The Flinders Ranges

05 Jun The Flinders Ranges

Driving north out of Adelaide you slowly meld the suburbs into rolling hills and perfect patches of pristine farmlands. In the winter months it is like that classic Windows Screen Saver, you know the one with the green hill and crisp blue sky? It is exactly like that. Just as you find yourself lost in this dreamy abyss you begin to enter the Clare Valley and one of Australia’s best wine regions. Yum! You could easily spend an extra couple days here if you have the time. Continuing on you’ll pass a few sleepy towns and will soon begin to see the landscape change. From obvious blocks of perfectly tended farmlands to vast stretches of open plains with peaks just recognizable in the distance. This is the land of the living skies.

Onwards and following in the footsteps of many an intrepid explorer you’ll find yourself in the foothills of the infamous Flinders Ranges. Welcome!

 

The Flinders as seen from Arkaroola

The Flinders as seen from Arkaroola

This was my third trip to the Flinders in six months. It has been a region of South Australia I have very much enjoyed exploring. Mostly because I like hiking and the scenery of these ancient hills is something spectacular. I set off this time around on a ten day commission with fellow ‘Best Jobs in the World’ winners Elisa Detrez and Maxime Coquard. It was our task see and experience as much as possible in four different areas of the Flinders Ranges region. Here are a few snaps.

 

Sunset form Rawnsley Park Station

Sunset form Rawnsley Park Station

Sheep shearing at Bendleby Ranges

Sheep shearing at Bendleby Ranges

Elisa won the ‘Best Jobs’ title of Park Ranger for her six month position up in Queensland. Max being her partner and ‘Best Jobs’ teammate naturally came along for the ride. Their journey started months ago and having finished the role up north it was only a matter of time before they decided to visit the rest of this wonderful country. They absolutely killed it up in Queensland and were incredible ambassadors for the state and for the ‘Best Jobs’ campaign. I have been following their ride for months and have been loving the amazing content being shared. So naturally I was stoked to hear they wanted to come down and visit me in South Australia.

 

Arkaroola Ridge Top 4WD Tour

Arkaroola Ridge Top 4WD Tour

The Crew at Arkaroola Ridge Top

The Crew at Arkaroola Ridge Top

We got in touch a couple months back and started hashing out some ideas for where we could go and what we could do. The Flinders was still on my ‘Best Jobs – Wildlife Caretaker’ itinerary and was one of the only regions I hadn’t fully explored. After a bit of chat with the team at SATC we presented the idea of Elisa and Max joining me for that portion. They jumped on board and it was set. We were headed to the mountains.

The Flinders Ranges is a region and national park located about 450km from Adelaide. Easily drivable in one day it is an amazing disconnect from the city. You are stepping back in time and being introduced to some magnificent geology and evolutionary history. If you like rocks, this is a great place to go! The hiking is incredible, there are great mountain biking tracks, great 4×4 driving tracks, beautiful lookouts and scenic drives.

The area dates back 515-600 million years and is a truly astonishing view into a world long forgotten. We’re talking the days when Australia and Antarctica were joined at the hip. The sediments of the Flinders were once a giant sea bed sitting kilometres deep. Over time and shape shifting of tectonic plates the sentiments grew and compressed to form thousands of layers. With those layers then being smashed together and lifted we gained the ranges, over millions of years of erosion we now have what we see today and new access to these once buried maps showing a glimpse at the depths of time.

 

The layers of the Flinders as seen from a flight over Wilpena Pound

The layers of the Flinders as seen from a flight over Wilpena Pound

We started our journey in the Bendleby Ranges of the Southern Flinders. This is an amazing private sheep station offering four wheel driving tracks for the general public. It was awesome to spend two days exploring the beautiful area while be treated like family by the wonderful owners Warren and Jane. Thank you so much for such a great intro.

 

Sunrise at the Bendleby Ranges

Sunrise at the Bendleby Ranges

From there we headed north to the Rawnsley Park Station situated perfectly on the southern face of the infamous Wilpena Pound.

