South Australian Travel Diary: Flinders Ranges

There’s something about the desert that is so beautiful. There may not be as many green pastures or tropical trees, but there is plenty of red dirt, native shrubs and lots of Australian wildlife. On our recent drive into the Flinders Ranges, we were struck with awe-inspiring views of the peaks that surround the parks and pounds – your eyes really don’t know what to look at first - not to mention the abundant emus, wallabies, kangaroos and eagles that call the Flinders Ranges home.

In October we made our second visit to the Flinders Ranges, where we camped with some friends at Wilpena Pound Resort, one of the main caravan parks in the National Park. True to our style, we opted for a non-powered site, surrounded by trees and nature, overlooking the creek that runs through the middle of the park. This is definitely my favourite way to camp (without power), because you really feel like you’re escaping the fast city lifestyle for the bare essentials. In the Flinders Ranges this is made a whole lot easier with the lack of reception, a.k.a. zero reception, so apart from taking the odd phone photo, you are really left to your own devices (get it). 

 Wake me up to this everyday thanks.

Wake me up to this everyday thanks.

If you're into nature, hiking, or just taking in the pure serenity that the Flinders Ranges has to offer, then make sure this place is high on your bucket list. Our days were filled with picnicing, calm nature walks, hiking heart-racing peaks and taking in the incredible views that came with them, while our nights were really only good for three things - campfires, star gazing and card playing. The best things.

Both times we've been to the Flinders Ranges we've stayed in the Wilpena Pound Resort, just because it's so close to everything! Most of the best hikes you can do around the ranges start from there, plus it's fairly central to drive around and see everything the ranges has to offer. There's also a little shop not far from the campsite, just incase you forget something - or in our case, a mattress. Let me tell you I was glad we picked this spot after realising we left our bed in the cupboard at home!

Things to do in the Flinders Ranges

1. Take in the sunset with a picnic and a view

If you know anything about me by now, it's that I love food and wine. Like, a lot. Naturally, taking a picnic to the top of a hill is always my favourite thing to do, especially once there's good company, cheese, wine, tunes and an incred sunset. My vote for best picnic spots would be anywhere along the Brachina Gorge drive, or Razorback Lookout, as you watch the sky turn all shades of pink, orange and purple as the sun sinks into the ranges.

We stopped at a little rest stop along the Brachina Gorge drive to experience this view, it was so peaceful, naturally beautiful and simply put, magical.

2. Take a drive 

There are so many scenic drives through the Flinders Ranges it's hard to pick one. My top two would have to be the Brachina Gorge drive and the Moralana Scenic Drive. Both have amazing scenery, but the special part about the Moralana drive is that it looks onto the back of the ranges, giving you a completely different perspective of the surrounding landscape. I also highly recommend stopping at every look-out or taking the detours along the way, that's how we always end up finding the best places!

3. Go for a hike

There are so many wonderful hikes to do around the ranges, but here are my top two.

St Mary Peak
We've done this hike twice now, each time taking a different way up and down. There are two options - the 6 hour hike and the 9 hour hike. The 6 hour seems like the obvious choice, but don't be fooled... the way up this bad boy is a seriously steep climb. I'm not joking, you actually have to climb sheer rock face at some points! The first time we hiked St Mary we took this option without knowing what was to come; I was so exhausted by the time I climbed up, we decided to stop and turn around at the saddle (the lower part of the peak).

The second time 'round, we decided to come up the 9 hour route and return via the 6 hour route. This was so much nicer, not only because you get to see a lot more along the way, but you get to save all your energy to climb from the saddle to the peak - the steepest part of the trek. It ended up taking us about 5 hours to get from Wilpena Pound Resort to the peak, before an hour of lunch at the top, taking in the absolutely breath taking views. You get a 360 degree view of the ranges and it feels like you're on top of the world (and you might as well be, sitting 1171m above sea level). The climb down took us about 3 hours, coming down the shorter route.

Make sure you leave nice and early to conquer this one, you really don't want to be climbing up to the peak in the midday heat. Also be sure to pack heeeaps of water. We got through about 8 litres between Aythan and I over the 9 hours - it's a little heavy to begin with, but you will 100% appreciate it once you're at the top!

Distance: 19 km return
Difficulty: hard (but very worth it)
Leave from: Wilpena Pound Resort
Time: 9 hrs return

Mount Ohlssen Bagge
Take this hike from the trailhead at Wilpena Pound Resort and follow the signs to Mount Ohlssen Bagge. We loved this hike because of the amazing contrast of dirt tracks against the green and yellow shrubs and trees. I'm going to say this at the risk of sounding like a broken record... but the views on this hike were definitely worth the climb! I think it's safe to say all of the hikes around the ranges have bloody great views. 

Distance: 5.6 km return
Difficulty: moderate - hard
Leave from: Wilpena Pound Resort
Time: 4 hrs return

Now, there's so much more you can get up to on your next Flinders Ranges trip, but these are a few things I recommend you tick off your bucket list. One thing is for sure, it is a very, very beautiful place. You can see why the Aboriginal people have such a connection with the land - I always leave feeling more connected to nature, appreciating my body for carrying me up such steep inclines and just appreciating the completely untouched landscape for what it is, pure bliss. 

Until next time,

South Australian Travel Diary - Inspire Musings - Flinders Ranges