Oceania > Australia > South Australia > Outback (South Australia)
The Outback of South Australia is a large expanse of northern South Australia.
This is a rich environment for you to experience. The Flinders Ranges provide an emotionally uplifting and tranquil travel destination. It's home to Wilpena Pound, a giant natural amphitheatre. It's a great destination for Outback drives, camping, trekking, and drinking in the fresh air and starry skies. There's plenty of accommodation, including campsites and luxury eco villas.
The Flinders Ranges region covers most of the north-east of South Australia, and includes some sparse and isolated parts of the state. For most tourists, the areas most often visited are Wilpena Pound and the towns in the mid- and far north of the state, though more adventurous travellers may choose to venture beyond onto the Birdsville and Strzlecki Tracks towards Queensland and the Northern Territory.
The main town at the bottom of the Flinders Ranges is Port Augusta, which is a 3½-hour drive from Adelaide along Port Wakefield Road (Route A1) via Snowtown and Port Pirie (both of which are bypassed). Wilpena Pound is a 4½-5 hour drive from Adelaide, either via Port Wakefield Road, Quorn and Hawker or via the more scenic route through the Clare Valley. To venture into the Northern Flinders ranges will be a further drive, often along dirt roads. Sealed roads only run as far north as Lyndhurst (on the road to Marree) and Blinman (on the Wilpena Pound Road).
There are plenty of services operating to Port Augusta. Greyhound (on the Adelaide-Alice Springs route) and Premier Stateliner (on its Adelaide-Eyre Peninsula routes) operate frequent coach services through Port Augusta.
There are no scheduled public transport services into the central and northern Flinders Ranges, including to Wilpena Pound. The Yorke Peninsula Coaches "Mid-North Passenger" and "Upper North Intertown" services operate in the Mid and Upper North towns, including one service weekly (on Fridays) as far as Quorn, but this is still a significant distance from Wilpena Pound. Travellers wishing to travel here may have to hire a car in Adelaide or Port Augusta, or find a scheduled arranged tour.
Great Southern Railways operate the Indian Pacific and Ghan trains once or twice weekly to and from Adelaide, passing through Port Augusta. There are no scheduled train services further than Port Augusta, apart from the tourist Pichi Richi Railway which runs infrequent services as far as Quorn, but is more of a tourist attraction than a means of transport.
Sharp Airlines run 2 services on weekdays between Adelaide and Port Augusta (there is one service on Sundays and none on Saturdays). Port Augusta Airport is 10 minutes' drive from the City Centre. No scheduled passenger airline flies into other areas of the Flinders Ranges.
Because of the lack of public transport, unless you are on a scheduled tour, it will more than likely be necessary to hire a car. Hitchhiking is not recommended due to the isolated areas and the extreme temperatures, especially in summer.
- Wilpena Pound, a giant natural amphitheatre.
- Fresh air and starry skies.
- Take a ride back in time on the Pichi Richi Railway. An historic train (sometimes steam, sometimes diesel train) that runs on a section of the original line that ran between Port Augusta and Alice Springs (between Port Augusta and Quorn), the railway is one of Australia's most famous tourist railways, heading through the picturesque Pichi Richi Pass. If you are visiting this region, it is worth timing your visit around the day that it operates. Services usually operate on Sundays during school holidays and usually once a month on a Sunday in the winter months outside of that time. Check the website for a timetable. Some services depart from Port Augusta railway station (the same as the Indian Pacific/Ghan station), others depart from Quorn's historic railway station. While you are in Quorn, take a walk around the historic rail yard.
- Climb St Mary Peak, the highest point in the Flinders Ranges with spectacular views all round.
- Have lunch at the famous Prairie Hotel, Parachilna, which serves emu, kangaroo and camel, as well as native Australian plants.
There is a range of accommodation available in Flinders Ranges including camping, farm stays
The cheapest place for camping is at the National Park Camp Grounds. Some are accessible only via 4WD or walking trails.
If you want the luxury of full facilities Wilpena Pound Camping Ground. Both powered and bush camping sites are available and there are showers, laundry, petrol and a general store.
Rawnsley Park Caravan Park Set in a bushland setting this caravan park has cabins and a bunkhouse which sleeps 50. Facilities include a licensed shop, camp kitchen, modern amenities block and swimming pool.
Wilpena Pound Resort has 60 rooms all with air conditioning and children stay free. The resort is in a natural setting and wildlife roam around the grounds. Facilities include a pool, restaurant and bar.