National Parks

Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park

Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is found in South Australia, 450 kilometres north of Adelaide. The traditional custodians of the land are the Adnyamathanha people who have lived on the land for thousands of years.

Chantal
8 minute read

Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is found in South Australia, 450 kilometres north of Adelaide. The traditional custodians of the land are the Adnyamathanha people who have lived on the land for thousands of years. The park is home to many aboriginal rock paintings and engravings including Arkaroo Rock. Visitors can walk a short trail to view these Adnyamathanha ochre and charcoal rock paintings. These tell the creation story of Wilpena Pound, the area’s most prominent geological feature. Wilpena Pound is what remains of a 17km (10.6mi) long valley floor of an ancient mountain range. The mountain range has eroded over millions of years. Experienced trekkers can walk across the floor of Wilpena Pound via the 23km (14.3mi) Malloga Falls trail. Additionally, scenic flights can be booked to take in the views from above.

Wilpena Pound
Photo Credit: WickedWalkabout.com

Best Time to Visit Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park

Spring

The spring season lasts from September through October. The highlight of visiting the park in the spring is the abundance of wildflowers. The wildflower blooms are one of the most beautiful times in the Flinders Ranges. Spring days are warm and temperatures average around 20-25ºC (68-77ºF).

Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park
Photo Credit: BotanicaTours.com

Summer

Summer highs can reach 30-45ºC (86-113ºF) making the Flingers Ranges an undesirable location at these times.

Furthermore, it is too hot to trek and there are limited water sources. Summer lasts from November through March.

Autumn

The fall season lasts from April through May. The summer heat begins to decrease and these warm days average around 17-27ºC (63-82ºF). Evenings are cool and this is a great time for camping.

Winter

The winter season lasts from June through August. It is one of the most popular times to visit the park due to the mild temperatures. Daytime temperatures average around 15ºC (59ºF) making the winter an ideal time for walking and trekking. Prepare for rain and cold nights because temperatures can drop to 3ºC (37ºF).

Visitor Centre’s

It’s always a good idea to start any National Parks trip with a stop at a visitor centre. Here you can speak to park rangers, plan activities, or purchase a daily or annual pass. Pick up gifts, maps, books, brochures, and backcountry permits, or view exhibits on the area’s indigenous culture and history. 

Wilpena Pound Visitor Information Centre – Wilpena Rd, Hawkers, Flinders Ranges, SA, Australia.

Getting To / Around Ikara-Flinders Ranges

The best way to travel to Ikara-Flinders Ranges is by personal vehicle because the park has limited public transportation to or within the park.

Adelaide

From the Adelaide Airport (ADL), drive 435km (270.3mi) for 4 hours and 50 minutes via R M Williams Way/B80 to arrive at the Wilpena Pound Visitor Information Centre.

Things to Do and Main Attractions

Scenic Drives

Brachina Gorge Geological Trail is a 20km (12.4mi) drive that runs between the Flinders Ranges Way and the Outback Highway. The route is popular for its spectacular scenery and 130 million years of geologic history. Geological landmarks are identified by interpretive signs along the route. You will also pass through the yellow-footed rock wallaby habitat.

Yellow Footed Wallaby

Hiking Trails

Easy Walks and Strolls: 

Living with Land Walk is a 2-hour loop interpretive trail around Old Wilpena Station, a preserved pastoral settlement.

Day Hikes:

Arkaroo Rock is a 3km (1.9mi) hike that brings visitors to Adnyamathanha ochre and charcoal rock paintings. Here you will learn the creation story of Wilpena Pound. Bunyeroo Gorge Hike is a 7.5km (4.6mi) trail into a broad creek bed enclosed by rugged rocks. This is a great place for wildlife viewing. Mount Ohlssen Bagge Hike is a 6.4km (4mi) steep, rocky trail with a short scramble at the end. The challenging climb will reward visitors with views of St. Mary Peak, and Wilpena Pound. Aroona to Youngoona Hike is a 15.4km (9.6mi) day walk through the ruins of old pastoral runs. Explore the area’s pastoral heritage and take in incredible views of the ranges and rock formations. Malloga Falls Hike is a 23km hike across the floor of Wilpena Pound to reach Edeowie Gorge and Malloga Falls. Park staff recommend this trail for experienced trekkers only.

Multi-Day Hikes:

The Heysen Trail is a long-distance trek that extends 1,200km (745mi) between Cape Jervis in the south and Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges in the north. You can complete this trail either in sections, as a day walk or weekend trip, or walked all at once. The trail travels through a diversity of landscapes including the coast, bushland, gorges, mountains, pine forests, farmland, vineyards, and historic towns.