Rawnsley Park is an old sheep station primarily focused on tourism. They offer guided hiking trips, scenic flights, accommodation, a restaurant, guided four wheel drive trips, and sunset excursions. We did one full day hiking to the ridge top of the Pound before taking off to the far north area of the Flinders and a region known as Arkaroola.

 

Arkaroola Ridge Top 4WD Tour

Arkaroola Ridge Top 4WD Tour

Arkaroola has been a name echoing around South Australia and my ‘Best Jobs’ experience for the entire six months. It is a favourite of many people and for good reason. It is an incredible place. Full stop. A remote and pristine area that has been left primarily as is for literally millions of years. It is a nature lovers paradise and a truly special place.

 

Arkaroola Sunset

Arkaroola Sunset

We spent two days exploring the area mostly by four wheel drive and foot. We took the classic Ridge Top 4×4 Drive tour and a couple side trips of our own. We also went spotting Yellow-Footed Rock Wallabies and went on an Observatory tour to view and learn more of the Southern Skies. Overall Arkaroola blew me away and I can easily see why so many people speak so highly of the area.

 

Yellow-Footed Rock Wallaby - Arkaroola

Yellow-Footed Rock Wallaby – Arkaroola

From the far north we headed back to the central hub of the Flinders and Wilpena Pound. We booked into Wilpena Pound Resort and got set up with some activities for our last few days in the area. Elisa and Max and I decided to hike to the highest point of the Pound, St. Mary’s Peak, a 15km round trip with vertical gain of about 600m. It was a solid effort and we did really well to make the peak and back in good time. We also spent a day exploring the centre of the Pound and the old ruins of the homestead set up in the middle back in the late 19th century. What living that would have been. To cap it all off we took a scenic flight over the Pound, which was amazing, it gives you such a different perspective after so many days exploring the area from the ground and ridge tops. I highly recommend the flight for anyone visiting the area.

 

Hiking St. Mary's Peak - Wilpena Pound

Hiking St. Mary’s Peak – Wilpena Pound

After ten full days spent exploring we buckled down for the 4 hour drive back to Radelaide. All in all it was an incredible trip. Sometimes the best experiences are the spontaneous ones. We planned a trip with a rough idea of what we were going to do and see. We went for it and came out with amazing memories and a trip shared that will forever be remembered as the good times. Travelling with Elisa and Max was a treat and one I enjoyed thoroughly. They are two wonderful people and friends I’ll have for life no matter where the crazy road of life takes us.

If you are looking for an incredible adventure in South Australia I highly suggest hitting up the Flinders Ranges. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Cheers from Adelaide!

 

The Crew at the summit of St. Mary's Peak - Wilpena Pound

The Crew at the summit of St. Mary’s Peak – Wilpena Pound

Greg Snell
gregorsnell@gmail.com
3 Comments
  • LeeAnne Bennett
    Posted at 11:46h, 09 June

    What about the amazing indigenous sites with ancient paintings? Just out of a Hawker, in Sacred Canyon? The Aussie ” Great Wall of China”, Parachilna and Blinman pubs? Brachina gorge, Arkaroola, Leigh Creek, lake Frome! Even Aligator Gorge! So much to see in this beautiful part of SA!

    • Greg Snell
      Posted at 08:14h, 11 June

      Hi Leeanne, so true it is almost overwhelming eh! With just ten days we were only able to cover such a small portion of such an beautiful expanse of landscape. Cheers for the comment and the nice list of must see places for people to tick off 🙂

  • Vicky Hartley
    Posted at 21:07h, 11 June

    I worked as a Tour Guide through the Flinders Ranges for the past 8 years and totally agree with everything you’ve written Greg! The Flinders are a magnificent piece of Australia that will forever remain in my heart.

    I also agree with LeeAnne that on your next visit you should take a drive through the amazing geological trail of Brachina Gorge, check out the rock art sights and walks at Arkaroo Rock, Sacred Canyon & Chambers Gorge and then take in a spectacular sunset while enjoying a ‘Fargher Lager’ from the veranda of the Prairie Hotel in Parachilna! You won’t regret a second of it 🙂

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