For everything about the FLINDERS RANGES & OUTBACK you are in the right place. From getting there, to places to visit, to the best accommodation this article summarises all your needs for the FLINDERS RANGES & OUTBACK.
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Flinders Ranges & Outback
When you think of outback Australia, you immediately think of dusty red soil, blazing sun, empty deserts, and endless big skies. And you’ll find all of these, with many things to do in Flinders Ranges and South Australian outback. An enormous area covering the majority of South Australia, it’s the traditional home of various indigenous groups including the Adnyamathanha and Ngadjuri tribes, and is still these days largely unpopulated.
As you’d expect from a desert region, the Flinders Ranges weather is hot and dry. Temperatures can reach almost 50 degrees in summer, while overnight winter temperatures can dip below freezing. So be prepared, and know what you’re getting into.
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Getting To The Flinders Ranges & Outback
The Flinders Ranges stretch northward for about four hundred kilometres from Port Augusta, itself a few hundred kilometres north of Adelaide. The outback is essentially everywhere west of the Flinders Ranges, all the way to the Western Australia border a thousand kilometres away. As with many areas in Australia, you’ll need your own car to get around (need car hire, click here). Long distance buses are available to Port Augusta and Coober Pedy, and The Ghan long-distance train can be taken from Adelaide to Coober Pedy (though you’ll need to organise local transport in advance).
Also be aware that this is a very remote area of Australia. Distances are vast, roads can be tricky, and supplies may not always be available. Be prepared, carry more water, food and fuel than you’ll need, and don’t expect any mobile phone coverage either. In the event of an emergency – stay with your car! And with that out of the way, let’s check out some of the best things to do in Flinders Ranges and outback South Australia.
Things To Do In The Flinders Ranges and Outback South Australia
For such an enormous area, there’s no shortage of things to do and places to see. One of Australia’s most remarkable but undiscovered natural formations, Wilpena Pound, sits within the Flinders Ranges, and there’s some fantastic hiking opportunities here as well. Head out to Coober Pedy for a genuine taste of outback life; drive across the forbidding Nullarbor Plain, one of Australia’s most notorious and rewarding expanses. Even just a quick glance at the Flinders Ranges map will give you bursts of inspiration, but first let’s have a look at some of the highlights.
Wilpena Pound is undoubtedly the highlight of Flinders Ranges National Park. Also known as Ikara, its indigenous name, Wilpena Pound is a large natural amphitheatre, covering about 80 square kilometres. There’s plenty of things to do in Wilpena Pound, including hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and camping. Be sure to stop by the Wilpena Pound visitor centre at Wilpena Pound resort to get the latest information.
There’s a big range of Wilpena Pound walks, from leisurely strolls around the bush, to intense full-day hikes like climbing St Mary Peak, highest in the Ranges. Another great option is to take one of the many Wilpena Pound tours, where you’ll learn about local indigenous culture from traditional custodians of the land.
Flinders Ranges National Park
Elsewhere in the National Park there’s plenty of stuff to do. Flinders Ranges 4WD tours are a great option, while there are some great Flinders Ranges hiking options available as well, ranging from short relaxed ambles, to multi-day overland expeditions for serious hikers. As always, be sure to check the conditions before setting out and let people know what you are doing as things can change surprisingly rapidly.
Australia is definitely home to some strange outback towns, and Coober Pedy is absolutely one of the strangest! A town of 3500 people in the middle of nowhere (it’s about 850 kilometres from Adelaide to Coober Pedy), the town is the world’s largest producer of high-quality opals. Mines are dotted around all parts of the town, and you need to watch your step at all times. Fascinatingly, much of Coober Pedy has been built underground to avoid the scorching desert heat. In addition to the underground hotels, there’s houses (known as “dugouts”), churches (the Serbian Orthodox Church is a must-see), restaurants, and the graveyard as well.
The Nullarbor Plain is an enormous uninhabited area in the far west of South Australia, stretching across the border into Western Australia. It’s an incredible 1100 kilometres from east to west, and as the name suggests, has essentially no trees – Nullarbor is Latin for no trees. So why visit such a place? Well, the Eyre Highway which crosses the Plain is the only sealed road from South Australia to Western Australia, so crossing the Nullarbor is necessary if you’re on a longer road trip. Driving across the Nullarbor is also something of a badge of honour, which many Australians don’t manage. Visiting the Nullarbor roadhouses can be an eye-opening experience, and much of the road is near the coastline, providing great opportunities for whale watching. And of course, just across the border in WA is Australia’s longest straight stretch of road: 90 miles with no turns or bends! Along with this straight stretch of road is holes of the world’s longest golf course which stretches across the Nullarbor Plain.
