Join Taylor on a scenic low-cost hiking trip through South Australia’s Mount Remarkable National Park and see why this remarkable adventure deserves a spot on your bucket list.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Nukunu people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Quick Overview

This overnight hike in South Australia wears the heart of the Flinders Ranges on its sleeve. This trail traces a figure 8 from the vertiginous coastal views of Battery Ridge down into the lush, riparian wonderlands of Hidden and Alligator Gorges. The buck stops at the car park, because this is a circuit hike designed specifically to circumvent many of the more developed parts of the area.


About Alligator Gorge & Mount Remarkable National Park

A dubious name indeed, since alligators (and crocodiles) naturally don’t inhabit South Australia. Instead, Alligator Gorge, which forms one precinct of Mount Remarkable National Park, is believed to be named after a local Aboriginal shepherd named Ally, who contributed greatly to early exploration and understanding of the area. As for Hidden Gorge, well, I suppose that name speaks for itself.

Much of the area, including the newly minted Wapma Thura National Park to the south, lies on the traditional lands of the Nukunu people. Mount Remarkable itself was given its English name by explorer Edward John Eyre in 1840.


It may be gorgeous, but don’t call it the Gorges Walk.

Lots of money has been invested into this area recently. For example, the very lovely, very cottagecore town of Melrose is poised to become a hub for bike and hiking in the near future. Similarly, a significant part of a $10 million contract was earmarked for big developments at Mambray Creek, which lies on the periphery of this route, and for the development of what is called the ‘Gorges Walks trail network’.

This puts these gorges and walks at risk of being behind a higher paywall, so instead of shelling out for showers and electrical hookups, this route circumvents the developments of Mambray Creek and Melrose itself, and my hope is that it’s styled as more of your classic budget bush camping option inside the park.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace


How to Get to Alligator Gorge

Foregoing camping/parking at Mambray Creek means this hike starts from Alligator Gorge car park, which is about 30 minutes northwest of Melrose and 3 hours and 40 minutes from Adelaide The road is paved, but quite steep, all the way to the car park. I wouldn’t pull a trailer or anything, but I saw a Prius do it, so you’re probably fine. His brakes did smell a little like toast when he parked up though. So at your own risk.

There’s also a bus that runs once a week between Adelaide and Melrose. It specifically mentions that it caters to Heysen Trail hikers, which is pretty sweet and presumably means that you could get dropped at the Mount Remarkable trailhead outside of Melrose.


Where to Stay Around Mount Remarkable

This route opts for campgrounds with a view, specifically the hike-in campground of Stringers Camp, which only costs $6 to book (more on bookings below). All other hike-in campgrounds are priced similarly.

Alternatively, the Melrose Showgrounds also offer unpowered camping for $15-20 a night, which isn’t too bad, or there’s lodging in town. Some trails lead from the town into the park which is good if you want to do a longer trip.

Skill Level


A reasonable level of fitness and navigation skills are required, as there isn’t any signage or designated trail down in the gorges themselves, and the climb up and down the Battery Ridge Track and Sugar Gum Lookout is moderately strenuous.

There are water tanks on the trail, and usually water in the creeks, so that’s not too much of an issue.

Read more: How To Purify Water in the Bush

Mobile reception is limited to the ridgelines, and mostly non-existent on this particular route. Some emus are willing to offer their guiding services free of charge though.


Distance / Duration / Elevation Gain of the Alligator & Hidden Gorge Hike

39km / 2 days / 958m

Peep my whole .gpx file and route

Essential Gear for Alligator Gorge

  • Sunscreen (welcome to Australia)
  • An extra layer, because it’s colder in the gorges than you’d expect
  • Water filter for the rainwater tanks
  • A microfibre towel for a refreshing dip in the creek (seasonally dependent)
  • First aid kit
  • PLB
  • A mapping app with offline usage

Read more: Overnight Hiking Packing List with 20+ Essentials

What It’s Like Hiking Alligator Gorge

Serpentine. Ochrous. Chilled out. Meditative. Certainly remarkable. I also find gorges to be places of specific olfactory noteworthiness. Anyone else? I don’t know why. I guess wet sandstone has a certain intangible aroma that almost has a physical bend to it. And with all the mosses and ferns that line these gorges, it’s hard not to want to be swaddled in them forever.

Moreover it really is the shapes and the colours here. The gorges are so drastic. And given how the Flinders Ranges – and this park specifically – rests on the ecotone of the Outback, it’s so strange to have so much green in what would otherwise feel like a desert landscape. The River red gums and native pines are a green corridor through otherwise semi-arid mutedness.



Day 1 — Alligator Gorge Car Park -> Hidden Gorge -> Stringers Camp

Distance: 15.4km
Duration: 5-6 hours

Leaving the Alligator Gorge car park, a long staircase leads down into The Narrows, where you’re immediately enveloped in the humid throes of the gorge. The limited amount of sunlight that reaches here almost gives the impression of sensory deprivation, with lovely Maidenhair ferns and rusty pods throughout.

