|Flinders Ranges and Outback|
| This region encompasses a vast, dry area of South Australia. It is an area of dramatic landscapes, which is peppered with the remains of enterprises that have succumbed to time and the harsh conditions. |
The Flinders Ranges and much of the outback is accessible by 2WD car. When travelling in the outback, it is always a good idea to check with the locals about road conditions and refuelling points. Take a look at Travelmate's outback travel tips before you go.
Check out our Taste of the Outback driving route for South Australia.
|In summer, daytime temperatures can soar. Winter temperatures are lower, and although the nights can be cold, winter is often considered to be the best time to visit, especially the more northerly areas. |
| How do I get there?|
| Port Augusta is the gateway to this region. It is about 300 km north of Adelaide along the Princes Highway. It is also accessible by train, bus and air. |
From Port Augusta, there are two routes into the region. Heading to the northeast, you will get to the Flinders Ranges before the road turns north and into the outback. If you head north west along the Stuart Highway, the road heads past Woomera and Coober Pedy before entering the Northern Territory.
| What are the main towns?|
| The main towns in the region include: Port Augusta,Quorn, Hawker, Coober Pedy and Peterborough. |
| What's there to do in the region?|
| Port Augusta is at the head of Spencer Gulf and is the most northerly port in South Australia. Visit the Wadlata Outback Centre for a taste of what you will experience as you journey through this remarkable region. While in Port Augusta, you should also visit those two important icons of the outback - the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air. Both of these institutions are open for tours. Homestead Park Pioneer Museum has fascinating displays relating to life in the region over 100 years ago. The desert starts just to the north of the town, and the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden has a magnificent variety of arid land plants and shrubs. |
The tiny town of Wilmington lies just outside Port Augusta and has many historic buildings. Nearby historic Melrose is the oldest settlement in the Flinders Ranges. It is close to Mount Remarkable National Park and there is a walking trail from the town to the top of Mount Remarkable, where you will be rewarded for your efforts by spectacular views.
Rail enthusiasts should not miss our next two towns. Peterborough is a historic railway town and Steamtown aims to preserve its rail heritage. Steam train trips run in the winter. There are also two unusual museums in town - Eric Rann’s collection of old engines and artefacts and Ivan Ley’s collection of dolls and bottles.
Quorn is another town steeped in railway history. The famous Pichi Richi Railway is operated by volunteer enthusiasts and takes passengers on the run from Quorn to the Pichi Richi Pass. There is nothing to compare to the experience of travelling by steam train, so when you are in the area, be sure not to miss the trip.
Our next town, Hawker, is handy for the southern part of the Flinders Ranges. There is a multitude of walks, both short and long, in the area and scenic flights and 4WD tours of the ranges are available. A visit to Wilpena Pound with its sheer cliffs which change colour with the light is an unforgettable experience.
Historic Blinman is the access point for the northern end of the Flinders Ranges, where you can see Aroona valley, the ruins of Aroona homestead and Brachina Gorge. The Great Wall of China, an unusual rock formation, lies along this road. Blinman retains many of its historic buildings, dating back to its heyday as a copper mining town. The Mawson Trail, a bike trail from Adelaide, ends in the town.
Leigh Creek was moved when the original township was consumed by the open cut coalmine. The new town has been extensively planted with trees and is a pleasant oasis in the desert. Tours of the mine are available. Gammon Ranges National Park can be accessed from Leigh Creek, as can Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, at the eastern perimeter of the Gammon Ranges.
Heading north, Lyndhurst has coloured ochre cliffs where Aboriginals used to dig for ochre. The inhospitable Strzelecki track to Innamincka starts here. The ruins at Farina attest to the harshness of the area - it was settled during a period of rainfall but drought soon returned and the township was abandoned.
At Marree, the Birdsville track and the Oodnadatta track meet. The town was once a thriving stop on the old Ghan railway, and tracks and rolling stock still haunt the main street. Along the Oodnadatta track, there is a series of mound springs, miniature oases in the surrounding desert protected by Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park. Lake Eyre South can be viewed from the road at various points. The route hugs the old railway line and old structures - bridges, tracks and stations - are still standing and worth a visit.
The tiny township of William Creek marks the halfway point along the Oodnadatta track and a visit to the pub is usually a welcome stop for travellers. To the east lies Lake Eyre North and to the west lies enormous Anna Creek station.
At Oodnadatta, stop for food and fuel at the Pink Roadhouse. You won't miss it as it is painted bright pink! The museum in the old railway station provides a fascinating insight into outback life. From here, you can access the Painted Desert, an area of unusual coloured rocks, and the Simpson Desert with its sand dunes.
Reaching the Stuart Highway at Marla, you can head south to the opal-mining town of Coober Pedy. Much of the town is underground for protection against extremes of temperature and there is even underground accommodation for the tourist. Take a mine tour, visit an underground shopping centre and of course have a look at the local opals for sale.
Roxby Downs was purpose built for the workers at the giant Olympic Dam mine, where tours are available outside the summer months. Woomera was the site of rocket testing and you can visit the Missile Park and Heritage Centre which displays artefacts from that era.