Stretching over more than 90,000 hectares, Ikara-Flinders Ranges is an extremely special place.
Seemingly the gateway to the South Australian Outback, this part of the land is filled with history and culture, as well as spectacular natural beauty with beautiful gorges, some of the worlds oldest geological and fossil sites, and many significant and sacred sites of the local Adnyamathanha traditional landowners.
Once you start really looking into the Ikara-Flinders Ranges, it’s surprising to see how much there is to see and do here. From cultural tours, to scenic flights, bush walking, 4×4 driving trails and of course, stunning lookouts where you can watch the earth change colour throughout the day, you’re likely to spend more time than you planned in this beautiful pocket of the world.
To help you plan your visit to Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, here’s everything you need to know about this magical place.
In this post:
How to get to the Flinders Ranges?
The Flinders Ranges are located about 500 kilometres north of Adelaide, approximately a 5 hour drive from the city. It’s an easy drive, although there’s not too much to see along the way.
Alternatively, you can fly to the closest town of Port Augusta and then make the shorter drive from there, which takes about an hour and 45 minutes. Rex Airlines will connect you to Port Augusta, with a short 55 minute flight from Adelaide. Flights between Adelaide and Port Augusta are available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays each week.
Book your rental car in advance for the best deals, and then you can get going as soon as you get to the airport.
Fees for visiting Ikara-Flinders Ranges
Vehicle entry fees apply within Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.
A day entry permit costs $11 per vehicle per day and gives you access to the entire park during your stay. If you’re only planning to visit Flinders on your travels, this is the easiest permit to purchase for your trip. You can purchase your day entry for Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park only via this link on the National Parks and Wildlife Services SA website.
If you’re planning to visit a few different National Parks during your time in South Australia you can purchase a multi park pass – either for 2 months for $44 or 12 months for $99. Use this link to purchase a multiple entry parks pass for either 2 or 12 months.
The multi park pass gives you unlimited vehicle entry into the following SA parks: Belair National Park, Bool Lagoon Game Reserve, Coffin Bay National Park, Deep Creek Conservation Park, Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, Gawler Ranges National Park, Innes National Park, Lincoln National Park (including Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area), Mount Remarkable National Park, Ngarkat Conservation Park and Para Wirra Conservation Park.
Best Time To Visit Flinders Ranges
During Australia’s cooler months, from around April to October is considered to be the best time to visit the Flinders Ranges. Throughout this period temperatures are a little bit cooler, making it a little more comfortable to get out and explore some of the bush-walking trails.
Temperatures in the summer months can regularly sit in the late 30ºC to mid 40ºC each day, with temperatures over 50ºC often recorded during the summer months. In fact, on of the local guides told us that in January this year they had a day that was 58ºC.
Additionally, many of the walking trails, including the popular St Mary Peak hikes are closed from the end of November until the beginning of March each year, for safety reasons. Many hikers get in trouble after they start these walks, and they can be very dangerous if attempted in hot weather.
Where to stay in the Flinders Ranges
During your stay check yourself into the Wilpena Pound Resort. They are the only accommodation that is actually located within the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, and they offer an experience that can’t be beaten.
Wilpena Pound Resort offers all kinds of accommodation options including powered and unpowered camping sites, resort style rooms, and of course their beautiful Ikara safari tent campgrounds. They have something to suit all budgets and styles and put you within close driving range of all the major sites and attractions.
Within the Wilpena Pound Resort you can also find the local Visitors Centre, an IGA convenience store, and the only petrol station within the ranges if you’re looking for fuel.
Book now: Find the best deals for your stay at Wilpena Pound Resort.
Things to do in the Flinders Ranges
There are so many things to do in Wilpena Pound, where do we even start! During our short stay we packed so many activities into our time, and still probably could have used a few extra days to see it all.
Here are the top things you can’t miss in the Flinders Ranges:
Take a scenic flight over Wilpena Pound to really get the whole picture of this incredible place. Seeing the pound from the sky gives you a whole different perspective of the land, the Aboriginal stories that originate here and the whole outback. Until the end of March, when you book through the Wilpena Pound Resort you can book a 20 minute scenic flight over the pound for just $99.
Jump on a cultural tour with a local Adnyamathanha guide, who will show you some of the most amazing places around the ranges, as well as sharing with you the stories behind how the Ikara-Flinders Ranges came to be. Touring across the land with the locals offers you much more of an understanding about the traditional landowners in this region, the way they grew up and their connection to the Ranges.
We can highly recommend the Time Travel & Gorgeous Gorges 4WD Tour. Book your tour at the Wilpena Pound Visitors Centre.
Hike up to Arkaroo Rock to see some beautiful Aboriginal Rock art that has been preserved on the rocks here. This is actually some of the best rock art we have seen, with the images clearly visible across the wide rock face. The walk takes about an hour each way, and is best done early in the morning, before the weather heats up too much.
Check out the sunset from Stokes Hill Lookout for panoramic views over the Flinders Ranges as they change colour in the golden hour. We’d actually recommend visiting this lookout a few times while you’re staying, at different times of the day to see how much the colours of the landscape change throughout the day. The road to the lookout has recently been graded which is great, it’s not too steep a drive to get up there!
In fact, check out as many lookouts as you can in the area. Hucks Lookout, Rawnsley Lookout, Arkaba Hill Lookout and Elder Range Lookout are all also worth checking out, for different views over the Ranges.
Visit the Sacred Canyon & Adnyamathanha Engravings. A spot that is sacred to the local people, and best visited with a guide on one of their tours so they can explain the significance and the meanings behind the engravings to you. This canyon was described to us by one of the guides as kind of like their cathedral. A true place of beauty and meaning, that makes them feel at peace when they visit.
Take a bit of a 4WD to visit Bunyeroo Gorge and Brachina Gorge. The gorges themselves are simply beautiful, but the drives along the way have just as much to see.
Bush walk your way across the Ranges with walking trails that will lead you to some of the best lookouts. During the summer months quite a few of the walking trails are closed due to extreme heat, so if you’re coming to hike it’s best to visit between April and October, when everything is open. St Mary Peak and Mount Ohlssen Bagge are meant to offer some of the most beautiful views over Wilpena Pound and the Ranges, but you’re definitely going to have to work for them.
Phone reception in Flinders Ranges
We were pleasantly surprised to find out that we had full 4G phone reception within the grounds of the Wilpena Pound Resort – including at our campsite, which meant we could load social media, check our emails, write blog posts and even stream TV shows during our stay.
Once we left the resort though reception is extremely limited, with some small towns in the Outback not even having phone reception. Once you leave the resort to go exploring for the day, don’t expect to be able to connect until you get back.
Also, if you’re staying in the Wilpena Pound Campground, they offer free wifi near the Visitors Centre, as well as in their reception area, bar and restaurant and near the pool, which is all available to use even if you’re camping.
Pop in to the Visitors Centre
The Visitors Centre at Wilpena Pound Resort is run by some of the local Adnyamathanha tour guides, who know absolutely everything there is to know about Ikara-Flinders Ranges. They have so much knowledge and are very friendly, so it’s definitely worth popping in for a chat if you have any questions, would like some recommendations or want to find out more about the region.
The Visitors Centre is open from 8am each day, until about 5pm. This is also where you can check in for your campsites, as they manage both the powered and un-powered campsites in the resort. They can also help you with booking tours and scenic flights.
Find out more about the Wilpena Pound Resort