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is a privately owned wilderness sanctuary in the northern Flinders. Here you can bushwalk, take a self-guided 4WD tour or book the popular four-hour guided ridge-top tour. You can also take a scenic flight over the landscape, and learn about the area’s natural and cultural history. Arkaroola village has accommodations, gas, and a basic shop.

The Historic Pichi Richi Railway

Take a journey on a century-old steam train. The Afghan Express service operates from Port Augusta to Quorn and back. Additionally, the Pichi Richi Explorer runs between Quorn and Woolshed Flat. 

Rock Paintings

Ancient rock paintings and engravings can be found in many places throughout Ikara-Flinders Ranges including Arkaroo Rock, Sacred Canyon, Perawurtina Cultural Heritage Site, as well as Yourambulla Caves. To get to Arkaroo Rock follow a 3km trail from Arkaroo Rock car park. The trail brings visitors to Adnyamathanha ochre and charcoal rock paintings which tell the creation story of Wilpena Pound. You can book trips to Sacred Canyon from Wilpena Pound Resort. Join an Adnyamathanha guided tour and travel into Sacred Valley. Here your guide will teach about the country and Adnymathanha culture as well as interpret the engravings. Yourambulla Caves are located on the southern fringe of the Flinders Ranges, about 11km (6.8mi) south of Hawker.

Wildlife

Ikara-Flinders Ranges is a fantastic place to see much of Australia’s iconic wildlife. You may be able to spot the rare yellow-footed rock wallaby in Brachina Gorge. Many types of kangaroos such as the red kangaroo, western grey kangaroo, and common wallaroo are abundant in the area. Reptiles found in Flinders ranges include bearded dragons, geckos, and lizards. Visitors may also come across the reintroduced Western Quoll, emus, many colourful cockatoos. As well as the short-beaked echidna, and Australias largest bird of prey- wedge-tailed eagles.

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

Blinman Heritage Mine

Book a tour of an 1862 cooper mine which is run by local volunteers. Explore underground into the heart of the mine and walk the passageways. You will also hear stories about the miners who once worked there.

Where to Stay in Ikara-Flinders Ranges

Wilpena Pound Resort:

The only accommodations available in the National Park are found within Wilpena Pound Resort. Accommodations include resort rooms, ‘glamping’ safari tents, and powered/ unpowered bush campsites. The resort also has a restaurant and bar, swimming pool, BBQs, and a general store. Additionally, you can book activities through the resort such as an aboriginal cultural tour to Sacred Canyon, or scenic flights.

Frontcountry Camping:

Aroona Campground – large, spaced-out, and shaded campsites located on Aroona Creek at the northern point of the park. You can find several trailheads in the area. Sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Brachina East Campground – sites are available on both Brachina Creek and Aroona Creek. Although the campground is suitable for tents, trailers, and RVs, some sites are 4WD accessible only.

Cambrian Campground – located at the northern end of the Bunyeroo Road with sites shaded by pines and river red gums. 

Dingley Dell Campground – located on river red gum-lined Oraparinna Creek nearby the Perawurtina Cultural Heritage Site. Here visitors can view Adnyamathanha rock carvings.

Koolamon Campground – located on Aroona Creek at the foot of the ABC Range. Although the campground is suitable for tents, trailers, and RVs, some sites are 4WD accessible only.

Teamsters Campground – the campground is located high on the cliffs of Brachina Creek. Visitors can explore caves, look for limestone fossils, and also enjoy the many walking trails.

Trezona Campground – an open, wooded campground located on Brachina Gorge Road. Nearby are many walking trails as well as the internationally significant geological Ediacaran Golden Spike.

Youngoona Campground – A small campground of only four unpowered sites located at the eastern end of Brachina Gorge Road. 

Acraman Campground – a small, wooded campground located near Bunyeroo Gorge suitable for tents and trailers only.

Things to Remember While Visiting Ikara-Flinders Ranges

  • Follow “Leave No Trace” principles.
  • Follow the speed limit and drive cautiously through the park to decrease wildlife collisions.
  • Amenities such as accommodations, restaurants, groceries, public drinking water tap facilities, and gas stations are available in Wilpena Pound Resort.
  • There is limited cell coverage in many parts of Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. 
  • There is no public wifi available in much of Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.
  • Pets are not allowed in the park for their safety and the safety of park wildlife. 
  • Be prepared for a variety of weather conditions including extreme heat in the summer. 
  • Respect wildlife from a distance: don’t feed or approach them or let them approach you.
  • Human food has a serious impact on wildlife. Don’t feed wildlife and keep camps free of all traces of food.

Looking for more great adventures, you can check these out next:

Blue Mountains National Park

Adelaide to Darwin Campervan Road Trip

The Great Alpine Road

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