Spring at Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges is wildflower paradise. Whether you’re an avid photographer like our Explorer Brian, an adventure sports nut or just feel like a spontaneous road trip, the Flinders Ranges should be your next trip!
- Wilpena Pound
- St Mary Peak
- Razorback Lookout
- Cycling the Mawson Trail
- Parachilna Gorge
A Spontaneous Trip to Flinders Ranges
It was Monday morning and I’d just submitted ‘enough’ of my assignment to stop getting emails about it, so that gave me the rest of the week off.
‘What to do with all this free time?’ I asked myself. My first two thoughts were on different ends of the scale – make a coffee or have a nap. The winner by a landslide was coffee, and I could tell by the smell of the beans how productive today was going to be.
But first things first, I needed to sit on the backyard couch, enjoy my coffee and pat the dog.
Mid coffee sip, I got a message from a mate who was trying to sort the finer details for our next trip. After five minutes of chatting through the plan, I asked him where he would go if he had some time off and he replied,
‘Apparently the wildflowers are going off at the Flinders.’
That’s when I promptly started playing Tetris with my van and the essentials.
I didn’t decide to drive the 450kms to Wilpena Pound just to look at wildflowers and get hay fever, oh no siree. I’m absolutely addicted to photography.
Being an addict to such a hobby has me not only driving all over the place but sleeping and basically living in my van to boot. There’s also the added benefit of walking, riding, climbing and occasionally swimming to find new locations to see and capture. I LOVE IT!!
So to hear that there’s an outback of wildflowers blooming around large, beautiful rock formations, not to mention my weather app predicting nothing but awesomeness, I was more than keen. As soon as I told the oldies where I was going (very important to let someone know of your travels espesh when going solo) my Dad was keen to come along too! And then there were two…
The Flinders Ranges is a fairly large place, but for this microadventure, I’m focusing on my time in and around Wilpena Pound. Homebase for me is Adelaide, so the drive to Wilpena Pound is about 450km.
There are a few ways to get there including coastal and inland routes which offer great drives and plenty of places to see and stop for a feed. But for Dad and I, it was a straight drive to Wilpena Pound.
I wanted to get to a place called Razorback Lookout two hours before sunset, but I didn’t know much about it and I didn’t have the time to research it – all I had was a Google image and the name of the road to take.
After paying park fees (they can be paid either at a stop on Flinders Way road or at Wilpena Pound) we went in search of the lookout. The only directions I had was to turn right at Bunyeroo Road.
Pretty much all the roads that are off of Flinders Way road are unsealed and Bunyeroo road was no exception. After a 30 minute drive on the heavily corrugated road, we’d arrived and there were wildflowers everywhere!
Wilpena Pound Resort
Out of the four nights we stayed at the Flinders, one was spent at the Wilpena Pound Resort. If you like glamping this is the place to be. There’s an information office, a small shop with everything you forgot at prices you won’t forget, a restaurant if canned veggies are not your thing and all the other glamping essentials – hot showers, functioning dunnies and even an outdoor cinema.
St Mary Peak
St Mary is the tallest peak in the Flinders at 1,189m. At the top there are amazing views of all of the surrounding ridgetops and valleys. The trail is an epic 21.5km loop and can easily take the entire day.
Walking inside the Pound is amazing! You’re literally surrounded by the amazing wilderness which is backed by high range vistas. There’s also a hiker’s campground on the side of the peak along the inside track of the loop.
Be sure to bring enough supplies as there’s no water or anything else much at the site.
After taking in the views of the summit it’s a 7km steep trek down the mountain back to the resort where a hot shower will be waiting, and just as satisfying as reaching the peak.
Since the writing of this article the traditional owners of the land in this region, the Adnyamathanha people, have publicly called for people to restrain from climbing St Mary Peak.
A representative said, ‘St Mary Peak carries deep cultural significance to the traditional landowners in the creation story of how two huge serpents entwined to form the huge natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound… You get the same great views from neighbouring Wangara Peak or the Saddle in between the peaks’.
Here at We Are Explorers, we support a respectful approach to Indigenous sovereignty and therefore, we encourage you to consider and respect this request from the Adnyamathanha people.
We’ve chosen not to remove this section of the article because it displays what many of us have experienced in our adventures. Sometimes we’re not always aware of the significance of certain landmarks and we climb a mountain with zero knowledge of the pain we might be causing.
By leaving this section in, we’re giving our readers the opportunity to educate themselves on the issue and make a calculated decision as to whether or not they’ll continue with the adventure. If we removed it, the ignorance would prevail and we’d continue to use that ignorance as an excuse for complacency.
So Many Activities, So Little Time…
Now, the main reason I decided to go to the Flinders was to explore and feed my photography addiction. The only complaint I have in regards to this is that there’s way too much to see in less than a week.
This feeling had me driving, riding and walking like a mad man. I would have circled Wilpena Pound four times not to mention driving to Blinman and then to Parachilna to stop off at the pub for a feed (great outback menu).
We then drove up the Outback Hwy to Leigh Creek to get fuel only to circle a few more times to explore some potential sunset/sunrise locations.
During this time Dad and I had an absolute ball, hoping for the best driving through creek beds in the van, checking out every single ruin we drove by and the number of times we had to stop so I could go for a ‘quick’ walk to suss the scenery…
All in all the Flinders Ranges is a great outback getaway with something for everyone, from keen multiday hikers to all you weekend warriors. If you enjoy hiking, mountain biking, outback driving, camping, glamping and/or photography (just to list a few) and you’re in South Australia take some time to check out the Flinders Ranges.
- The right attire for weather conditions
- Insect repellent
- Toilet paper
- Rubbish bags
- Hiking shoes
How To Get There
Wilpena Pound is around 430km north of Adelaide, there are two ways either along the coast or inland through Claire Valley. Both are great drives with plenty to see and stop for a feed.
- Scenic fly-overs
Easy to intermediate
Hikes like St Mary Peak can have steep inclines/declines with harsher scrambles nearing the summit. As for driving, most roads aren’t too bad and can be done in a 2WD as long as you have decent clearance.
St. Mary Peak: If you choose to do the entire circuit it will be 19km. This can be broken up into two days if you’d like to stay for sunrise as there’s a hiker’s campsite along the inside track on the side of the mountain. But for those who just want to get to the peak, you can take the outside track which will be a 14km return trip.