Flinders Ranges and Outback - An Introduction for the Uninitiated


Tree-lined gorges, rugged mountain ranges, rolling plains and rich colours mark this stunning ancient land, with four-wheel driving, bushwalking, camping and adventure all part and parcel of the experience.


South Australia’s Flinders Ranges and Outback is one of the only places on earth where you can stay deep underground, help a postman deliver mail to remote outposts and indulge in Australia’s finest cuisine at a pub in the middle of nowhere.  The world’s most isolated pub, the William Creek Hotel in South Australia’s Outback, is a stopping point for travellers on their way to the gigantic salt lake, Lake Eyre, which at 8000 square kilometres is more than ten times the size of Singapore.


Coober Pedy is renowned as the opal capital of the world, boasts 85 per cent of the world’s opals and is home to unique living arrangements where many residents “build” underground houses.  Situated on the edge of the Stuart Range, Coober Pedy was once part of the inland sea millions of years ago, but is now a multicultural community of 3,500 people, representing about 50 nationalities.  Delivering the mail will never be the same again after a trip with the Outback mailman, delivering mail to cattle stations from Coober Pedy to William Creek.  The journey is the perfect way to meet the many characters that inhabit this remote landscape.


South of the Outback, the natural wonders of the Flinders Ranges cover more than 94,900 hectares of National Park.  Flinders Ranges were made famous by the images of renowned Australian artist, Sir Hans Heysen.  The Prairie Hotel in Parachilna, a sleepy Flinders Ranges town with a total population of seven, has earnt worldwide recognition for its gourmet feral cuisine, luxury accommodation and Outback hospitality.  Serving delicious bush tucker in an authentic atmosphere, the Prairie is popular with locals and visitors alike.


The Flinders Ranges are also home to Wilpena Pound, which features excellent bushwalking tracks, abundant wildlife, scenery and dense native vegetation.  Shaped like a horseshoe, the pound forms a natural amphitheatre of great Aboriginal significance.  Measuring five kilometres by 11 kilometres, Wilpena Pound is regarded as one of the best places in South Australia to view the magical sunrise and sunset of the region.


It comes as no surprise that the Flinders Ranges is home to some of Australia’s richest areas of Aboriginal heritage and culture.  Aboriginal cultural tours and experiences are on offer across the region.  The Flinders Ranges and Outback region also offers extraordinary four-wheel drive adventures.  In recent years, extensive tracts of terrain have been opened for four-wheel drive exploration in the Flinders – while the legendary Birdsville, Oodnadatta and Strezlecki Tracks of the Outback make for an epic journey of a lifetime.


The Aboriginal Dreaming Trail branches off the Stuart Highway between Adelaide and Darwin at Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, in the northern part of the Central Flinders Ranges.  This self-drive trail meanders through Chambers Gorge, Wilpena Pound and Copley and tells how the Flinders Ranges were formed according to Adnyamathanha Dreaming stories.  The Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary offers a range of accommodation from air-conditioned motel lodges to bush camping, while tours include the four-wheel drive Ridgetop Tour, the Arkaroola Astronomical Observatory and ‘star chairs’ for deep space exploration, bushwalking trails and scenic flights over the northern Flinders Ranges and local inland lakes.


Intrepid cyclists are also discovering the Flinders Ranges. The greatest challenge – the Mawson Trail – is an 800-kilometre cycling trail stretching from Athelstone in Adelaide’s northeast to Blinman in the heart of the Flinders Ranges. For walkers, there’s the renowned Heysen Trail, which passes through the Flinders Ranges. Running 1500 kilometres from Parachilna Gorge in the Central Flinders to Cape Jervis at the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula in the south, it covers some of the most beautiful terrain in South Australia.


For much more information on these and countless other wonderful destinations in South Australia - Special thanks to southaustralia.com whose contribution made this article happen