A short side-trip north will take you to the strange geology of The Terraces, or you can traverse The Narrows until you’re suddenly spit out on the other side among a stand of old River red gums. A brief climb leads to Longhill Camp, which is a fine camping option for larger groups.



From Longhill, take the cruisy Kingfisher Track (pictured above) past tonnes of emu prints and wattle popping off in every direction. You’ll pass Kingfisher Flat then Hidden Camp, which are fine alternative camping options with water tanks and drop toilets, maybe a few euros (AKA wallaroos) or kangaroos hanging out, grazing with disinterest.

From the junction at Hidden Camp, make your way west into the maw of Hidden Gorge, where the pink quartzite shimmers in the afternoon sun, and pillars of sandstone tower like a portico into another dimension. It’s lots of rock-hopping and choose-your-own adventure throughout most of Hidden Gorge, but the walls keep you hemmed in with Stockholm Syndrome, and it’s never hard to find your way.



Once the gorge opens up, a clearly marked track leads straight uphill to the water tank at Battery Ridge, where there’s a cell tower and lots of beautiful, unmarked (secret?) campsites. I suppose I can’t condone camping here, but it’s definitely a viable alternative to Stringers Camp, which is another 1.5km of easy walking along the ridge.

Read more: How To Poo in The Bush


Day 2 — Stringers Camp -> Sugar Gum Lookout -> Narrows -> Alligator Gorge

Distance: 23.6km
Duration: 8 hours

Leaving the campground in the morning, the trail follows the ridgeline south gradually taking you down to the junction near Mambray Creek. This is a wonderful section, as the scrubland and wattle along the trail make space for particularly spectacular views all the way down to the coast. When you reach Mambray, it’s a good time to take full advantage of the very new, very shiny toilet facilities.



Follow the water course from Mambray east through old growth gums, blankets of ferns, and past tonnes of wildlife. Eventually the trail reaches the junction of Mambray and Alligator Creeks in a clearing with a water tank. From here you can choose to peel off to do a quick side quest past the historic Scarfes Hut, before taking the 4WD track to Sugar Gum Lookout for incredible views of the whole surrounding range, including plenty of the very unique, eponymous trees.



Once back at the creek junction, follow Alligator Creek, crossing it regularly, past more stoic stands of native pine, mossy undergrowth, and looming gums. The sandstone walls begin to encroach more and more until eventually reaching Hidden Camp, which marks the beginning of backtracking along the Kingfisher Track.

Why not be a true MVP and head back to the car park through The Narrows again? It’s barely longer and it’s so insanely beautiful and just as tantalizing in reverse. Or maybe I just wasn’t ready for this hike to end?!

Tips For Hiking Alligator and Hidden Gorge

  • Mount Remarkable National Park is serviced by a private road and requires a $13 vehicle entrance fee which can be paid online
  • Stringers Camp isn’t bookable online, so bookings must be made through the SA NPWS, Yorke and Mid North Office, located in Clare, or they’ll do it over the phone: (+61 8) 8841 3400. The rangers recommend doing it over the phone in advance, because occasionally large groups will book out these sites. Anyways it’s definitely worth it
  • Personally I think Stringers Camp is the nicest campground in the park, but if you prefer the view-less, more manicured campsites with drop toilets down in the gorge, they can be booked through the same phone number/office above. Really you can’t go wrong, because wherever you stay there’s always going to be an overwhelming amount of geology


Alligator Gorge FAQs

Where is Alligator Gorge located?

This overnight hike through Alligator Gorge is located within Mt Remarkable National Park, South Australia.

How do you get to Alligator Gorge?

You can drive to the Alligator Gorge car park where the trailhead starts, a 3 hour and 40 minute drive from Adelaide.

There’s also a bus that runs once a week between Adelaide and Melrose, specifically for hikers and bikers on the Heysen and Mawson trails, but I’m sure overnight hikers are welcome too.

When is Alligator Gorge open?

Alligator Gorge is open year round, but it’s best to check the SA NPWS website before heading off to check for any closures.

Do I need to book my visit to Alligator Gorge?

Yes, you need to book your spot at the campgrounds ahead of time. Some of these, like Stringers Camp, can only be booked in person at the SA NPWS, Yorke and Mid North Office, located in Clare, or over the phone: (+61 8) 8841 3400.

How many days should I spend at Alligator Gorge?

The route can be completed in two days.

Is Alligator Gorge good for beginners?

This hike isn’t ideal for beginners as there are some steep climbs and trail navigation involved. Previous hiking experience is recommended!

Can you swim at Alligator Gorge?

The creeks that run through the national park are full and deep enough for swimming from time to time, but this is seasonally dependent so swimming isn’t guaranteed.

Do you need a 4WD to get to Alligator Gorge?

You don’t need a 4WD, however the last few kilometres to reach the Alligator Gorge car park and trail head are quite steep so attention is needed.

Is Alligator Gorge open?

At the time of writing, Alligator Gorge is open, although there are closures within the park in the Mambray Creek precinct.

Is Alligator Gorge free?

Although there’s no walking fee for Alligator Gorge, there’s a $13 car entrance fee for Mt Remarkable National Park and camping fees for the campgrounds.