If you want an authentic Outback experience try the Flinders Ranges. The 600 million year old countryside forms some of the most dramatic and beautiful landscapes Australia has on offer. It’s a place rich in Aboriginal history and home to a vast array of wildlife. Following the scenic roads, 4WD tracks and walking trails that crisscross this wild space will take you on a remarkable adventure. Here are some of the most popular things to do when you get there.
Ride the rails back in time on one of Australia’s best-known steam train journeys. The Pichi Richi Railway runs beautifully restored steam and diesel locomotives and timber carriages, including the century-old steam train nicknamed the Coffee Pot. It’s believed to be the last of its kind in the world with trips departing from Quorn and Port Augusta. The trains run on the last remaining portion of the historic narrow-gauge Ghan railway line.
From the air, Wilpena Pound looks like a crater, as it’s a massive bowl almost 100 kilometres wide that stands above the surrounding plains. But the rim is actually made up of the stumps of huge mountains, believed to have been as high as the Himalayas, that have long been eroded over millennia. There’s only one way in: through a gorge 11 kilometres long and eight kilometres across. The best way to see the distinctive shape is on a scenic flight from Wilpena Resort inside the Pound. It offers a range of accommodation options from motel-style rooms to glamping, as well as a campground and Aboriginal cultural walks and 4WD tours. You can also trek inside the Pound and climb up over the rim.
If you’ve never tasted kangaroo, emu or even camel, Parachilna’s famous Prairie Hotel is the best place to try some. One of the Outback’s most iconic hotels, the Prairie is an authentic pub with an innovative menu, best known for its creative use of native foods. The Feral Mixed Grill of emu, kangaroo, goat and camel is the hotel’s signature dish, but make sure you try the quandong pie, made from a wild native peach – it’s tart but delicious.
One of the oldest sheep stations in the Flinders, Rawnsley Park, on the southern face of Wilpena Pound, was established in 1851. It’s still a working farm, but is also a great place to stay, with a campground, simple cabins and luxury eco villas with stunning views of the surrounding ranges – and a glass panel in the bedroom ceiling, so you can stargaze from bed. Take a 4WD tour to the top of the Chace Range and watch the sunset, while enjoying a glass of local sparkling wine and canapés, before sitting down to a meal of station-grown saltbush lamb at the Woolshed Restaurant.
Do the Flinders in style at Arkaba Station, a former sheep station on the edge of Wilpena Pound. It is now a private wildlife conservation park, offering five-star accommodation in the historic homestead and bush camps with luxury swags on raised timber decks. Enjoy uninterrupted views of mountains and the night sky, hot showers and meals prepared by a private chef.