Connect to the memory of the earth in South Australia’s rugged, majestic Flinders Ranges and outback.
Soar over Wilpena Pound on a scenic flight. Fossick for opals and sleep underground in Coober Pedy. Hike the Heysen trail, mountain bike the Mawson track or four wheel drive steep, razor-edged tracks. Follow the Oodnadatta Track to remote and often arid Lake Eyre. Taste native plants and learn about Aboriginal art with traditional custodians of the land. Explore the area’s pastoral history at Wilpena Pound Station. See the rare yellow-footed rock wallaby and an abundance of other native animals and birds in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. Discover a lost world inside a stone basin, moonscapes and barren lakes, opals and fossils, national parks and Aboriginal rock art.
Walk or soar in Wilpena wonderland
Take a scenic flight over Wilpena Pound, an enormous natural amphitheatre in the centre of South Australia’s Flinders Ranges. From the sky it looks like a lost, ancient world where dinosaurs still roam. Or walk to the rim, which has been eroded over millions of years from mountains as high as the Himalayas. Stand on St Mary’s Peak for breathtaking views across this rugged, 80 square kilometer crater. Bushwalk Mount Remarkable in the southern Flinders Ranges, and the Gammon Ranges near Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the rugged north. Here you’ll see the shy and rare yellow-footed rock wallaby and many native plants including the red and pink Sturt’s desert pea. If you really want to stretch your legs, you can hike all the way from the iconic mountain town of Parachilna to the beaches of Fleurieu Peninsula on the 1,200 kilometre Heysen Trail.
Bike or four wheel drive
Cycle from the Adelaide Hills to the Flinders Ranges town of Blinman on the Mawson Trail’s almost 900 kilometres of back roads and forest fire trails. You’ll take in the historic towns of Lobethal and Birdwood, the world famous Barossa Valley and the old mining towns of Kapunda and Burra. If you like your adventure on four wheels, tackle the steep trails near Wilmington in the Southern Flinders or Arkaroola in the north. Or follow the Strzelecki Track into the awe-inspiring desert, past scenic wetlands such as Coongie Lakes and Dalhousie Springs. On the Oodnadatta Track you can trace a traditional Aboriginal trading route and the old Ghan railway past Mound Spring, Lake Eyre and the natural artesian spas of Coward Springs Campground.
Go underground for opals
‘Noodle’ -or fossick – for opals, meet people from across the world in their dugout homes and visit an underground art gallery. Don a hard-hat and explore Coober Pedy’s history in an abandoned mine that is now a museum. Or relive the days of pick-and-shovel mining in the labyrinth-like passageways, where seams of opal are still in the walls. Here in the world’s opal capital, 3,500 residents from over 45 different countries have literally gone underground to avoid the searing outback heat. Only in Coober Pedy will you find an underground church, underground hotels and a golf course without a blade of grass. Above ground, the area has awesome apocalyptic landscapes – like the Painted Desert, Moon Plain and the Breakaways – for you to explore.
Go bush in the real outback
See thousands of pelicans, banded stilts and gulls flock to normally barren Lake Eyre after a big rain. Or more likely, visit it when it’s a huge, shimmering salt pan with a white crust estimated to weigh 400 million tonnes. Four wheel drive the Birdsville track from Maree, once a mecca for Afghan cameleers, to Birdsville at the start of the Simpson Desert. See its sea of red sand ridges and soak in the ancient thermal waters of Dalhousie Springs, used for tens of thousands of years by Aboriginal tribes. Marvel at the desert oasis of Coongie Lakes, home to around 20,000 water fowl and more than 150 species of birds. Then soak up the colours and smells of the outback with a stay on a sprawling outback station. Remember, this is very remote country, and thorough preparation and a four wheel drive is essential!
Take on ancient Aboriginal history and geology
Learn about the cultural and social heritage of the Adnyamathanha people on a cultural tour of Lake Eyre and the Oodnadatta Track. Sample bush tucker, learn about bush medicines and camp under the stars as you experience the lake, desert and Dreaming through Aboriginal eyes. Or understand the Flinders Ranges creation story on a two-day self-drive Aboriginal Dreaming Trail. See Aboriginal art at Arkaroo Rock and other Aboriginal paintings and carvings at Chambers Gorge. Then get an insight into the area’s pastoral history on an interpretative walk through the sprawling and scenic Wilpena Station. Find out more about the region’s fascinating geological history – including fossils and ancient sea beds and mountains – on a guided tour through Brachina Gorge.