Flinders Ranges Road Trips
Given the size and scale of the area, both around the Flinders Ranges and the outback, there’s a huge amount of scope for some fantastic road trips.
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Road Trip #1 - Adelaide to Flinders Ranges
It’s about 500 kilometres drive from Adelaide to Flinders Ranges, and it takes just over 5 hours and I recommend travelling through the gorgeous towns of Laura, Wirrabarra and Melrose. From there be sure to drop in at Quorn and Hawker along the way, before spending the next day or so touring Flinders Ranges, taking in Blinmen and Parachilna. Stay at the Wilpena Park Caravan Park, or maybe go glamping, or do some Flinders Ranges camping over the next few nights before heading back to Adelaide.
Road Trip #2 - Birdsville Track
Another option for a road trip is driving the Birdsville Track, which runs from Maree in Far North South Australia, before continuing north, all the way to tiny Birdsville across the border in Queensland. Be aware that much of the road is graded dirt, though generally in good condition, so check those rental car terms and conditions before setting out. A 4WD is definitely recommended. Also note that there’s only one stop with food, fuel and water along the 520km route, so be sure to bring extras!
Road Trip #3 - Adelaide to Alice Springs via Coober Pedy
Follow the Stuart Highway north of Adelaide through Port Augusta. Turn northwest and follow the road through Australia’s secretive military facilities at Woomera, before arriving in Coober Pedy. Enjoy the town’s sights, before heading north again via Marla, Ghan in the Northern Territory, and eventually Alice Springs.
Road Trip #4 - Driving Across the Nullarbor to Perth
Load up the car with supplies, because you’re taking one of Australia’s most iconic road trips! Head north from Adelaide to Port Augusta, then turn westwards across Eyre Peninsula to Ceduna. From here, follow the Eyre Highway on its long and lonely 500 kilometre journey to Eucla at the Western Australia border. Take note of the fuel stops across the Nullarbor as they can be quite infrequent! And of course, be sure to divert and do some whale watching (May – October) at one of the many vantage points.
From the border, it’s another 700 kilometres across the Nullarbor to Norseman, WA, where you can either turn north towards Kalgoorlie for the short route to Perth (720km), or turn south for the scenic route to Perth (1200km) via Albany and the Margaret River wine region. If you’re a golfer, bring your clubs, as the world’s longest golf course runs alongside the Nullarbor highway!
Despite being generally remote and rather inhospitable, there’s some fantastic options for Flinders Ranges accommodation, Coober Pedy accommodation, and even Nullarbor accommodation as well. Let’s have a closer look.
Flinders Rangers Accommodation
The Flinders Ranges and outback areas are blessed with some fantastic accommodation options. One of the best is Arkaba Station, a luxury hotel on a former sheep station in the Flinders Ranges. Rawnsley Park Station also has great choices, from bush retreats to eco-lodges and glamping and Edeowie Station where I personally stayed as a kid. Great family-friendly homestead.
Other accommodation in Flinders Ranges naturally includes caravan parks. Aside from Rawnsley Park Station, Hawker Caravan Park about 45 kilometres south of the park is a good choice, while Wilpena Pound Resort in the Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park itself is my personal favourite place to stay.
Camping in the outback is one of the true iconic experiences in Australia, and Flinders Ranges is a great spot for it as well. For Flinders Ranges free camping, consider one of the many sites within the national park, like Nooltana Creek, Parachilna Gorge, and Chambers Gorge. Other highlights include Acraman Campground, Upalinna Station, and Trezona Campground.
Flinders Ranges Accommodation
CooBer Pedy Accommodation
In Coober Pedy, the Mud Hut Motel, Desert Cave Hotel, Underground Motel, and Comfort Inn all offer the classic Coober Pedy underground hotel experience, at varying price levels. For Airbnbs check out Dinky Di’s Dugout and Ali’s Underground Self-Contained Studio.
There’s three Coober Pedy caravan park options: Oasis Tourist Park, Opal Inn Caravan Park, and BIG4 Stuart Range Outback Resort. Plus, just outside of town is Riba’s Underground Camping & Caravan Park.
Coober Pedy Accommodation
Finally, out on the Nullarbor, the Nullarbor Roadhouse is a great place to stay, just over halfway between Ceduna and the WA border. It has an attached caravan park with powered and unpowered sites, as does Border Village Caravan Park right on the WA border.
At the eastern edge of the Nullarbor, Penong Caravan Park and Coorabie Farm are both are also very highly rated.
All up, the Flinders Ranges and the South Australia outback is one of the most iconic and under-visited areas of Australia. For a remote and largely uninhabited area, there’s a surprising amount to see and do here! When you’re in South Australia, exploring the region is absolutely well worth your time.