wilpena Pound. We were lucky enough to be down here during sunset, and ended up waiting an extra couple of hours so we could also capture some astrophotography once the stars came out and filled the sky

  • Hucks Lookout & Stokes Hill Lookout: Again, these spots are absolutely perfect for either sunrise or sunset, and these gorgeous lookout points provide wonderful 360 degree views. They are also both very close to each other, so it’s possible to visit both at the same time.

  • Rawnsley Park Station: This is where we had dinner and a few drinks for Kirk’s birthday at the Woolshed (read below), and also enjoyed some lovely views from different lookout spots around the area

 

Where to Eat:

 

Our first night we dined in the bistro at the Wilpena Pound Resort - delicious food all at a very reasonable price, and you even have a lovely view!

 

The second night was Kirk’s birthday, so I organised something a little more special and took him to the Woolshed at Rawnsley Park Station, which is around a 20 minute drive from Wilpena Pound. Because it was a Sunday night they had a craft beer happy hour on, winning! $5.50 craft beers before dinner with a gorgeous view of the ranges around us was a perfect way to start the night.

 

I ordered the vegetarian lasagne and Kirk had a steak with chips and salad. The food was a little overpriced for what it was (my lasagne was $30 and 100% microwaved), but very decent serving sizes and tasty all the same. The inside of the restaurant was also very rustic and beautiful, so we would certainly recommend that you check it out and book in advance if you are going during the busier time of year!

If you are camping in the Flinders Ranges and prefer not to eat out, there are also plenty of BBQ facilities in the campground that you can use to cook your own food - so lots of options!

 

History of Wilpena Pound:

From my pre-research, not only did I learn that the Flinders Ranges was going to be a wonderful spot to visit for photography opportunities, hiking, exploring, and diversity, but I also learnt that there is significant and interesting Australian history behind the formation of Wilpena Pound.

The Adnyamathanha aboriginals were the original inhabitants of Wilpena Pound. The Adnyamathanha translate Pound to mean 'meeting' or 'initiation place' in their own language. Stories have been passed down of how Wilpena Peak was formed, in which two Akurras (dreaming serpents) ate a large group of people gathered for a celebration, which caused the serpents to be unable to move from their eating grounds. The head of the male and female serpents formed St. Mary Peak and Beatrice Hill - which are the iconic landscapes that you see when visiting Flinders Ranges today.

 

General Tips:

 

  • If coming from Adelaide, allow yourself around 6-7 hours driving (including stops) one-way

  • As you arrive closer to the Flinders Ranges National Park, keep a lookout for wildlife, it was absolutely heartbreaking to see the number of kangaroos that had been hit by other cars

  • No matter how adorable the wild animals are, remember that they are just that, wild.. so respect their natural environment and space, and never feed them or they will become too reliant on us tourists, potentially eventually stop searching for their own food, and this can have negative repercussions when food is no longer easily accessible for them

  • Keep an eye on the weather - although we were really lucky, summer in the Flinders Ranges can often reach temperatures of above 45 degrees, so time your trip wisely

  • Pack for all seasons! It can be really warm during the day, but super cool at night

  • Don’t forget to pop your head out for some star-gazing.. the night sky in the Flinders is truly breathtaking

 

If you have any other questions, like usual, always feel free to shoot us an email. We always love hearing from you guys!

 

Mish & Kirk x @WeLiveWeExplore

 

 

 

 

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