The Flinders Ranges are the largest mountain range in South Australia, which starts about 200 kilometres north of Adelaide. The discontinuous ranges stretch for over 430 kilometres from Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna.
Its most characteristic landmark is Wilpena Pound, a large, sickle-shaped, natural amphitheatre that covers 80 km2 and contains the range's highest peak, St Mary Peak (1,171 metres) that adjoins the Flinders Ranges National Park. The northern ranges are protected by the Arkaroola wilderness sanctuary and the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park. The southern ranges are notable for the Pichi Richi scenic railway and Mount Remarkable National Park.
Several small areas in the Flinders Ranges have protected area status. These include the Flinders Ranges National Park near Wilpena Pound, the Mount Remarkable National Park in the southern part of the ranges near Melrose, the Arkaroola Protection Area at the northern end of the ranges, The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park, west of Quorn and the Mount Brown Conservation Park, south of Quorn. The Heysen Trail and Mawson Trail run for several hundred kilometres along the ranges providing scenic long distance routes for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders.
The region has a semi-arid climate with hot dry summers and cool winters. Summers usually have temperatures reaching over 38 °C, while winters have highs around 13-16 °C, depending on the elevation. Although rainfall is erratic, most of the precipitation is seen in the winter months. There are also some monsoonal showers and storms that move in from the north during the summer months. The area gets around 250 mm of rain annually, with the highest rainfall at Wilpena Pound, at 350 mm. Frost is common on winter mornings and temperatures have dropped as low as -8 °C. Snow has even been recorded in the Wilpena Pound and at Blinman. The last significant snowfall in the Ranges occurred in 1995.
Sharp Airlines currently run 2 services on weekdays between Adelaide and Port Augusta (there is one service on Sundays and none on Saturdays). Port Augusta Airport is located 10 minutes' drive from the City Centre. No scheduled passenger airline flies into other areas of the Flinders Ranges.
Great Southern Railways currently operate the Indian Pacific and Ghan trains once or twice weekly to and from Adelaide, passing through Port Augusta. There are no scheduled train services further than Port Augusta, apart from the tourist Pichi Richi Railway which runs infrequent services as far as Quorn, but is more of a tourist attraction than a means of transport.
The main town at the bottom of the Flinders Ranges is Port Augusta, which is a 3.5 hour drive from Adelaide along Port Wakefield Road (Route A1) via Snowtown and Port Pirie (both of which are bypassed). Wilpena Pound is a 4.5-5 hour drive from Adelaide, either via Port Wakefield Road, Quorn and Hawker or via the more scenic route through the Clare Valley. To venture into the Northern Flinders ranges will be a further drive, often along dirt roads. Sealed roads only run as far north as Lyndhurst (on the road to Marree) and Blinman (on the Wilpena Pound Road).
There are plenty of services currently operating to Port Augusta. Greyhound (on the Adelaide-Alice Springs route) and Premier Stateliner (on its Adelaide-Eyre Peninsula routes) currently operate frequent coach services through Port Augusta.
There are currently no scheduled public transport services into the central and northern Flinders Ranges, including to Wilpena Pound. The Yorke Peninsula Coaches "Mid-North Passenger" and "Upper North Intertown" services operate in the Mid and Upper North towns, including one service weekly (currently on Fridays) as far as Quorn, but this is still a significant distance from Wilpena Pound. Travellers wishing to travel here may have to hire a car in Adelaide or Port Augusta, or find a scheduled arranged tour.
Because of the lack of public transport, unless you are on a scheduled tour, it will more than likely be necessary to hire a car. Hitchhiking is not recommended due to the isolated areas and the extreme temperatures, especially in summer.
The cheapest place for camping is at the National Park Camp Grounds. Some are accessible only via 4WD or walking trails. If you want the luxury of full facilities Wilpena Pound Camping Ground. Both powered and bush camping sites are available and there are showers, laundry, petrol and a general store. Rawnsley Park Caravan Park Set in a bushland setting this caravan park has powered sites and bush camping. Facilities include a licensed shop, camp kitchen, modern amenities block and swimming pool.
Wilpena Pound Resort has 60 rooms all with air conditioning and children stay free. The resort is in a natural setting and wildlife roam around the grounds. Facilities include a pool, restaurant and bar.
Arkaba Station is a member of Luxury Lodges of Australia and the homestead dates back to 1851. There are 4 bedrooms in the homestead and a 5th in a Coachman's Cottage. They offer all inclusive rates which include full access to the entire property. The Homestead provides great food, premium wines and supremely comfortable bedrooms.
Arkapena Homestead - secluded, luxurious and self-contained the homestead is ideal for two couples or a small family. The homestead is nestled on a 9,000-hectare station owned by Rawnsley Park. Facilities include a private swimming pool and outdoor shower. Access to Rawnsley Park Station's facilities and tours is available to guests.
Rawnsley Park Eco Villas has two bedroom villas which are said to be the ultimate in eco-friendly accommodation. Guests can enjoy uninterrupted views of Wilpena Pound and the surrounding ranges from their private verandah or watch the stars from their bed via the over-bed skylight
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